Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 11-11

                                  “…your time will come…”

My father-in-law is credited with this oft-repeated phrase from family lore. And, although I never heard him utter the words (he died tragically when the Boss was in high school, long before I came onto the scene), I have heard it countless times over the years. Countless. Honestly, it’s not always my favorite thing.

Biding my time, waiting, being patient…definitely not one of my strong suits.

But, much of LIFE is about just biding time.

This week being a perfect example.

Last weekend’s “cold-thing” became a full-blown ailment that sidelined me to the couch for the better part of the week. And, while I graduated from mindlessly watching Netflix for days, I am still in a serious relationship with the tissue box and I sound a little like a German Shepherd when I cough. There is really nothing you can do to make a cold go away any faster…just wait it out.

“…your time (of feeling better) will come”.

And, that’s enough of my cold.

farm in November

aside from the rain...
notice anything different?
This week saw some serious changes on the hill that are noticeable as soon as you pull in the drive. I didn’t realize just how different the landscape would be without hoophouse #2.

the last day of hoophouse #2

We’ve been talking about making some changes for some time. Downsizing, as it were. And, hoophouse #2 had been a big part of that discussion. For the past couple of seasons, we haven’t fully utilized it. The design means that the plastic doesn’t have a long life (and has to be replaced far too often), the location means that light and air circulation was an issue…and the ongoing battles with the blasted “whistlepig” were enough to make us…well, me…crazy. Read this one.

Maybe it was time to give up #2.

hoophouse #2 is no more

Selling the hoophouse seemed an easy decision. Getting rid of it is a different story.

It’s not a simple demolition project. No. It needs to be taken down with thought and planning so that it can be reconstructed elsewhere. #2 will be going to a new home “just down the road a ways” where it will be used on a friend’s produce farm. This will be the “third act” for the hoophouse. Did you read this one?

deconstruction begins...

day two demo
beautiful day for working outside

Then, our garden spaces will be re-configured as we move into our own “third act”. (That one is still TBD...we’re figuring it out as we go…)

and again…”your time (of knowing what you’re going to do) will come…”

"Teen-tine" knows what she wants and goes for it
(even when she isn't supposed to!)

the pullets consider things...

from all angles...

lambs just go where they are sent
(most of the time)

Once I was feeling somewhat normal again, it was time to head up the interstate to pick up the last load of lamb chops. Unfortunately, it was a miserably cold, incredibly rainy, day for the trip. That made for a nervous time on the road as the big trucks swerved and swayed in the bad weather and we had to take two separate detours to avoid accident back-ups. But, the trip was uneventful and the lamb inventory is completed. (and we got chocolate milkshakes!)

miserable interstate travel

gloomy day in our beautiful Valley

wet hen
soggy burning bush

As is always the case, when it stopped raining…the wind started blowing. And blowing. Howling would be more like it. (but, it was so clear and gorgeous)
leaves are all gone from the birch tree

apple blossom in November

lovely autumn light over Mbrk

colorful rosebush leaves

Just in time for Saturday’s Market. (excuse me if I don’t sound enthusiastic)

leaving for Market
(at least it's not pitch dark!)
this is a pathetic display, I know
but, it was too windy to hang the banner!

Wind is my least favorite weather phenomenon. Coupled with near freezing temperatures, it makes for a trying market morning. In addition to the challenges of growing and selling, there is a constant need for vigilance against products blowing away. Between the overwhelming noise and distractions of the wind, conversations are next to impossible. Vendor canopies must be properly secured, or they will go cartwheeling through the parking lot. While catastrophe does give the Market folks opportunity to pull together, large flying objects at the Market can be disastrous. Then the Market was further compromised by the Veterans’ Day parade. Not complaining about veterans…or the parade…just noting another street closing and parking lot issues downtown… All in all, getting to the end of the Market felt like a hard-won battle.

It felt so good to get into the house, out of the wind. A fire in the woodstove warmed our bodies and somehow soothed our souls. To be warm and cozy is such a blessing!

Just one more week…

looking through the front porch lattice

And then it will be the OFF-SEASON.

