Thursday, August 30, 2012


Yesterday, a family I do not know lost a son I have never seen. 

              …and I cried. 


                                     ...and I was not alone.

A couple of years ago, I read a story in the local newspaper about a little boy fighting leukemia.  Fresh from the whole horrible wreck, ICU, UVA, recovery deal with our daughter, my attention was captured, my heart touched.  

I know what it is like to stand in ICU, look down at my child and wonder if she will recover...or even live, for that matter. To say that this is frightening is an understatement at best. I could only imagine the horror of a diagnosis that included the word terminal.  Ethan Blevins and his family hit my heart…and I prayed.

For a while, things seemed stable, maybe even improving a little. My attention went elsewhere.

The community I love didn’t forget.  When Ethan had an issue, someone was sure to note it.  There were bake sales and fund drives.  The new movie theater took special interest and raised a great deal of money for the suffering family. I prayed…along with a good deal of the community.

The scans looked good, treatments appeared to be working…things seemed better. 

In recent days, Ethan took a turn for the worse.  The rallying cry for prayer was astounding.  I didn’t know just how many of my friends and acquaintances were somehow interconnected.  While the sad outcome was surely predictable, it didn’t stop folks from being concerned…and coming together.

I will never forget the experience of our daughter’s injury and recovery.  Folks I never met made contributions, sent words of encouragement, and made deposits at the bank.  Personally, this negated the pain caused by familial discord and disinterest. The most memorable occasion happened in the hardware store. A total stranger came up and asked,  “Isn’t she the girl from the wreck?” (it's a small town....EVERYBODY knows when big things happen)  When I answered in the affirmative, the woman rejoiced, saying “I’ve been praying and praying…oh, it’s SO good to see her...and you!” She hugged me. Despite feeling more than a little odd at the moment of celebrity, it was a most comforting gesture.

When the news of Ethan’s passing began to circulate, friends and neighbors were there…posting on Facebook, tweeting, whatever.  His folks are unemployed and overwhelmed…how to handle all the expenses?  The posters were thoughtful and concerned.  It was amazing to watch the outpouring of love and care.

A funeral home offered their services…free.  The local Chick-fil-a is holding a “spirit-day”, donating a portion of proceeds to the family. The movie theater again rallied with a donation point. Accounts have been set up at area credit unions/banks.  Generous donations were made…plans were made to help the grieving family; especially the younger brother in the coming days and weeks. The community is coming together.

While this is an awful way to find out just what the community is made of…it is an amazing, encouraging, uplifting thing to watch.  The world has seemed a cruel, hateful and mean-spirited place of late.  This event might just change things. I must say that my faith in mankind has been affected in a most positive way.

One of Ethan’s last concerns was that his little brother was getting overlooked in the whole ordeal.  He had requested that folks send his little brother postcards, too.  In response to Ethan’s concerns, folks are beginning to reach out to “little brother” which should help tremendously as he endeavors to recover from the loss of his brother/friend.

This…this is what community is all about.  People helping people.  No one asking questions, pointing fingers…just holding out their arms for a comforting embrace. Offering what they can to help where it is needed.

Ethan…I never met you…but, I truly hope you’re comfortable and at peace now.  You wanted to show people the love of Jesus…wow, I hope you can see how you affected your community!

I can honestly say that I am a better person for having experienced the outstretched hand of compassion from our far-flung community.  It’s an awesome and humbling experience.  But, interestingly, it is just as touching and life-changing to be on the other side of the equation. It is amazing and inspiring to read Ethan's mother's posts about their experience.  Her faith hasn't wavered and she is gracious and kind even in what must be life's darkest moment. She has managed to bless others in the process.

The generous, compassionate community reaction is what makes this area so special. I have seen this type of reaction time after time when bad things happen.
I love this place!

These are my people
This is where I come from
We're givin' this life everything we've got and then some
It ain't always pretty
But it's real!
That's the way we were made
Wouldn't have it any other way
These are my people!
                                                                 -Rodney Adkins

    Rest in Peace, Ethan Blevins 2003 - 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is That Even a Word?


Ever heard of it?

This is the hot new buzzword in a LOT of Agricultural circles. 


Farmers and ranchers are an independent lot.  Tough, hardworking folks that possess the ability to creatively solve problems with little input from the outside world.  Occupation, lifestyle and location make this a necessity.  Farmers account for only 2% of the population.  However, they (we) provide food, clothing and shelter for everyone else!

