Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Walkabout 11-2

There’s just no denying it.  It’s NOVEMBER!

7am at November 1, 2014 market

It’s cold, it’s dark and it’s windy.  And, the time changed (which explains why I was up and typing before 4 A.M. ...on a Sunday, no less) It is definitely November.  And, from my informal survey at the Market yesterday, I have to say it’s no one’s favorite month. But, we’ll just have to make the best of it, time change, wind and everything.

Since it’s Sunday, we’ll take a quick tour of the farm to see what’s been going on this week.  

In a word…not much.  Wait, that’s two words. We are really doing plenty of stuff…but, it’s mostly fall clean-up and winter preparation and these necessary activities don’t make for great photo ops. Do you want pics of the Boss dis-connecting the irrigation system?  I didn’t think so.

the finished job
We are breathing a big sigh of relief after completing one job that has been hanging over our heads all summer.  Hoophouse #2 had developed a hole in the plastic (yes, again) and needed to be repaired.
there is no way to easily fix a hole in the TOP of the hoophouse
 Unfortunately, the hole was discovered as we put the shadecloth on for the summer season.  If we waited for the new plastic to arrive before applying the shadecloth, all the little plants inside would cook.  But, by waiting until time to remove the shadecloth (due to the lengthening shadows) we would end up racing the cooler weather. (hoophouse work should be done when it’s warm to allow the plastic to stretch properly). The new plastic had been sitting in the shop for months, just waiting for the “perfect” day.  With no “perfect” day in the forecast, the Boss simply declared it “hoophouse day” and we were going to forge ahead with the job no matter what.

There was one warm-ish, clear day in the forecast for the week and Monday was it. When I left for the town run, I knew that the hoophouse was the job du jour when I got back.  However, I wasn’t prepared for the sight of the half-destroyed hoophouse that greeted me upon my arrival. I don’t know what was more disconcerting, the hoophouse demolition or the breezes that were getting more substantial by the moment.   The down-side to a beautiful, “warm-ish” clear day is the WIND.

when I left everything was pretty peaceful

Yikes! No going back now!

It always seems to happen.  Whenever we have a job involving a big piece of plastic, the wind starts to blow…and blow. Wind always makes for some good times involving hoophouse construction. (not!)
off with the old

on with the new

wind...ya just gotta have wind!

more wind

attaching the plastic with "wiggle wire"

it's my job to apply constant pressure

a little trim work and we're nearly done

Long story short…the hoophouse has a new skin despite the wind, a few sore muscles and broken fingernails. We used a woven poly this time, hoping that it will last a little longer.  While this hoophouse was a “such a great deal” a few years back, it certainly has caused its fair share of issues.  Yes, we have learned more than a few hoophouse lessons over the years. There is no doubt that hoophouse #2 will be making a guest appearance in my blog series.
lookin' good

blisters, cuts and flattened fingernails
are just part of the job

With the hoophouse complete, we took a little break, making a trip over the mountain on our annual trip to Nelson County for apples.
Vesuvius, VA
 It’s always a pretty drive up through the mountains, but I’m pretty sure that was the last of the amazing fall colors for this season. 

We included lunch at Wild Wolf Brewery since it’s the Boss’ birthday and made a “day” of it.
this is what happens when you take a photographer to lunch

it was a perfect day for outdoor dining
But, even our day “off” included a stop to pick up fertilizer for use in the greenhouses.  Do we know how to have fun, or what?

If you needed any proof as to the total glamor of our lifestyle, here is how I spent a portion of last Sunday afternoon.

…in the brooder…on my knees…catching chicks and cleaning the poop off their little behinds. (I'll spare you the up close pics) While it wasn’t the most pleasant of jobs, it was crucial to their survival. Poor little things, many of them were all plugged up and it was beginning to affect their health.  Not all of the birds were affected, and we have never had this issue (to this extent) so we haven’t come up with a real cause yet. Other than this particular problem, they seem very healthy and vigorous.

Personally, I think they got chilled in transit; they were pretty cold when I picked them up at the Post office. But, I don’t think the Boss bought that theory.  Whatever the cause, now they are clean and we haven’t seen any further problems. And, it’s amazing how much they grow in just a few days.

peeking in one greenhouse from the back porch
the other greenhouse is full, too
It’s also amazing what a change in seeds and potting soil made in our germination rates. All season I’ve been struggling with “issues” with my spinach seedlings.  It looks like I finally hit upon the solution and we should have spinach in great abundance in short order.  That should make our customers happy!