Off-season is a misnomer if you ask me. (I know, no one did)

Once the Market ends, there are 5 days before the Thanksgiving feast needs to be on the table.


I spend those 5 days baking, cooking, getting ready (and wishing I had cleaned the house a little better) for a meal that is over far too quickly.

And, then everyone is off…racing through the holidays at break-neck speed.

With the New Year comes lambing season. That is quickly followed by early seed starting, the first broiler chicks and before you know it… Opening Day of the Market has arrived once more.

The off-season is probably the one time when I am trying to figure out how to SLOW things down rather than impatiently wishing for some point in the future.

Because, ready or not…”your time WILL come”!

(I like to think it would amuse DadWomack to know how often he is quoted…and often mis-quoted…around here)

Redbud leaf on Market sidewalk

Hope you have a Happy Sunday! 

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

Here's the link to the Boss' Facebook photos...

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 11-4

Saturday afternoons you can find me at my desk, editing photos from the week, attempting to craft our sometimes meager activities into an interesting post. Occasionally, this also involves trying NOT to fall asleep after a busy morning at the Market. This week, I realized that this routine activity is actually more for my mental well-being than your reading interest. (sorry ‘bout that)

Going over those photos, considering our actions of the week help me to "center" to focus on what really matters and  gather strength to face whatever stress or worries the upcoming week may involve. (lately that’s been a big undertaking) And, quite honestly, viewing the successes or the projects completed keep me feeling positive about what can often be a “hard way to make an easy living". (apologies to Toby Keith)

This week included what seemed like an inordinate number or roadtrips, a birthday celebration, and a another torrential downpour. So, I don’t have much to show for the week and at least one project requires a do-over. But, that’s just the way things go.
burning bush on a cloudy day

Kman's Jack-o-lantern

shopping with MrB
mom and dad got the boys a gator!
brother love
ANOTHER rainy day!
the mountains are SO beautiful in fall
gum leaves
cool cloud at sunrise

"PaPa's" birthday cake
his only wish?
PEAS on earth and goodwill to men...HAHA

We took the last lambs on their one and only roadtrip. In other words, we took them to the processor. It’s always good to get that project completed. Hauling lambs (or anything, really) up the interstate is one of those necessary things that I truly dread. It seems that every single day there is at least one serious incident on I-81 somewhere in the Valley. Last week, there were multiple incidents in one day, and at one point traffic was backed up for over 10 miles. Fortunately, this did not happen while we were driving with the lambs.

You would not be alone in wondering WHY we travel so far to get the lambs processed. In order to sell lambchops (or other meats…except chicken) retail, the processor must be under USDA inspection. (this means you can’t do it yourself in your backyard) These facilities are few and far between. I can think of just 3 in the entire Valley. While we have checked out the others, the folks we deal with in Edinburg are simply the best. They have won awards for their humane treatment and they make our product look great. And, they are really, really nice folks.

and it makes for a nice drive through our beautiful Valley!

We will head back on Friday to pick up the packaged meat in order to offer it for sale for the final two Markets of the season. I don’t think there will be much to offer our Winter Customers this year. (which reminds me…I need to get cracking on my “off-season” email list)

Demand for lamb has skyrocketed this year. Such a phenomenon makes it truly tempting to buy more sheep and expand the operation. More sheep would mean more lambs which would mean more income…(and, that would be good, believe me!)


Nothing operates in a vacuum. More sheep would mean more hay and feed. (and, seriously, that stuff is not cheap!) And, keep in mind we live on a tiny parcel of land. The chances of obtaining more is slim to none. We couldn’t afford the lot next door fifteen years ago and it has quadrupled in price since then! Then, there is lambing season. As much as I love lambing season (I have often said it’s like Christmas on steroids), it is physically taxing, and I don’t know how long my hands will be able to handle the strain. Without being able to handle lambing season by ourselves, we would have to add vet costs into an already slim profit margin. Then, there’s the hauling and the processing fees. It seems best to be satisfied with the status quo. And, maybe start thinking about some other venture…(if I only knew what that was!)

