Saturday, November 30, 2013

End of the Month

It’s the end of the month…time to flip that old calendar page…time to move on to the next thing…

It’s the end of November! 

The end of November brings the first of the seed catalogs.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the anticipation of the upcoming season when the seed catalogs are new. Did you read this?
It's just mean to use pictures of tomatoes this time of year!

But, first I need to work through all the filing and bookwork that is cluttering my desk. To say I’m running a little behind on my computer input work would be a gross understatement.  It’s far more interesting and entertaining to sit here and read/write (or go out and take photos) than file, but good record keeping is an essential part of farm work. This will give us an opportunity to recall the big successes and the dismal failures.  It would be our goal to repeat the successes and avoid the failures in the futures.   

ice crystals on the window
When we flip the calendar page to December, it will be time to start our Winter sales, do the final garden clean-up and winterize the barn before the ewes come up from the creek paddock in anticipation of lambing season…and then there are a million little odd jobs that seem to crop up out of nowhere. (and it would probably be greatly appreciated if I did a little housecleaning!)

The end of November also means the end of the 30 days of blogging challenge. 


It was far more difficult to complete 30 days of consecutive blogging than I had anticipated.  As a matter of fact, I had to play catch-up more than once. (…and…no, I couldn’t let the month end without 30 entries…just couldn’t do it!) But, I really appreciated the challenge and learned a good deal in the process. ..and I read some great blog entries from other folks. As for my hope that I would learn to be more concise...ain't gonna happen. 

Thanks to Holly Spangler for the challenge and thanks to all the other writers who inspired me as they wrote.  I will be looking forward to next year! If you didn’t happen to check it out…here’s the link one more time.

Don’t worry, I’ll be back in December…but, I’m pretty sure it won’t be  (as a matter of fact, don't miss our Sunday Walkabout "thanksgiving edition" tomorrow)
a frosty morning on Sugarloaf Mountain

Thanks for reading!

**If you missed any of my 30 days of blogging, you can find the entire list HERE.**

day six A Wordless Wednesday
day seven A Thursday Thankful: FOOD
day eight Lookin' Out for the "Little Guy"
day nine Some Serious Shopping
day ten Sunday Walkabout 11-10
day eleven...and on less...
day twelve Tomorrow's Another Day
day thirteen Meet the Corporate Farm
day fourteen Everyone Knows You Can't Freeze Lettuce
day fifteen Sunday Walkabout 11-17
day sixteen David vs. Goliath
day seventeen You Don't LOOK Like a Farmer
day eighteen When Did Gus Become a Farm Dog?
day nineteen Oh No...vember
day twenty Weird and Wacky Wednesday
day twenty-one The Thing Sheep Do Best
day twenty-two End of the Season
day twenty-three Braggin' Rights
day twenty-four Sunday Walkabout 11-24
day twenty-five V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N
day twenty-six Count-down to T-day
day twenty-seven #foodthanks
day twenty-eight Thanksgiving Memory
day twenty-nine Black Friday on the Hill

Black Friday on the Hill

the creek paddock
(see the Boss way over  yonder?)
I totally wimped out on the Black Friday shopping this year. 

It had become an “annual girls’ day out” but, I bailed this year and stayed home with the hope of getting some much needed extra sleep.

However, that was not to be. 

I woke at 5:30 with the horrible, foreboding feeling that I’d left the hoophouse irrigation hooked up and perhaps it had frozen and broken and water would be all over the place.  (not that I’ve ever done that in the past, or anything)  Fortunately, I had remembered the proper sequence and all was well.  Except for sleeping in…

Holiday or no…the animals need attention.  So, while other folks were out Black Friday-ing, we were doing chores.
checking the fence

Then, I got to help the Boss check fence and assist him in taking the ewes down to the creek paddock.  They have a lot of grass to eat down there and that should keep them occupied until Christmastime or the first big snow.
escorting the ewes to "greener pastures"

some of the ewes enjoying the creek paddock

For our part, we have lots of leftovers and pie to eat.

 (which may keep us occupied until Christmastime…or the first big snow!)

There's one last day for the 30 days bloggers (yes, I am a day behind...the holiday messed me up. I'll be catching up today)  Check out Holly Spangler at
and read along with the rest of the 
30 Days Bloggers

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Memory

**ooops...forgot to hit publish yesterday**

Awww…look what I found when I was rooting around through some old stuff!

That was Amanda's first Thanksgiving. Our first Thanksgiving as a family. Wow!…seems like about a million years ago.

A lot has happened in the twenty-three years since that photo was taken.  I mean besides the kids growing up and the parents growing old(er).

There have been heartaches and hard work, laughter and tears, life-altering events, beginnings and endings and we picked up a couple of sons-in-law along the way. As a family, we have had our ups and downs, our little arguments and real big fights.  But, one thing has been constant…we have always been together as a family unit for Thanksgiving.  Always.

