Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 9-16

It certainly has been a week.

While I realize this is a statement of the complete obvious, it also allows you to basically fill in the blank.

It’s been a (insert adjective) week.

Because, I assure you anything and everything fits. Really. It's been rainy and sloppy, it's been worrisome, concerning, tense, busy and oddly successful.

But, mostly it's been WET!
wet spiderwebs look cool
but, making working outside a challenge

We started out the week worrying over what was to become Hurricane Florence. Last week’s post included a mention of our concerns. Those concerns grew with each update posted by the National Weather Service. The rainfall totals were being predicted in FEET, not inches. The thought of all that rain falling on the already saturated Valley was frightening. They likened it to Fran (96) and Isobel (03), neither of which were kind to our part of the world. Fran caused horrific damage that was evident long after the event. In at least one instance, an entire house was said to be floating down the river! Isobel was no picnic, the eye of the storm passed directly over us. And, although it was “just” a category ONE at the time. I distinctly remember watching the living room wall sway in the darkness. The situation was made more eerie by the fact that the power had gone out hours before and we were all huddled around a few candles, just waiting for the storm to pass. Not one of our better family memories. But, then again...we made it through unscathed. Maybe it should go in the good memory file.

first rainfall forecast
the white part (us) is completely off the scale!

So, the week started with a huge to-do list that had grown exponentially with “hurricane preparedness”. We were perusing the news, making our lists…and the power went out. okayyyy... It came back on. It blinked again. We waited. It came back on…but, it sputtered slightly, the lights dimmed. They blinked again. And, then, darkness. Total, utter darkness. I’ve lived with a former electrician long enough to know that if it goes out three times…it’s gone for a while. So we started scrounging around for the flashlights. It is surprising just how dark it is early in the day when it is cloudy and there are no lights in any windows anywhere.

raindrops on a spiderweb
looks like a string of pearls

Well, that certainly put a kink in the day!

It would have been one thing if we had done chores. Or eaten breakfast.

If the power was out too long, the entire farm was going to start suffering the effects of being “hangry”. (hungry+angry=hangry). It was far too dark to even attempt chores. We waited a little longer, talking over our altered plans by light of one of the flashlights turned on end. Chores could be done by headlamp and since we had been deluged once more, there was no need to water anyone. But, the Boss was looking forward to his favorite meal of the day---BREAKFAST. In the backs of our minds, the bigger problems of a longer outage loomed.

So, we got our headlamps and headed out to do chores. When I got to the barn, I could hear the Boss mumbling about something. The ram was limping, again. And, there were two ewes with blue marks. Both were worrisome. It’s hard to say which one bothered us more. But, nothing could be done in the darkness, we would have to wait until later to attend Angus’ injury. As for the ewes, we would just have to wait and see if any of the others got re-marked. The entire week would prove to be a giant exercise in “wait-and-see”. (and, personally, I don't do too well with that)

But, by the time we got back inside the power had come back on. A sense of relief washed over both of us. With breakfast eaten and hanger at bay, we could face the other pressing concerns. We checked the weather(again) and planned our day. The hurricane was still on track to impact the Valley, so we set off in different directions to make purchases in preparation.

On the Boss’ trip to the feedstore, he passed what appeared to be a crime scene out near the interstate. Later, we would find that two well-known motorcycle gangs had a confrontation, there had been shooting and the local police had arrested a number of individuals. Read this.That’s the kind of thing you think of happening in “the big city”, certainly not way out here in the sticks. And, definitely not within a mile of the local school! That just added to my feeling of general unease.
things are not looking good for the Market...

Keeping an eye on Florence, we worked the to-do list that seemed to grow every time we looked at it. We were scheduled to take lambs to the processor, but we worried about the upcoming weather. The Boss put in a call, they weren’t too concerned, any flooding was forecast to be well away from them. Come on up!

So, we rounded up the lambs, brought them to the barn, sorted them, loaded them and headed on our way. The trip was fairly uneventful. Except for that persistent little raincloud that hung over a portion of the interstate for miles, making for challenging driving and wet lambs at the end of the trip.
With the lambs safely delivered to the processor, all we can do is wait for the lamb chops.
not a bad group of lambs
if I do say so myself

there is usually a beautiful view of the mountains
across the road from the processors'...
On the way home, we picked up a few more things from our “hurricane preparedness” list. Back home on the hill we continued to check the forecast and work the “to-do” list.