Since it seemed I spent a lot of time elsewhere this week, I didn’t get much (read, anything) accomplished. As a matter of fact, my accomplishments went backwards… Somehow, I overlooked watering the greenhouse and all the lovely little lettuce plants got cooked in the bright autumn sun. So, today I will have to start all over again. While that is annoying, at least the mouse that has been eating in the greenhouse has been caught. And, these greens were for personal use, so no one at the Market will be disappointed at my failure. Somehow without the pressure to produce, I can find renewed pleasure in growing things. And, I do love the greenhouse.

demolition continues

So, it’s kind of sad to watch the Boss disassemble the house-greenhouse (not to be confused with the shop-greenhouse). While we both agreed that this should come down, I really didn’t realize how sad it would be to see the remains in a heap in the backyard. That little greenhouse has served us well for a LONG time, and I find I am feeling somewhat nostalgic about it. But, time moves on and I will NOT miss the wailing noises that it made in the wind. Or cats using it for a shortcut to the roof.  In time the backyard will find a new purpose and we will figure out what direction we should be taking as we change things up a bit. And, one day I will get used to the unobstructed view of the sunrise from the backporch!
building greenhouse 1999

B starting seeds 2000

sunrise through greenhouse

Karma, on the other hand, has taken great pleasure in the demolition of the greenhouse. It’s a fantastic place to dig…a treasure trove of junk to chew on…and a new vantage point from which to survey her domain. In other words…she’s driving me crazy! Not only does she drag logs from the woodpile to chew on, now she’s taking bits and pieces from the greenhouse. One day she had a 10-foot piece of wiring, the hose holder (and the board it had been attached to) two other boards and a mousetrap out in the driveway. As I picked those up, I found a five-gallon bucket of hardware (and an errant caterpillar) out there as well. Yes, she had taken the entire bucket! The problem with big dogs…big messes.

Karma-queen of the junkpile

While Karma’s puppy antics do try our patience, she is developing into a good dog. She is far more protective than Gus, she loves the sheep and she is turning into a fearsome huntress.

At some point on Friday night, they found a ‘possum. I can only surmise that the critter population must be overwhelming, because this is an ongoing nocturnal activity. Fortunately, this battle didn’t include the usual racket and I slept right through it. Since she was carrying a limp ‘possum around while we loaded the Market trailer, I figured everything was said and done and I would deal with the dead ‘possum later.


When I headed out toward the barn to do chores, the ‘possum was sitting on top of the demolished greenhouse, growling at me, its beady little eyes full of what I could only assume was anger and outrage.

Oh, great! I don’t know about you, but doing battle with an opossum at 5am is not how I like to start the day. However, I guess if you start the day bludgeoning a ‘possum, things just HAVE to get better. 

Now, the ‘possum really needed to be “dispatched”, I am not just a blood-thirsty killer of marsupials. It was injured and angry and I was worried the dogs would get hurt. A shovel works well for this job (in case you ever find yourself in the position of needing to “dispatch” an opossum).  But, Karma was having no part of it. I got in one blow and she growled and snatched it away. That was HER ‘possum and she wasn’t letting Mama (or Gus) anywhere near it.

Fine. That was one responsibility I didn’t want anyhow!

it was "good and dead" by the time we got home from Market

So, I finished up chores and left for Market.
leaving for Market 11-3

Market at opening time
the cold wind was blowing
it was dark

The Market in November is not for the weak of heart. It is dark and cold and the customers don’t come out until late. And, once again, I had customers who had no idea that the Market was opened this time of year. (sigh) However, despite the cold and dark AND the fact that we only have potatoes, meat and eggs (no greens, no other root crops...nothin')…it was a fairly good sales day. Honestly, we are exceedingly thankful for any sales at all this year. It’s been a hard one and I know I am not alone in my eager count-down to the “off-season”.

but, the leaves at the Market were gorgeous!