Speaking of customers…the Market season is finally winding down.  All the vendors I’ve talked to are quite glad there are only three more weeks. 

I’ll be real honest.
November at the Market is hard.
 A lot of vendors quit for the year.  Either they don’t have any more produce, or they have other obligations (most of them have full-time jobs that are NOT farming) and at least one guy is headed to the woods for huntin’ season. Produce production is limited this time of year, it takes a lot of creativity and infrastructure to maintain growth after frost.  And, the customers…while the stalwart Market customers will come rain, snow, sleet or dark of night…the numbers do drop substantially after tomato and sweet corn season pass. The cold weather also makes it hard to get musicians to come out to perform and the ambiance of the Market suffers. The vendors who do stick it out until the bitter end are more than a little weary and ready to “take a break”.  But, despite all that AND a miserable forecast (it even included the “s” word at one point), once the townspeople got going, the Market was great.  

I mean really GREAT! (use your "Tony the tiger" voice here)

As a matter of fact, the Market set an all-time earnings record (for the year) and there are still 3 weeks until the end of the season! Is that awesome, or what? 

We finished off the week with a family supper for the Boss’ birthday.  We had planned on a bonfire, but the weather changed our plans.  I’m pretty sure Tbone was more than a little disappointed as he has been hoping to use his tractor and clear out the big fallen pine out front since the Derecho took it down over two years ago.  Sorry, Tbone.  Maybe next time…

Another week on the hill goes into the history books.  The upcoming week promises to be busy as “winterizing” begins in earnest.  The irrigation lines have been dis-connected, so the gardens need a final clean-up. The last batch of broilers will be processed in the morning.  We haul the last bunch of lambs to the butcher on Tuesday.  There are quite literally thousands of seedlings to go in the hoophouses and someone has to teach the hens to go inside at nighttime. 

…yes, the week ahead should be interesting.

But, first a little relaxing and enjoying a 

 Happy Sunday!

Thanks for stopping by.  Hope you’ll “visit” us again real soon. 

Don’t forget the Ag Blogging challenge…read along with Holly Spangler and all the other Ag Bloggers during the month of November.

30 Days Bloggers
·         The Pinke Post: 30 Days of Women in Agriculture
·         Standing out in the Field: 30 Days of Faces Behind Your Food
·         Prairie Californian: 30 Days of Food
·         Becoming Texan: 30 Days of Texas Panhandle Agriculture
·         AgTechTalk: 30 Days of Ag Tech           
·         Sowing Bountifully: 30 Days with a Small Town Girl on a Big 10 Campus
·         Mackinson Dairy Farm: 30 Days of Dairy
·         Cows, Corn and Communications: 30 Days of Dairy Farm Life Blessings
·         Morning Joy Farm: 30 Days of Agriculture – The Agriculture Book List
·         Holbrook Honey and Hop Yard: 30 Days of Preparation for the Future                
·         Minnesota Farm Living: 30 Days of All Things Minnesota Agriculture
·         Beyond the Pasture: 30 Days of Lessons I Learned on the Farm
·         Kellie for Ag: 30 Songs about Raising Cattle
·         Homestead Hill Farm: 30 Days of Lessons from the Farm
·         Montana Stockgrowers Association Blog: 10 Things to Know About Beef Cattle
·         Country Girl Creations: 30 Things I Want My Farm Girl to Know   
·         Life of a Future Farmer: 30 Days of Thoughts of a Future Farmer           
·         Farver Farms: 30 Days of Dirt Roads
·         Carolyn CAREs Blog: 30 Things I Love
·         Confessions of a Suburbanite Agvocate: 30 Days in the Life of an Ag Comm Student
·         The Velvet Farmer: 30 Days from the View of a Agriculture Student
·         Agriculture: A Way of Life: Series Name
·         Cox Farm: 30 Things That Farming Has Taught Me
·         Walking the Off-Beaten Path: 30 Days of Farming: It's a Balancing Act   
·         The Magic Farmhouse: 30 Days of Illinois Farms and Food
·         The Farmer's Wifee: 30 Days of Farm Thanks

And if you’re looking for a lesson from this week’s activities…

A farmer’s work is NEVER done.  No kidding!

I'm pretty sure I can spot at least 10 items for the "to-do" list!


  1. Barbara, I never cease to be impressed. Also you must wash all your potatoes by hand to get them so beautifully clean.

  2. Another great read and wonderful photos!