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.  

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