Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 6-10

I think that's the sun!

What a difference a day makes!

Just when it seems like it’s going to rain forever, that we’ll have to figure out some what to embrace aquaculture, or at the very least grow the tomatoes in pots in the backyard, the clouds break…the sun returns and it’s time to hit the ground running. Like the weeds, the “to-do” list had grown abundantly during the days (and days) of rain.

the Valley is lush and beautiful

the broccoli is a sea of green in the early morning light

grass seeds in the sunlight

While other farms are still waiting for conditions to dry enough to get back in the fields, our hilly gardens dried rapidly, and the Boss headed out to battle the weeds. All the rain and subsequent lack of human attention meant that that open spaces waiting for planting had turned into small jungles. After he cut the weeds, he had to re-till the entire space.

re-claiming the gardens

While he focused on the gardens, my tasks were more mundane. Job one was de-frosting and cleaning the empty lamb freezer. The processor assured us that we can pick up the first batch of lamb chops this week, so we need to be ready. That boring job had the added benefit of keeping the crazy-Karma puppy occupied for a while as she played with the melting ice. That performance granted more than a little human amusement as well.

Karma "helps" de-frost the freezer

Before we would get to any actual planting, that first batch of lambs had to take a little one-way trip. That meant all the lambs headed to the barn, the ones destined for transport sorted out and the rest given a dose of de-wormer and herded back to graze.

headed to the barn

Loading lambs is never a fun job. Perhaps I should re-phrase that…It is a definite understatement to say that loading livestock (of any kind) is always somewhat stressful. There is the potential for mishap every step of the way. And, no matter what anybody tells you about their personal prowess (read THIS) anything can (and often does) go wrong. I am pretty sure that I will get no argument when I say that doing this job with your spouse can be a true test of any marriage.

This time was no exception. 

In hopes of getting the lambs to walk onto the trailer with ease, the Boss wanted to try something new. Trying to quell my own misgivings, I followed his instructions. But, apparently the Boss doesn’t think like a lamb (that may just be impossible as there is a good probability that lambs do NOT think) and the truly unexpected happened. The first lamb walked down the alley toward the trailer and the others followed. (yay) Then they saw me inside the trailer with the feed bucket (keep in mind they have seen me every single day of their lives) and they stopped suddenly. Because...ACK! something is unusual. They stopped so suddenly that they piled up like cordwood. Then, the first one tried to turn and run and he knocked the gate loose. The others panicked. They started to escape. In the Boss’ attempt to stop the stampede, he fell backwards onto the gate and tore his pants. There may have been swearing (on my part) as the lambs cavorted through the tall, wet grass.

Long story short, they were eventually corralled, we followed the usual loading method and were on our way in fairly short order. Tempers were calmed, and blue jeans were eventually mended. And, we know not to try that procedure again. (and, I don't think I even said "I told you so!")
those are some good looking lambs
decreased lamb flock headed through the TALL grass

The ride to the processor was uneventful. But, the Boss had to lend a hand to another farmer in unloading a very large, very grumpy sow from his trailer. That meant that the lambs had to wait and then were even more uncooperative in the unloading process. It was only because one of the employees help that we were able to get them situated in the holding pen without any sort of further mishap.
We always breathe a sigh of relief when they're in the holding pen
It was a beautiful day for a drive...
grain harvest
the Valley is SO beautiful!

Edinburg farm

but, evidence of flooding is still visible
even from the interstate

 spotted on the interstate
a trucking company with OUR last name!
Sheesh! Lambs sure can be a pain. (sometimes literally)

And that reminds me…

It isn’t sad that we take the “little” lambs to the processor. Whenever I try to explain this to the customers, I think I fail miserably. But, I’m always ready to give it one more shot…

By the time the lambs head to the processor (which, I assume you realize is just another term for butcher) they are big, ornery and ready to fulfill their destiny. And, the only destiny a wether (castrated male) lamb can have is to become lambchops.  It’s not like they will ever write a novel or aid society in any way. They won’t add to the farm like the breeding stock. They have no human qualities. And, for the record…they’re not even cute anymore.  Read THIS.They have led a good life here on the hill. They’re healthy and strong and will provide a delicious source of protein for our customers (and us). For the record, the processor has won awards for their humane handling/processing. They do a fabulous and necessary service for us and other growers. That one-way trip is the best thing (for all those involved) that could happen to those lambs.

So, with that explanation out of the way, we will wait (rather impatiently) until we can go pick up the lamb chops, roasts and steaks at the end of the week. We have had customers looking forward to the return of lamb for weeks now…so, Saturday Market promises to be interesting, as well as seriously profitable.

