Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 7-1

We’ve been doing this farm-gig for over 20 years now, so the whole cycle of life thing is patently obvious. Each season has similarities that show up year after year (after year). If you don’t believe me…check out these posts from the past.

After nearly nine years of writing about the farm on a somewhat regular basis (I started in 2009 and with the exception of that awful stretch in 2010, I’ve posted faithfully) it can be a challenge to find something new and interesting. Not only is it boring to read “same old, same old…blah, blah, blah…”, living it can be crushing in its monotony. So, I’m always on the lookout for a new angle, both for your reading enjoyment and my mental health.

This week was like most other weeks in summer…it was hot, there was lots of work to do, and we went to Market.  There you have it. Our week/my life. In 25 words…or less.

On the other hand, each and every week has something new and different in it. Good and bad, that make up the fabric of our lives and give our existence some sort of meaning.

Here’s a little more in-depth version.
shhh..don't tell him there's better amusement
than Mamaw, a grocery buggy and a graham cracker!

ready to go!
(we don't need no
Monday when I headed out to do my usual round of errands, I had some company. While the “big boys” headed out on a day trip to Busch Gardens with their moms, #3 came to spend the day with the old folks. Life sure is different with little folks around.

…and I managed to seed the fall brassicas. (thanks to the Boss’ major assistance)
they've already germinated!
we will put the in the garden about August 1st

Then, we finally got around to hauling that load of hay. Now, the hay-guy is nice enough to leave it on the wagon for us until we can fit it into our schedule, he even keeps it tucked up safe and dry in the shed for us. But it is a business, and he does have more hay to harvest (and a limited number of wagons) so, we can’t leave it there indefinitely.

With a threat of rain in the forecast, it probably wasn’t the perfect day to haul the hay, but it’s stacked to the rafters on one side of the barn. And, I’m pretty sure we’ll have to fit in another load this week, since our trip to town revealed that the wagons are full again.
can we beat the rain?

Karma - the hay helper

I'm not too fond of heights,
so unloading the wagon can be tricky.
But, the view is cool from up here!

unloading hay

hay stacked high

The routine got interrupted slightly as the Boss had an appointment with Sports Medicine to take a look at his shoulder. (the irony of a visit to “sports medicine” granting us more than a few chuckles throughout the morning) It was a record-setting trip to UVA with xrays, exam and treatment all taking less than two hours. We would be back home by lunch!

…but, wait…

WHAT is that up ahead on Mbrk Road?

on Middlebrook Road

There was a small pick-up truck with one of those oversize load signs on it. But, WHAT was that load in front of it? It looked like a huge pile of lumber. As we went around one of the many curves in the road, we could see that it was in fact a huge load of roof trusses. The biggest roof trusses we had ever seen. Travelling down Mbrk Road was slow going…lunch might be late after all.

But, there was nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the ride…and just maybe solve a mystery. For months now, we’ve been wondering about the big construction job just off the road.

big construction project

WHAT is going on out there?

At first it looked like a road was going in. But, it stopped abruptly before it got anywhere.

Could it have something to do with the proposed pipeline? Nah…wrong location.

Maybe it was a housing development. Stuck out in the middle of nowhere with cattle on one side and a cornfield on the other, that seemed fairly unlikely.

But, WHAT was it?

The site was only visible for a short span on the trip home, and we hadn’t seen any of the neighbors “in the know” for a while, so we were on our own to speculate as to what was going on.

Then, one day I had an epiphany on my way home.

Long, straight construction in the middle of Ag land could only mean one thing…a poultry house!  (or possibly houses, plural)

The sight of the huge trusses making their way down Mbrk Road just proved my theory. And, by Saturday morning, it was obvious that a new poultry house was well underway. Well, that mystery is finally solved.
big roof trusses
making the turn

After seeing all the work that is going into this enormous project, I understand why the cost is well OVER $500,000 for a thoroughly modern poultry barn. I wish these folks all the best…because it’s gonna take a huge number of chickens/turkeys to pay for the infrastructure alone. (a WHOLE LOT of chicken nuggets!)

this thing is HUGE!
probably 1,000 feet long

Back home on the hill and our teeny, tiny operation, it was back to the routine.
(a few random shots from the old homestead)

morning farm

dove on the back fence
part of the cabbage harvest
drying garlic
barnswallows in the garden

WHY is this hen in the feeder?

