Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 10-9

"glamorous" work accessories

The quickest way to get a farmer to pay attention is to say...”have you seen the weather forecast?”

A prediction of good weather means you can get a whole lot done...and bad weather means you better start thinking about preparations. And, this week was no exception. Although, this week, threatening weather actually added to the productivity.

The disturbance that eventually became Hurricane Matthew had been swirling around for a while and some of the initial forecasts had it affecting our region of the world. I need to clarify that while our area has seen some real devastation from hurricanes over the years, (Camille, Fran, Isobel, to name a few) we are too far inland to feel the effects that they do along the coastal areas. But, at one point, they were actually predicting tropical storm weather for the Valley (lots of wind, lots of rain). So, we changed our plans accordingly.   The worry over the Market seemed like “Déjà vu  all over again” as last October the Market was threatened by tropical storm Joaquin. (remember  this?)

But, we finally got the last of the spring-planted potatoes harvested. It was still fairly wet from last week’s rain, however the forecast indicated that Tuesday would be our only window of opportunity for quite some time. Despite some weather-related disease...and a fair amount of rodent damage...the yield was amazing. The reefer is fuller than it generally is at this time of year...and we haven’t even harvested the late season ‘taters!

Then it was time to process broilers...again.

Well, not exactly...but, the weather...

Broiler batch #7 did not go according to plan. Not at all. Starting with the whole “rat incident”, the project seemed doomed. (who would have thought that a single rat could change everything?) However, once we got the replacement chicks, things took a turn for the better. We were back on track, just  a week behind. The chicks grew incredibly well (read, consumed copious amounts of feed) and seemed to finish out ahead of the revised schedule. By moving the processing date up just a little, we could avoid the bad weather and return to our original plan.

With that project completed, the final batch of broilers were moved to the field pen, where they will grow out until the end of the month. We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that the weather doesn’t turn too cold before that. Not that we are too worried about the chickens being chilly, but processing in cold weather is no fun at all. Cold weather and cold water make for un-cooperative fingers and longer processing times.
last batch of broilers for 2016
ready to move to the field pen
I love his funky little feathers!

it's my job to get the baby broilers settled in the field pen

Early in the week, the Boss did a little bush-hogging next door.

the "before" shot
That field always makes me a little sad. When we first moved here, it was used as a hayfield. During the late winter/early spring, somebody would come fertilize it. Summer hay season meant that at least once, hay would be cut, bales rolled and then hauled away, presumably to feed cattle elsewhere. It is not a big piece of land, but it was productive. Later, it changed hands and no more hay was cut. We obtained permission to run our cows over there during the summertime when we never seemed to have enough grass here on the hill. It was still somewhat productive. But, then we got rid of the cows…  When it came time for neighbor to sell, we got right of first refusal. Since we didn’t have an extra 20 grand lying around (we still don’t) we had to let that opportunity go. Eventually it sold and we heard someone was going to build a house on it. While that didn’t seem the best use to us (it’s a small piece of property with no real attractive features and can only be accessed by a right-of-way) it would still be used. But, apparently that deal fell through and it’s changed hands and is up for sale again. This time for $40,000! It hasn’t been used in years and the once productive hayfield has become an overgrown tangle of honeysuckle and autumn olives. I don’t imagine it will ever be used as any sort of farmland again. And, that’s just sad.

You may wonder why we care…why the Boss bothers to bush-hog something that isn’t even ours… 

Without some kind of maintenance, when the weeds and brambles grow unchecked, the small critter population will get out of control. The mice, rabbits and squirrels all multiply rapidly. Then, the foxes and coyotes move in to capitalize on the banquet. You can imagine what happens next, right? When the small rodent population dwindles, the carnivores move on to domesticated animals.  This is not good news for chicken-raising shepherds! There is much more at stake than keeping the countryside looking tidy.

raindrops in the cobwebs
Despite the fact that we saw more rain than sun this week, despite the fact that they were still calling for rain on Saturday, despite the fact there didn’t seem like much to pick…it was time to get ready for the Market once more. For the second week in a row, it rained on harvest day. I’m here to tell you, that does nothing for one’s motivation. Nothing.
raindrops on the asparagus

this hen seems to personify the attitude here on the hill this week

but, the lettuce sure was pretty!

When we got up on Saturday morning, we could hear rain pelting the side door. Not a good omen for a good market by any stretch of the imagination. Hurricane Matthew apparently had a mind of its own and defied all predictions, going much further north and causing issues over a tremendous area. Check this out.

The rain meant that the musician scheduled for the Market had to be re-scheduled. Some vendors bailed. Customer traffic was light and sporadic. It rained off and on all morning. To say it was not one of our more stellar mornings was a definite understatement. And, I’m sure you understand why I was incredibly thankful when the Market was over and it was finally time to GO HOME.

Considering the path of death and destruction left behind by Hurricane Matthew, that simply sounds whiny on my part. There are lots of suffering people, both in the islands and along the coast of the US, from Florida to Maryland.  A lot of people will need a lot of help to ever see any kind of recovery.

At the end of the Market, we had another moment of Déjà vu as MrB came home with me to spend the night. It doesn’t seem like a whole year since his last stay, but he certainly has changed! Last year he was so tiny...this year he's walking and riding his little "motorcycle" through the house.

And, I’m pretty sure we need to start stocking up now, because that boy can eat!
THREE helpings of spaghetti and he needed more...

…and that accounts for our week…

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

Thanks for stopping by…come “visit” us again soon. 

Here's what you missed at the rainy Market...Staunton Farmers' Market photos.


  1. That spider web picture is so beautiful! We also have about two or three acres of land on two sides of us that goes unused. They are full of weeds, thistles, saplings, and the afore mentioned rodents. It makes our cats happy, I suppose, but the weed seeds end up on our property and it is a constant battle to keep it from encroaching on our land. -Jenn

  2. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sorry about the poor market, but as we all know in farming - you win some, you lose some. I do agree about that beautiful cobweb - and that delightful last photo - presumabl full of spaghetti!