Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 4-24

the pollinators are working hard, too

The end of another week…

Or actually, the beginning of a new week…

Whichever view you take, it is indeed Sunday and time for another little farm tour to see just what’s been happening here on the hill in the very recent past.

The “Spring Sprint” seemed to hit with full force this week. There’s never a gradual start to the season or a gentle easing into the workload. Planting season just hits. BAM! The jobs seem to multiply before our eyes, with every job vying for priority status.

tilling for brassica planting

As I left for the town run, the Boss headed out to till the brassica garden. There were over 800 broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage plants that needed to be planted…the sooner the better. I used to feel bad when I left him working as I headed out for my weekly trip. Then, one day it occurred to me that I was indeed working, too.  Although, I do enjoy my little weekly visits at the feedstore and the bank and my various other stops, I am also doing important work to assure that we are all fed, maintained and financed. Besides, I think it amuses the Lowe’s guys when I come in with my little shopping lists of odd and random parts for the Boss’ odd and random projects.

By the time I got back, he had tilled and fertilized and dug all the holes for all the plants. It was just a matter of plopping them all in place and back-filling. While the job went off without a hitch and we had all the plants in place by afternoon chores, it was incredibly hot (over 82*) and breeeezy. We were not alone in our need for some serious re-hydration, the plants were going to need a drink of water as well.
ready to plant

plants are dipped in a seaweed solution

placing the moistened plants in the garden

ready for back-filling

back-filling the transplants

The rain chances have not been cooperating lately, so we were going to have to set up the sprinkler.
watering in the crop
Ordinarily, we do not irrigate this garden. Spring generally brings more than enough rain, so the extra work is unnecessary. (besides, the wind is an issue with the drip tape and keeping it in place can be next to impossible)

broccoli plants
less than 60 days to harvest!

The lack of rain and the continual winds have provided the perfect climate for an unprecedented situation here in the Valley. There is a huge wildfire burning north of here and firefighters and hotshots from around the country have arrived to get it under control. The pictures that have been posted to social media are truly frightening. Read about the fire here.
Rocky Mount Fire
-washington post image

We are too far south to see, or really experience any effects from the fire. But it just serves as another reminder… We NEED rain!
when the sheep come to the barn, it's like a duststorm

The only other field planting that we did this week was the sweet onions.

onion transplant

There are lots of varieties of onions and many can be started from sets (those little onion bulbs we planted a few weeks ago). But, those big, sweet onions…like the Vidalia and Walla Wallas must be started from seeds.

As an aside here, did you know that the name Vidalia is trademarked? True Vidalia onions only grow in a strictly defined area of  Georgia and nowhere else. Needless to say, we grow a different variety.

sweet onions in the garden

Ordinarily, we get our plants from a huge onion farm in Texas that supplies plants to countless farms and seed outlets. But, the ongoing drought in Texas was having an ill effect on the plants and we decided to try starting our own. Someday, I’ll tell you all about this experiment. But, for now, suffice it to say that I’m pretty daggone proud of my little onion plants! And, it looks like they have adjusted well to the garden.  Now, we just have to wait (and weed) for a couple months and they will be ready for the Market!

my view from the hoophouse
If you remember last week’s field trip to the compost producer, you will understand why we had the company bring us a dumptruck load this week.  …and it’s a good thing we did. The driver told us that demand has been so high that they will probably be sold out for the season in short order.
our precious pile of "black gold"

The week rolled along in usual fashion with seeding and planting and farm chores.

lined up for breakfast

batch #3 broilers
(it didn't take them 4 hours to get here from town)

Until the Boss started mowing the gardens…

I walked into the shop to find this.

this can't be good!

The Gravely mower just up and died.

While this may not seem like a big deal, it is huge. In order to deal with our hilly terrain and avoid disastrous erosion, we have the gardens laid out in a grid of beds with grass paths in between them. This system demands that the grass between the plantings be mowed. A mower is a necessity, but our particular model is old and not made any more…so parts are hard to come by. Perhaps it was time to replace it.

Today’s lawnmowers with their enormous cutting widths are totally impractical for our application. The paths between the garden beds are a set distance and the vast majority of today’s mammoth mowers won’t even fit in the small spaces. And, we can’t just re-configure the gardens. We were in a bind as the grass continued to grow. (sometimes, it’s really a pain being a small producer!)

So…the Boss found a used one on Craigslist. Time for another field trip!