For many years, society enjoyed the abundance from farms with little thought as to production practices.  Why would anyone question farmers while they were busy eating/enjoying farm products?  It’s rude to talk with your mouth full. Meanwhile, farmers were far too busy producing to do much marketing or promoting. 

Farmers are also a practical lot.  When questioned about the ways of farming, they often answer with facts.  Just the facts.  Today, with much of American society three generations removed from the farm, facts and figures don’t always mean a lot.  Consumers want emotion. They want to feel good about their purchases.
That’s where agvocacy comes into play. 

An advocate is “A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.” Mix with AGRICULTURE and you get a whole new word.  AGVOCATE.  The practice and pursuit of this new word is AGVOCACY.

 In recent days, farmers and farm practices have come under attack by animal rights groups.  Much of the information put forth by these groups is erroneous and hurtful, not only to farmers, but to the American public as well.  With all the talk about CAFO’s and Factory Farms, GMO’s, hormones and pesticide use, few folks actually get beyond the rhetoric and garner any sort of understanding of the actual work of farming.

A lot of the “information” that is bandied about has little, if any, basis in fact. Many times skewed opinion becomes accepted as fact.  Before you judge practices, meet some of these people, hear their stories, and make an effort to understand. When researching any type of farming practice, be sure to get your information from the “horse’s mouth” so to speak, and not some anonymous internet source.  You will be amazed.

Unfortunately, there is a contingent that thinks anyone who farms is out to rape the land, mis-treat the animals and overcharge everyone while so doing.  Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the hope of many in agriculture to “put a face” on farmers and what we do. As AGVOCATES, farmers and ranchers bring the passion for and commitment to our life and livelihood to the public.  By telling our stories, sharing our experiences, hopes, desires and dreams, we become more transparent and real to the very folks who NEED our products. Look for more blogs about agriculture, facebook pages and twitter posts coming in the near future from farmers and farm families who run all sorts of operations…large and small, but particularly the larger producers.

I, for one, am glad to see the “big guys” get involved. Many erroneous assumptions are made about farms that are large and produce massive amounts of farm products.  Big producers are absolutely necessary and their stories need to be heard.  As small, direct marketers of farm products, we have been on the frontline for years, meeting folks and answering agricultural questions and concerns. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, “well…I didn’t know that about …(whatever)…Thank you for your information and candor!”

While anyone with any connection to agriculture can be an agvocate, the true passion and convincing emotions come from those who make their living from the land. Social media makes this easier for the farmer-agvocate to share his/her story while making it fun and easily accessible to the public.

Agvocate…yeah, it really IS a word. 

Hey!  I like that…I actually have another job description.  I’ve been an AGVOCATE for more years than I care to count. 

In order to explain why, I will borrow a line from Chris Cagle…

this is what I know,
                            this is where I'm from,
                                             and this is what I love!
                                                                                                                     From the song “I’ve got my country on”

…and I would really like to help others understand and appreciate what we do, how it’s done and why we do it. 

I’ll be keeping you posted. J

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Week of the Broiler

From March to October, the number of farm inhabitants is at its highest.  Once a month, we get a batch of broiler chicks.  While the number of broilers we process is miniscule in comparison to other producers, the principle is very similar.

This week we “processed” broilers, re-located broilers and picked up broilers.  Of course, we also fed the broilers.  If this breed of chicken has any talent whatsoever, it would be eating…and eating…and EATING! The daily move of the pasture pen is also part of our routine.

T Leighton Womack photo
We began the week by processing the eight week-old birds that were on pasture out back.  We have finally hit our groove with this activity and can get everything done and cleaned up in a relatively short period of time. The Boss and I make a pretty good team.

The birds were frozen and will be available at the Market this week. I even remembered to stock the Market freezer!

Then, the mid-sized birds had to move from the brooder to the pasture.  This involved catching them, crating them and hauling them out back.  Can’t say that this is the most enjoyable job on the farm, what with all the screaming chicks and flying dust. But it is so funny to put them in the field pen…they can’t seem to figure out WHAT just happened to them.  They adjust quickly and begin eating once more.

The brooder is cleaned up and re-furbished before the next batch of “babies” arrives. 

The day-old chicks arrive in a special box at the Post Office.

