Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 12-31

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I should be plotting out the future with intention, posting some sort of retrospective or at the very least planning some sort of celebration. Or that’s what internet-land would have me think.

But, the Boss says it’s all contrived. That I’m trying to make something out of nothing. We’re simply turning the page on the calendar. It’s just another day.

And, I’m inclined to agree.

That move to the Valley in 1997, that was with New Years’ intentions. And, we all know how that turned out. I’ve spent the past 20 years trying to figure out exactly WHY that happened and WHAT we were supposed to gain from it. (other than a whole mess of “issues” inside my head)

I don’t know that I have the time or strength for a retrospective. This has been a hard year.  A scary diagnosis (read this), two major surgeries, a prolonged recovery, what seemed like countless medical tests and the loss of a faithful guardian are just a few of the challenges we faced. 

And, until the world accepts 9pm as the new midnight, I know I won’t be able to greet another year with my eyes opened. Planning for any sort of celebratory welcome for the New Year is totally unnecessary.
it's very cold
and very windy

So, maybe I will just flip that calendar page. Say a quick “thank you, Jesus!” that the Boss and I are still standing after the various and sundry challenges of the past twelve months. Go ahead with the stuff that we normally do on a cold winter day.

planning/plotting the 2018 gardens
We have plotted out the gardens and planned the seeding dates. We vaccinated the ewes that will lamb sometime next week. The seed potatoes and broiler chicks will get ordered in the next couple of days.
ready for ewe shots

Even though all that seems a little anti-climactic. A little less than celebratory. But, that is just the way we roll.

So, forget that countdown to the New Year…we’re counting down to the to the first planting date…to Spring…to the beginning of Market season…

Because, that is the cycle of Life here on the hill.

Hope y’all have a

Happy Sunday! 

See you next year!
one of the GOOD things from 2017
He looks a little surprised that it's almost 2018

Just in case you need some reading material to make it to midnight (or possibly help you fall asleep) Here are some retrospective posts for your New Years’ Eve. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 12-24

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

…every other day here on the hill.

I’m certain we’re seen as “grinchy” or “scrooge-like” because there are no Christmas decorations. There are no special holiday goodies, no carols and no presents. No, not even one.

It’s hard to explain and even when we do there is little if any comprehension by the listener. How can you just “NOT do Christmas”?  Believe me, it’s no easy feat.

I would like to hibernate (completely) from the day after Thanksgiving to New Years day, avoiding human contact. That way I wouldn’t feel like a complete and utter freak or a veritable heathen. But that’s next to impossible.

And, while it is quite possible that some sort of explanation would help, I have yet to find the words that explain my convictions and beliefs without being offensive to someone else.

I feel uncomfortable talking about it with other people. The whole topic is incredibly divisive, and we’ve had more than one person get overly irate at our beliefs. (or lack thereof) We’ve never tried to proselytize anyone or “correct” their own beliefs. (well, it is entirely possible that it sounded like we were sermonizing, or trying to change someone’s mind when we’ve made attempts to explain) Our children have developed their own celebrations with their extended families. (with our blessing, I might add) Honestly, most of the time, we try to avoid the conversation at all costs. (which, I am sure has led to more than one serious mis-understanding)

When you strip away all the commercialism, the myths/legends and the mish-mash of religion of the holiday as well as all the pagan traditions, you are left with…well, just another day in winter. And, while the festive nature of the season is appealing, and the special treats and colorful decorations are both delectable and delightful, we choose to leave the celebrating to others. 

And, I really hope that everyone can understand that!

So…it’s been just another week of quasi-hibernation here on the hill.

dull December day

December is a rather dull time around the old homestead. Everything and everyone seem to be in a waiting mode. That won’t last long. We will spend the last week of the year plotting and planning for next season. The ewes are actually in count-down mode (if sheep could count) until the lambs start arriving the first week of January. We should be thinking about putting something in the hoophouses, but the weather is supposed to turn bitterly cold, so more waiting may be prudent.

