Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 10-22

Life rolls on...

Ever get a snippet of a song stuck in your head and it occurs at odd and random times?  Or is that just me?

It happens all the time. And, occasionally it is even appropriate for sharing.

There’s little to say about this week other than...”life rolls on...” (thanks Little Big Town)

As life does indeed roll on, the season progressing and the weather changing, there are certain steps in the intricate choreography of small-scale farming so that the dance can continue. But, there is little margin for error and seemingly small things threaten sustainability. The somewhat regular occurrence of odd and random disruptions have made this year a challenge to say the least.

This week was no exception...

Last week, the Boss was complaining about a scratchy throat. But, it’s been dry and dusty, he’d been mowing grass, cleaning out the brooder. Surely it was just an allergic reaction of some kind.
Then he started sounding like Barry White. (surely you know Barry) That’s a sure sign that he’s getting sick...really sick. By the time last week’s Market was over,  the sexy sound of his Barry White-esque  baritone gave way to what can only be described as what I assume were the sounds of a wounded water buffalo. (no offense here Boss, trying to create a word picture) He said his throat was excruciating. There were snuffling efforts to breathe. And, then there was the coughing jag that left him struggling to remain upright.

That did it. He needed medical attention.

As another indicator of the seriousness, he asked ME to drive him to Urgent Care. (anyone who knows the Boss knows that he doesn’t do the passenger seat of a vehicle) At this point, I got a little scared.

So, for the second time in recent history, we were headed to Urgent Care on a Sunday evening, hoping to make it before they closed. (although there were no bathrobes involved this time)
They tested him for strep (which came back negative), gave him a couple of prescriptions (which couldn’t be filled until morning) and sent us on our way. But, not before we picked up some icecream (at the doc’s recommendation) to soothe that sore throat.

So, he spent a fair amount of time sitting in his recliner, wiling away the time attempting to endure what could only be described as “the mother of all head colds”.

Life rolls on...

I muddled through the best I could. Fortunately, there isn’t a whole lot to do. After one small job that requires any sort of bending (and what job doesn’t), I have to spend some quality time with my own recliner...and the heating pad.

We make quite a team. A rather pathetic team of the “halt and the lame” …or something like that. (more like the congested and the whiny)

…life rolls on…

Then we received the much-anticipated text…

New grandbaby had arrived quickly and safely. Garrett Kayde brings the grandson count to THREE! Big congratulations to Betsy, Josh and now-big brother, Karl.

While the Boss couldn’t visit the new addition, (can’t share germs with a baby!) he did manage to get the garlic beds tilled and dig the potatoes for this week’s Market.

tilling for garlic

digging 'taters

I don’t know how he found the energy, but he got the seedstock for 2018 planted as well. (no pictures of that since he got it done in record time)

Since I’m not doing a whole lot of farm work, I got to visit the new arrival several times during the week. Well, see...that's positive...
isn't he sweet?

During one visit, I managed to shut the car door on my thumb. Notice I didn’t say slam. That would have been a serious incident. I just caught the pad of my thumb in the little crack between the doors. (I still can’t figure out how I did this).  While it hurt, I didn’t realize the extent of the injury until much later, when it began to swell. As a matter of fact, I was rather surprised to see the damage. There was a big black bruise that throbbed with the slightest movement of my hand.

It was only then that I could rejoice about the lettuce crop failure. There is no way I could have picked lettuce with that thumb! Actually, I couldn’t do much of anything for at least a day. (even our supper menu had to be revised)

Thankfully, the swelling went down and it didn’t require medical attention other than a big bandaid.
I was able to go into town on Friday morning and pick up the layer chicks at the Post Office. On the way to town, I saw one more indicator that everybody is struggling with the current drought conditions. The line at the stockyard stretch out from the loading dock, down the road, around the corner and back over the bridge. If it had been much longer there would have been cattle in the middle of downtown. (in their trailers, of course) I wish I had taken a photo, I’ve never seen that many trailers. Needless to say, we’re all praying for rain.

These hens will give you some idea of how dry it is...
Chickens take dust "baths" to curtail any sort of skin irritants and parasites. It also helps them stay cool.
just a day at the "hen beach"

getting ready to shake out the excess dust

give it a little shake...

...and everybody got a dustbath!

they were healthy, but HUNGRY!
The chicks were tucked into the brooder where they will live until it’s time for them to join the layer flock in late winter. Their arrival moved us just a little closer to the 2018 season.
...aww, aren't they cute?

…and life rolls on…

Sadly, Market offerings were slim at best.

...sad days indeed...

