Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 8-27

this might just be the best jam I ever made
This week has been all about food.

Wait a minute. Who am I kidding? It’s always about food. That’s what we do. We raise and sell food. Most of our activities center around food and the eating thereof. You might just say “food is our life”. (I even wrote that this)

In many respects, this week was no different than any other week as we worked to get food on the table, both here and elsewhere. We planted, we picked, we processed, we sold…and we ate. Oh, man! The eating is SO good this time of year! Meal time makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Nectarine upside-down cake
  (fruit from Market vendor Dickie Brothers)

Monday morning the Boss prepared the last section of the middle garden for the brassica plants that were languishing in the trailer in the backyard. They had gotten so big that their roots were taking up all the room in the flats and we had to water twice a day just to keep them from shriveling up and dying. It was past time to get them in the ground, but there are never enough hours in the day.

With a bit of teamwork, we got several hundred plants in the ground before lunch. Since it’s still hot and extremely dry, this planting was equipped with irrigation tape to keep the plants hydrated.

brassicas in the early morning light

The next job was going to be harvesting corn for our personal use. But, first...the eclipse.

For weeks, we had been hearing about the eclipse. I had never seen anything like it before. (and I distinctly remember at least two major eclipses) No, I don’t mean the eclipse, I mean the public/media reaction to it. WOW. It sounded like it was going to be a major deal.

during the eclipse

I was a little disappointed.  Even though we weren’t in the path of totality, we were supposed to see something like 83%. So, I figured it would get way darker and was hoping for some sort of reaction from the animals. To my mind, it didn’t look much different than a summer day when clouds filter the sunlight. The light did seem slightly odd (maybe like you were wearing two sets of sunglasses) and the shadows got a little deeper for a few moments. As for animal reactions...check out Gus!

No worries about his eyes during the eclipse!
(he's taking a nap under the shed
and not too thrilled I woke him)

With the historic eclipse behind us, it was time to head to the corn patch.

harvesting corn

After selling the "primo" stuff last week, we harvested the corn we planned on using for ourselves and hauled it back to the house. The plan was to work it up the following morning when the grass was still too wet for garden work.

Food preservation, putting stores away for winter use, whether it be canning, freezing or some other method, is said to be a dying art. I can understand why. It takes a lot of work to put up food. It must be done in the peak of the season when it’s hot and you’re tired from all the work of growing the food. And, let’s be honest here, it’s a whole lot easier (and perhaps even more economical) to head to the grocery store and buy a package of frozen corn or a can of tomato sauce. But, there is a sense of accomplishment that you cannot get from making a purchase at the store. Maybe that’s what makes it taste so good. And, I'm here to tell is amazingly delicious!

To that end, we shucked the corn.

Washed off the silks.

cleaned corn
ready for processing

Blanched the corn.

Cooled the corn.

Cut it off the cobs.

Then, we scooped it into plastic bags and popped it all in the freezer. Now, we will have corn for winter use (and may even have some for sale).

Then, the hens enjoyed a corn cob feast. And, we checked one more job off the “to-do” list!
chicken feast

Then it was time to plant some more (another couple hundred brassicas)…and pick some more…make some tomato sauce and put up some green beans…and those zucchinis are still pumping out…

green beans ready to can

tomato sauce
(we do our canning on the front porch)

As we finished up our lunch break on Wednesday, the power went out. Since it was extremely hot, we tried not to worry and just took it as a sign we really needed to get out and pick the beans that we were both wishing we could avoid. Surely, it would come back on soon…

A power outage always causes a mild panic here on the hill. As soon as the lights go out, the Boss starts doing mental calculations as to just how long it can be out before he has to crank up the generator to keep the place running. We have freezers (yes, plural…very plural) full of meat and vegetables that must stay frozen at all costs. To lose our inventory would be devastating. All that frozen stuff represents our winter income as well as our winter menu.

While we picked beans, we discussed the possibilities for the outage. (one of the “hazards” of a twenty-year power company career, the Boss invariably starts trying to resolve the outage…and as the spouse of the “ex-Vepcovian”, I actually understand most of what he’s talking about…) Checking the map on my phone, we discovered that the outage was limited to 10 people. 10. That meant our little lane and a few other folks…

Just about then, neighbor drove up the hill in his backhoe with a long gate and pole dangling from the bucket, we joked that maybe he took the power line out and laughed a little at the ridiculous-ness of that scenario. After our chuckle, we got back to picking beans in the hot afternoon sun.

The power still wasn’t restored when we finished.


The outage app stated that the power wouldn’t be restored until later. Much later.

