Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Walkabout 7-12

Sunday morning 7-12-15
It sure is nice to see the sun!

In the past week, we have had at least 2 ½ inches of rain. While this is nothing compared to what they are experiencing in Texas and the Mid-West, the moisture, humidity and mud have affected everything here on the hill.

I was going to tell you how soggy it is around here. But, I realized that you could just read this… and change the date.

And, this piece was written almost exactly two years ago, so wet weather issues are nothing new.

Honestly, every year has its challenges, and this year it is moisture for us.  The odd thing is there are folks just twenty miles from here who would LOVE to see a few more drops of rain. The hilly terrain here in the Valley makes weather a VERY localized thing.
when it's not raining
it's hot and hazy and the fog often doesn't lift 'til noon

Despite the weather, there is still plenty to do.  Actually, the moisture and humidity create a unique set of issues. During the dry times we can irrigate.  But, there is no way to turn off the rain or dry things out. Fighting disease becomes an all-out battle in the gardens and hoophouses. Some of the animals struggle to remain healthy and hearty when it’s so wet. And, the grass (and weeds) just keeps growing.  It is quite unusual to see grass this lush in July.
But, the sheep are loving it!

Speaking of grass, there was a bit of a setback in the mowing department this week. When I walked into the shop Sunday morning, I was nearly knocked backwards by the smell of gasoline.  Not good!  There was a puddle under the new mower. Very definitely NOT good!  After pulling the whole thing apart, the Boss found that a tiny part needed replacing.  For $2, he was back in business. 

well, now...this can't be good!

Not so fast…the part had to be ordered. It wouldn’t arrive until Tuesday.  Do you know how much grass can grow in two days? We were definitely rockin’ the jungle look around here.

In the end, the part didn’t arrive until Wednesday afternoon.  And, it was Thursday before any mowing got done.  But, it’s all good…
mowing the jungle

The weather that allows amazing grass growth also creates havoc in the lamb flock.
lush July grass

heading out to fresh pasture through the haze

The warm, moist conditions are just right for parasites to flourish. In eating the lush grass, the lambs ingest countless oocysts (parasite eggs). These hatch inside and make their home in the lambs’ intestines, living off the nutrients that should be assimilated by the lambs.  Unlike cattle, sheep cannot survive a large parasite infestation.  They lose condition and die quickly if not treated. There are numerous parasites that cause serious problems, but this year, we are in a constant battle with Haemonchus contortus  (barber pole worms) and Moniezia expansa  (tapeworms).  Each of these parasites causes a different set of symptoms and requires specific action on our part. I don’t think we have ever had so many cases of bottlejaw in a single season.
See how fat his chin looks?
That's fluid caused by parasite overload.

We had planned to work the lambs on Monday afternoon when I got back from town, but it looked like rain.  We waited until chore time only to be trapped in the barn for a half an hour by an unexpected downpour.  Working with wet lambs is NOT at the top of my favorite things to do…but, when the rain stopped, we slogged through the mud and administered an anthelmintic.  Then, we would have to wait to see how they responded to treatment. (and do a load of laundry and take a shower…because lambs with parasites are really poopy…as my jeans and t-shirt could attest) The GROSS factor is high in animal husbandry. On a positive note, the lambs are currently ALL looking healthy.
THIS is why I have "town clothes".
the photo doesn't begin to do justice to the disgusting amount of filth

The Boss took advantage of a relatively dry morning and bush-hogged the potatoes. 
bush hogging the potato patch
see the mud?
By cutting the plants from the tubers (while the tubers remain in the ground) the skins are caused to toughen ever so slightly and the potatoes will keep better in storage.  Now, we just need another “relatively dry” day to harvest the crop.  Despite the other disappointments and failures, I must say, the Spring potato crop looks awesome! He did discover a groundhog hole in the middle of the garden, but it hasn’t been visited since he filled it in, so hopefully we won’t have to add GROUNDHOGS to the list of bothersome critters.
a groundhog hole IN the garden
There was a down-side of mowing the potatoes…the now homeless potato beetles moved into the hoophouse! I couldn’t believe it.  It’s another one of those things I can honestly say I’ve never seen before.  They were everywhere and laying eggs on everything.  Seriously?

a bumper crop of potato beetles

there were THIRTEEN on this one plant

I told you they were everywhere!
...even on my jeans

  This year’s battle with the bugs might just be my Waterloo.