The incredible change in weather, the repeated exposure to cold bugs (love them babies, but dang, do they attract germs!) and a morning in the cold wind, left both the Boss and me fighting some sort of cold-thing. So, today will probably be a slow one. That’s okay. That’s what Sundays are for…rest and renewal.

I hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

I would be remiss if I closed this post without reminding you to VOTE. And, quite honestly, I would like to assure myself that everyone will vote BLUE. But, I realize that is neither my place to request, or expect.  So, I will leave you with this link to one of my favorite authors. I hope you’ll read it.

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

dogwood leaves over Lewis Creek
Here's the link to the Boss' Market Facebook photos. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 10-28

We’ve reached the point in the season where there is little, if anything, of interest happening on the hill.

The last of the garden produce has been harvested and the hens are waiting impatiently to start their clean-up detail. That requires that some temporary fencing be put up around the garden. The sheep also need to move to greener pastures. 
waiting for greens

frozen okra
But, none of that could happen because it rained…again.

Friday rain

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  

With the gardens finished, there is a lull in activity. We won’t be taking the last of the lambs until next week. and, it looks like it will be at least two weeks before we can get the culled sheep off to the stockyard. It’s way too early to get excited about lambing season. Or even any “off-season” projects. So, it seemed a perfect time to take a little jaunt across the mountain. We make an annual pilgrimage to get some local apples and celebrate the Boss’ birthday. Ordinarily the changing leaves make for a amazingly colorful trip.

This year, however, the leaves had barely begun to change. And, many were battered and brown. We aren’t the only ones noticing this phenomenon. There have been newspaper articles and news segments detailing the issue.  It’s just been a weird weather year. And, that seems to have affected everything. But we did find some pretty sights along the way.

To say that the weather made for production challenges would be an understatement. Growing produce was difficult and in some cases, simply impossible. Numerous vendors have had previously unheard of catastrophes. And, then the marketing said produce has not been without its challenges. Between the seemingly endless parking garage renovation, various downtown activities and numerous rainy mornings, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Market earnings are way down for the year. I’m fairly certain that everyone will be glad to see the end of the season.

Piney River pumpkin farm

As the Market season winds down, there are fewer and fewer vendors. This is not unexpected. The market is more an avocation than occupation for the majority of folks. By October, those who grow produce outside are done, and some of those who provide other products often have other things to do.

Sadly, the majority of these pumpkins are weather-damaged

Fall activities abound and many feel that these negatively impact Market attendance for vendors and customers alike. There were countless opportunities for trick-or-treating, so there were lots of costumed folks wandering through the Market. While I must agree, this doesn’t really help sales, it does make for an interesting/amusing sight at the Market. ("borrowed these from the Boss' Facebook photos...thank you, dear) "Rosie" is my favorite! But, the next one is great, too. It's a storm chaser and a twister. (LOL)

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The costumes almost made up for the miserable weather. A cold rain began Friday and didn’t clear completely until late Saturday afternoon. The weather was far more suited to napping than shopping at the Farmers’ Market. (or, for that matter, SELLING at the Farmers’ Market) But, that is what we do…who we are. And, since we don’t have any other creative ideas as to occupation…and there are three more weeks left of the season, we were there, doing what we do. Although we need to find some positivity in the whole deal.
pretty leaves at Market

slim pickin's

WET leaf at Market

But, personally, positivity is not coming easily of late. I am distressed by the constant barrage of horrifying things in the news, the complete disregard and disrespect for human differences that are spouted forth and tweeted out by the highest office in the land and the lack of consequences for this awful behavior. I am stressed and triggered and exhausted. I can only hope that the upcoming election will provide some relief.

winter woodpile
early morning Alleghenies
another sunrise
early morning contrails

gorgeous light on gum leaf

  baby lettuce 
see the rainbow?

  lovely view from the kitchen window

north mountain

the hunter moon

In the meantime, I will practice mindfulness and gratitude, attempting to be fully aware of the blessings that make up my little corner of the world.

And, it is my sincere hope that you are able to do the same.

breath-taking Sunday sunrise

Have a Happy Sunday! 

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

Here's the link to the Boss' market Facebook pics.