The “to-do list” just wouldn’t stop growing. I needed a new pair of chore boots, we had to get a few more gas cans (and fill them) and we really needed to make a dump run before the storm. But, first…the ram. Since Angus was still limping, we had to do a little field pedicure/first-aid.

I don't like working the animals in the field,
but, this job turned out fairly well
This time we could only assume it was some sort of sprain caused by his extracurricular activity with the two marked ewes. After his ankle was wrapped and taped, he seemed to make a great improvement. And, there were no more blue ewes, so maybe breeding season wasn’t so problematic after all.

Then, it looked like the storm was making a turn…the predictions started changing.
this doesn't look like it will impact us at all

But, activities were being cancelled, emergency plans were going into place. Our concerns weren’t for ourselves and the farm…sitting on our hill, if we ever have flooding that affects the house, it will be a flood of Biblical proportion and cancelling plans will be the least of anyone’s worries. But, the Market…what to do about the Market?
digging potatoes in the rain and wet

beautiful green beans

zucchini in the rain

washing those new potatoes
I even found some asparagus in the wet!
(but, I'm not sharing)

The decision to close the Market is not made lightly. If the Market is cancelled, those vendors who have no other outlet would be in a bad way. Their time harvesting would have been wasted and they’d be stuck with unsaleable produce. If the weather event turned out to be less than apocalyptic, they would be angry at the Boss for cutting off their one day for sales. On the other hand, doing the Market in miserable weather can be both uncomfortable and unprofitable. And, customer safety is a real concern.

Water is a real concern in Staunton
there are numerous springs throughout the area
and Lewis Creek (pictured here) runs
UNDER the City

 You can read  all about the watershed HERE

What to do?

We continued to check the weather for every update. The forecast began to shift. That meant a dramatic improvement for the Valley. But. No, wait a minute…the rainfall totals rose, and cancellations continued to mount. The City (and County) declared states of emergency. Now what?
forecasting 6-10 inches for the Valley

A decision would need to be made. Soon. Customers as well as vendors were wondering. After many more checks on the forecast, the Boss decided to go ahead with the Market. The Market has only ever been cancelled once in its twenty-five-year history. That was during hurricane Fran. And the entire Wharf was underwater. Nothing like that was predicted for Saturday, so…let’s do the Market!

Now, I must admit…when Saturday arrived, I had some serious doubts.
chores by headlamp
in the dark and the rain
where did all the gnats come from?
Doing chores in the dark isn’t a lot of fun. And, when the rain is coming sideways, I find myself grumbling a lot more than usual. The sheep were mad at me because they wanted grain and fresh pastures and I gave them neither. The hens took one look at the mud and went back inside the chicken house.
not impressed with the day
The only creatures that were remotely happy were the dogs. And, they seem to have a weird penchant for mud and mess…
the backyard has been reduced to a mud hole
leaving for Market

The customers showed up in full force. The vendors, not so much. Many made the difficult decision to skip the Market. The weather wasn’t anywhere near as awful as anyone expected and rather unbelievably, it was a pretty good day. A very good end to a most challenging week.

"Money, Mamaw!"

Or was it?

As the Boss and I sat in the office working on our post-Market paperwork, I kept hearing an odd noise. It was an intermittent hum and at first, I thought maybe he was printing something. He wasn’t, he didn’t know what I was talking about and yet I kept hearing the noise. Then realized it was a sheep baa-ing in the distance. Back into my boots and raincoat. There, at the edge of the paddock, was one of the ewes, completely tangled in the electro-net. I mean COMPLETELY.

this ewe is STUCK
I can only assume she decided to take that desire for greener pastures into her own hooves. The net was wrapped tightly around her neck in three different places. She had flailed about so much she pulled the stakes out of the ground. The only way to free her was to cut the fence with my Leatherman. Of course, the rest of the flock had to come along to “help”. And, when I got her free, you know what happened…right?

the "helpers"

I should have known this would happen!

