Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 4-10

Beautiful skies
cold, windy day


What do you hear?

You say you don’t hear anything?

I know. Me, either.

For the first time in a week, the wind is not wailing around the corners of the house, causing the attached greenhouse to shudder and moan. The trees are not bending sideways and no errant and random items are flying past the windows.

Wind has been the word of the week since last week’s walkabout...actually the two words of the week have been Wind ADVISORY. The cold and wind that arrived last Saturday afternoon set up residence here in the Valley and have been making things “challenging” ever since.

Yes. This post is going to be another post about the weather...

crazy weather this week
but, we did see a momentary rainbow after a thunderstorm

When I say the weather is challenging, I hope that puts a somewhat positive spin on it. We can rise to the challenge, take it on and find some level of success. But, if we just say the weather makes things hard, it just focuses on the oppressive weight of the difficulties, bogging us down, and making it easy to get discouraged.

And, personally, I am doing everything I can NOT to get discouraged.

between the cold and the wind
these peach blossoms probably will NOT become peaches
We are not alone in the challenges caused by the weather. The cold and the wind are wreaking havoc with all sorts of growing things and we’ve already heard of one orchard facing devastating losses for the year. The erratic temperature shifts are causing concerns for pneumonia among livestock producers and the frigid nights mean that the grass is not growing like it should for grazing animals.

 ...and more than one vendor at the Farmers’ Market yesterday encountered wind-related disasters.

The long-term forecast calls for more cool temperatures and I’m guessing this will be one of those Springs that folks talk about for years.

In years past, by this point, the sheep were already out on grass for the season.
still in the winter paddock
still eating hay

But, the recent frigid nights mean that the grass hasn’t grown too much on the north-facing slopes of the front paddocks of the farm, so although the grass is’s not ready for the trampling hooves and the voracious appetites of the flock. But, the grass in the relatively sheltered areas is growing and getting lush, so we allowed them access to the alleyway along the fenceline behind the hoophouse.

When I opened the gate, they just put their heads down and inhaled that grass. For a brief moment, I was a “sheep-hero”.
nothing like Spring grass!

Did someone say GRASS?

they ate until they just couldn't eat anymore

But, in order to protect the tender young grass and keep the sheep from bloating on the lushness after a winter of eating dry hay, we don’t let them graze constantly early in the season. So, I locked them in the barnyard overnight. (and, yes, they did have hay) They were NOT happy...and hay was no longer satisfying their hunger. They complained loudly. They could smell that grass and they wanted it.
Give us GRASS!

The next morning when I opened the gate, the feeding frenzy took over. They wanted that grass and they wanted it NOW. They ran me down on in their haste to get to that delicious greenness. Literally ran me down. Ran right over top of me. That was a first. I couldn’t believe it as I fell to the ground and watched (felt) them run down the alley.

Despite a few sore muscles in odd places and what looks suspiciously like a hoof-print shaped bruise on the back of my calf, I’m none the worse for wear. But, don’t question me when I tell you that it can be dangerous to stand between a sheep and fresh, green grass!

getting ready to plant onion sets

Despite the cold and wind, we did get the onion sets (small onions that will grow into onion plants and develop a bulb at the bottom) planted. Since they’re buried in the ground, the weather shouldn’t be an issue while they develop their root systems. After several years of being disappointed with the onion plants, we decided to try a different approach this year. We also have a bit of an experiment going in the greenhouse. (more on that in a later post) 

We’ll have to see what happens...
these will go beneath the soil
the row on the far side of the photo has already been finished

red onion set
we planted yellow onions as well

The cold and wind meant that the broilers in the brooder couldn’t move to the field pen. And, that meant that the broilers in the chickie-pool in the shop couldn’t move to the brooder... But, since they have gotten bigger and more active, more than one escaped. Chasing chicks around the shop wasn’t in our plans. So, the Boss had to modify and re-inforce their temporary home. It now looks like some sort of homesteader prison set-up, with chicken wired wrapped secured around the pool.

desperate measures to contain the chicks

I’m really hoping that we can get both groups to their respective homes soon. We have more chicks coming the end of next week. At this point, I’m not sure where they’re going to end up... probably in the shop...which is beginning to smell like a zoo. At one point this past week, it even LOOKED like a zoo, or the very least some strange version of Noah's Ark. There is a perfectly sensible reason for the lamb sporting pink leopard spots...I promise. (post to follow)

You don't have chicks, piles of potatoes,
a husband trying out a weedwhacker
and a lamb wearing clothes
in YOUR garage?

As we prepared for Saturday’s Market, we were all too aware that SNOW was figuring prominently in the forecast. There were a few tense moments as the week progressed. Thankfully, the weather shifted and any accumulating precipitation was further north.
picking lettuce in the cold is tedious business

washing lettuce on a cold, windy day

However, the WIND remained an issue.

During the Market, the temperature never got out of the forties. (it was around freezing until mid-morning) The wind blew constantly and the gusts were over 25 mph. Not a pleasant morning by a long-shot! There were several canopy collapses and wind-related losses. The Market, as a whole, didn’t do too well, bringing in far less revenue than last week.

Windy market...not fun at all

Like I said before, this year is going to be a challenge!

But, we pretty much sold everything we took, we finally got in out of the wind, and there was still warmth in the woodstove AND a roast in the crockpot when we got home. That’s enough to make us truly thankful.

The weather is SUPPOSED to moderate this week. So, we will be cutting seed potatoes this afternoon in hopes of getting them planted tomorrow...before it RAINS.  (and you thought I was exaggerating about the weather affecting EVERYTHING!)

I do hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

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

Here’s to calmer days and warmer temperatures!

Take it easy this week...

Want to take a "virtual visit" to the Market?  Click HERE. The Boss posts photos every week on the Staunton Farmers' Market Facebook page. 


  1. I loved taking a Sunday walkabout with you! As a child, I used to witness dairy cows very excited about getting out to pasture in the spring. The weather is so unpredictable in April! -Jenn

  2. Anyone who thinks your life style is blissful and easy has obviously never tried it. It is a way of life and you ae to be admired for sticking to it through thick and thin. Hope the weather improves before the next market.