Monday, October 19, 2015

Sunday Walkabout 10-18

I love 'taters!
Can you believe that October is more than halfway done? Fall seems to go by so very quickly and Saturday’s chilly, breezy weather had all the Market customers talking about Winter and the “s” word. Quite honestly, I’d prefer not to think about that for a while yet. Or, better yet…not at all!

It was another productive week here on the hill and we were able to get a number of things done that absolutely HAVE to be done before Winter really does get here.  Because, whether I want to think about it (or not) it IS going to happen!

The Boss wanted to take advantage of both Monday’s holiday and a predicted long stretch of good weather to get another fencing project underway. This project has been on “the list” for a long time and he was looking forward to finally checking it off.

However, before he finished setting the first pole, the weather forecast was updated to include the coldest temperatures of the season and no real promise that things would warm back up. So, another job took priority. Make that two jobs took priority. The fall potatoes needed to get OUT of the ground and the garlic for 2016 needed to get INTO the ground. The fence would have to wait. (again) But, it's not like the job is going anywhere.

despite the use of the tractor
we still pick up the spuds by hand

The biggest job of the week was digging potatoes. For some unexplainable reason, this is one of my favorite jobs. Read THIS. It’s kind of like a controlled treasure hunt. 

potato plow opens up the row and potatoes roll out

yukon gold potato

This year’s “treasure hunt” yielded well over 20 bushels from our fairly small “fall potato garden” that’s just about 7,500 square feet. While that’s nothing compared to a lot of growers, we’re very pleased. Red potatoes and Yukons golds are all stored in the reefer, awaiting winter sales.
red potatoes ready for storage

While I was in town, the Boss planted the seed garlic for the 2016 crop. I got to take a little trip over to Draft as well…look at the views.
on my way to the Draft I spotted a huge field of sunflowers

in the Draft, I had lunch with a cute guy
on the way home from Draft, I saw part of the soybean harvest

preparing garlic for planting

Someone recently asked HOW seed garlic is different from say, any other garlic? In all honesty, it’s not. In order to get more garlic, to perpetuate the species, the heads of garlic are broken into individual cloves. Then, those are planted in the garden. Yes, garlic does actually make a seed, but quite often the seeds are sterile. It is far more efficient and effective to break the heads apart and plant the cloves. The garlic heads chosen for seedstock are generally the very biggest ones. These will, in theory at least, produce very big bulbs. (although much depends on the weather and soil fertility) Now, it is a waiting game…since we won’t be harvesting those bulbs until next June. Did you read about garlic harvest? We will just have to hope for a bumper crop in 2016.

 Farming is all about looking ahead.

hauling broccoli back to the processing shed

Speaking of bumper crops...
The fall crop of brassicas is definitely making up for the dismal failure of early Spring! 

beautiful cauliflower

This is some of the prettiest cauliflower we have ever grown…and the broccoli harvest has been phenomenal.  That weird looking Broccoli Romanesco have started more than a few interesting conversations at the Market, too. (FYI, it IS really tasty!)

Broccoli Romanesco

Remember the garlic I planted in the hoophouse last week to use for green garlic in the early spring? Look at this!
there is always hope of next season
(and weeds...there are always weeds)

The cold weather I referred to earlier resulted in a freeze warning being issued for Saturday and Sunday nights. There is a difference in a freeze warning and the possibility of frost. You did know that, right? We might see frost here on the hill if the night is very clear and still…and even if the ambient temperature is in the low 40’s. Yes, I know, freezing is 32*, but FROST will occur at higher temperatures. (I have pictures)
frost on the grass

On the other hand, a FREEZE warning is issued when the temperature will fall BELOW 32*, damaging/killing some plant life. Around here that generally happens around October 15 (right on time this year) and effectively ends the growing season. This week, we saw both. (and tonight is supposed to be even colder) Although, it does look like temperatures in the week ahead should moderate somewhat.

In yet another sign of fall, I noted that the group of milkweed plants down along the front fenceline had not only multiplied, but that the pods had split open and the seeds were sailing off in the wind. Milkweed plants are the favored food of the Monarch butterflies and for that very reason many folks are set on saving them and possibly propagating them. They are actually a considered a weed and can be somewhat problematic to farmers in the fields. Some varieties are poisonous as well. Since there are only a few plants, and they aren't in grazing locations, we aren’t too concerned with them. Besides, they do make for some cool photos.

 This year, I noticed something new in the plants. Or, at least something I've never seen before.

milkweed bugs

These are milkweed bugs (real original name, don’t ya think?) They survive on the sap of the plants and in many cases cause the plants to wilt and die. (yes, and impact the Monarch’s food source)  Well, how ‘bout that? You learn something new every day.

As the days shorten and the temperatures drop, farm chores expand to include opening all the structures in the mornings…and closing them all again at night.
opening the hoophouse in the morning

closing the hoophouse at dusk

The bright sunlight will cook all our hoophouse/greenhouse crops if we don’t regulate the temperatures.  By closing the sides at night, we grant a little extra protection to the crops. And, the chicks in the brooder need to be looked after as well. While it does add somewhat to the workload, the differing light on both ends of the day makes for some interesting photos!
checking on the chicks before Market

…and just like that it was time for Market once more.
sunrise over Staunton

It was a beautiful morning and we had a great day!

he wasn't too impressed with blogging

Then we had a very small houseguest for the weekend.  Since Tbone and Blondie were celebrating their anniversary and they had friends celebrating as well, Mr. B came to stay overnight with Grandpa and Mamaw while his folks went out of town. This was a first for everyone.

We realized just how very long it had been since we had a baby (and we feel REAL old now). But, I am glad to report that everyone survived and probably enjoyed their unusual weekend. Happy Anniversary, kids!
photo courtesy of Grandpa

The upcoming week promises to be another busy one. But, the temperatures should moderate, and we have one fun excursion planned.

Hope you indeed had a Happy Sunday! 

Thanks for stopping by!  Please plan on visiting us again real soon.

beautiful October skies

fall in M'brook

Want to see the Boss’ photos of this week’s Market?


  1. As usual Barbara, a good comprehensive review of your weeks work. I adore Romanesco - we have it here and it is lovely with cheese sauce.

    As for your house guest - well who wouldn't be bowled over by such a handsome chap.

  2. Very nice and beautiful blog Barbara.
    I appreciate your work.
    Thanks for sharing your experience with us.