However, he had to do a little “modification” to the lamb hauling trailer first. (I honestly think we should have called this place MODIFICATION Hill! I don’t think we have anything that is in its original state or used for its intended purpose)

another modification

That little job completed, we set off.

interstate traffic is always interesting
Neither one of us could believe that we were going to willingly set off into Interstate traffic on a Friday afternoon, but that was the only time that was going to work. We met a really nice lady, and a cute dog…but, didn’t buy the lawnmower.

Next stop, a nearby lawnmower dealer. No offense to the lawnmower dealer, but what a piece of junk! (and expensive, too!)

Since we were already out and about, we might as well stop one more place… (at each stop the price was increasing…I was getting more and more concerned) Nope. They only had one that even the salesman wouldn’t recommend for our purposes.

The Boss was fairly despondent as we headed home in the crazy interstate traffic. (we apparently missed an accident by minutes that would have potentially delayed us for hours!)

But, we did get a little bit of rain in the course of the afternoon...
RAIN on the windshield

just enough rain to get things wet

My hope was that Tbone could work some sort of magic on the old one. (there is a definite UP side to having a mechanic son-in-law) But, even that was going to be a long-shot...

mbrk road at sunrise

Saturday’s market morning dawned bright and beautiful. A drive down Mbrk road is the early morning light is a true pleasure. It doesn’t feel like a commute to WORK at all.

And, quite honestly, the Market is an incredibly special place.

Last week, one of our customers brought us donuts after I mentioned I was hungry. (thank you, again, Sally!) This week, the market’s newest vendor gave us a bottle of handcrafted raw vinegar. I’m always excited to see new products (and vendors) at the Market. The vinegar had lots of people talking , so here’s wishing great success to Joseph and Eva!

isn't this pretty?

All in all, it was a great morning. We sold everything we took with the exception of ONE bag of greens (we had 137 bags) and one bunch of green garlic (guess we will have stir-fry one night this week).

After the Market, the kids all came over for supper and to celebrate Tbone and Blondie’s birthdays. But, before anyone could eat…Tbone was called on to check out the deceased mower.

YAY for TYLER!  He can indeed work magic and the mower is back in business. It didn't involve any parts purchases or a long time in the shop…and the checking account is still intact! (although, I have been informed that we owe him…BIG time)

oreo birthday cake

Wonder if supper and a birthday cake count toward repayment?

All too soon it was time for the babies to head home to go night-night. (the grandparents were pretty worn-out after a long market day, too) It is a true blessing to be able to have the whole family together, enjoying one another…and I am truly thankful for each and every one of them.
Blondie's present was not really a "surprise"

ribbons are the best!

Mr B is "wild-crafting" and eating dandelions

So, it’s time to rest up and make a plan before we get back to it first thing Monday morning.

Hope you’re having a

Happy Sunday! 
prolific late apple blossoms

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

Here's the link to the Boss' Staunton Farmers' Market THIS.


  1. Hi I have just come across your blog and I will be following you for sure - you have a great farm by the looks of things and I love your blog

    1. Hi!
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.
      I hope you will "visit" often!

  2. Thanks Barbara, for including us in your Sunday Walkabout blog! That was so sweet. I am sorry that I missed being there yesterday. I will be able to be there next week. I love your blog. Eva

    1. It was great to meet y'all a couple of weeks ago.
      I am really excited to see such a beautiful new product at the Market (and you would not believe how many customers told me the same thing!) I hope the first day lived up to your expectations.
      I am sorry you missed yesterday's market, but I will look forward to visiting with you soon.
      Best to you in your endeavors!

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  4. what a wonderful week. well, except for the mower, but it turned out well. :) I will be in NC in May and was hoping to come visit, but it doesn't look like it is in the plan for now. :( My friends live there (Staunton) though, just found out, and they said they would come and visit you guys! Hi, Linda and Kurt! I hope they do come and visit! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Bobbi!
      I'm sorry we won't get to meet you. Tell your friends that the Market is open from 7am to noon every Saturday 'til Thanksgiving. They should come see us since you can't. ;)
      Have a great week.

  5. I'm glad you were able to get your mower working again. Things break down when you need them the most. Don't know if you mentioned this in previous posts, do you plant strawberries as well? -Jenn

    1. Hi Jenn!
      Thanks for commenting!
      Yes, we do grow some strawberries. Although, it looks like the cold weather probably killed a fair number of blossoms. :( I do see a few. We'll be "visiting" the berry patch soon as we discuss if we should cut down on the strawberries and plant something else.
      Hope you will "visit" again soon!