Monday, January 14, 2019

Snow Day on the Farm

It's snowing...
and this ewe is NOT amused!



In case you missed out on the snow...we had about 5 inches over the weekend...you are more than welcome to share ours!

Here are a few shots, mostly from the kitchen window.


...and so it begins...

dinner date at the bird feeder

1st lamb arrived
he's been joined by 2 more
(the rest should arrive over the weekend)


this woodpecker looks COLD!

"majestic" Gus

a new bird feeder in the backyard means we're getting lots of visitors

heading out for morning chores

snow blowing before breakfast

pretty mama cardinal in the snow


woodpecker at the feeder

Stay warm! Stay safe! We're getting ready for another potential snowstorm...

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 12-30-18



You probably won’t believe me when I tell you that I almost didn’t make it to write this last post for 2018.

And, while I may exaggerate a bit, I assure you the muck and mire behind the barn is no laughing matter.

2018 has been the 2nd wettest year in the history of weather keeping. Not just here on the hill where I can assure you that is indeed true. But, throughout the state, particularly our beautiful Valley. It’s a soggy, sodden mess and there are all sorts of ongoing problems relating to the weather.

Here on the hill it’s been raining for something like 47 days straight and the barn lot is looking like the Great Dismal Swamp  (although it isn’t nearly so picturesque). In reality it has rained 16 of the last 30 days AND we had nearly a foot of snow. (so I don’t exaggerate too much)



December snow on the farm

The other day we were under a flood warning (again) and there was no sign the deluge was letting up any time soon. It was dark when we headed out for morning chores. Pitch dark.

I put the feed out for the ewes and started back to the barn. In the dark, I veered ever so slightly from my usual path and found myself mired in ankle-deep muck. It made sucking sounds as I tried to move my feet. I began to sink deeper. And deeper. The mud was almost like some alien force, grabbing my ankles with unbelievable strength. Suddenly, the heavens opened and rivulets of water were snaking their way down the back of my neck as I struggled. Oh great!  I tried tugging my foot out of the mud. No luck. If anything, it sank deeper. I tried again and nearly pitched face-first into the goo. That would have been funny if it hadn’t been so aggravating. The next time I pulled on my foot, my boot nearly came off. Now, that wouldn’t have been good, let me tell you. Ewww….cold, stinky mud covered socks…had personal experience with that one…no thank you to a repeat performance!

Now, arthritis in both my feet and my knees is redefining mobility (not in a good way) and making life a literal pain. So, every attempted “step” was painful as well as ineffective. I began to lose my balance again. I started using the feed bucket to maintain my upright position. I wasn’t having much luck “powering through” this situation. The Boss had already gone inside and was unaware of my plight. I considered yelling, but it was pouring rain and I couldn’t imagine he could hear me. Maybe I could send a distress signal toward the house with my headlamp! Yeah, right. He would have to be looking out the window at the precise moment I shined the light. And, I have absolutely no Morse code skills. I was pretty much on my own.

Long story, short…I finally got free. Although, I did wrench my back and get my coveralls soaked with mud. At least he didn’t have to haul me out with the tractor bucket! And, I didn’t find myself slipping slowly under the mire, never to be seen again.

But, that is some serious mud! I’ve never seen anything that could be described as quicksand, but honestly, this did. And, still does. Although now the wind is blowing a gale, which yields another set of problems, but the upside is that the mud will dry quickly.

When I finally made it back to the house, and I was relating my harrowing tale to the Boss, I realized the muck behind the barn is a perfect metaphor for 2018. It’s been a tough year, kind of shitty (sorry about the bad word, but you really didn’t think that was just mud behind the barn, did you?) demanding far more brute force than usual to get through. There were times when I honestly thought we wouldn’t make it.

You can blame it on the alignment of the stars, the planets, or maybe it was just numerology. (I understand that 2-0-1-8 is a dangerous combination) Maybe it was just the effects of the weather, a divisive political landscape, or bad karma (and I don’t mean the dog). It was a difficult year. I’m not the only one who struggled with the past 365 days. I read an article by John Pavlovitz that was entitled: "2018: Has Been One Long DECADE" That about sums it up if you ask me. But, it’s about over. We’ve made it. Let’s focus on that.

That being said, 2018 was all about rain and mud. As I mentioned earlier, it has been the second wettest year on record.
red at morning...

means wet pine needles

another storm clears

waterlogged morning glories


In 2003 weather records (going back to 1874) were broken with 54 inches of rain and nearly 4 feet of snow here on the hill.  2018 saw over 52 inches of rain and about 3 feet of snow. You won’t believe this, but there is actually a good chance of rain for New Year’s Eve, so it may be even closer. Those totals are a little more impressive when you learn that our average rainfall is right around 40 inches.
But, enough of the rain news. Suffice it to say it’s WET and go on with things.

Because LIFE is moving ever forward.

It’s almost time for lambs! So the ewes are doing what they can to prepare...


ewes intent on eating



and eating




under all that snow the grass was still GREEN!


In a little less than two weeks, the first babies should arrive. We worked the ewes earlier this week, giving vaccinations so that the moms will pass some natural immunity to their offspring. The Boss will assemble some jugs in the next few days and we will be ready.

Just in case you wondered, “jugs” are little pens where the new family spends a couple of days bonding right after birth. They are outfitted with a heat lamp (to warm the babies if the weather is cold) and mama gets some TLC and extra grain to get everyone off to a good start. After about 2 days of close observation, they are turned out with the rest of the flock.

