Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 9-18

keeping an eye on the ewe flock
I’m not real sure what to tell y’all about today. Because, honestly, it’s been an incredibly boring seven days here on the hill.

But, another week has flown by and it’s hard to believe that we’re already more than halfway through September!

At first glance there is very little to show for the passage of time. I’m hoping by writing it out that I will see some progress or at least some level of productivity.

sheep on a hot day
It’s still hot. And, it’s beyond just dry…it’s arid, it’s parched, the fields are withered and dusty and it’s downright depressing. You know it’s too dry when the folks who live in town start mention praying for rain.

The garden is slowly transitioning to fall. That means the zucchini is just about finished…and we have seen the last of the beautiful slicing tomatoes. And without rain, it may be that we are done gardening for the year. (yeah, it really is THAT dry) …and, while we do irrigate, that is no substitute for actual rain.

it's DRY!

Some of the local farmers are able to take advantage of the dry weather…it’s perfect for chopping corn and making the last of the hay…others are selling cattle because without lush grass for grazing, hopes of profits are dwindling. I read that the line for the Friday sale snaked all through town and it took two hours to drop off livestock. That kind of makes me glad that we raise sheep (they eat far less) and that we took another load of lambs to the processor’s this week. 

Angus in hot pursuit of ewe lambs

settled down and grazing 
On Tuesday, we ran all the lambs to the barn, loaded the potential lambchops, turned the keeper ewe lambs in with the main flock and sent the remaining five out to graze until they take their own one-way trip in November. Then we’ll be done with lambs until the ’17 crop starts arriving in January.
the incredible shrinking lamb flock of '16

The trip north was completely uneventful, which is just the way we like it. I always heave a sigh of relief when we actually get the lambs into the holding pen at the processor’s. Interstate travel is not my favorite thing, but with the added concern of hauling livestock, it can be downright stressful.
It looks like Angus has been successful with the mature ewes. And, breeding season has been a far sight better than last year. (did you read this one? ) The first lambs should be born right after New Year’s, with the majority of them arriving around January 15th.  (time to think about stocking the vet box ) Regardless of what happens with the ewe lambs, it promises to be an interesting lambing season since we have numerous first-time moms. Here’s hoping for lots of babies (and easy, safe deliveries)!

With the “great lamb roundup” out of the way, it was time to get back to garden clean-up. The Boss has been focused on getting things neat and tidy for wintertime. He pulled t-tape, took down trellising and bush-hogged over much of the garden. This is a bittersweet time of year, I’m so glad to be rid of the weedy overgrowth, but just a little sad to know that the end of the growing season is upon us.

first hen in the garden
The hens were allowed access to the lower garden to begin clean-up. They will peck and scratch and eat bugs and weed seeds. This should theoretically cut down on pest pressure for next season. (I’m not truly convinced of this) With this year’s “epic” weed growth, it’s quite the smorgasbord. You would think that all the fresh forage would keep them from eating eggs. but, it hasn’t. There are still far too many broken, eaten eggs for my liking. This week we plan on figuring out which ones are doing the eating…and they will probably take a little “field-trip” to the zoo.
working the garden



I've got a few suspects
Some people are surprised to learn that chickens will eat eggs. Particularly their own eggs. But, it’s true, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. (read this one)  They are quite opportunistic (meaning they’ll take advantage of any food source) and they are definitely not selective and will indeed eat just about anything. (including eggs and on occasion, other chickens…) and, while I know that those who have backyard chickens think of them as cute, sweet pets…a layer flock of any size is not. But, I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, so…on to other things.

After weeks of clear, dry weather, it was a shock to waken to clouds and the threat of rain for Market day. A gloomy Market day is never a good thing, but particularly this time of year. I lost track of how many times I answered the question…. WHERE IS EVERYBODY? We were missing several vendors and I guess the cool, dark start to the day had the customers sleeping late. It was nearly ten o’clock before customer traffic reached a relatively normal level. Eventually, the weather cleared (never did get any rain) and all in all it was a pretty good day.

It can be a real struggle to remain upbeat and positive this time of year.  The push of summer activities and production has taken a toll on everyone’s enthusiasm, on both sides of the Market table. While Fall does indeed indicate a change in available crops, it does NOT mean the end of the growing season. There are still a lot of vegetables to maintain and harvest. And, despite the fact that the kids are back in school and all the local fall activities and festivals, (and those activities affect customer numbers) the Market will remain open until Thanksgiving. So, we dig deep and find the perseverance to continue on…and hope that the customers will do the same.

…and that’s all folks! I have reached the end of what little news I had to report. And, for the record, writing it out did not give me any real sense of progress and productivity.  While it may not have been the most interesting or eventful week…at least we’re one day closer to rain. (well, we can hope!)
the old-timers say "sun-dogs" indicate moisture in the atmosphere
I sure hope they're right!

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

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


  1. As long as your week has no crises and you have accomplished a great deal maintaining your animals and the veg. It is not boring for this reader.
    I hope you get the rain. We are in great need here in CT as well. Many towns now have water restrictions.
    I am grateful that our local farm stores still have peaches, corn and tomatoes. I hate to see the end of the growing season around here.
    Hope the chickens do their job of tidying the land for you.

    1. I must admit, I consider it a success when the week has no crises or catastrophes! I'm glad you don't think it's boring, personally, I'm having a hard time keeping my enthusiasm up.
      We got rain! I hope you did, too. While I know water restrictions are a good preventative measure, I'm sure it makes the situation feel even more dire than it is.

  2. Maybe we stole your rain. It really came down yesterday (we hadn't had a rain like that since earlier in August). I hope it comes your way soon. Our chickens tended to eat the "soft" shelled eggs, the ones that seemed to be thinner than the others and often times broke even from chicken to nesting box. Good luck finding the culprit(s). -Jenn

    1. Now, Jenn, you shouldn't be stealing our rain! ;)
      We actually got some rain last night. Nothing like a good shower to change one's attitude!
      ewww...I don't like soft-shelled eggs. It seems like I always inadvertently squeeze too hard and put my finger through them. I am on a mission...these girls are going to straighten out or else!

  3. As usual Barbara, I find the ups and downs of your life on the hill really interesting. I have a dozen or so hens and I agree with you - they are not pets and really they can be quite savage towards one another. Once the other year they managed to scratch away a mouse's nest and they gobbled up the babies in a few seconds.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Pat!
      Oh, I've seen the hens do that's fascinating and disgusting all at once.