That’s not something to take lightly.  Lots of folks are missing someone today.  Lots of folks don’t have anyone to miss…at all.  Lots of folks are lonely and hurting on this most festive day.

In the end, I don’t think the food, no matter how delicious, will be the thing that we all remember.  We probably won’t even remember whether we all took a long walk to burn off the calories, or if we crashed in front of the television. We might remember funny things that someone said, but then again, we might not.  It won’t matter who wore what, or if anybody helped do the dishes. We will just remember that we were all here…together.
...and it's still hard to get everyone to pose!

…and that is a priceless memory. (for which I am ever thankful)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I’m up to my elbows in holiday food preparation.  Literally!

As I stir and mix and bake, considerations and questions abound. 

Have I allowed enough time to get all the food prep done?  Should I use more chocolate chips?  Will I run out of cream cheese?  Where is that new recipe I wanted to try? Why isn’t my cranberry sauce jelling like it should?  Will the roast and chicken thaw in time? 

What do I do with this enormous sweet potato?
a gift from a market vendor
it looks like it should feed us all winter!
Thanks, Rachel

After a while, I start thinking a little more philosophically.  Does it matter that the cinnamon is from Vietnam?  The vanilla (and some of the chocolate) from Mexico?  Did you know that the cranberries are from Canada?  …and then should I consider HOW all this stuff was grown and/or transported?

We grow most of our own food.  We sell all our products locally. While this works great for us…I’m really thankful that I am not solely dependent on local/homegrown goods for our holiday celebration.  Without the option to have food from elsewhere, we’d be without cinnamon and vanilla (not to mention sugar/spices and tea) …and the cranberry sauce (that still doesn’t want to jell) wouldn’t add color and flavor to our holiday table. …and the cake mix is necessary to my favorite Pumpkin Pie Squares.

Personally, while I prepare the food that my family will enjoy for the Thanksgiving feast, I’m thankful that I have the choices and the options. I have the luxury to pick any of those mouth-watering entries that are all over my newsfeed and cover pages of magazines and account for countless of entries on Pinterest.  There are some limiting factors, but for the most part…I can serve anything I want. …and that is not a privilege that should be taken lightly. 

All this bounty is a gift, a luxury, something that far too many do not have.    I can't get Danny Gokey's song "It's Only" out of my mind. it.

So, while I’m headed back to the kitchen and my stirring and baking…here’s a big THANK YOU to all those other farmers (wherever they may be) who worked so hard to produce the food products for our table.

…and a special prayer (and a promise to help) for those in need.

Want to help?  Want to say THANK YOU? Check out

There are just a few days left of the blogging challenge.  Check out Holly Spangler and the other bloggers  here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Count-down to T-Day

TLW photo-the "holiday bird"
The menu has been approved.  The supplies procured. My carefully made to-do lists are threatening to overtake the kitchen, the office, the living room. Every flat surface is covered with the odd and random.
I have a system...REALLY!

It must be the holiday season! The nut bowl has made its annual appearance on the coffee table. The nut bowl is one of the relics from the Boss’ childhood, and it’s just not the holidays without it!

We are in the countdown stage to T-day.  It’s time to clean and cook and clean some more. ...and re-check my calculations to make sure that everything makes it to the table on time.

I really like the challenge of “the big day”...but, it does get a little chaotic sometimes.  Our house is small and when everyone gathers in the kitchen, it’s a tight fit.  It pays to have most of the prep. work done ahead of time.

This year (due to a mis-communication with the butcher) our menu is slightly different.  We’ll have to eat that HUGE lamb roast ourselves. I’m pretty sure we’d have a hard time selling the enormous thing! Besides, nobody will complain about a beautiful leg of lamb for our holiday table (I hope!) …and no, there won’t be a turkey. Sorry, poultry producers! **A special request to my turkey raising friends…Please read this! **

But, there will be two kinds of meat and lots of vegetables, dressing and rolls…and pies and fudge and…

So…I’m off!

This gig takes a lot of concentration, more than a little motivation and perseverance and…borrowing from “George Dub-ya” (SNL's Will Ferrell as #43)some strategery.  (Here, watch this and tell me you don’t laugh.)

'cause it's imperative to have (and to keep and maintain) a sense of humor… during the whole holiday shindig.

Wish me luck.

Follow along with the other 30 Days Bloggers

Monday, November 25, 2013


What does that spell?

V-a-c-a-t-i-o-n...what IS that? I can assure you it's not a word that's used with any regularity in our vocabulary.

It’s been nearly twenty years since we visited the beach and we have only been away from the farm overnight once. (We spent two nights at Douthat State Park for our 25th anniversary while T-bone and Blondie "farm-sat" for us) To say that our lifestyle is somewhat unusual may be an understatement. But, who said farmers...especially market farmers...were usual, anyway?