With the lambs delivered, we could get back to the gardens. As the Boss tilled, I worked on seeding the succession plantings that would be needed later in the season.

gardening in tandem

Then, we finally got around to planting the tomatoes in the garden!

and none too soon
there are LOTS of baby tomatoes

This is a big job. Perhaps the most labor-intensive planting project we do. And, that’s saying something on our tiny operation where most everything is done by hand.

tilling for tomato planting

helpers hauling plants to garden

The Boss got the trellises set and hauled the plants out to the garden. Then, he dug a hole for each plant and I came along behind and fertilized. The color-coded pots were then set along each bed, where they were “plunked” and back-filled.
setting trellises

ready to fertilize

copper sulfate
helps to prevent blight

By lunch-time the plants were all in place.

almost finished planting

It was time to give our attention to some other jobs, so the mulching didn’t get done until the next day. But, that big job is done! Again, we are in a “waiting mode” until the first fruits ripen. I must say, I am a little anxious for a good BLT sandwich. (just one of the tasty summertime specialties)

mulching tomatoes

More planting and weeding and harvesting made up the rest of our week.

some of the squash survived the cucumber beetle attack!

bean blossom
not too long to wait for green beans
the first of the garlic harvest

broilers are almost ready for harvest

the barnswallows hatched

we made it to Friday afternoon before it rained

early morning mist before Market

it was nice to have SUNSHINE for the entire Market!
As I worked I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking over the quote I shared with you last week from LR Knost. You need to read THIS. And, while this might not be the place you’d expect to read about celebrity suicide…two in one week certainly got a lot of media attention and I've been thinking about it a great deal.
 Glennon Doyle says Life is "bru-tiful"
both brutal and beautiful
we need the contrast to appreciate both

I always admired Anthony Bourdain.  His shows were intriguing and exposed us to people and cultures in places we will never actually visit. His somewhat harsh and irreverent style was raw and compelling. And, wow…could that man write!

News of suicide always shakes me, gives me pause and makes me hope to be a little more aware of those around me who may be struggling, hurting. It seems like it happens far too often. But, I honestly don’t know what could change the scenario and that troubles me.

unexpected lily among the weeds

Just as I was thinking these deep, somewhat disturbing thoughts, a song came through my earbuds. And, while the video simply screams 1980’s…the Oak Ridge Boys share a good message, even if it is just a bit sappy.  You can watch it HERE.

You know with all the trouble and sorrow in the world
It seems like the least we can do
Just take that smile into the street
And share it with everybody you meet

And everyday I wanna shake somebody's hand
Everyday I wanna make somebody know that they can
Everyday I wanna try to show my brothers and my sisters
That I wanna help them along the way everyday, everyday

If they're lost I wanna show them the sunshine
If they look tossed I wanna throw them a lifeline
I wanna reach out my hand, oh yeah

And let 'em know there's a light
Down at the end of the road

I won’t pretend to have any answers. Sometimes the dark and despair threaten to overwhelm the best of us. And, honestly, the world is truly a big mess (a definite understatement) at the moment.

But, one thing is for certain…

...repeating the quote at the beginning of this post...“What a difference a day makes”

Tomorrow will be different.

It might not be what you hoped…or expected…or even planned. But, it will be different.

That’s something to hold onto.

And, it couldn’t hurt to offer a hand as well…or at the very least a smile. You never know what someone else is going through.

…on that note, I will close. But, not before I say…

I hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 
here's a Karma smile to start your week

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

Here’s a link to “visit” the Market…

On the off-chance YOU are struggling…

Please reach out…

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255


  1. Wonderful and very inspiring post Barbara. Thank you for that from beginning to end.

  2. As I read about your tomatoes and the copper sulfate, I have a question to ask. Last year and the year before I had a terrible time with blight. I purchased some copper sulfate that mixes with water to spray on the plants, but the blight had already set in and wasn't any help. In your opinion, should I be spraying them now? (I only just bought plants today- so they're not in the ground yet). I only have one vegetable garden in which to plant them, but I will plant them at the opposite end to where they were last year (don't know if it will make a huge difference). -Jenn

    1. Hey Jenn!
      They say blight is weather dependent. (warm, humid weather is the worst) But, since you never know what the weather will be, I would go ahead and apply some now.(it certainly can't hurt) Once the blight sets in, we have never had any luck in reversing it.
      We have used a product called Oxi-date (it is applied as a spray) with mixed results later in the season. It is essentially a strong hydrogen peroxide product. (the guy at the feed store swears by hydrogen peroxide...the kind you get at the pharmacy. I haven't tried that)
      Good luck with your plants!