Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 4-16

I would like to write something upbeat and positive about the past week…

I would like to say that every day he is better. Things are looking up…getting back to normal.

On the other hand, I try to be honest. And, that’s just not the truth…


The Boss says I’m down. He thinks I should adjust my outlook.  He said that I sigh and moan “this is SO hard!” at least ten times a day…

Now, I honestly think he’s exaggerating. Unless, of course he can read my mind. Then, he’s missed it by a fair amount. (and I’m in serious trouble for some of my other thoughts)

I’ll be honest here. This is hard. 

This is indeed the hardest, scariest, most overwhelming thing I have ever faced. (and that’s saying something) And, I don’t know when it’s gonna get any easier. I cannot honestly say that things will get ever back to where they were before. That may mean that “better days” are coming, but at this point it is just hard…

bumblebees are everywhere

I think what makes it so hard is that while we ordinarily work together as a team, this “project” has us focused in completely different areas. The Boss has the difficult task of recovery. Don’t let anyone fool you. Recovery is work. Consuming and relentless, it is exhausting. While it might look like he’s just sitting there or napping, his body is working all the time. That affects everything.  (Watching our daughter recover from traumatic injuries some years back taught me a lot) on the other hand, running this place alone is no picnic. Yes, we have had countless offers to help, (and yes, I have taken advantage of some of these) but, sometimes you just have to muddle through. And, honestly, you don’t just run down to the farm store and “hire a man in to do that”. (now is not the time or place to write about labor issues, or truly annoying comments) For right now, with our individual focus in completely different areas, there is a sense of isolation that I just can’t shake. And, I won’t even get into the many things that are worrying at the edges of my mind. I don’t want to worry him. However, the insurance claims are just beginning to come in…and the tally is already almost $100,000…while our Market income is running somewhere between 30-50% of normal for this time of year. It's all working out, but it's a little "freakifying" nonetheless.  We are each caught up in our own struggles, leaving little time or energy for any interesting and/or uplifting conversation much of the time.

I will probably never be a good broiler-pen mover
escapees every single time

So, I do contest his claim to my number of sighs, I must agree with him that it sounds downright depressing. So, I’ll give it a whirl and see if I can’t just “change your outlook” and “think positive” here. I know deep in my heart that all of this will work out somehow, that someday we will look back and say, “we did okay!” Right now is just not that time.

Healing is not a linear process. Every day is not guaranteed to be better than the day before. So, it’s slow going. He’s not back in the saddle like he would like to be. Yes, he got on the tractor and tilled. But, he paid for it. And, now we both worry about just how far that little adventure may have set back his healing process. (but, more on that in a minute) And, I know he was “up and about” at the Market, but that was IT for the day. Recovery is exhausting work. At least with the farmwork, I can quit for the day (even if I haven’t accomplished everything I intended) recovery (and the pain involved) never lets up. I’ve definitely got the “easier” end of this deal.

frosty clover
When I last wrote, the weather was cold…very cold. Sunday morning was frosty. I think there was even a little skim of ice in some of the waterers. But, time was marching ever onward. It was time to get the Spring potatoes in the ground!

You may have heard that St. Patrick’s Day is the traditional date for planting potatoes. Here on the hill, when we plant the potatoes so early, we set ourselves up for disaster, heartache and the possibility of no ‘taters. (and we LOVE our potatoes, hence the use of the words disaster and heartache) So, we wait until at least April 1. I can tell you from personal experience that seeing all those little potato sprouts get blackened by the frost is an awful sight. Then, even if the plants do recover, they are weakened and it always seems like the bugs are far more prolific than usual. The entire season is fraught with worry and the harvest is often smaller than expected while requiring far more work. Patience is indeed a virtue.
sprouty potato

Tbone and Blondie had offered to help get the spuds planted (or maybe they got volunteered, I don’t recall). We all figured if we were well-prepared, they could stop by after work, get the job knocked out and have supper. To that end, the Boss and I chopped the potatoes on Sunday afternoon. He’s able to do a number of things (that don’t require Bending, Lifting or Twisting and allow for a rest period at the end) You may be wondering WHY the potatoes are cut prior to planting. The cutting provides far more plants than if you simply planted each potato. And, more plants mean a potentially bigger harvest. Preferably each piece should have at least one good sprout and be about the size of an egg. The bit of potato provides some nourishment and moisture for the sprout as it makes its way out of the ground to become a plant.... then, it will begin to make lots of roots and the tubers will begin to form. By the time the plant blooms, there are tiny NEW potatoes growing under the ground. I think those are perhaps my favorite. They taste so fresh and are the perfect addition to a meal at the end of a summer day spent in the garden.

preparing potatoes for planting

But, the Boss worried that the job was too big to complete in the short period of time after the kids arrived. If I could just hook up the plow, he could knock that part of the job off, saving a good deal of time.

I admit it. I am the enabler. I guess I could have pled ignorance or weakness and not complied with his wishes. But, I can’t tell you how I want to be done with this whole journey, how I know he wants to be better, and how much better he seems...

Yes, I can attach tractor implements

With the plow attached, he set out for the garden. And, with the first pass, I saw the problem….
There’s a lot of twisting involved in driving a tractor!
 I know, I know, you just see the man up on the tractor and think that’s not really work. I beg to differ.

man and machine

I told him it wasn’t a good idea. I told him I thought he should leave it for Tbone.