The Boss has been using the slow time to do those small jobs of maintenance and repair that get overlooked during the season. Which explained the ladder sticking out of the barn the other day. By changing out the light fixtures, we can be far more energy efficient and have better illumination.  This will be incredibly handy during those middle of the night lambing sessions!
putting in new light fixtures

And, speaking of sheep…the ewes spend the winter grazing next to the house. There’s not much grass left at this point, so they just wander out and enjoy the view as they ruminate. One of the nice things about having them so close is that I can observe the flock without trekking out in the weather. As a matter of fact, I can see them from the kitchen window. And, it seems that I spend an awful lot of time at the kitchen sink.
out the kitchen window

But more than once I would look out the window only to think there was something amiss. It wasn’t until I had hurriedly thrown on my coat and boots and rushed out the backdoor that I would realize there wasn’t a problem at all.

In my haste to tidy after the house-cat, I dumped the kitty litter over the fence. Now, that seemed like a good plan at the time. The clay would suppress the weeds along the fence-line. The cat scent might deter varmints.
that certainly looks like a downed sheep to me

However, after a few rains, the pile began to transform. It melted and molded to the tree roots. From the kitchen window, it began to look very much like a sheep in distress. After too many hurried trips out the backdoor only to laugh at myself, a clean-up job was in order.
even close up it looks disturbing

the sheep just thought I was disturbing
(or quite possibly disturbed)

Winter wildlife sightings become more common this time of year, due in part to the lack of leaves on the trees. The starlings fill the trees along the fence-line, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to swoop down and eat chicken feed with the hens. It is quite possible that they eat more than the hens do. And, it is understandable why it became the standard practice to raise chickens in poultry houses. The conventional farms that raise hens indoors protect them from the elements and any animal-borne illnesses. This also maintains a consistent rate of production by adding light and heat, while we contend with lowered production brought on by the lack of daylight during the short, cold days of winter. All these factors mean higher production costs and that LOCAL egg prices are indeed higher than those at the grocery store.  
just a few starlings

starlings flying out of henyard

foraging hens

The deer have taken to grazing neighbor’s field at dusk. (or the middle of the day, they’re not picky)

it looks like neighbor has taken to raising deer
They are out so often that Gus has apparently accepted them as part of the landscape and has stopped his incessant barking (well, most of the time).
moved uphill a little

still there at dusk

The same cannot be said for squirrels.

squirrel in the apple tree

Gus does NOT like squirrels. Maybe he thinks they’re saying rude things to him when they “cut” in the highest branches. Maybe they drop nutshells on his head. Quite honestly, if I was a squirrel stuck in the highest branches while a gigantic dog barked at me while trying to climb said tree, I might say some rude things too. (and throw stuff, too)

The other morning there was a great commotion coming from the end of the orchard. Gus was losing his mind over something. And, I kept hearing this weird noise. When I went out to investigate, Gus was trying to climb the tree. Seriously. He was putting his front feet up in it and attempting to jump up into the lower limbs. Unsuccessfully, I might add. It looked truly ridiculous.

There in the very top of the tree was a squirrel. A very angry squirrel.

do you see the squirrel?
I assure you he is there

The weird noise I kept hearing was the squirrel’s distress call. Did you know that squirrels have different sounds they use to communicate?  You can listen to some of them HERE. The stand-off went on for hours until Gus got distracted by something going on down in town. I can only assume the squirrel took advantage of the opportunity and headed for safety far, far away. I haven’t seen him since. (or any bits and pieces, so I'm sure he's fine)

The rest of the week was completely uneventful.

crescent moon sunset
shortest day of the year

first full day of Winter

On Saturday, we made our final sales delivery of 2017. Not only was it a very good sales day, it went off flawlessly. And, we didn’t have any snow to contend with this week! We even got back to the hill ahead of the rain.
...and we really need the rain!

Our customers are great! 

Now, it’s time to think about 2018…

Which is what we will be doing in the next week, as we plan the gardens, inventory the supplies and place the seed orders.

As the cycle of life continues. 

this morning's beautiful sky

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

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

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 12-17

“So, whatcha been doin’?”

You meet up with a friend somewhere along life’s way. After a greeting, they ask the fateful question.

They’re waiting, head slightly cocked, with an encouraging look on their face, as you try to come up with something, anything that may have happened to you since you last met.

Surely you’ve done something interesting… Maybe something impressive?

Time is ticking.

The silence gets awkward.

Just say one thing…anything…

After casting about in your mind for what seems like an eternity, you smile ruefully and say the only thing that comes to mind. The one thing you can say with absolute certainty.

“ah, well, you know…not much…same old, same old…”

…and that my friends, is exactly what happened with this post.