 Usually they make such a ruckus that the “post office lady” wouldn’t have to say anything when she calls, she could just hold the phone out and the peep-peeping would alert me to the situation.  Since the post office is less than a mile away, they could probably open the door and I would hear the noise and head out to pick up our new charges.

They look so warm and fuzzy there in the box.

I like to make sure each one gets a drink of water as they are taken from the box.  They begin to run around and peck and scratch as soon as they are freed from the box.  I think they begin to grow immediately.

Their cuteness doesn’t last very long.  Within a few days, they are beginning to feather out.  

They will be ready to go out to the field in a couple weeks when the whole cycle begins again. Or perhaps I should say...continues...until October when we will be done with the broiler project for the year and turn our attention to raising out a new batch of layer chicks.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

If At First You Don't Succeed...

Every year there is one crop that leaves us tearing out our hair, cussing out loud, prayerfully rejoicing, or enjoying the enormous popularity.  Sometimes…just sometimes…it does all those things (and more) in a single season.

This year, it’s SPINACH.

Spinach is one of those incredibly popular greens.  It seems EVERYONE loves spinach.  Sauteed, boiled, in salads and sides, it may surpass lettuce in its desirability.  There is no way we will ever grow enough to satisfy demand.  NO WAY.

Unless of course, we were to do this...

or perhaps this...

We MIGHT be able to meet the demand.

I hope you’ll watch those two videos.  No matter what you think of “conventional agriculture”, it is truly necessary.  The amounts of food needed to feed the world populace are bewildering and you must admire those folks who choose to work so hard for so little...for everyone else. When you watch a video like one of the above, it gives you just a little perspective as to how tiny we really are, and how much food must be produced.

Sorry, rant over….back to the spinach.

The spinach has been a challenge this year. ALL. YEAR.

First, there was the skirmish with the mice. I think I wrote about that. Yes, I did! You can read about it here.

Then, there has been a germination issue.  Same variety, same supplier, same starting soil…so how come?

Then, there was the heat, the Derecho, and more heat.

My surefire method of starting seeds in the greenhouse with all my “mouse protection paraphernalia” in place failed. It FAILED miserably! Somehow, the mouse ate ALL the bait out of the mousetraps WITHOUT tripping them, ignored the sounds of the “mouse zapper” (a device that makes a noise that is supposed to repel rodents), AND got underneath the protective screen across the flats.  He/she then proceeded to dig out and eat the seeds and seedlings out of all the flats. It was not a good start to the day.

Unfortunately, once a mouse digs in the soil and eats the seeds, I can’t just re-seed and go on.  I have tried numerous times with no success.  I don’t know why, but after a mouse attack I just have to dump out all the soil and start over again. It leaves me wondering if mouse saliva has some odd enzyme in it that prohibits germination. This is frustrating and costly and generally leaves me pitching some sort of fit in the greenhouse. The re-start also puts harvest time further away.

After much consideration, I thought perhaps direct seeding in the hoophouse might eliminate one step along the way and get us back in spinach production faster.  The Boss suggested putting diatomaceous earth over the seeds to deter the rodents that we KNOW are in the hoophouses. (the sides are rolled up on the hoophouses in the summer so all sorts of critters get inside) The diatomaceous earth is an organic substance that we generally use to keep insects out of the crops.  You can read about it here.

Lo and behold, the spinach came up beautifully!  We had great germination and fairly rapid growth.  Woohoo! Maybe I am onto

So, we decided that we would plant more, seeding directly and thus eliminating a step that was costing us time and money and making me frustrated.

…and you know what happened.

eaten spinach seeds
Something in the hoophouse ate the seeds. Long stretches of seeds were hollowed out and thrown out of my carefully seeded rows.

I sighed and re-seeded.

Then, I went to the other greenhouse (the one with fewer mouse problems) and seeded in a bunch of flats.

Presently, there is spinach germinating in both greenhouses, growing in hoophouse #2, and some more is ready to go in the ground in hoophouse #1.

I can honestly say I did  TRY...

                      TRY again!  (and again and again...)

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Rainforest" Farming

historic drought graphic from NYTimes (7/19/12)
1896 to present
While the rest of the nation sweltered through the hottest July on record and continues to endure the most widespread drought in at least 60 years (or more, depending on your news source), we are wet, wet, wet here on the hill.  As a matter of fact, we are very glad we are up on this hill; the creek paddock has been soggy all season. With the media attention on the devastating drought out West, a lot of folks figure that everyone connected with agriculture is experiencing the same thing. Few other locations are this wet. We are somewhat of an anomaly, even in our own county!