...because that's where she lays her egg!
(don't have a clue as to a reason)

(that's not a's a bat!)

foxtail millet in the early morning light
It was Karma's first week on "paw patrol"
during Market

red admiral butterfly

assassin bug
(on Angus' freshly shorn wool)
this guy looks creepy
(he's not)
but, he eats Japanese beetles
(we need MORE)
look who was in the lane when I got home!

Angus really needed a haircut. 

the "before" shot

With the heat indices predicted to reach triple digits over the weekend, the time was at hand. Being too hot can render a ram sterile (just for the short-term) but with breeding season right around the corner, we don’t want to take any chances. Now, shearing the ram is not a job neither of us look forward to, and apparently, Angus didn’t think it sounded like fun, either. He totally flipped out when the Boss opened the gate, bolted for the woods, and was determined to stay there…permanently. After a short ram-rodeo, he was corralled and shorn.  Hauling all the equipment, setting up the generator, mowing the paddock, herding Angus and cleaning up the wool took far longer than the 10 minutes it took to shear him. But, he’s clipped and cool ahead of the hot weather. And, we can check one more job off the annual “to-do” list. (and, Angus can start counting down the days until he gets to go back in with his “ladies”)

the "after" shot

all the shearing is done for 2018!

Now, it was time to get busy harvesting for Market.  

sunlit lettuce

Market prep always includes a little re-organization/cleaning of the cooler and there was some leftover broccoli that needed my attention. While the Boss harvested new potatoes, I blanched and froze broccoli for winter. The broccoli harvest hasn’t been the best this year, and broccoli sales have been off, but at least we won’t go hungry this winter.

chilling broccoli after blanching

digging new potatoes

I guess the weird weather is to blame for the many of the growing difficulties this year. We aren't alone in the challenges. Everyone is talking about the weather...and their gardens.

the weed growth is phenomenal!
this is the broccoli garden post0harvest
the weeds are past my waist
after bush-hogging
the weeds will die and dry
and add to the green matter of the soil
potatoes will go in this area in a couple of weeks

We should be inundated with squash by now, but we’ve only had enough for one meal. The fruits form, but then before they begin to rot before they are ready for harvest. We’ve never seen anything quite like it. There are indications that pollination was poor (misshapen fruits) and I just read last week that the honeybee population in the state took a huge hit over the winter. Read this. But, honeybees are not the only pollinators, so I am at a loss for an explanation. We’re just hoping that the succession plantings are more successful.

these are sad
(and gross)
the next crop is looking beautiful!

Despite the squash maladies, we managed to have a good amount for Market. There was a great band and whole lot of folks downtown which made for a day that was both enjoyable and successful.

pretty morning at the Market

Thanks for stopping by.

Have a Happy Sunday! 

…and come back and “visit” again soon.

getting a head-start on the "dog days" of summer
Want to take a "virtual visit" of the Market?  Click the link below.


  1. I would take your sweet, smaller scaled mixed farm any day over a huge poultry operation like the one being built. There are some similar to that around here. The people who own the land surrounding us, also have the contract for cleaning out those barns when the chickens get loaded onto trucks. They dump mountains of chicken manure on the fields to sit for weeks (sometimes months) before they spread them. I'm a country girl and can handle all kinds of "aromas" but that can be pretty intense.
    I think your ram should be thanking you for his summer hair cut!! -Jenn

    1. I'm right there with you, Jenn! Ugh, I don't like the smell of poultry litter being spread. But, it IS a great fertilizer.
      I think the ram is quite happy with his summer "buzz-cut". :)
      Have a great week!

  2. It may be the same old ritual for you Barbara but do bear in mind that I get such a lot from reading your weekly account of what has been going on - I look forward to it so much. Don't please ever think of stopping.

    1. Thank you, dear Pat, for your continued messages of encouragement!

  3. I love reading about the farm. I love seeing all your pictures too, good or bad. And I am with "coffee", I would MUCH rather buy from a local small farmer than big box, or anyone like that. Unfortunately, sometimes I have to, like everyone. I did however, take the jump in to eggs myself and have 6 chickens! I love them so much too. Hours of entertainment!!! I have a small container garden too, but LOVE looking at all your good veggies! I WISH I could have a larger garden, but my health just doesn't allow it. :( So thank you for sharing yours!!! :)

    1. Thank you SO much for reading.
      YAY for getting your chickens! They are truly entertaining. Some of them have so much personality. (and then there's the eggs) Wishing you all the best with them. :)