In that case, we did what we always do in the event of a power outage. We got in the truck to drive along the route so the Boss could assess the problem. (at which point he calls the power company with the information, hoping to save them some crucial time in restoring the power) This time we didn’t get too far. There at the bridge, the neutral wire was dangling limply in the sunshine. There was no point going any further. We headed back to the top of the hill in hopes of picking up enough cell service to make a phone call to the power company to direct the repair crew.

definitely a downed wire

you have to look closely

No power doesn’t just mean no lights. And, the freezers aren’t our only worry. The well pump is electric. That means no water for animals or plants. (or showers or drinking) The land-line phone doesn’t work, either.  Since cell service is always sporadic at best, contacting the outside world can be a challenge. Did I mention it was hot? So, to conserve the precious cool-ness inside the house, trips inside/outside must be kept to a minimum. The walk-in cooler must remain closed in hopes of preserving the harvest. No electricity also means that food preparation comes to a standstill and we were heading toward suppertime…

A big “whole-house/farm” generator that kicks in immediately might seem a great solution, but the pricetag on one of those is daunting.  You’d have to lose power on a regular basis to make the investment worthwhile. We know we meet the challenge of a long outage. We made it for 5 days after the Derecho. (did you read THIS?) But, honestly, I have no desire to ever do that again!

The Boss finally got a signal. And, no sooner had he finished the call than the service man rolled up behind us. Neighbor rolled up behind him, apologizing profusely. (our joking around had been spot-on)

Long story short…

The “cavalry” arrived shortly thereafter and power was restored within a couple of hours.

nothing like the sight of bucket trucks during a power outage
 (but, not before the fire department came to assess the situation) An exciting afternoon to say the least.

we were just out of sight of all the "action"
doesn't look impressive
but, those two taut wires are crucial to our existence

By this time, we were on plan “D” for supper, chores got done incredibly late (the animals were all complaining) and we still hadn’t finished picking the green beans. **sigh**

But, all’s well that ends well. Everyone got something to eat, the house stayed blessedly cool, we got our much-needed showers and the green beans could wait.

There is a postscript to the story.

The following day, on my way out to the chiro, the lane was blocked by the backhoe as neighbor worked to finish the repair job he started last week. I must admit, I was just a little irritated to have to re-schedule my appointment.
doesn't look like I'm going anywhere any time soon!

In the past week, I have chased steers, been powerless for hours and changed plans all because a stupid deer chose to hang himself in the fence at the creek. I can only imagine how neighbor must feel. The overpopulation of white-tail deer is causing issues throughout the area and must be addressed soon. My suggestion…eat more venison! (see, everything comes back to food)

This post is getting long (even by my standards) but, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you one last story. A success story at that.

We finally got the little lambs out of the barn!

they may be tiny
they may be scruffy
but, they are OUTSIDE!

That’s big news.

the re-introduction cause more than a little consternation

It’s been weeks. Weeks of worry and close attention. There have been vitamin injections, antibiotics, PRObiotics, deworming, a battle with flystrike, (I'll tell you that story some other time) gathering of grass clippings to tempt finicky appetites, a couple of bales of hay…in other words, a whole lot of extra work just to get some weight on the little creatures. But, I did it. They finally weigh over 50#! (still majorly tiny, but…) So, they went back out with the lamb flock. 

It still remains to be seen if they will fulfill their true lambchop destiny. But, they are healthy (and out of the barn). YAY

…and that brings us to Market day.

one of these days I'll take a different shot

It was a beautiful day, with lots of folks, good music and fun conversations. There was very little left to pack up and bring back to the hill. So, all in all, a very good day.  Here’s the link to the Boss’ photos. 

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

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

I know they're weeds
but, I love morning glories!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 8-20

We have reached THAT point in the summer season.

Do you know what I mean?

THAT point has no specific definition. It certainly doesn’t have a definite date. There is nothing precise about its occurrence. But, it does happen every year, without fail.

THAT point is when it all seems overwhelming. The heat, the humidity, the bugs, the weeds, the ongoing projects, the yet to be figured-out projects, plans for the future, the worries of the world, the odd and random…all seem to converge upon us at once.

In other words, it’s August.

While August can be more than a little overwhelming in oh, so many ways. Although, it’s got a whole lot going for it, too. Did you read this? We'll go with that since we are trying for positive thinking this summer.

Currently, I’m struggling with the whole “positive thinking” thing. It’s taking some monumental effort on my part to keep from melting into a puddle that is both overheated and overwhelmed. But, I’m pretty sure you don’t want to read about that.


making a wish
The week started off with MrB’s #2 birthday bash. I cannot believe that the grandsons are TWO years old. Sometimes, it seems like their own moms were just little, bitty babies. However, time marches onward.

Everyone seemed to have a great time!