I have been scrounging around the deepest recesses of my brain for something, anything, of interest that happened around here this week.

…and it’s pretty much “the same old, same old…”

It’s the time of year when we’re up tidying up and restoring order, thinking ahead to next season.

snowy morning at the barn

End-of-the-year data entry looms large. The daily battle with the elements begins to include frozen precipitation, or the preparation for it. So, our weather watches become even more frequent. The seed catalogs start to pile up, awaiting our big planning session. But, there is not much actual work going on. The productive days of the harvest season seem a distant memory.  

out the office window
(yes, I am SUPPOSED to be working)

The animals aren’t doing much, either. Except registering their complaints constantly. The ewes are hungry…or bored…so they eat. And, eat. They are getting more rotund with every passing day as they await the arrival of the lambchop crop of 2018. And, I think the hens’ feet are cold.

choreographed chickens

The only one who seems to enjoy the weather is Gus. He finds the cold air invigorating and the breezes bring unfamiliar and interesting scents.

It’s cold and windy and there just isn’t much to report as we approach the beginning of Winter.

view across the way

Last Saturday’s snow is a just a memory. Although traces of it remain in the shadiest spots. Several snow squalls have blown through during the week, but they didn’t amount to anything. There have been too many grey, dismal days that make it hard to concentrate.

dreary day on the farm
(it looks like snow)

But, those dark days just serve to make us appreciate the brilliant blue skies and the amazing sunsets. Not to mention the sunrises. 

December skies are gorgeous!

birds at sunrise

red at night...

sunset over the barn

early morning

morning chores

Don’t think I am complaining about the down-time. It’s nice to have things move at a slower pace, to change up our routine and get things in order. And, it’s fun to visit with the grand-boys. This week I got to stretch my imagination with one, go on a shopping adventure with another and receive countless smiles and snuggles from the youngest.

little guys
 BIG personalities

But, other than that…


Same old, same old.

Now, if Gus had written this post, it would have been much more interesting and action-packed. He would inform you that he worked incredibly hard in the past week. He protected us from countless intruders. (most of which will never be identified…or verified, for that matter) 

Monday was an especially trying day.

He spent the entire day patrolling and barking. And barking some more. The humans told him to hush countless times. 

But, the threat was real, people. 

Just look!

Gus found this incredibly worrisome

A tree-trimming crew spent the entire day cleaning up the neighbor’s driveway in anticipation of winter weather. Chainsaws were whining away as the wood-chipper whirred loudly.  In our defense, we (the humans) couldn’t see them until they came up over the hill in the early afternoon.
 By afternoon, he was tired
He had to lie down by the truck and keep his barking vigil

With them gone, he could relax for a while…

But, then sometime after dark, two enormous boxes appeared at the top of the drive. Their arrival was heralded with furious barking. And, occasionally, their presence would catch him unaware and he would bark some more.

It was a long night.

that's a lot of egg cartons!
In the morning, the Boss went to retrieve the gigantic boxes…which proved to be the new supply of egg cartons. On top was a gift for Gus.

I don't have the heart to tell her he doesn't like these cookies
The Fed Ex delivery-woman is doing her best to make friends with Gus. (but, he’s having none of it…cookies or no) When she stopped by the next evening, the barking/cookie scenario played out once more, even though I was present to act as liaison.

After all that activity, Gus still had energy run races with Tess, the cat. At least I think they’re racing, he knows he is not supposed to chase cats. Although, she seems to go along with his shenanigans, I am fairly certain she has some sort of complaint.
dog/cat race
look at her face
(I think she's calling "foul")

His night-time patrols are especially active this time of year as the deer move through looking for forage. Daytime naps are interrupted by marauding squirrels, those pesky crows and odd smells wafting through on the breeze. 

It’s hard work being Gus.
he did take the opportunity to make some "snow-angels"

or would that be "dog-angels" ...or "snow-dogs"?

And, it’s a sad state of affairs when the dog had a more interesting week than I did!

But, I’m afraid that’s it from here.

As I’ve said before, NO news really is GOOD news. It means everything is running smoothly. Good stories generally include some sort of disaster or mis-management. So, boring is better. (at least that’s what I’m telling myself)

I was not exaggerating about the sky...

...this was this morning at chore time...

I hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

today's glorious sunrise

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