The problems caused by drought are obvious.  No rain…no plant growth.  No plant growth…no food for man or beast.  At times, irrigation is a possibility.  But, in the event of a long-term drought, priorities must be chosen and many crops are left to wither and die. Animals are taken to market ahead of schedule due to lack of forage and food. Coupled with searing heat, it is a situation devastating to the human psyche. All you can do is pray for rain.

On the other hand, the issues of TOO MUCH rain are often overlooked (except in the case of major flooding). Too much water leads to mildew and disease, rotting crops and weeds taller than the farmers. The dark, damp conditions keep the pollinators from venturing out and crop production drops off considerably. Warm, moist conditions cause parasites to thrive and then the animals suffer.  Day after day of slogging through mud and wet can also affect the human psyche.  All you can do is pray to see some sun again.

We are presently in the midst of the wettest July/August ever. We have been keeping records here on the hill since 1997, and we have never seen anything quite like this.  Since the first of July 2012, we have had 10 inches of rain. Ordinarily we have somewhere between 2 and 5 inches during this period of time.  This means that the grass has been staying wet until at least lunchtime, interfering with outside work. The grass is also growing at an inordinate rate and mowing could become a full-time job. While the amazing growth means there is more than the sheep can eat, (and that is a good thing) the tender re-growth does not stand up well to the animals’ hooves, so we need to monitor the traffic over the grass.

The incredible green-ness and lush growth is amazing, and completely un-like any late summer we have ever experienced.  It also comes with a whole new set of challenges never faced (to this degree) here on the hill. In some ways, it seems like a rainforest...minus the exotic birds.

The moisture has caused the blight in the tomatoes to run rampant.  The brown, withered plants are a dismal sight out there in the rain. Although, I must say, the ripening tomatoes do provide one bright spot in the late season garden.  Unfortunately, large amounts of rain cause those beautiful ripening tomatoes to crack open, meaning that much of the crop never makes it to Market. However, all is not lost…sauce and salsa can be made, and I have even frozen some tomato chunks for Winter Sales.

We are beginning to fear for the outcome of the winter squash harvest.  As the vines die back, the fruits should be harvested and stored in a warm, dry place.  Ordinarily, we do this on a hot, bright, dry day, thus reducing the risk of trapped moisture that will cause the squashes to rot in storage. This year, we may have to float them out of the garden like rafts.  The soggy ground is going to make harvest “interesting” and despite the mulch, the squash fruits are sitting in wet, squishy mud.  Not a good thing by any stretch of the imagination.

The copious amounts of water caused the green bean plants to grow taller and longer and then finally fall down on the ground.  Not only does this open the crop to loss through rot and “rust”, it makes them very difficult to pick. As chief picker, I can personally attest to the frustration of having to pick each long plant up and pull the beans from the bottom. We can’t just rip through them; we should get several pickings from each planting. Green beans don’t need much water, it is said that they like “dry feet”.  So, less water is definitely better, particularly in the bean patch.

Short of covering the entire farm with a gigantic umbrella, or pumping the excess off to our agricultural brethren in the mid-west, there is nothing that can be done about the soggy conditions.  Like every other challenging situation we encounter (weather or otherwise), we do what we can and make the best of it…this time… wearing our rubber boots a LOT!

Now, if we could just come up with an interesting/articulate/appropriate response to the well-meaning market customers who keep saying…”guess you’re thankful for all the rain, huh?”

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Yee-haw and Amen

The dawning of a new week is somewhat of an adventure, a bit of a gamble as it were.   The prospect of success and the possibility of accomplishment are first and foremost in our minds.  While there is the ever present opportunity for complete and utter failure, most of the time we face a new week with a positive outlook. 

This past week was no different, although we knew that it might be a push to keep on track and get everything accomplished.  Okay…I don’t think we ever get EVERYTHING accomplished…so…get MOST things accomplished.

The fair photo session and the birthday cake/supper seemed simple enough additions to the week.  Then, the rest of the chores during the week seemed to take on a life of their own.  The rain kept coming…the Boss was gone to the Wednesday Market…then the ‘coons got into the corn… Would we make it?

I am here to tell you we persevered…we did it!

