Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 3-25

After last week’s “robin snow” (supposedly the last one of the season) and the official arrival of SPRING, you may have expected a post filled with tales of Market preparation and garden news.

last Sunday looked like Spring was coming...


definitely NOT Spring!

The week started in typical fashion, although it did include a roadtrip with Karma. Who is rapidly becoming my least favorite traveling companion. She howled for the 10 miles to the vet and then she howled for the entire return trip. I tried playing the stereo loudly, quietly…altogether silent. Nothing worked. I guess the only solution is earplugs. And, not for Karma.

My ringing ears aside, the vet pronounced her “perfect” and gave her an extra peanut butter treat because she was just SO cute. I think Karma has a new friend for life.


The week went on a rapid decline after the feed and food run.

and so it begins

Inexplicably, more WINTER weather was headed our direction. Just in time for the Spring Equinox. Now, snow in March is not all that unusual. Snow in April is not unheard of. But, over a foot of snow on the first full day of Spring was a cold, cruel joke. Even Gus seemed disgusted with all the snowballs that formed in the fur on his big, fuzzy feet.

Spring 2018

it looked like a greeting card scene
I guess it could say...
wishing you a "Merry Spring"

"now, look, feet hurt...lay off!"

The irony of a massive snow storm on the first full day of Spring was overshadowed by the knowledge that we had a batch of broiler chicks out there in the swirling snow and sub-freezing temperatures. Granted, they were in a box and the box was being transported by USPS…but, still…a lot can happen on a trip from the hatchery.

first glimpse out the front door
it really did look BLUE

We woke to a winter wonderland, and the snow only got thicker as daylight arrived. The expected time for the call from the post office came…and went. The last communication we had said the chicks were “in transit”. That meant they were on a truck somewhere between Sandston and Staunton. The storm didn’t bode well for their survival.

We had just decided to call the hatchery for a replacement after the storm when the phone finally rang.

It was a postal employee from the Staunton PO.

The chicks were there.

BUT… She sounded a little worried. There was a little problem. The roads were awful. Only one of their semi-trucks had been able to make it in. They weren’t sure if the carriers were going to go out at all… Was it possible we could pick up the chicks? (I think the Boss was putting on his boots at this point) She assured me the chicks were alive. (I could hear them cheeping) She also promised to put them someplace warm. She suggested that we wait until the following day to pick them up…(the Boss was shaking his head NO vigorously and putting on his coat) and, just like that he was off through the snow to pick up some chicks… (he found using this line immensely amusing)
heading to the post office

I must admit I was more than a little concerned over possible outcomes of this trip. And, he wanted me to stay home and keep an eye on things here.  So I busied myself to keep my mind off any pending disaster. While he was gone, I readied the chickie-pool in the shop, gathered the eggs so they wouldn’t freeze, did some shoveling and refereed in the “polar bear games”. 

...and the lambs had to get in on the fun!

I got a message about an hour later that he made it to town. The chicks were fine, and they were all headed home. About an hour later, the chicks were tucked up under the heatlamp and adjusting to their new home nicely. Every single one survived the trip and they are currently thriving!

The Boss did have to take a detour into town where a tractor trailer had jack-knifed. The truck was none other than one of the mail contractors. No wonder the postal employee sounded worried. Thankfully, the chicks weren’t in that batch of mail!

It snowed fairly steadily until late afternoon. All told, we had at least a foot. After lunch, the temperatures warmed slightly and while it continued to snow, it packed down substantially, making it much harder to blow and shovel. And, rendering our measurements somewhat inaccurate.
looks like a snow dance

While we didn’t incur any damage from the storm, the seed potatoes and onion sets got hung up in transit somewhere and the produce guy didn’t call until Friday. We have a trip planned to pick them up later this week. The delay doesn’t matter since it’s far too cold, wet and mucky to do any sort of garden work any time soon. But, that was okay. I spent some time with the kiddos.
we made rainbow snow

I met Blondie and MrB for a chilly visit to the park

cold doesn't matter
it's always popsicle weather!

