Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 9-25

first full day of fall in Mbrk

The change from summer to fall can be felt in a way unlike the other seasonal shifts. Maybe it’s that underlying sense of foreboding that WINTER, with its bitter cold winds and icy misery, will be following hard on its heels. Or maybe it’s the knowledge that the time for preparation is drawing short. Maybe it’s the change in the light. Or the first cool night...

…and I guess there’s the very real possibility that it’s all in my head.

first sunrise of fall

Whatever the case, as we make that shift, we see a lot of lasts. But, those are countered with numerous firsts as the cycle of life on the farm continues.

Firsts and lasts…that was the theme of the week.   ...and rain...

Rain, blessed rain, which we needed desperately, finally fell. Everything benefited greatly from nearly an inch of rain Sunday night. (although by week’s end any moisture was a distant memory) However, the moisture spelled the end for a lot of things in the garden. 

sad days indeed
the last tomato
The last beautiful slicing tomato was salvaged from the garden. There may be a few sauce tomatoes coming along, but the main crop is finished and that’s always a sad day.

Tomatoes are the iconic symbol of summertime gardening…but, it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to get those perfect slicers. We start the seeds in late winter in the greenhouse, providing warmth and light and a fair amount of babying. Then, the plants are “potted up” into larger pots to encourage good root development. After the threat of frost (which here in our beautiful Valley seems to be SO very late in the year) the young tomatoes are placed in the garden. Trellises are put up to train the plants (so the precious fruits won’t come in contact with the ground). We irrigate and mulch the plantings. Then the plants are monitored for pests and disease as they grow. But, fruits aren’t even expected for at least two months after the plants go in the garden. That’s a lot of time to anticipate that first tomato of the season.

And, anything can affect the possibility of a successful growing season. Pests. Disease. Weather. Sometimes all three.

This year it was the weather. It wreaked havoc on the crop more than once. Very hot weather keeps the plants from setting blossoms. Humid weather allows disease to run rampant. When the hot, dry weather gave way to torrential rains, the tomato plants absorbed all the water, causing the fruits to grow overnight…and crack wide-open. This renders the fruits unsaleable, as they begin to rot almost immediately. Or bugs and slugs feast on them…and nobody wants a slugg-y tomato!

Needless to say, tomatoes are not something to be taken for granted, no matter how iconic they may appear. However, we can now put any failures behind us and live in anticipation of next year’s crop. (just five months ‘til seed starting time!)

seed garlic

The last tomato was countered with the arrival of the seedstock garlic for the first planting for 2017. The bulbs that we will use for green garlic were delivered on Friday and will be going into the ground this week. They’re beautiful!

The anticipation of a new crop makes up for the disappointments we may have felt in the garden.

last zucchini

While it was actually sad to pick the last zucchini and I’m sure we will both be lamenting the lack of “zoodles” all too soon, the Boss dug the first of the fall potatoes…and they are gorgeous! 
new potatoes

And, I honestly LOVE me some ‘taters.

Despite the fact that we’ve lived and farmed here for nearly twenty years…we have not seen everything. There’s always something new. This week proved that.

In our ongoing quest to keep the rat population under control, (forget completely eradicating them) I baited the trap and set it in a new location. That led to a sight neither one of us had ever seen before. The trapped rat pulled baler twine into the trap with him/her. Hundreds of feet of baler twine. So much baler twine that you couldn’t even see the rat!
packed rat trap

That was certainly a first. (and the last of that rat, I might add) and, we have no idea if there was any rationale to the twine-pulling.
you could just barely see the rat's tail

In the henhouse, I noted another first.

I’ve been venturing to the henhouse several times a day to gather the eggs in hopes of preventing eaten eggs, since we haven’t had the time to sort through the flock and remove the offenders. Soon…hens…soon.

see the egg?
Quite often there is an egg over the door of the henhouse. I’ve never been able to figure out how/why this one hen picked that inconvenient spot for her egg-laying. (honestly, at first, I thought the Boss was playing tricks on me)
sometimes it rolls down in between the boards

I don’t know how there is even room for the hen up there. Or how she manages to lay her egg without it falling off the board.

This week, I happened to be at the right place at the right time…and watched the hen lay the egg over the door! I’ve seen countless eggs laid in the past, but that one was unique to say the least.
she found her spot

went about her egg-laying business

and headed back to the rest of the flock

 Before we knew it…it was time for Market once more…

it's really dark at Market time in the fall

At first light of Saturday we headed out to sell the LAST of the wax beans, among other things.
last of the yellow wax beans

In an attempt to do a little self-promotion and increase sales at a slower time of year, I embarked on another first. We now have a FARM calendar featuring a year’s worth of photos from here on the hill. We sold a fair number at the Market…yay! I do hope some more folks want one. I think they’d make nice gifts and they’re reasonably priced. ($10) So…fingers crossed…

sample calendar

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

Hope you have a  Happy Sunday! 
Here's looking at "ewe"...

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

Here's the link to the Boss' Market photos.


  1. I love the calendar idea! Hope you sell lots more. I can't believe where that hen is laying her eggs. Do you ever find them smashed on the ground below? It makes me think of an Easter egg hunt. -Jenn

    1. Thanks, Jenn., TOO!
      Oddly, the egg on the ledge very rarely rolls off and breaks. The ones that the other chickens lay on the floor...

  2. As usual Barbara - all so interesting. That rat with all the baler twine is just amazing - I am waiting to show it to the farmer when he passes in a minute.