I’m trying not to get over-anxious and “count my LAMBS before they hatch”. We will have to wait and see what kind of production rate we get.  Each ewe generally has 1 – 3 babies. Twins being the optimal outcome. A production rate of 150% is average, and we generally run 175-200%. 200% is awesome, but that might be a little optimistic this year. It would also mean the barn would be super crowded!

While the photos below have no real theme, they are proof that you just never know what you might see...in the course of two days, I observed...
a cow walking down Mbrk Road

a sheep watching a deer who is watching me

a group nap in the back yard
2 dogs and a CAT!




















In other farm news, the gardens have been planned and the first batches of broilers have been ordered.  It's time to pay the sales tax and do some book-keeping. The Farmers’ Market annual meeting is scheduled for next month and I need to inventory the seeds. The cycle of life is always evident.

morning light over the snow

apparently it's "stand in a line day"

ooh, baby, it's cold outside!

wild rosehips

full moon rising over Mbrk

early morning grazing


cardinal on the fence

frosty teasel at the creek

Karma's "birthday" rawhide
(it was gone within 24 hours)

ice crystals on the xterra

lichen 

the last gumball

the promise of spring

sunrise on the greenhouse

pretty mama cardinal

December full moon













I have no idea what 2019 holds in store. I can only surmise that it will be different than 2018. But, that’s a given, right?


When our girls were younger, I know they found it annoying that I couldn’t give them guarantees that things would get BETTER. I could only assure them it would be different. Somehow that doesn’t always sound promising. But, in a way, there is hope in different. Different holds a great deal of possibility, particularly when the place you find yourself is hard and uncomfortable. So, that’s where I choose to focus.

And, there's always something different...

a crow at sunrise

a dark and gloomy day



big change in the weather

sunset from the greenhouse


One thing I do know about 2019 is that I will finally be able to say that I have been published! (and that’s different)

Earlier this year I stepped way outside of my comfort zone and submitted a short essay to a collaborative book project. On January 17th, the book launches on Amazon. It has been an interesting process and I’ve met some talented, caring folks. You can check it out here. https://www.facebook.com/When-I-Rise-I-Thrive-2057953114496811/  

every sunrise is different
and each days holds all sorts of possibilities

I have also been doing a fair amount of writing and have posted a few new entries on my personal website. You should really come visit… www.barbarawomack.com

And, I guess that’s all the news from here.

I hope you have a Happy Sunday! 
 
under Gus' watchful eye

Thanks for stopping by! Come back and “visit” again next month.



Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 11-25



Now that the Market is closed for the season and the feasting of Thanksgiving is behind us, it seems oddly anti-climactic somehow. Just another Sunday, just another blog post…

But…
This is post number 1000!

That’s a LOT of posts. (or, at least I think so) If you've been following along for any length of time, you've seen a lot of photos of the farm...

sometimes the eggs are "decorated"

FROSTY morning

wild rosehips

beautiful sunset

another gorgeous sky

moon-rise over the farm
And, read about LOTS of farm happenings...

For post 1000, I was hoping for something momentous to write about, but the farm in late November is not an exciting place by any stretch of the imagination. Although, without our attention, the eggs would pile to the rafters and the ewes would complain so loudly about the lack of grain that someone would surely investigate. But, other than that…nothing much happened around here this week. And quite honestly, farm updates and weather reports are getting a little old. (but, for the record, we got another INCH and a half of rain yesterday!)

sparrow "family portrait"

burning bush berries


do you see the woodpecker?

singing wren
THERE's the woodpecker!

ANOTHER wet day






The slow time is greatly appreciated. But I feel change brewing. Something different is calling to me. December is right around the corner and the days will begin to lengthen once more and the Spring growing season will be here before you know it.

the obligatory Tgiving family portrait

my favorite photo from the day


serious play-time
dinosaurs AND paw patrol



Historically, some of our most life-changing projects have started in December.
The Boss and I had our first date in December 1983. Did you read this one? https://homesteadhillfarm.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-long-and-winding-road.html

We found out that we were going to become parents in December 1987. Here’s a post about our firstborn…

And, I am almost certain it was December when we eagerly claimed that amazing offer that had been made at the Thanksgiving table back in 1995…

So, it seems only fitting that the “next big thing” starts in December as well.

After years and years of writing strictly about the farm and closely related subjects, it’s time to branch out a little.

On December 1, I’m taking MY new website live.


That book so many of you have told me I NEED to write is beckoning.  If I’m ever going to get it finished and published, I need to focus on that for a while. My own website will give me a place to try out some other subjects, particularly those that have nothing to do with farming. And, a place to shamelessly promote my work without worrying that it somehow interferes with the farm brand.

So, I’m stepping back from the farm blog. No, not giving it up entirely. But, rather than struggle to come up with something interesting and enlightening every single week, it’s going to become a once a month kind of thing. (and if you’re one to keep track…look for it the last Sunday of each month) I hope to spend the time I would spend crafting a farm post writing something more substantive.

The 1000 posts on the farm blog have taken me from a bored rainy afternoon in 2009 (here's my first post)   on an extraordinary journey. We’ve “met” folks from around the world (some of those IN PERSON) and been given opportunities that would have otherwise eluded us.  I appreciate all of you who have taken the trip with me and ask you to come along for the next chapter.

Thanks for the love and support, y’all.


Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday!
 
moonlight through the maple branches

Come back and “visit” again sometime.

And, be sure to check out my new site, too!  www.barbarawomack.com