This is getting old...this standing at the Market with very little stuff...the attempts at explaining why there is so little’s affecting my current mood and my outlook for the future. But, I feel like I need to make the best of it, gloss over all the worries. Because quite honestly, the market customers do not want to hear all my mental wrangling (nobody does...not even ME!)

There is no way around the present situation...this year-long string of unexpected, unbelievable challenges...just through it.

...and we’re almost there.



I find myself quoting “the little engine that could” quite often these days.

I think I can, I think I can, ithinkican, ithinkican...

...if we can just keep up enough steam and momentum to get through the end of the season (just 4 more Markets) then we can re-group after Thanksgiving. This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced challenges. (every year seems to present something new) But, I must admit, I think this year has been the hardest ever. ...and believe me, we have faced some hard stuff.

The Boss keeps saying that we’ll get “back to normal”. I beg to differ. Seismic life changes...those big things that come on like an earthquake...disrupt, if not destroy, normalcy. While life does indeed roll on, it is never quite the same.

Personally, it seems like we are stuck in a continual loop of change. And, while I realize that life is never static, that “normal” may just be an illusion, I would certainly welcome a season of relative calmness. Really. Because for every “Ithinkican, ithinkican…” there is a “but, what if I can’t?”

He keeps telling me that I really need to change my focus. Think positively…

So,…the good stuff...
big brother, little brother

2018 green garlic crop

next week's star crop

kitties in the backyard

pretty sunset
frosty fencepost

lots of broccoli
shadows on Sugarloaf Mtn
October maple leaf

Hope y’all are having a Happy Sunday! 

A sun-dog means a chance of rain!
(fingers crossed)

Thanks for reading. 

Come back and “visit” again real soon.

I don’t know, but I’ve been told
If you are not busy living, then you’re getting old
That always seemed to make good sense to me
Life Rolls On
La, La, La, La, La, La, Life Rolls On
La, La, La, La, La, La, Life Rolls On
Life Rolls on….  -Little Big Town

The Boss’ Market shots can be found HERE.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 10-15

Bad news is everywhere. Natural disasters, random acts of violence and a continual string of horrible injustices perpetrated on unsuspecting people. And, that doesn’t even include politics. It’s disheartening. It’s depressing. And, there’s not a thing I can do about any of it.

Oh, I know you can write letters to your representatives and you can get out and vote your conscience. Speak out when bad things happen to you and others. Donate to charity.  You can lend an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on and hugs are always welcome. But, in the long run, I honestly wonder if it all matters. Because, the bad news just keeps coming.

So, I’m wracking my brain here for something upbeat and different. Something that will make someone smile and distract my own mind from the dark and dreary corners to which it seems inexorably drawn.

...and all I’ve got is Gus...

For those of you who may not know, Gus is our Great Pyrenees. Defender of the farm, guardian of the sheep,...and goof-ball extraordinaire.

Borrowing a line from the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, Gus is one of the “characters around here givin’ the place at-mosphere”. He’s been featured in the farm blog in the past... (you might want to read these) Fortunately for all involved, he outgrew his propensity for chewing up the odd and random (plant flats, trailer parts, the dryer vent) and for all appearances seems to be doing his job.

He has finally assimilated into his role as sole guardian of the farm after Ellie’s death earlier this year. Although visitations from the tiny humans still seem to perplex him. (that may be understandable)

MrB thought it was great fun to be captured
by the giant chicken-catching net
I think Gus sees himself as some sort of “super-hero” dog, rescuing us from the unseen threats of farm-life.
"I heard something..."
Yes, he IS standing on his hind legs and opening the gate!

"Here I come to save the day!" 

"He needed me, Mama...he really did!"

hmm, this isn't supposed to be opened...

 Gus...where are you?

this time the spent cornstalks needed "protection"

However, even Superman had his Kryptonite.

For Gus, it’s the doggie nail clippers (and loud noises, but that’s the subject of another post).

If you need to make a 125-pound dog disappear, you simply pull the tiny clippers off the hook in the utility room. He does not have to see them, he can apparently hear the sound as they slip into my pocket. And, it causes his personality to change and he suddenly goes AWOL.

Now, I could go the rest of my life without doing doggie pedicures. Really. But, the Pyrenees have these giant dewclaws on their back feet that need some regular maintenance. The claws were apparently necessary at one point in their evolution so they could balance as they stood on their back feet and fought predators, mainly bears. Bears? (yeah, really) Now, if we ever find ourselves in a situation where it is necessary for Gus to stand upright on his back feet and fight bears, I am certain that we will BOTH be looking for a new line of work...and perhaps a new location. But, I digress.

