Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Walkabout 8-9

Summer is slip slidin’ away right before our very eyes.

Fall seems to be on a lot of folks’ minds. I can’t tell you how many times it has come up in recent conversations.  On Monday, I had perhaps the longest conversation ever with one of the fellas at the farm bureau about all the signs of the upcoming winter. It didn’t seem to matter that the temperature and humidity were climbing, he was anticipating an early fall and he had just heard that the woolly worms were all black this year and that’s a sure sign of a serious winter.
I have to agree...
the light seems different

I didn’t really have time to contemplate woolly worms or think about winter, after lunch the Boss and I had to get that last load of hay stacked in the barn. And, it was getting hotter by the minute. Hay and hot weather just go together, but man, was it hot!

We were successful and there are now 441 bales of hay in the barn (with another load secured and stored in the hay guy’s shed) so, at least the sheep have food for a while during the winter…even if the woolly worm prediction is right! (I don’t even want to think about that one)

It is during the heat of August that we do need to make preparations for those cold wintry days that are sure to come (and far sooner than we usually want them, too). What garden bounty is not sold needs to be tucked away for off-season use and/or sales. To that end, we canned some squash and froze some broccoli and peppers.  The upcoming week will require more of the same. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get the rest of the potatoes dug and stored.

these chopped peppers will add color and nutrition to winter meals

one benefit of a messy garden
bush hogging the asparagus patch provided us with some off-season spears

Heat and humidity can cause disease
The odd summer weather may have caused all sorts of garden problems, but the broccoli has continued to be beautiful all summer.  Ordinarily, broccoli is a cool weather crop, but this variety does well despite the summer heat if it has enough water.  (no, I will not tell you the variety name, a girl’s gotta have a few secrets) And, that certainly hasn’t been a problem this summer. By succession planting on a 3 week schedule, we have managed to have some to offer at the Market most every week recently.

  Hopefully, this will continue until the fall crop is ready to harvest.
beautiful broccoli

Speaking of fall harvest, the Brussels sprouts are looking exceptional.  With the arrival of the tiny sprouts, it is time to trim the plants. By lopping of the lower leaves, we force the plant to put its energy into sprout development.  This also provides good air circulation, helping to prevent disease and allowing sunlight to get to the entire plant, making for big, bright green, delicious sprouts.  The hens enjoy the plant trimmings, and the garden looks tidier, so it’s a win all the way around.
tiny Brussels sprouts

trimmed plant

feast for hens

As further evidence that summer is indeed coming to a close, we started working on the Lambchop Crop of 2016. Well, the actual “work” is up to the sheep, we just got everything ready. All the animals were de-wormed, a few hooves checked, the ram outfitted, a little bit of fence put up, gates opened…and we’re in business.

Waylon is ready

the ewes go to check him out

he begins to check them out

the flock at the feeders

Sheep are seasonal breeders.  This means that the ewes’ cycle is determined by daylight length and they won’t generally breed year-round. By taking advantage of the shortening days at the earliest calendar date, there is the distinct possibility of early season lambs. We generally have lambs in January, allowing them to reach processing size by June.

If you’re interested, you can read these past August posts. 
Be sure to read the one written from Waylon’s perspective.

Since Waylon knows the routine now, it was all pretty anti-climactic. He will routinely check his ladies and when they are ready, he will “take care of things”. Other than that, he will just eat and lounge around with his harem. I will have to watch my back when feeding the flock, he gets a little protective sometimes and I really don’t want to have to do any mutton bustin’. (or for that matter, get “busted” myself)

ram marker
I know (because you asked me) many of you have wondered about his harness. This has nothing to do with the actual act of breeding. The breeding harness is fitted with a crayon (we change the color on a routine basis). This will mark the back of the ewe he mates and we will have a visual record of the event.  This allows me to have some rough idea of when that ewe will lamb (about 150 days later).  If, for some reason, she is marked with different colors, we will know that there is some sort of breeding issue that may need our attention. ….and, yes, it should only take one “encounter”. While it may seem indelicate to mention, sheep do not practice recreational copulation. (as a matter of fact, most animals don’t…but, that’s another post)

With the work of the lambchop crop in Waylon’s most capable hooves, we were free to turn our attention elsewhere.   

Thursday night I got to spend some time with one of my favorite guys

And, the hoophouses are at the top of the list.  The odd weather patterns have even caused issues in that slightly protected environment. Everything seems overgrown and I discovered some new bug lurking in the arugula.  This one was quite striking although a little shy about being photographed. It looks like some sort of copper and turquoise jewelry. I haven’t been able to ascertain what it is, but I’m guessing it’s not a beneficial insect.
it's real pretty, but I have a bad feeling about this one

It’s time to start focusing on fall/winter crops anyway, so the Boss will tear out the old crops and till and I will focus on getting stuff in the ground.

radish seedlings
see the little pink roots?

turnip seedlings

I seeded some turnips and radishes in the empty beds and they’ve already germinated. If you’re wondering about the white stuff around the seeds…it’s diatomaceous earth (a natural substance) that keeps the tiny rodents from eating the seeds before they sprout. Because despite our best efforts, there are numerous little critters that visit the hoophouses on a regular basis.

baby kale awaiting transplant
Then, there are thousands of tiny transplants in the greenhouse just waiting their trip to the hoophouses. Guess you know what I’m doing this week.

There is also a batch of broilers to process, and one to move…and there will be chicks at the Post Office by mid-week.  The potatoes need digging, the harvest continues… before we know it…it will be time for Market once again.  

8-8-15 market
another great one

…and, we’re getting a just a little impatient about the pending arrival of that next future farmhand...

In the meantime,

Happy Sunday!

(hope you get a little “cat-nap”)

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

beautiful end to another summer day


  1. As always, very well written. I hope you are working on "the book."

    1. Thanks, Jeff.
      I'm going to need some expert advice before launching off on that project. Got any pointers?

  2. Super interesting post Barbara. Hope Waylon's efforts live up to expectations.
    As for that very pretty insect - I have a feeling too - we must keep reminding ourselves that in some instances beauty is only skin-deep.

    1. Waylon has managed to exceed our expectations in the past, so here's hoping...!
      You are so very right about beauty, Pat!