Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 9-11

lambs grazing in September
Labor Day marks the “end” of the summer season to a lot of folks. One last chance for picnics and beach trips…

Here on the hill, it’s just another day. As a Monday holiday, it does indeed cause a little wrinkle in our week. But, that’s nothing new. Here’s a post from ’14 about  Labor Day.

While our schedule has changed slightly over the years, things remain pretty constant around here. Although, instead of digging potatoes, we processed broilers.

It was an uneventful morning, no escapee chickens, no scalder fires… We were all finished, cleaned up and had the meat bagged and chilling before lunchtime. Oh, I do love when jobs go smoothly!
ready to process

bagging the last bird
a little less than four hours later

Blondie and Mr. B stopped by to visit and help me can off the last batch of squash. While I don’t know that we really need the squash for winter eating, I hate to see it go to waste. By canning it, it will be there when and if I need it, and it will taste better than if I put it in the freezer.

In checking the gardens for more squash and anything else that might need my attention, I discovered that the groundhog had apparently moved to the middle garden after his/her efforts to obliterate the winter squash had been thwarted. This time the zucchini had come under attack.

Now, say what you will about zucchini…you know all those jokes about submarines and locking your car doors to avoiding “gifting” … but, it is truly delicious and quite versatile. And, since it is a cash crop, I’m not about to allow the groundhog eat it all! I set a trap, baited it with a pear and waited…(I’m still waiting...guess they don't like pears) Groundhogs may look fat and silly, but they’re actually quite wily. …and horribly destructive. They are considered a noxious pest. Did you read the "Battle of the  Whistle-pig"?

Despite the groundhog attack on the winter squash, harvest time had finally arrived. The Boss had fenced around the entire planting and we didn’t see evidence of any more damage. But, we had our doubts about the harvest. So many of the fruits had been gnawed on, and once damaged, the heat and moisture would cause the squashes to rot or allow small rodents to eat them.  Either way, they would be useless to us. When the Boss went to pick up the first squash, this appeared to be the case, as its seeds were all spilled onto the ground and the squash was rotting around the edges.
what a waste!

However, there were indeed more edible squash than those that were destroyed. And, you wouldn’t believe the size of some of them!  A good number are pushing ten pounds. While these will be far too big for our customers to use whole, we will be able to cut them in chunks and sell them that way. (you wouldn’t believe how many butternut chunks we have sold over the years!)  

Now, that's a BIG squash!

…and I’m pretty sure that all the spilled seeds mean that we will have “volunteer” butternut squash coming up in the garden forever. While we can’t claim a real big success on the crop, at least it wasn’t the total loss that we first feared.

broilers checking out the field pen
With the big broilers processed, it was time to move the smaller ones outdoors. Actually, it was a little early since the whole rat attack incident impacted our carefully planned schedule. But, the last batch of broilers for the year was scheduled to arrive on Friday, this batch looks large and healthy, and it’s still incredibly warm, so it was decided that we’d go ahead and move them outside even though they’re young.  Again, an uneventful job. (yay)
last batch of broilers for 2016 arrived on 9-9

harvesting 'taters
Then the Boss worked at getting the Spring potatoes out of the ground. I know, I know, we had hoped to complete this job months ago, but between the weather and other more pressing jobs, it just didn’t happen. Thankfully, potatoes do well staying in the ground. However, the longer the potatoes are left in the ground, the better the chances for rodent damage, and damaged tubers don’t store or sell well. And, they will sprout again if left in the garden too long. So, they can’t stay there indefinitely.

The potato crop is so prolific this year that he didn’t come close to finishing before it was time to move on to another job.  So, digging potatoes will be at the top of the upcoming week’s “to-do” list.

hopefully these strawberries will provide a Spring harvest

While he dug potatoes, I worked on planting some strawberry plants and working in the hoophouses. Although the heat curtailed that job before completion as well. The heat makes it hard to work, but can also damage the tiny plants. So, I'll wait for a cooler day to finish up.

tilling for lettuce

ready to plant

planting completed
This September heatwave is really beginning to wear on us. Last week’s rains are but a memory as the continued heat is causing the grass to wither. Even with near-continual irrigation, garden production has dropped off considerably. Some of that is normal “end of the season” slow down, but the lack of rain is the biggest factor.

It’s really hot for this time of year.

…and it seems like it’s been hot, too hot, for a long time.

grazing at sunset
The heat isn’t helping the animals, either. The sheep and lambs head to the pines after early morning grazing and stay there until late afternoon, coming out only for water (and when called for feed). Egg production is down as the hens just hang out in the shade or take dustbaths to beat the heat. The dogs have taken to sleeping underneath the reefer during the daylight and patrolling in the late evening and early morning. The only group that doesn’t seem to be too affected is the broilers. It doesn’t seem like much affects their appetite and ability to grow!

With the growing season winding down around us, it’s time to think toward next year. Besides putting up food for winter and checking on the progress of the 2017 lambchop crop, we’re already making notes and preparations for next year.

tomato seeds for 2017
I finally got around to processing the tomato seeds. This is a stinky, gross job that I generally put off far too long that is not made any nicer for the delay. While I realize it is possible to simply buy new seeds each year, by saving our own we are able to preserve the traits unique to the tomatoes grown here on the hill.  You can read about the process in its entirety  here.

freshly processed tomato seed

And, just like that…it was time for Market once more. The Market went off without disaster or drama (like last week’s food truck saga). As a matter of fact, the Market seemed rather “off”. The week following Labor Day seems to be historically slow. I guess everyone has a difficult time getting back in the groove after a holiday. But, all in all it was a good day. Unbelievably, we’re more than 2/3 way through the Market season. Which puts us that much closer to Winter.

Yes, the thoughts of Winter are never far from our thoughts…despite the heat and humidity that we are currently experiencing, it is obvious that it’s coming, and a lot of our activities focus on preparation for the cold, dark days ahead.
a sign of the changing seasons
Monarch butterfly
with a little assistance
it flew out of the hoophouse and off to the wild blue yonder

But, for right now it’s time to renew and recharge (and do some laundry and bake a few loaves of bread) in order to be ready for the week ahead.

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll come “visit” us again soon.
sunset on the hill


  1. As usual, Barbara, it is lovely to read of your 'doings' both this year and in previous years.

  2. I do hope you get a break from the heat soon. I can understand people purchasing chunks of squash. I really don't like cutting a squash or a pumpkin because even my big knife gets stuck part way and I always have a mental image of some terrible accident involving a slip of the knife or an uncontrolled yank. It sure looks like your potatoes did well! -Jenn