Those hungry ewes hopped right over to that green, green grass! Except for the few (including Angus) who couldn’t figure it out. Now, I had half the flock in one paddock and half in another. So, the Boss had to get involved. With the entire flock on the same side of the fence, the Boss could do a make-shift repair job. The electro-net was never meant to be a permanent fencing solution (although it’s been there a pretty long time). So, just when the “to-do” list had shrunk to a manageable size, it got another addition. Oh, well…that’s life on the farm. (and, by the way…the ewe is fine)

looks like a fence project is in the works

The weather continues in the news as the brunt of the storm has lashed the Carolinas (mainly North Carolina) and there are reports of death and destruction in a wide swath. The residents will require much more than “thoughts and prayers” as they make attempts to clean up and regain their lives. Here in the Valley, our eyes remain on the remnants of the storm which should pass through in the next couple of days, dropping several more inches of rain. Combined with the already saturated ground, this will make for a different set of issues for the Valley in the upcoming week. And, all of our hurricane preparations may come in handy after all.
a "chicken-hawk" behind the barn only added to my worries this week

momentary rainbow
amazing sky between storms
Gus in the barn
rain on the mountain
funky maple leaf

signs of things to come

more fallen leaves

the hens are up to their ankles in mud
more rain
bright fungi on the front fence

so are the lambs
and I think this lamb is actually growing algae...or moss
she is GREEN!

lone sheep grazing
in view of Sugarloaf Mtn.
the morning glory seeds are sprouting BEFORE they fall

pretty asparagus blossoms

foggy farm 7am

same view, same day

Yes, it’s certainly been a week.

Here’s hoping you have a Happy Sunday! 

under Gus' watchful eye

…and the upcoming week is kind to all of us.

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

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

Monday, September 10, 2018

Mornin', Glory!

Late summer brings on a flush of morning glories in odd and random spots all over the farm. And, I never see a morning glory without thinking of my grandparents, particularly my grandfather.

Amidst the dysfunction and abuse that was my childhood, my grandparents provided the bedrock foundation of love in my childhood.

While I am almost certain I never heard either one of them utter “those three little words”, there was no need. There was never any doubt as to the depths of their love for me. Or anyone else. Any time there was a family tragedy, my grandmother had packed a care package and was boarding the next train bound for the southland to lend care and comfort. Nine times out of ten, my grandfather had already written a sizable check. They were pretty amazing folks. (you can read more about them HERE  and HERE)

They have both been gone far longer than I remember them, but the impression they left on me has not faded with the passage of time.

As a small child, the best part of summer vacation was that week spent in the “city” at their house. For a little country bumpkin, visiting their house was like going to another world. My grandmother didn’t drive, her transportation was generally provided by taxi or city bus. After a day of department store shopping, we would stop in a tea room for refreshments. And, in the evening, we all dined out at a local restaurant. I thought this was the height of sophistication.

But, every morning would begin the same way. My grandmother would advise me of our daily adventure, sometimes allowing me to “help” as she did my grandfather’s bookkeeping. Then she would dispatch me to retrieve my grandfather for breakfast.

My grandfather would be sitting on the front porch drinking his coffee and perusing the morning paper.

 His greeting was always the same...

”Mornin’, Glory!”

And then he would launch into his rendition of the poem “little orphant annie”

 Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,
An’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep…

I honestly have no idea WHY he always recited that poem. Maybe because my middle name is Ann? Maybe my red hair reminded him of the cartoon character? It doesn’t really matter now, it was just part of the morning ritual. It was hokey and it was silly, but it was one thing he did for me, and me alone. He would tell me about the news of the day or share a funny comic strip. I had no idea just how much I learned from this dear man until many years later.

We had some good times there on the porch. After a hot day of shopping, my grandmother would serve fresh fruit as a treat and we would talk about anything my childish heart desired. Often in the afternoon, the mailman would stop by with the mail and stay for a chat and a cool glass of water. In the evenings, at least one of the neighbors would come over to visit.  One summer my grandfather trained a wild crow to visit and eat peanuts when offered. Each evening, after dark, he would turn on the colored lights in the bottom of the amazing fountain he had built. I loved listening to their tales of the old days as we sat quietly in the ever-darkening night, watching the water dance with color until drowsiness forced us inside once more.

The amazing memories of summers in a different world come back whenever I see the brilliant magenta-blue flowers nodding in the breeze.

Mornin’, Glory!