But, he felt so good…

And, I know I shouldn’t have capitulated when he wanted the implements changed out and the tiller attached.

However, there are times when you know any attempt at argument is pointless.
Tbone and his helper
'tater planting

all done!
Long story, somewhat shorter…the ‘taters got planted.   THANK YOU TBone and Blondie! MrB even “planted” a potato and rode the tractor.

headin' to the 'tater patch

Postscript to the potato story…

The Boss had a follow-up visit with his GP this week. We talked over the pathology report (which, for those of you wondering, said exactly what the surgeon predicted. Hepatacelluar carcinoma—primary tumor with no vascular invasion. Big, scary words, but also like the surgeon stated, “best case scenario” and as it stands, no further treatment should be necessary) The doc talked about recovery expectations and the Boss confessed to his tractor adventure.

The GP said in no uncertain terms…NO more of tractor work! Absolutely NO lawnmowing! Just hang in there for a couple more weeks and the you can get back to work with no complications. Patience! Any type of pushing it now will just prolong the recovery period.

But, the best part of the story?

Part of the Boss’ “confession” included the words MY WIFE SAID NOT TO…

And, the doc, Lord love him, said LISTEN to your wife! 
(I certainly wish I’d gotten that in writing) I must say, he earned more than a few brownie points with that comment. And, I can assure you I will get a lot of mileage out of the statement. Even if it does mean I have to mow the grass, move the trailer and haul the broilers...

When I arrived home the other evening, there was a box by the gate. My first thought was oh, how nice…a surprise! However, it was just more work.  I had completely forgotten that we ordered strawberry and asparagus plants back in December or January.

Oh, look...a surprise!

So, I headed off to the garden and the roto-tiller again.

First, I gave myself permission to toss the remaining onion plants. They weren’t very impressive anyway, and it seemed like a waste of time at this late date. But, then I had the thought that onion sets might work… and, as a testament to my complete insanity, I stopped by the farm store, bought the last of the red and yellow sets, fired up the tiller and plunked them in the ground. (if this works, we will have about half the number of onions we had originally planned…and I will have a side-by-side comparison of sets vs. plants for future reference)
onion sets are tiny onions that you plant like flower bulbs

Then, I got the established strawberry plants weeded. I was concerned that there wouldn’t be a crop of any type after the cold weather (I didn’t cover those because I just couldn’t face another row cover adventure) 
strawberry blossoms
But, they’re looking pretty good despite the fact that one of the barn kitties found the compost made a nice, soft little bathroom area and buried more than a few plants. (not real fond of that kitty right now) Then, I tilled and planted and mulched in the new plants. I will put chicken wire over these plants to keep the cats from creating a new "potty".
baby strawberry plant
But, as for those asparagus roots…they’re just going to have to wait their turn…

does this look toxic?

I just realized that this post is getting far too long, so I won’t tell you all about my weed eradication experiments. Or how when the Boss said “we need to do something about those purple weeds” that I found there are THREE different purple plants here on the hill, creating a new learning opportunity. And, I will skip trying to explain how I keep expecting the theme song from "Mission Impossible"  to start playing every time I open the hoophouse door…

Despite a cold, dark start to the Market
it was a great day!

…I will leave you with the hope that you are indeed having a

Happy Sunday! 

…and leave you with a few words from Reba McEntire…

Life will throw you a curve ball
Back against a brick wall
Push you right up to the edge
It'll hit you from your blind side
Kick you in the backside
Barely even break a sweat

It's a roll with the punches
Funny little life we lead
Oh, but I'm in it for the long haul
Win, lose or draw, y'all
It won't get the best of me

'Cause I been down to the wire
With my feet to the fire
But this livin' ain't killed me yet
Well I been tested and tried
But I still got some fight
No, this livin' ain't killed me
Livin' ain't killed me yet
                               -from “Love Somebody”-Reba McEntire 2015

See? I actually can be “positive”.

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

beautiful apple blossoms

P.S. I nearly forgot...the Boss is back to posting his weekly Market shots. You can check them out HERE.


  1. Happy Easter to you and the Boss, Barbara. I'm so sorry you have to worry about health care costs. It must be insurmountably difficult for you to take over everything as well as worry about the Boss' health (regardless of the comforting words of the surgeon), and your business. I have found that in my many struggles over the years, the words, "this too shall pass" have always come true. All the best, Jenn

  2. Barbara. having just gone through a very similar scenario I feel for you deeply. The outcome for my farmer was of course not good - we knew from the beginning that it never would be. Your Boss sounds in good hands, the prognosis is excellent - follow your doctor's orders to the letter and relax - do what you can on the farm and accept any help that is offered I beg you. You are both in my thoughts

  3. Dear Barb and Boss - I can certainly empathize with your life right now! It WILL get better - just take it one day at a time - listen to the doctor - and REST! Just know you have lots of people out there praying for you! God Bless you and your family!

  4. Oh, Barbara, I can only imagine how hard this is for both of you. Please know that you continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. Thank God no further treatment is necessary, wonderful news! Please give Tom a big hug from us, and try not to get discouraged. We love you.