Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 12-18

moon through the pines

One of these days, I’m going to have to keep a log of just how many times I check the weather forecast in a week. Particularly a winter week when we have off-farm plans and obligations. I’m fairly certain the number would be amazing. There are those who might even say I’m obsessive. But, I would point out that this is not without cause.

cold skies

While all the dramatic winter weather was supposed to miss us, the deep freeze and potential for precipitation was a real threat. And, as you will later see, the slightest chance, the smallest amount can present a challenge.

December morning

Despite the fact that mid-December is quite possibly the most boring time of year around here, we had several appointments and a late-week delivery that couldn’t be missed. So, the weather checks were not without cause.

even the cardinals looked cold

you know what they say about "red at morning"...

Winter Sales have been part of our lives (and income) since 2008. What started as a way to sell a few extra eggs has become a somewhat steady source of positive cash flow during the lean months of winter. Those lambs, chickens and veggies grown during the summer months are valuable commodities in the “off-season”. However, in order to generate cash flow, weather considerations are a constant source of concern, potentially impacting both harvest and delivery.

Winter sales items

Greens were planted in the hoophouses in September in hopes of having some sort of harvest during the winter months. You can read THIS. for a little more information about the hoophouses in winter.

this week's fresh offerings
salad mix, arugula and kale

While the plants will continue to grow (ever so slowly) during the cold, dark winter months, consideration must be given to the timing of the harvest. If the plants are still frozen, the leaves will not have a chance to revive and our customers will be left with a mushy mess of green stuff. Not to mention that frigid temperatures do nothing for my picking fingers.

cold weather brings out vibrant color

There is generally a small window of harvest opportunity, even on the coldest day, provided the sun is shining, and I set out to make the most of the opportunity, picking as quickly as my chilly fingers would allow. With bad weather looming, I got my harvesting done as early in the week as I possibly could.

The Boss had an appointment at the local hospital scheduled for very early morning in the middle of the week. Between the fasting and cleansing, the actual testing and some recovery time, his entire week was somehow impacted by this seemingly small test. On the positive side, everything went well and he is back to normal now.

Doing chores in the cold and the dark is not a lot of fun,
but this particular morning the sky was amazing

When we returned from the hospital, there were lots (and lots) of orders waiting. And, more than one person had expressed concerns over the weather. My obsessive weather checks continued and we formulated an alternative delivery plan, all the while hoping we wouldn’t have to implement it.

The next day he washed eggs and prepared for the predicted wintry weather, and I headed off for my own medical appointment.  I haven’t been feeling well for a long time and it’s time (past due, maybe) to get to feeling better.  

Years ago, we knew an old man who said (repeatedly) that he “didn’t mind getting old, but it was so inconvenient!” I’m here to tell you that I completely agree that it is truly inconvenient but quite honestly I DO mind...but, it does indeed beat the alternative. But, better days are supposedly up ahead, so we will keep plugging along, hoping for the best.

Appointments completed, dump run accomplished, wood box stacked high, alternative delivery schedule planned, we were ready for the weather. So, we waited.

before the storm

The forecast put the bulk of the bad weather just to the north of us. And, I hoped against hope that it would miss us entirely. It wasn’t like we could just skip the week due to weather. We had already accepted all these orders and we had a lot riding on this delivery. Nearly $800 worth of farm products were packed and waiting. Customers were counting on these goodies for their holiday meals. Our next planned delivery wasn’t for two weeks. Those beautiful, fresh greens wouldn’t wait that long.

Still we waited.

The precipitation didn’t arrive as early as predicted, so everything was still clear when we went to bed.

When I woke at 4:30, the first order of business was to look outside. I certainly couldn’t tell much, it was dark, wet, and the thermometer read 20*. (that couldn’t be good)  Ice shattered when I attempted to open the back door. But, there were no icicles hanging from the trees, so the whole freezing rain thing couldn’t have been a big deal, right?

A little later, Neighbor rolled down the lane in his big tractor. He maintains the local roads for the state during winter weather events, so I felt confident that we would be able to get out and get to town.
icy back door
never a good sign

However, we also knew that we had 20-30 other people who would be trying to get to town to meet us and we needed to consider their safety. What to do?

looks are deceiving
it's SLICK!

Once daylight arrived, we could get out and do chores and assess the situation. The back porch was really slippery. The gravel path to the barn was ice-covered. But, it didn’t seem too bad. There was the barest glaze of ice. Surely, it would melt soon. The Boss and I went our separate ways to feed the animals.

teeny, weeny icicles on the porch

When I got back to the house, the Boss greeted me with...”No way we’re getting to town. At least not any time soon...” He had walked to the top of the lane and found that it was like a sheet of glass. It was so slippery that he could barely stand. He made a call to Neighbor to get a check on the roads. The report wasn’t good. One of his trucks was in a ditch and another (and a firetruck) couldn’t make it past “hilltop” on Mbrk road. Neighbor used the word treacherous. To add insult to injury, his big tractor had developed two flat tires.  A check of social media revealed that the State police calling for folks to stay off the roads.  Not good. Not good at all.  (eventually there were reports of 100 vehicular incidents in just a couple of hours)  

The emails were piling up. Customers wanted to know what we were doing. I couldn’t blame them, WE wanted to know what we were doing. Our original plan was to make our delivery on Sunday afternoon. However, Sunday’s weather was supposed to be rainy and windy. Not breezy, mind you, but wind gusts up to 30 miles an hour. Not the kind of weather you wanted to ask people to come out in...fine farm produce or not.

The temperature was supposed to rise steadily all day, so we made plans to deliver after lunch. With fingers crossed, I sent out another email to apprise the customers of the new plan. With the exception of one missed email and one request to re-schedule, the alternative delivery was a success. The customers got their food and I can make a bank deposit.

All’s well that ends well.

But, I should take a moment here to thank all those kind souls who do business with us on a regular basis. I don’t know if our customer-friends realize just how much we appreciate them. And, not because they buy stuff. Many of them have been along with us since our earliest days of the Market. We have folks who are genuinely concerned about us, our family and our well-being. These are some special people and we are blessed to have them in our lives. Without them, we would not be able to survive. They make this whole venture possible and we are both humbled and grateful for their continued patronage and their kind words. In other words, our customers rock! Thanks y'all...from the bottom of my heart.

The weather continues to take us on a rollercoaster ride. Today I awoke to 53 degrees!

Sunday sunrise

Sunday breakfast
Which, I can assure you was far more pleasant than the 10 degrees for morning chores on Thursday. But, the beautiful sunrise quickly gave way to clouds and rain and gusty winds. It looks like a good day for a movie and a bowl of popcorn.

Remy isn't interested in popcorn or movies
rainy days are meant for napping

…and that’s all folks!

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

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


  1. Quite a roller coaster ride you had there Barbara. Do hope that your medical problem is easily dealt with.

  2. I love your photos, Barbara. But truly hope your medical problem is easily fixed!


    1. Thanks, Linda!
      I just found your farm blog, I'll be visiting again.
      And, HAPPY Anniversary! :)