This isn’t the first time the weather has affected the early season and changed all our plans. And, it certainly won’t be the last. Check out these posts from the past.
snow-covered mountains
But, I am very glad we didn’t encounter this type of weather this time last year.  This week marked one year since the Boss’ big cancer surgery at UVA Medical Center. Read this. Thankfully, the news since has all been good and he doesn’t have another scan until the end of next month.

All week we were on pins and needles about a potential THIRD snowstorm. Can you believe it? Parts of Virginia did see snow yesterday. But, not this part. Good thing. Yesterday was the celebration of #1grandson’s 3rd birthday. It was so good to see everyone!

It looks like that about covers it for the week.

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

MAYBE Spring is coming...?

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

P.S. Sorry about the late posting. Had to do a little "crisis management" in the greenhouse. Some of the broccoli plants aren't looking so good. Dealing with that potential catastrophe threw my entire day into disarray. 
wilty broccoli plants

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Welcome to Spring 2018

It's the first full day of SPRING!

Just overlook the 8 inches of fresh powder covering everything. And the fact that it's 24 degrees and the precipitation is supposed to last all day.

Forget all that.


(and get out your snow shovel)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 3-18

Nothing much went according to plan this week.

It was one of those weeks where I began to appreciate the advice “expect the unexpected”. Although when you think about it, that is just silly. If you’re expecting something, it can no longer be considered “the unexpected”, right? (I know, I give far too much thought to the odd and random)

But, back to the week…

Every evening, after supper, I head out to do another round of chores. I let the puppy out for a quick run, check the plants in the greenhouses, closing the windows and turning on the heaters. Lately, the sheep have needed a little bit more hay. And, since they’re eating a lot of dry matter, they drink a lot of water. Add topping off the stocktank to my checklist.

One of the reasons Karma is still in her little pen is because she still fits through some of the fencing with relative ease. “Puppy-jail” is more for her safety than anything else. Particularly, since she thinks it’s great sport to eat Gus’ food…and Gus doesn’t share food!

But, she’s growing like Clifford the Big Red Dog, and her fuzziness is misleading. So, at first I thought it was funny when she poked her fluffy head through the fence behind the stocktank to drink the water flowing out of the spigot.  But, when she couldn’t get it back out again, she howled in terror. I turned the water off and figured I could get her out with relative ease. Nope. Stuck tight. I tried again and she screamed. I tried to let go to go get bolt cutters to make the hole in the fence bigger but when I let her go, her face went down in the tank, her breath bubbling under the water. Yikes! That won’t do.
I didn't realize the danger of the situation

She was going to drown if I didn’t do something. If I held her up, she wouldn’t drown. But, if I held her up, I couldn’t get anything to solve the situation. I was totally unprepared, no phone, no tools.

So, I did the only thing I could think of.

I screamed.

Surely, the Boss would come to our rescue.

There were a few problems with this scenario. First and foremost, I am not the loudest person (okay, family…stop laughing!)  The barn is about 70 feet from the house. The house was closed up tight because it is winter. The Boss was inside the closed-up house. I was almost certain he was watching television. And, whether he wants to admit it or not, his hearing isn’t the greatest. So, it was a longshot at best, but I didn’t have any other ideas.

With the first scream, Gus came lumbering up. His helpful solution was to smell my hair and then romp around. I suppose he thought I was playing a new game. Karma yelped and wiggled, wanting to play as well. But, I couldn’t let her go. As long as I held her above the water, she was safe. Unhappy, but safe.

I screamed again.

And again. And again. It sounded so loud to me, I was surprised the neighbors didn’t come running.

When I was just about to give up hope, the kitchen door opened. “did you call me?”

My hero!

With a couple snips from the proper tool, Karma was free and none the worse for wear. And, there is now a doggie-access panel on the back side the stocktank (although she hasn’t gone near it since)

So, I am under strict orders to remember to carry my phone…

                …in case of the unexpected. (in other words---all the time!)