The hoophouses are weeded…AND have been mostly re-planted for fall/winter harvest.

The crops have been harvested…and taken to the Market for sale.

The Fair was photographed…the Boss did some great work.  Check THIS out!

Some kale and turnips were seeded.  They have germinated, too!

The Boss got after the weeds in the brassica beds.

I planted out the last of the cukes and zukes. …and I got them mulched.

We received an order of seeds that should get us through the winter growing season. We even got a discounted price!

We saved some, a lot, of the corn from the raccoons/groundhogs or some perverse little creatures. (and sold it all)

The ewes are indeed getting bred. Yay, Waylon!

…and the birthday cake was deemed “AWESOME” by the “birthday girl”.

…oh…and the Boss brought me flowers! 
No, no particular reason…he’s just a good guy. J 

Flower Fields, …they are beautiful!

With another great Market behind us, we can say THANK YOU to our customers…

          …take a little break on Sunday…

…thank the Lord for another successful week and look forward to another one starting first thing Monday morning.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Well, Now That's NOT What I Had Planned

You just never know what will happen around here…never.

Every morning when we head out to feed the animals, we do a quick scan of the farm.  We do a cursory check of animal health, farm conditions and harvesting/weeding needs.

Occasionally, some previously unnoticed issue needs attention.  This may be some sort of animal health or housing issue or an immediate need for harvesting.  Generally, this check just confirms what we have already planned for the day. 

But, sometimes…

The Boss got out back to service the broilers before I left the barnlot.  As I fed the lambs, I noticed him checking the corn patch.  The morning light was quite nice and I wishing for my camera. 

Wait a minute…something looks odd.  Why is the Boss signaling like that?

Oh my!  Oh my MY!  What happened to that end of the cornpatch?

It seems we had some visitors overnight.  Some very destructive, very hungry visitors. 

Look at this mess!

It would appear that ‘coons got the corn and had a feast or a party last night.  They tore open and ate the corn that was just ready for Market…the beautiful, perfect ears.  They didn’t bother with the immature corn; they went for the good stuff. Not only did they eat the kernels off the cobs, they tore down the stalks and trashed the entire area. 

The Boss and I exchanged knowing looks.  Whatever we had planned for the day would have to be re-scheduled.  At some point, we would have to harvest what was left of the corn.  Otherwise, the corn party would last another night and we would be left with nothing. Fencing the area or setting out traps would be pointless. Since the critters knew about the bounty, nothing…nothing would keep them from returning to finish their feast.

We rearranged our other jobs in order to fit in this unexpected change of plans. In the afternoon, when things had finally dried out some, we set to work harvesting what was left.

There wasn’t a whole lot to harvest.  The ‘coon party took out a large portion.  A lot of the plants are small and the ears are not yet mature since I re-planted after the crow attack in the early part of the season .The enormous amounts of rain in July made it nearly impossible to work in the cornpatch, so the weeds got a little out of control, further reducing the success of the crop.

But, we will have corn for the Market!

           We will make a new plan for the cornpatch of 2013.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

Mid-August is one of those “push” times on the farm.  Experience tells us that winter will be here far sooner than we could possibly imagine, especially when we are sweltering in the summer heat and humidity.

Any green crops that are going to overwinter need to be going in the ground soon…very soon.

The hoophouses need some major attention---weeding, clearing, and planting---soon…very soon.

Any seed orders for winter stuff need to be placed soon…very soon.

The corn, potatoes and winter squash demand monitoring.  They should be harvested soon…very soon.

The onion crop, “curing” in the barn needs trimming and sorting, and to be put in storage soon…very soon.

The sheep should be breeding soon…very soon.
While we can't do anything about this one; it is an ongoing concern.

There are seeds to start, tomatoes to pick, and vegetables to can, freeze and/or dry. The green beans should be ready soon…very soon.

The last of the field crops can/should be planted.  There are squash and cucumber starts that just might be able to mature before the cold weather sets in for good.  The last of the broccoli and cabbage plants are awaiting planting. We need to do that soon, too.

There is still daily harvesting to do in the cucumber and squash patches. Oh, and what about the okra? Better check that SOON!

There are bugs and disease to battle, laundry and housework to do, and life to live...

In addition to the normal planting schedule around here, when you add the routine chores and Market preparation, sometimes it seems there might not be enough hours in the day…or the week.