These giant claws have a propensity for growth and curl around and around and eventually dig into the tender skin of the foot pads and cause great discomfort along with the potential for infection of the broken skin. Veterinarians do not suggest removing these claws as that can cause another set of problems. So, put another thing on the “to-do list”.

it curls around in a complete circle

Sensing the clippers in my pocket, Gus is no longer the friendly sidekick who wants his ears rubbed while we wait for the stocktank to fill. He is simply nowhere to be seen. Seriously, he disappears. 
Now, that feat in and of itself is astounding. You try hiding a huge, white, hairy dog in plain sight.
maybe I can sneak up on him...

Once located, he kept his distance. He knew I had those clippers and I can only surmise that he felt some real affection for his toenails, because he was not letting me near them. He would let me hold his paw, only to jump away in abject terror as I reached for my back pocket.

Even doggie treats had lost their appeal as the dance seemed to continue without end. One step toward him...he was off to race around the orchard, then he would touch his nose to my hand, only to dart away again. This was getting old. I sat down in one last attempt to capture him, hoping that he would follow his usual behavior and come to see what I was doing. I only had to make the two teeny, tiny clips and be done with the job.

“Oh, my gosh...are you all right? WHAT are you doing?”

The Boss’ voice shocked me out of my reverie about my next move in this dance of ridiculous-ness.

He knew nothing of my attempts at a doggie pedicure, so  when he found me sitting on the ground next to the fence his concern was understandable.

Of course, Gus had to see what was up since both his humans were in the same spot at the same time. That gave the Boss time to grab him.

Snip. Snip. The job was done.

Honestly. That was it. All that hoopla for two little...well, actually...two enormous toenails.

Gus spent the next 10 minutes looking for his lost body parts. And, you thought perhaps I overstated his goof-ball status.
"I know they're here somewhere..."

But, fortunately that job is done for a while!

That’s the kind of stuff that goes on around here all the time. We don’t have to make any effort for “mindfulness” or attempt to live an “authentic” life. This is it. Forget the news of the day…the minutiae of daily life is more than enough to occupy our minds…and try our patience.

So, I guess we should be truly grateful for Gus and his goofy antics.

And, there are other farm-related things to occupy our minds should we choose to change our focus.

As the calendar moves ever forward, it’s time to be thinking ahead to next year’s crops. The garlic seedstock arrived and the Boss made the first pass at readying the planting beds.

cleaning up the garden
getting ready for 2018 garlic planting

2018 seedstock

The fall brassica harvest is finally beginning.

isn't this broccoli beautiful?

The hens are continuing to clean up the middle garden space.

except for this girl...
she's gone broody and wants to sit on all the eggs

It looks like all is quiet (and complete) on the sheep breeding front.

late day sheep siesta

And, while I realize we should make every attempt to curtail the thistle growth, at least the goldfinches are enjoying this year’s bumper crop.

I love the goldfinches!

After weeks of drought, where each falling leaf seemed to be a whispered prayer for rain, we saw some sort of precipitation every single day. That is a good news, bad news kind of thing.

The good news is obvious.  It’s relatively wet. (at least the vegetation)  The bad news insidious and may be overlooked. Again, the vegetation is relatively wet...(and I’ll leave that one right there).

a slug enjoying a dewy broccoli leaf

Surprisingly, we seem to be the only part of the county that is experiencing the dark, damp conditions. That must have to do with elevation. We sit right about 2,000 feet above sea-level here on the hill. That’s nearly 600 feet higher than Staunton and many of the other surrounding towns. So, our weather is often quite different than it is anywhere else.
dark and damp

garden after rain

Every morning for the past week, we’ve felt like we were trapped inside the clouds, dewdrops clinging to every surface. This doesn’t change until at least mid-afternoon, when the sun bursts forth, bringing with it a brilliant October day. Although the temperatures have felt more August-like…it was 82* several days. The moisture is actually too little, too late and won’t bring any amazing late season production.
lovely afternoon

late day Mbrk  

Saturday’s Market began with the same cool, dark conditions. It seemed that many customers must have taken advantage of the opportunity to sleep in…it took a long time to begin a steady flow of sales. We’ve reached that point of the season where customer traffic has gotten somewhat sparse. A lot of folks give up the Market once summer veggies like corn and tomatoes are gone. Although there are others who are stocking up for winter and trying to buy in bulk, so it all evens out in the end.

ready for sales

I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m just hanging on for the last five Markets of 2017. This year we will just be thankful we got through the season and work on planning for next year…

…and that’s all folks!

Thanks for reading.

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

so pretty!

Come back and “visit” us again real soon.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 10-8

Words have failed me today. Utterly and completely.

I do want to say THANK YOU for all the support and kindness this week. It means the world to me! is the week in photos. You see if you can figure out what's been happening on the hill.

Hope you have a Happy Sunday! 

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