portion of the onion harvest
While I battled bugs, the Boss harvested onions.  The fact that he did this job alone should tell you something. (ordinarily it takes both of us the better part of a day) For a number of reasons, the onion crop was one of the worst ever.  Those poor, spindly little plants just didn’t hold up well to all the wind and rain and weed pressure. The rains meant that the weeds grew with wild abandon and the wet ground precluded any intervention on our part. While there is indeed a harvest, it is most disappointing.  In our ongoing “onion discussions” we have come up with a number of possible solutions, but we will have to wait until next Spring to implement most of them. It’s too late in the season to start over and so we tell ourselves…there’s always next year!

first canner load of beans cooling on the porch

We found a little time to can off a few green beans for winter.  We will need to put up a few more and can some tomatoes, tomato sauce and a few other things. Sometimes, in all the planting and growing and harvesting, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we started this enterprise to feed ourselves (and our family) with the fruits of our labors. So, it is vitally important to make time for food preservation, recipe trials and home-cooked meals.

In between rain showers, we did our usual Market prep, hoping all the while that the rains would hold off. This year we are ever so greatful for the fact that the hoophouses make it possible to work at planting or harvesting despite the weather.  

However, we have a new inhabitant in the hoophouse. Thankfully, it was NOT another "whistle-pig". Did you read  this? 

This time it is the Lettuce Looper, which I didn't even know about until I Googled it.
Lettuce Looper

this one looked rather bothered that I interrupted his meal
The fat, green inchworm creatures can devastate a lettuce crop overnight. (and they did) While I know we have seen these in the past, the mass destruction was more than a little disturbing (and costly) and I spent a lot of time that should have been spent picking lettuce squishing caterpillars. Much of the crop will not recover, so I will take time today to start some more.
this WAS a leaf before the Loopers had lunch

But, there was indeed a lot to harvest, regardless of the weather. Yay for that!

the first of the peppers
aren't they pretty?

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and it did indeed rain for Market. As a matter of fact, it was torrential at times.  Doing morning chores by headlamp is not easy (or fun) but when it’s during a downpour, things get real “interesting”.  I felt bad for the Boss who was setting up our Market stand in the deluge. But, we both got through it with few serious incidents.
rain splashing on the market sidewalk

Amazingly, or maybe not…since we do have great customers, it was a great Market.  There were actually a number of customers who braved the downpours at 7 (and 8 and 9…) The heaviest of rain ended by 10 o’clock, and although it remained wet and drizzly, there were droves of shoppers and we sold almost everything we took. It may take the rest of the week for our market baskets to dry out, though.
there was no way to capture the sogginess of the Market
but, trust was WET!

The week ahead promises showers or thunderstorms every day.  Every. Single. Day. It appears we are locked into this weather pattern for the duration.  At this rate, our hay guy might NEVER cut and bale the hay for this winter. He’s given up calling us to tell us “not this week” and I am certain he will be just as relieved as we will when he does call to say it’s finally on the wagon!

Regardless of the weather, or maybe because of it, the to-do list is pretty full for the next few days.  It will be the week of meat.  Processing broilers, hauling lambs, moving broilers and getting chicks…will all be done by Wednesday. We need to get the fall potatoes in the ground and some more broccoli started…

But, now it’s nearly seven and time to head out for chores and then tie up the tomatoes (before the next big rain)…

Wait a minute…the dogs are in the garden. 
dogs in the garden on  a misty morning

HOW and WHY are the dogs in the garden? This week may include a little mystery solving as well.

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday!

Thanks for stopping by!  Come visit us again real soon.

Oh, if I could ask a favor?  Pray a little prayer, think dry thoughts, whatever… for a week (or so) of dry weather…so the hay guy can cut and bale…and we could feel slightly less waterlogged.
We truly appreciate it!

the goldfinches are enjoying the seeds from the thistles
There's a bumper crop of thistles, so we could use a LOT more finches!

Did you want to see pics from this week’s Market?  Check out the Boss’ shots at the link below.


  1. Just as usual, after a pretty traumatic week your market day went off well with all those loyal customers.
    Hope for better weather for you this coming week.

  2. Wow, Barbara, the Boss's first three snaps sure do capture that Soggy Market Feeling pretty darn well. Wow. Well, at least it's not cold and wet, right? That is even more miserable. I always wonder how insects and pests know where to find the flora and fauna they feast on? And why this year and not last or next? I always wonder about that. Anyway, I will most assuredly pray for a little drying out time for your guys.
    :) m & jb