Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Walkabout 11-22

offerings for the final Market of 2015

We did it!

Another Market season is in the history books!

That’s season number 18 for us…just in case anyone besides me is keeping track of those kinds of things.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Even though a great deal of our focus was on getting ready for the final Market of 2015, there were actually other activities to demand our attention. Most of the work done was just the regular business of farm life here on the hill, but a few things do stand out as somewhat notable.

On Tuesday, we were scheduled to take the last bunch of lambs to the butcher for processing.   That 70 miles of interstate travel is not one that either of us relish, but “ya gotta do what ya gotta do”.

In order to offer lamb, beef or pork for retail sale, it must be processed in a USDA inspected facility. (there are different regulations for chickens and rabbits) There are only a few of these facilities throughout the Valley. The demand for small-scale processing inspected facilities simply doesn’t warrant the investment in the costly infrastructure and compliance that is required by federal regulation. And while there are a couple of closer operations, they are more costly and one of them has a difficult time following our directions. To our mind, our chosen operation is simply the best

So, we make the interstate trip several times during the year.

loaded and ready to go

After a relatively stress-free lamb loading, we set off for the final trip of the season, talking over our plans for the rest of the day. The Boss laughingly considers the lamb hauling (and subsequent lamb chop pick-up) a mini-vacation, since we generally do something unrelated to farming as well.

At some point, I became aware of something strange with the truck.

I was trying not to comment, because I am painfully aware that I am not a great passenger, particularly on the interstate. Remarks have been made about my death-grip on the dashboard and the dents I may have made in the floorboard mashing instinctively on brakes that are not there. And, I must admit to shrieking on occasion when the big trucks decide to change lanes with no warning. But, I refuse to admit to screaming. I handle the stresses of interstate travel much better behind the wheel, but even then I would prefer a backroad. With this in mind, I make a conscious effort to restrain myself on these trips.

Looking over at the Boss, I saw that little furrow in his brow growing as he listened intently. “hey… did you hear that?” He cocked his head when the truck shifted gears.

I wasn’t imagining things!

When you drive a geriatric vehicle (the farm truck is 20 years old), you get used to the odd little noises and idiosyncrasies that develop over time. You tell yourself that these give the truck character and you try to overlook the minor ones, knowing that the weird rattles, the big crack in the dashboard, the malfunctioning gas gauge and non-existent radio reception (among other things) are not worth a monthly payment that would come with a newer vehicle.

However, lately, the dodge had developed some odd potential transmission issues that the Boss had been “keeping an eye on”. It was an intermittent concern, that hadn’t couldn’t be identified as an actual problem. We had each noticed it on separate occasions, but it corrected itself. However, now, out on the interstate, with a load of lambs on the back, the “transmission issues” flared again.

The truck shifted needlessly, over and over. And over. Even my untrained mechanical mind knew that wasn’t quite right. The Boss began to look my direction with every gear change.

Should we continue on? What was plan B? What happens if this is a big problem and we end up stranded 70miles from home? Or worse, get stranded with these lambs before we get there? There wasn't any possibility of re-scheduling...processing dates are secured way in advance. It would be after the new year before we could get another appointment. So,  we brainstormed as we continued to drive and the truck continued to shift.

pretty day for a roadtrip
but, we turned around at the next exit

We finally decided to turn around, hook up to the other vehicle and try again. We were closer to home than our destination, it would put us behind schedule, but that was better than the possible alternatives.

We got off the interstate at the next exit and began the Southbound trip to the hill.

And, the problem never recurred for the entire ride back to the hill! Seriously. This was too weird. 

We kept looking at one another, trying to see if we had imagined the whole thing. Maybe we both over-reacted…? But, rather than take a chance, we went ahead with plan B. Hook the trailer to the Xterra and try again.

The Boss could solve the truck “issues” at a later date. (which, for the record, have yet to recur)

Of course, it wasn’t just a matter of un-hitching from one vehicle and hitching to the other. (of course) There was some level of work involved and SiL#1 was praised profusely for his wiring prowess when he installed the hitch several years ago. Yay, Josh!

