Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 4-3

frosty feather


It’s cold. The wind is whipping. And, at daybreak I was waiting for the Boss to start the fire in the woodstove. I reckon I could do it, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be up to his standards and he would just re-do it. So I’ll wait...

Because…apparently, the weather is doing a little April Fool’s prank a few days late.

Just when it’s supposed to start warming up and planting should start in earnest, it’s cold and getting colder and there were even snowflakes in the forecast! This wouldn’t be quite so bothersome, but the cold winds are blowing in excess of 30 miles an hour, (last night there were supposed to be gusts to 55mph) so it definitely feels wintry. We expect a few frosty mornings this time of year, but temperatures in the twenties for an extended period of time can wreak havoc on all sorts of things…particularly young plants.

storm clouds gathering


I’m SO glad this weather didn’t arrive until AFTER the Market. And, I hope it changes back to more seasonable temperatures before the next one. We have experienced just about every type of weather imaginable at the Market and I can assure you…COLD wind is the absolute worst.

But, since I’m pretty sure you’re not checking in to listen to me whine about the weather, I will attempt to remember what this week was all about.

The Market. Opening Day of the Market.

I could go on and on about how it doesn’t seem like it should already be market season, or how I am STILL looking for my motivation. But, the first week of April means it’s time for Market, no matter how I might feel, so it’s time to get a move on. Our days become a special kind of choreography that enable us to produce good food for ourselves and others.
cleaning up the gardens

tilling the middle garden beds

trimming trees
While I was gone to town on Monday, the Boss started trimming the trees in the orchard. They didn’t get pruned properly this year due to the weather. And, we were more than a little inclined to just leave them. But, he was getting smacked around when he mowed, so he trimmed up the offending branches. He also pulled out a dead tree and planted a little, baby peach tree. 

Since we have had issues with small critters chewing on young trees in the past, I put hardware cloth around the bottom of the young tree (we will remove it when the tree gets larger). I guess I should say that the dogs and I put the hardware cloth around the tree. Because I had some serious assistance with the project.
pulling dead wood

baby peach tree

Ordinarily, the dogs spend the daytime sleeping. Sleeping heavily. Often they’re stretched out flat, looking for all intents and purposes like dead or dying polar bears, soaking up the sunshine. It can be a bit disconcerting, but then they spring to life when something untoward occurs. Or, I attempt to do any type of project that requires me to be on the ground. If I put one knee down...there they are. Every. Single. Time. They’ve got to nose me and pat me with their giant paws and nose me again. I don’t know if they think I need help or what. It can be more than little annoying. But, we got the job done. The dogs went back to sleep and I moved on to other things as I rejoiced that we fenced them out of the gardens long ago.
my "helpers"

try working with 100# of dog attached to your arm...

Gus' usual daytime activity

something untoward
neighbor got 5 steer calves
caused 2 days of barking dogs

In anticipation of Spring planting, I moved all the brassica plants out of the greenhouses into the big utility trailer in the back yard. This is our method for “hardening off” the plants. By allowing them to acclimate in a somewhat controlled environment, their survival rate once they are transplanted is greatly increased.

brassicas on the trailer

beautiful broccoli

That meant I had more room in the greenhouses, so I seeded the first planting of summer squash and started some basil. After I hauled the last of the spinach and kale transplants to the hoophouse, I fully intended to start some more lettuce and such, but I ran out of time. (that turned out to be a good thing, but more on that in a minute) But, I did finally finish all the planting in both hoophouses!

here's a peek inside hh #2

squash seeds

did you know that basil seeds smell like basil?

by Friday we had germination in the squash!

With the lambing done for the season, my shepherding duties have greatly diminished. It is just a matter of keeping everyone fed. Since we’re not quite ready to move them out on grass, the entire flock is hanging around the barn, complaining that there’s “nothing to eat around here”...and stretching their necks through the fence.