Back on the hill, it was back to work.

look closely,
there's a faint rainbow upper right corner
(didn't even see it when I took the shot)

While rain is wonderful and we depend upon it for everything we have and do, sometimes it would be nice if we had control of the timing and the amounts. (not really…it would just be one more responsibility and one more area for potential errors) We continue to feel the effects of last week’s big rains. …and we had more this week.
another day
another storm

this one just made a few sprinkles

Heat and humidity always cause issues…the same issues. 

another scorcher

dew on everything

it stays wet until noon

Since we have come to expect this, we can act quickly when we see bottlejaw in the lamb flock and we know exactly what to do with a whole bunch of cracked tomatoes.  

tomatoes in the freezer
The tomatoes were blanched, peeled, chopped and frozen for winter-time use/sales. The hens had a feast of skins and seeds and over-ripe tomatoes. Nothing went to waste.
hens' tomato feast

see his fat face?
We turned our attention to the lamb flock. Fortunately, just one lamb has been affected with bottlejaw. Bottlejaw is brought on by a parasite. One of the symptoms is a swollen jaw (like the mumps in humans) hence, the name. Sometimes the animal’s entire face swells. This year any infections have been most persistent and taken several treatments to cure. So, all week we kept an eye on the ailing lamb. Since his appetite has never suffered, we are not terribly worried about him. Although he is a sheep…and they are notorious for dying for “no apparent” reason…so we will remain vigilant.

We had the whole crew over for B’s B-day supper. But, there is no photographic evidence of this event at all. That’s my fault. I got focused on frying chicken and making biscuits and laughing at the grandsons’ antics. Even without pictures, I’m pretty sure everyone had a good time. And, I know they got plenty to eat!

While it seems that summer is always the same thing…harvesting and heat and some kind of vegetable processing on a constant repeat…
grazing sheep

another foggy August morning

grazing lambs


August on the farm

sometimes things get changed up just a little…

Case in point  

Thursday I headed to the chiropractor’s office. He’s been working on getting rid of my persistent headache brought on by my neck issues. Every time he fixes it, I manage to do something else to make it hurt. I’m sure he finds this perplexing. There is no way to explain the odd things that occur in my very un-conventional day-to-day life. I'm not even going to try.

When I returned, there was a four-wheeler parked directly in the middle of the lane. But, no driver. I didn’t see him anywhere. As I peered down the lane, I thought I saw part of the “cow-chasing team” and wait…was that a steer in the weeds by the edge of the lane? I couldn’t tell and I couldn’t stop because there was oncoming traffic.

I went down the road, turned around and tried again. Yep. I saw a couple guys in the lane. And, at least one cow.
these guys just look like trouble

There was only one thing to do. Park the car, turn on the flashers…and lend a hand.

As I hurried down the hill, I breathed a sigh of relief that I had chosen to wear boots and not flip-flops for my trip to town. (bare-foot cattle herding once was enough---did you read about my last encounter with these steers? )

There were two escapee steers and two very hot and irritated neighbors engaged in a battle of wills. In the middle of the lane. Apparently, this had been going on for quite some time and I arrived in time for the grand finale.

The cattle-chasers were getting weary when one steer suddenly bolted and ran the opposite direction.
 Not a good thing.

The steer headed directly at me as I approached the bridge.

This was the moment of truth. If I let him get by me, it could be disastrous. Vehicles and steers don’t mix at all well. Hamburger in the middle of the road on a hot day would be disgusting.

I stomped my foot, waved my arms and hollered at the steer. He looked rather quizzical and then turned around and galloped over to meet his cronies.  The other escapee must have decided it was too hot for such nonsense, so he ambled back to the field as well. We whistled and pushed and drove them up the hill into a more secure paddock.

Crisis resolved.  

And, I can claim to be an honorary member of the "Mbrk cattle-chasing team"! 

Apparently, a big buck (deer) got caught under the bridge, destroying the fence and losing his life in the struggle. The steers saw this opportunity and took a little fieldtrip. The Boss and I apparently missed their visit to our field earlier in the day. A round-up had ensued.  Then, as neighbor was working to fix the fence, the steers escaped again to find respite from the heat in the shade nearby. These steers are nothing if not persistent.

Everything got repaired and I didn’t see any more escapees when I headed out later to take Remy to the vet. 

they're waiting for us!
After the warm welcome at the vet where everyone told her how beautiful she was and had to hear the story of her rescue (read this),  she proceeded to behave in the most awful manner. She growled, she hissed, she even tried to bite and claw the doctor. Ordinarily she is the nicest cat ever. (she even tolerates the grandsons…to a point) But, she did not like those shots, not one bit! Then, she yowled all the way home. Not a fun trip.

Remy's TV watching position
(TLWomack photo)

But, she’s safely vaccinated and incredibly healthy…and back to her usual routine.

And, we were back to our regular routine of preparing for Market. This week there were grapes and pears to pick. And, it was time to harvest CORN as well!
the net worked
We beat the deer!



cool morning sky at chore time

It was a great Market day!
heading out to Market

Market sunrise

pretty yellow beans

"Bodacious" corn

grapes at the Market

couldn't fit it all in the frame!

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday!

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

May YOUR week bring YOU this much joy!