When the Farmers’ Market closes for the season, a number of our customers figure that the vendors hibernate, head for the islands or go back to some sort of “normal” life. That notion amuses and bemuses those vendors who make their living from their farms.There is no way to communicate the amount of continual planning and constant attention that farming requires. But, I keep trying.

grey and gloomy day

Rather than head to the islands, we head to the hoophouses and greenhouses. Even on a cold and gloomy day, it is warm and bright in the houses.
same day
the lettuce is brilliant

Rather than hibernate, we’re getting caught up on paperwork, planning next year’s crops and doing any repair/maintenance jobs that didn’t get completed during the summer. Although, we do make time for a couple of fieldtrips (and maybe a nap or two!)
it's delightful to peruse seed catalogs
in mid-winter

As for a “normal life”...ha!  There are crops to maintain, new varieties to research, weekly newsletters to write, taxes to file, sales to make and lambing will commence in mid-January. All that stuff takes time.

It has been suggested that we simply “hire a man in” to do some of our work while we do something fun or take a trip. Uh, right...and just where do I go to hire this guy?  It’s not like there’s a rent-a-farmer store on every corner. (although I may have just inadvertently come up with a new business  Farming takes skill and experience and sometimes that combination is more than a little hard to find. (and everyone we know is busy, too) In case of an emergency...we know help will be here. But, taking a break doesn't qualify as an emergency.

It's hard to explain to our customers that we don’t simply show up at the Market on  Saturday mornings. We’ve been planning, seeding, planting, studying, researching, feeding, maintaining, hauling, marketing, recording, weeding, processing, harvesting and preparing all during the off-season. We actually produce everything we sell. (yep, just the two of us)

Some crops have to be in the ground for many months prior to enjoying. It takes approximately 10 months from the time we start breeding sheep until the lambchop crop is ready for the table.  Garlic goes in the ground in October and isn’t harvested until June/July. Tomatoes are started in February or March for harvest in late July through September.   Read this.

All the little transplants are started in the greenhouses and later planted either in the hoophouses or directly in the gardens.  The seed starting requires both knowledge and skill and the ability to maintain some sort of heat and irrigation.  That means that I canNOT forget to open the windows or water the seedlings. (I’ve forgotten both on more than one occasion and cooked the entire crop...throwing all my careful calculations for harvest times right out the window)
kale seedlings

seedlings as far as you can see...

the most disturbing greenhouse sight...
cooked seedlings

I’m not complaining by any stretch of the imagination. No, wait...I WAS complaining when it was 15* this morning as I headed out to feed  the sheep.  Frozen stock tanks and waterlines aren’t fun.  Hauling buckets of water is even less fun.  But, winter (and all it’s weather issues) is just part of life.  So, get over it...put on another pair of socks/gloves and get the job done.

Nope, the off-season is not a “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N in the summer sun…”

...but, it does provide a change of pace and the chance to get caught up once more (or at least make some attempt ...and grants us a little quality time with the woodstove. Read this one.
There are only a few days left in the 30 day blogging challenge. I really hope you'll check in with Holly Spangler and all the other bloggers.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Walkabout 11-24

Well, yet another November week has slipped away…

 The leaves have nearly all blown away and the pastures are losing their verdant color.  Late fall has come to the hill.

This week saw the Boss continuing work on his front fence project.
 The weather and his “helpers” are really slowing the project. He’s hoping to get it finished before the winter weather sets in. 
Ellie is "safety supervisor"
and really didn't like that back tire up in the air like that
Gus has "inspected" every post hole
and has re-dug a couple of them
 And, it just wouldn't be a Sunday post without a few sky shots!

full moon at sunrise

waning moon at sunrise

Then, almost before we knew it, it was time to pack up the trailer for the last Market of the season. 
packed and ready to go

heading out for market
We had a great day!  It was our second best “last day of the market” ever.  A big thank-you to all our customers for making it possible for us to make a living at what we love.
a full stand at the beginning of Market
(it was a challenge to keep those baskets full)

near the end of the day
very few leftovers this week!

 At the end of the Market, some of the vendors took the time to have a group lunch.  It was a nice way to note the end of a great Market year. Maybe we can make it an annual event.

It looks like this season was #2 in all-time sales.  Congratulations to all the vendors who work so hard to make the Market a success! 

Today is cold…real cold.  It was 17* at morning choretime and the wind is blowing quite fiercely, so it feels far colder.  It’s a good day to sit by the woodstove and plan out my Thanksgiving menu.
couple of catnapping kitties

Hope you’re enjoying a warm, wonderful and

Happy Sunday!

Y’all come on back, now…ya hear?

Follow Holly and the other 30 days bloggers here.