Mama teaching the babies bad habits

One of the lambs managed to pop right through the fence while looking for one more blade of green grass. That meant the Boss had to be summoned for a quick fence repair job...and lamb round-up. Fortunately, both were completed without incident.

sick lamb
Last week, I mentioned that the bottle baby had been sick and I thought it was pneumonia. I’m fairly well convinced my diagnosis was right. I treated her all last week and then this week. Her little lungs sounded rattly, although she never ran much of a fever. She would make some progress and then look like she was dying. She went off her feed and I tried to steel myself to find her lifeless each and every time I went to the barn. 

But, I kept trying. 

Amazingly, she responded. Yesterday, she was eating with the others and this morning, she was pacing back and forth, screaming for a bottle. So, I guess that one will go in the “win” column.

But, when sheep are sick, they often end up with a “break” in their wool. This generally means that there is a weak place in their wool correspondent to the illness. If the illness is severe enough, the wool will actually break off. Sometimes, that means that the sheep will get a few bald patches, particularly in the case of lambs. This is what has happened to the poor, little bottle baby. Not only did she drop about 5 pounds of body weight, her wool is falling off in great patches. She is actually completely bare in more than a few places and I’ve put a sweater on her to keep her warm during this cold snap. If you look closely, she is indeed growing new wool, but it is a very light fleece, so I guess we will have a jacketed sheep for some time. It’s always something new. (here’s hoping that’s the only anomaly this season)
This is one of the most pathetic things I have ever seen!

lamb skin

"Beebi" is getting better!

on the other hand,
all the other lambs look AMAZING!

the last lamb of 2016
 gained NINE pounds in one week!

Opening Day of the Market arrived with little fanfare. The weather was supposed to be nice, the Boss had arranged for musical entertainment, lots of people were looking forward to it… so it was rather discouraging to awaken to rain and cold temperatures.

doesn't look like much
but, it ended up being our third biggest Opening Day ever
But, the morning finally brightened and the customers finally came out…and the Market had an amazing day. There weren’t even any wind-related mishaps. Wind is always a concern at an open-air market and since the Wharf district (where the Market is held) sits in a low spot, any wind seems to get trapped and swirls around and around, creating all sorts of disasters. Avoiding disasters is always a good ting.

However, the entire area was under a wind advisory later in the day (and a FREEZE warning overnight). That meant that once we got home from Market, we needed to move all the brassicas back into the greenhouses….and cover all the new plantings in the hoophouses…and “batten down the hatches”.
hauling the brassicas back to the greenhouse

Listening to the wind in the night only made us thankful that we finally wised up and haven’t planted anything in the gardens yet. After years (and years) of hauling row cover on cold nights and/or losing the battle with the wind and cold, we decided to wait an extra week or so before transplanting into the gardens. We have decided that it’s not that important to try to be the first at the Market with any particular crop. It IS more important to actually be successful and have the product to sell.  The forecast for the upcoming week looks like we made the right call.
if you look closely
all the trees along the property line bend slightly
they grow that way after years of wind
(one of the downsides to living on top a hill)

The rather unexpected chilly temperatures will indeed change our plans for the week. It looks like the sheep will have to spend another week eating hay until the nighttime temperatures are a little warmer and will allow for consistent grass growth. It looks like the "hungry times" will continue a little longer.  And, we are incredibly thankful for that “extra” load of hay we got a couple of weeks ago!
there seems to be a back-up in morning feeder traffic
(this is why I want another feeder...)

This week we will have to attempt to get “back in the groove” for Market season. It always takes a couple of weeks before we have things running smoothly once more.

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

morning feeding time

(and that you’re someplace warm and wind-free)

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


  1. Your little lamb looks adorable in that sweater! Thank you for the tour around the farm. That's funny about your dogs coming round whenever you are doing something. The very few times I am on the floor exercising, the cat(s) are right there, acting concerned. Maybe they do think we need their help? -Jenn

    1. Thanks for visiting!
      Maybe the dogs (or, in your case, the cats) do think we need help. When make any sort of noise, they always come running. I don't think they have any concept of how incredibly large they are. Sometimes they try to sit in our laps!
      Hope you have a great week.