But, this week has the added intrigue of two days of photographing at the R’ham County fair (The Boss has a paying gig and invited ME along)
 AND a birthday. 

No matter how old the kids get, we’ll always have to have everyone over for supper and birthday cake. J

So far, we’re doing pretty good. 

                    …okay, so it IS only Tuesday.  That’s why I keep saying …

I think I can…

     I THINK I can…

            I think I CAN…

                I THINK I CAN…

                        (it worked for the little engine! )

By the end of the week, I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to say...

                                                         WE KNEW WE COULD! J

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Special THANK-YOU to "Mrs. Squash"

MUSIC! (photo- TLeighton Womack)

There are many things to like about the Farmers’ Market.

The products, the atmosphere, the eclectic vendors, music and food are all wonderful parts that make up the whole.  But, I must say…the CUSTOMERS are the VERY best part!

We have known some of our customers from our very earliest Market days.  We've seen young people mature and start families, we have watched babies grow into interesting young folks, we have noted with great sadness the passing of older patrons.  These folks are special to us, not because they are keeping the farm in “the black”, but because we genuinely like them. They entertain us, challenge us, and make us think. We enjoy witty repartee, good-natured teasing, recipe tips and feedback. It’s fun to talk to the preschoolers as they learn about food.  I like to make the babies smile and wave. The good feelings seem to be mutual.  Many of these folks reached out to us in our own dark hour of need and continue to encourage us in all of our endeavors.

As I am always harping on about “know your farmer, know your food”, we make every effort to be friendly and approachable, in hopes of making the Market experience pleasant, as well as educational.  I attempt to remember customers’ names…and sometimes even something about them.  It makes the Market far more personal for them, and it makes the morning a whole lot more fun for me! Unfortunately, with the amount of foot traffic at the Market, we can’t possibly learn everyone’s name. (although I am working on it)  A lot of times we give regulars little nicknames…like “earphones dude”, “Mrs. Red-glasses”, “trucker-chef”, “okra man”, and so forth. Eventually, we learn their REAL names.

A couple of years ago, we noticed a customer who particularly liked yellow crookneck squash. As this is one of my personal favorites and few people appreciate this vegetable, this sweet, elderly lady and her husband were fairly easy to remember.  They didn’t come often, but when they did, she was looking for squash.  For some reason, she couldn’t find any to her liking elsewhere, so she took her chances with us on a regular basis.  When she would arrive too late for her squash, we always felt some sense of disappointment for her.

She began looking for her squash early this season and would come back occasionally for an update on the harvest.  She was SO happy when the first little squashes appeared in our Market baskets.  For the first time ever, other customers, as in LOTS of other customers, discovered the buttery deliciousness of crookneck squash.  More than once she arrived to find the basket empty; despite the fact we had more than we had ever produced in the past.

It bothers me (really bothers me) to disappoint customers…I gave her our card. “Call me before you come next time.  I can hold some for you if you like.”

She started calling. I have been reserving.  Everyone is happy!

Since I hadn’t learned her name, she became “Mrs. Squash”.  I know, how incredibly original!

Last week, I told her my dilemma.  Since I didn’t know her name I was calling her Mrs. Squash and I apologized for the nickname.  She and her husband chuckled.  They shared their real name.  We discussed gardens and vegetables. Then, she asked if I’d ever had squash pie.  Hmmm, no…but, it sounds good.

This morning, my phone rang.  “Hello!  This is Mrs. Squash! (yep, that’s what she said)  If you have my squash, I’ll see you in a bit.”

When she arrived, she presented me with a pie.  A whole squash pie!  It is beautiful! She had made it just for the Boss and me since she had told us about it last week.


Over the years, our customers have touched us deeply with their genuine caring gestures.  We have been given all sorts of gifts and had opportunities granted us that we would have missed otherwise. Many reached out to us in countless ways after “the wreck” and even ask after the kids’ wellbeing today.(someone even asked today--more than 2 years after the fact)  Most of these folks will never know how this fills a void in my own heart in a very special way.  With the exception of the Boss, our daughters (and their husbands), I have no close kinfolks with whom to share life’s journey.  To have folks understand, appreciate and care about me means a great deal. Far more than anyone will ever know.

So, THANK YOU, “Mrs. Squash”! 

                          …and thanks to the rest of you…

                                                       Y’ALL make this job great! J

         (oh...and the was delicious!)