Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 6-12

early morning on the hill

Summer is here!

More specifically, summer weather is here. The weeks (and weeks) of cool, gloomy, rainy weather suddenly gave way to the glorious blue skies of June. And, yesterday’s high temperature was nearly ninety degrees.

…and I’m here to tell you that much hay was made in the Valley yesterday. 

But, while that’s great for all those farmers…it really has nothing to do with what’s been happening here on the hill. Other than it's one more sign that it's summer. And, PAY ATTENTION out there on the equipment is everywhere!

baler next door

We have been slowly getting into the rhythm of the season that includes a seemingly endless loop of planting, feeding, processing, weeding, battling bugs, seeding, mowing, more weeding, and harvesting punctuated by Market day. This will pretty much be our routine until late summer. But, it’s now time to pick up our game and get into high gear.
turning the ewes onto fresh grass

broilers having breakfast

Bright lights chard seedlings

newly mulched Brussels sprouts

succession planting of squash

Colorado Potato beetle nymphs
are incredibly destructive

blanched cauliflower
ready to freeze for winter sales

harvesting broccoli/cauliflower

garlic is nearly ready for harvest

Angus added to the workload by getting stuck AGAIN!
the Boss had to put up a new fence (after he got Angus out)

But, this week’s rhythm was altered slightly with a roadtrip of sorts.

it was a beautiful day in our beautiful Valley
On Tuesday morning, we hauled the first load of lambs up to the processor in order to have fresh lamb chops, steaks, stew meat and sausage for the Market. (the customers are getting anxious; I know I was asked at least a dozen times WHEN yesterday)

This is a great looking group of lambs!

first round of the Lamb chop crop 2016
each one weighs approximately 125 pounds

I’ve included a photo here…not so you can go…oh, how cute! No, I’m hoping for a different reaction.
getting ready to go to the processor

I’m hoping that you will see and understand that we are not raising animals for cuteness. We raise them for food. They are big, healthy, muscular animals that fulfill their destiny by becoming someone’s supper.

It takes a good deal of knowledge and effort on our part to assure that the end product is both delicious and marketable. And, I think we manage to produce a product far superior to anything found in the grocery…and I’m proud of that fact.

We are hoping to re-arrange our schedule yet again and make a quick trip to the processor’s on Friday afternoon to pick up all that ovine yumminess for Saturday’s Market to satisfy our customers’ longings. Otherwise the customers will have to wait another week and I’m pretty sure somebody will complain. They might even pretend to cry!

I got to change up my schedule a little and make a quick trip to the Draft. While babysitting the grandsons may not seem to have anything to do with life here on the hill, the next generation is our hope for the future. And it’s really cool to watch them learn things.

Monday afternoon, I spent some time with the Kman while his mom kept an appointment. We played in the sand, blew bubbles and he toddled around the yard. Nothing real exciting...

…until I mentioned the chickens.

off he goes
He let go of my hand and set off toward the newly built chicken house, making his little chicken noises all the way. 

We then had to visit the chickens, ducks and quail.

showing Mamaw the chickens

I thought that his mom was extraordinary when she found her calling as a poultry fancier (and eventually became an expert on the subject) after seeing her first Murray McMurray poultry catalog when she was five. But, he’s not even 15 months old!

heading to the hay barn

We owe a big THANK YOU to the kids for helping us haul that load of last year’s hay that we’ve been trying to get for weeks.  (THANKS, B & J!!) That deal worked out well for us (giving us a headstart on our inventory for winter) the hay guy (emptying the wagon so he can use it for this year’s harvest) and the lambs…who found a feast in the barn.

It used to baffle me as to WHY the animals would turn down fresh, lush, green grass for dry hay in the summertime. One of our cow-friends (who is not in fact a cow, but a cattleman) explained he thought it was because they like the different texture…likening it to our human penchant for potato chips. The thought of cows and sheep munching on potato chips always gives me a chuckle.

checking out the new hay

Before we knew it, it was time to pick and pack for Market once more. The early morning was beautiful and the Market was busy. …and thankfully, the heat didn’t build until after we got home.
the stand is getting fuller every week!

The dry heat adds another layer of farm tasks as we need to assure that all the living creatures are well hydrated, our attention further stretched to focus on full stock tanks and well-watered gardens. 

One of our customers exclaimed that he’d never considered it, but those responsibilities could be a full-time job. …and he thought I was kidding when I laughed and said, “I know, that’s pretty much my life!”

…and that, friends, was the week on the hill.

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

You’ll have to excuse the short post. I just realized that for a week now, I’ve been running a week behind. We have broilers to process tomorrow morning and I haven’t done any of the prep work required. ACK! 

the broccoli is ready...

And, then, I happened to walk through the broccoli garden on my way back from watering the hoophouses. And, guess what? Yes, there is broccoli harvest that I need to work into my day.

…and the Boss said something about planting cucumbers…

Gotta run!
beautiful Sunday morning

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

 Did you want to see photos from the Market?  Follow this link for the Boss' latest...


  1. Wonderful blog on the life of a farm family! Thanks for what you do to provide us with local foods !

    1. Thanks for your kind words and support, Cheri!

  2. How I wish I could pop into that market and buy some of that produce Barbara - it all looks so tempting and I for one know just how much hard work has gone into its production.
    Can you tell me what breed your sheep are please?

    1. I wish you could pop over and visit our Market, too! We would have a great time visiting. :)
      Our sheep are Suffolks. And, they look far different from the British version of the breed.

  3. That sunrise picture is exquisite! I am not really fond of lamb, but my husband and daughter both really like it. Perhaps I just haven't had "good" lamb. What is the difference between how your lambs are raised and how what we purchase in the grocery stores is raised? What would make the difference in taste? -Jenn

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Jenn!
      Neither one of us used to like lamb. I always thought it tasted tough and "soapy". But, now I think lamb chops are better than steak. :)
      I honestly don't know how the lamb from the grocery store is raised. However, the lamb available here in the US is mostly from Australia and New Zealand. That means it has traveled 10,000 miles before it even gets to the grocery store. All that travel certainly affects the taste.
      There are approximately 200 sheep breeds in the world. Each one tastes slightly different (and feed rations affect taste, too---as does the age of the animal). When grocery chains purchase meat, it is not always from the same source. So, consistency in taste is not guaranteed. Most folks want the same taste experience each time. Since they don't get it with lamb, they decide they don't like it.
      Many older folks in this country ate mutton (sheep over 1 year) during the War years and found it repulsive (I don't blame them, it's really strong) and didn't expose their children to it. So, today, the average consumption of lamb is less than ONE pound per person!
      FYI...this isn't a real issue with beef. And, unless you buy some "artisan" or specialty poultry, you will probably get the same breed of chicken...and the same taste each and every time.
      Our sheep are all mostly Suffolk (can't say they're purebred) and they are all processed prior to one year of age. (older animals tend to taste "gamey") and we supplement the grass forage with a small amount of grain and minerals. The meat is has a rich color and mild, fresh taste.YUM

    2. Thanks for the explanation. I understand what you mean about the "soapy" taste. I guess what you are saying is the same experience we had when raising our own meat birds. They were free range supplemented with chicken feed. The taste just didn't compare with store bought. -Jenn