…and we were off.

this might not look like a FARM vehicle
but, it worked!

It has been said that the only difference between an ordeal and an adventure is ATTITUDE. So, we were going with “adventure”…because we have indeed had some ORDEALS when it comes to travel.

This time, the trip Northbound was completely uneventful.  We got the lambs off, the cutting instructions delivered and finally got around to some lunch, before setting off on the rest of our journey, because we rarely just make a trip from point A to point B. And we were only about an hour and a half behind schedule.

The day also included a trip out to the produce supply warehouse to purchase a bunch of plastic flats for next growing season…and beyond. (the Boss says I got enough to last for YEARS) Even though I try to be frugal and often re-use the flats, the plastic is thin and brittle. During the course of the season, the individual cells occasionally tear as we pull the transplants out and sometimes the heat of the summer greenhouse causes them to melt into unusable blobs. And, Gus has eaten a few. (although he seems to have lost his taste for plastic lately) So, you can never have too many.

some of my seed starting stash

Before you know it…it will be time to start seeds for next year!

The prices offered by the Supply Company make it worth a drive out into the country. It used to be an egg farm, but about 10 years ago, they transitioned over to supply and now it seems they have EVERYTHING. The setting is in beautiful farm country and the whole thing should be worthy of its own post.  Maybe next trip…

With cold weather predicted, the Boss did a few odd jobs in preparation, like repairing the henhouse.

 Work on the henhouse is always interesting, all the chickens squawk and fly around with every single pulse of the drill. He also addressed the electric fence issues, eliminating any further episodes of the chicken rodeo. 

With the odds and ends taken care of and the demands of the Market completed for the season, we can focus on garden clean-up before the snow flies.

With the hens on clean-up detail in the garden
we get some truly "pastured" eggs!
And, speaking of snow… 

Gus and Ellie watch as the Boss gets driving tips
 Our neighbor has a contract with the state to push snow off the backroads in this area with his fleet of trucks and big equipment. He’s always looking for drivers and asked the Boss if he’d be interested in hiring on during snow season. The pay is good and it is a chance for the Boss to put his driving skills to the challenge. He brought the big Case 7240 by so he could give the Boss a few pointers on operation.   For the first time in…well…forever…I think the Boss is looking forward to snow, if for no other reason than he gets to drive something with 18 forward gears!

cold morning for Market

The final Market day of the year dawned clear and COLD. It was just 28* downtown, so we couldn't put all the produce out and there were other "weather-related issues"  to contend with.

setting up in cold weather

 But, all in all, we had a pretty amazing sale day! (although I’m still wondering if I did the math right) After the Market, a number of vendors went to lunch together at a downtown restaurant in celebration. It’s always nice to get a chance to visit with other producers without the interruptions of a sales day. I’m pretty sure everyone was looking forward to the somewhat slower pace that the “off-season” grants.

But, for the record…NOBODY said anything about island vacations or cruises. Although more than one person did say they wanted to take a nap.

Personally, we won’t have much down-time before it’s time to focus on Winter sales. …and then it will be lambing season…and honestly, our annual planning meeting is just a month away, so there’s no time to relax and put our feet up. But, Thanksgiving week is coming…and this year we have reasons to be doubly thankful and I really want to take the time to appreciate all that. (but, that’s next week’s post)

I hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

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

end of another week


  1. We used to travel in our motorhome towing our car behind us. There were many occasions on the
    interstate when we ran into tense situations. Always additionally "chancy" when you have to consider
    that something is hitched to your vehicle. Felt my heart beating while reading about your predicament.
    Always best to turn around before you reach the point of no return.

  2. I love reading about your adventures (and misadventures) Barbara. That mishap with trailer would be called 'sod's law' here. Have a bit of a break at Thanksgiving - you have definitely earned it.

  3. Great article with! I appreciate your post. Thanks so much and let keep on sharing your stuffs keep it up.