 And, stop screaming…it scares the Boss to death.

on Monday
after the time change
Can you say UGH!?
As you may recall, we were expecting some wintry weather in last week’s post. When it arrived, it dumped a rather unexpected 8 (?) inches of fluffy snow on us. It was beautiful, even though I will be the first to admit, I’m not a big fan of the white stuff. The dogs loved it, romping around like crazed polar bears until Karma was completely exhausted.

Pyrs LOVE snow!

Karma got on everybody's nerves

catching snowflakes

SO MUCH fun!

romping in the snow

hens do NOT like snow!

And, I don't think this ewe is too impressed, either.

Pretty snow

this went on for hours

all tuckered out
(I think she needs a bigger bed!)

The following morning, there seemed to be more chaos than usual as the sheep milled around the barnlot waiting for their breakfast. At first I thought it was just a bad case of cabin-fever after the snow. Or in the case of the sheep, I guess that would be barn-fever.

As my brain sorted out the noises, it was obvious that one lamb was screaming with regularity. And, that could only mean one thing. He, or she, was stuck somewhere. I focused on the sound and found the culprit, caught by her woolly little hams in the creep feeder. It was a quick and easy fix and I hurried to get the rest of them fed as the cacophony was overwhelming.
Help, I'm STUCK!

But, as I poured the feed in the feeders, I became aware of something else. What was that? I knew the sound, but it was unexpected.


I hear babies!

Sure enough, there in the middle of the barnlot was a newborn lamb, wandering along behind its mother, bleating piteously. What?

The last old ewe wasn’t due to lamb for a week. Maybe I had miscalculated?  My mathematic prowess didn’t matter at the moment, that was definitely a new lamb standing there. And, wait a minute. I think I hear another one calling from inside the barn!

I hurriedly finished dumping the feed. The hungry horde swarmed the feeders in the usual crazed stampede. Mama-sheep was torn between the newborn and her postpartum hunger. As she gave in to the hunger, I grabbed the lamb and headed into the barn. There I found another baby, all dried off but screaming for her mother.  After a few hurried bites, Mama-sheep ran back to her lambs. I stuck the new family in a jug, got mama some food and water and went back to chores.
last lambs of '18

Despite the unexpected start to my day, the lambs were healthy, and everyone settled down after eating. And, I can now say that we are “officially” done with lambing for 2018. We’ve got 24 lambs, 12 rams and 12 ewes. We had a very respectable 175+% lambing rate. They’re all thriving and I only assisted in ONE birth. All in all, not bad.

Then it was time to work all those lambs (except the newborns). All the sheep needed de-worming. All the lambs needed their booster vaccination. And, the ram lambs needed banding. (our preferred method of castration)  A bit of team effort and we could mark that job DONE.
ready to get started

getting everyone situated

end of a productive day

With time marching ever onward and Opening Day of the Market fast approaching, there is plenty more to do. Although, I must admit, most of the jobs don’t make for good photo ops.Although, we did complete our last sales delivery for the “off season”, make a dump run and emptied one freezer.

growing fast
won't be long 'til fresh chicken!

The broilers are growing well and will be ready for processing in FOUR weeks. Good thing, batch #2 arrives this week! The tomato seeds have been planted and the transplants in the greenhouse are finally getting some size to them. And, the radishes in the hoophouse FINALLY germinated. The weather has not been our friend this winter.

dark greenhouse
(snow covers the roof)

tomato seeds

garden in March

Another “winter” storm is in the offing and your guess is as good as mine when it comes to what we should expect. Personally, I am hoping for a MISS this time. We got an email that our strawberry and asparagus plants are headed this direction and the guy at the produce company is supposed to have our seed potatoes ready for pick-up. And, then there are those broiler chicks…

Because…ready or not, it’s time to get busy on the Spring planting season! 

the "robin snow" is supposed to be the last one for the season

I do wonder what unexpected challenges we will encounter this year. Only time will tell.

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

flowers are popping
after the snow

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