Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 3-20

This week has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride courtesy of the weather.

I know, I know...I must sound like I am on some sort of continuous loop with the whole subject. But, seriously, the weather affects EVERYTHING!

In the past seven days, we have had a little bit of most every kind of weather.

Monday we had rain and even heard the rumble of thunder. By Wednesday the temperature was nearly 80 and the skies were beautiful and blue...and on Saturday it was snowing so hard that it was difficult to see on our trip back from town after our last delivery of the season.

Yep, a little bit of just one week!

Welcome to March in the Valley.

ready for planting

not so ready

Despite the rather crazy weather, we did get to pick up the seed potatoes. HOORAY! There is a stack just awaiting warmer, drier weather for planting. We put the rest in the reefer where they will stay dormant until the July planting. I’m just happy that they are here and we are not still waiting for them like we were last year. I thought we would never get ‘taters last year. And, no potatoes would be a disaster!
potatoes loaded
ready to go

rain on the way home meant stopping on the side of the interstate
and covering up the load

The warm-ish, wet weather caused more than travel delays.

We lost some chicks. Now, we always lose a few chicks, so that’s not really news. But, when the losses continue, we start to get concerned. Further inspection revealed that the rest of the flock looked less than healthy. Yikes! Not good. 

sick chick

Our best guess was that the wet weather had caused the bedding to become soggy. The soggy bedding allows ammonia to build up. The closed brooder (to keep the chicks warm) wasn’t allowing any fresh air to circulate. The chicks were basically being asphyxiated.   Poor things! Dry bedding, opened windows and they began to recover completely. They are now eating like little pigs and growing like weeds. 

healthy chicks

In all the years we’ve raised chickens, we have never had THAT problem before!

But, that wasn’t the end of our weather woes.

One of the ewes started sounding weird. Her voice became real deep and husky. Yes, I do recognize their different’s part of my job. I thought she looked rather “jowly” the day before, but hadn’t taken the time to investigate closely. I should have.


By the time her voice sounded strange, she had a pretty severe case of bottlejaw. Bottlejaw is caused by a parasite overload. Fluid collects under the jaw or in the neck, hence the name. Heavily lactating ewes are particularly susceptible to this problem. This ewe had triplets.

The warm-ish weather has the grass growing and the ewes cannot resist clipping it as close to the ground as possible. In so doing, they pick up the oocysts and become infected.

We treated her and thought we were done with it.

She didn’t look a whole lot better the next day. Then a second ewe began to show symptoms. 
more bottlejaw

So, it was time to run the flock into the barn and treat them all. The anemia that is prevalent with parasite infestation will kill lambs in short order. So, we don’t take chances.

working the sheep

The rest of the flock looks great! ALL of the lambs look incredibly healthy.

just three lambs chillin'

grazing in March

We are still keeping an eye on the two sick ewes. We have faced this problem in the past and the “patients” make a complete recovery. But, it can be a long and arduous task to get the sheep back in good health.

The weather has definitely NOT been our friend this week.

On the other hand, we had a couple of gorgeous days. And, I do mean GORGEOUS.

beautiful skies

peach blossoms

apple blossoms


Bright blue sky, puffy white clouds, and a hint of warmth on the breeze. The kind of day that makes you feel like you could do outside work forever... The birds are singing. The grass turns green overnight. The kind of day that teases you into thinking that maybe it IS time to get in the garden...

I so want to believe it will stay this way!

But, I’m here to tell you that this is the time to listen to that little voice that is saying “it’s still March!”

It’s really unfair of the garden centers to get out all those pretty spring plants so very early. A lot of people get way too enthusiastic and start working on their gardens only to have the weather turn and destroy their hard work. Then, they have to start all over again. (hmm, maybe the garden centers have an agenda...)

and so it begins...
getting hoophouse #2 ready
We’ve learned our lessons with the weather, many of them the hard way. I’m pretty sure we planted tomatoes at least THREE times that first year... Cold weather and killing frost are a possibility until well into May around here. So, we focused on the hoophouses and left the outside work for another time.

ready for transplanting
All those little seedlings in the greenhouses were ready to go. So, the Boss worked at clearing the old stuff and pulling the weeds. The hens had a feast. Then, I hauled plants and worked on transplanting.

With a little bit of work...I am glad to say...Hoophouse #2 is in full production! 

Hoophouse 2 fully planted
give it two weeks, it will be amazing!

looking in #2 from the other end

While the crops I planted probably won’t be ready for Opening Day of the Market, it won’t be long until we are harvesting once more.
isn't this kale pretty?

With the transplanting done, it was time to focus on the last delivery for our Winter Sales. It hardly seems possible that we’re done with the “off-season”. But, we are. The Market opens in less than TWO weeks.

It was a good sales day. Our customers are the best and it’s always good to have a little time to visit when we make deliveries. With our deliveries made, we ran a couple errands and headed back to the hill.

All week we had been seeing predictions of a return of winter weather. I think everyone (even the snowlovers) was hoping the forecast was wrong. Winter hasn’t been a major deal this year, but at this point, it’s just time to move on from the winter that wasn’t and get going with Spring.
the snowplow trucks haven't seen much action this year
that's bad news for some folks

But, the snow started coming down in earnest on our way home. By the time we reached Mbrk, the mountains were virtually invisible and the ground was white. 
coming into Mbrk
it was virtually impossible to see

Thankfully, it was too warm to stick to the roads. By choretime the snow had turned to the dreaded wintry mix. We probably ended up with about three inches in the grassy areas, but the roads stayed clear.

it was snow SO hard you could barely see this robin!

even Ellie is tired of the snow

snowy peach blossoms

the apple tree is trying again
after the freeze in December

We are supposed to have a couple of cool days and even colder nights. So, all those little baby plants in the hoophouse were tucked under row covers. I guess the heaters will run for a couple more nights in the greenhouses, particularly since I seeded tomatoes the day before yesterday.
this certainly doesn't look productive
but it is protected from the weather

...and that was it!

Another week is history.

In the upcoming week we have a lot of prep work to do for the Market...the next batch of chicks will arrive...and hopefully the last ewe will finally lamb! Ready or not, the Spring push is here.

Hope you’re having a

                                  Happy Sunday! 
daffodils on the kitchen windowsill

Thanks for stopping by!  Come back and see us again real soon.


  1. The farmer had not heard of bottle jaw here in the UK. Hope those two ewes recover and that none of the others go down with it. There is always something to worry about with sheep.

    1. I think y'all refer to it as "chronic fluke disease" or something like that. They look better, none of the others look bad...we're calling this one a WIN!

  2. Very interesting post as usual. That robin looks thoroughly fed up with the
    weather. Row covers are such a boon to gardening. We used them a lot when we
    lived in Vermont.

    1. Thanks, Sheila!
      The robin wasn't the only one that was fed up with the weather. lol
      Most all the snow melted today and there is warmth and sunshine on the horizon!Hooray!