Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 7-8




it's gonna be a scorcher

The past week or so has been miserably hot. Last week was the hottest on record all around the world, according to this article in the Washington Post.

steamy sunrise as ewes graze

Maybe we got soft after all the cool, wet days of early spring, but it felt like we were baking in our skins when we were out there working. The heat, in combination with the growing challenges and the continual stream of distressing news from across the nation and around the world, works on a body. I swear, you can feel your very soul shriveling with dehydration some days. The "dog days" of summer arrived early this year. 
heading out to graze on a sultry morning

It didn’t help to have Don Henley’s Cass County album in the CD player. His words echoing my very thoughts..(which quite honestly may have been seriously exaggerated…but, man it was hot!)

Something's different, something's changed
And I don't know what
Even the old folks can't recall
When it's ever been this hot and dry
Dust devils whirlin' on the first day of July
It's a hundred degrees at 10:00 AM
Not a cloud up in the sky

We hardly had a winter
Had about a week of spring
Crops are burned-up in the fields
There's a blanket of dust on everything
The weatherman is sayin'
That there ain't no change in sight
Lord, I've never been a prayin' man
But I'm sayin' one tonight

I'm prayin' for rain
I'm prayin' for rain
Lord, I ain't never asked for much
And I don't mean to complain
I'm prayin' for rain
Don Henley – Prayin’ for Rain – from the album Cass County –  listen here

the "dog days" of summer
have Karma melting

Did you ever wonder why we call them "the dog days"? I did, too. Here's what I found in the Old Farmer's Almanac:  

The phrase “Dog Days” conjures up the hottest, most sultry days of summer. The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days: the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. The rising of Sirius does not actually affect the weather (some of our hottest and most humid days occur after August 11), but for the ancient Egyptians, Sirius appeared just before the season of the Nile’s flooding, so they used the star as a “watchdog” for that event. Since its rising also coincided with a time of extreme heat, the connection with hot, sultry weather was made for all time: “Dog Days bright and clear / indicate a happy year. / But when accompanied by rain, / for better times our hopes are vain.”

All that to say, the hard, physical work of farming is made even harder by the challenges and worries that dwell between our ears. Those things over which we have no control wear on our soul, and all we can do is hope, pray, or a little of both, that something will shift…that the rains will indeed come…and we will find the strength to move onward.

Because, even if it doesn’t rain, or the temperatures don’t break, there is still work to do.

Lots of work to do.
lambs to a new grazing spot

everything a lamb could dream of
...grass up to your eyeballs!

plowing the middle garden

Those vegetables don’t pick themselves. Nothing magically appears at the Market…it all requires a good deal of human effort.

Heat or no heat.

picking green beans
the most back-breaking harvest chore

We knew there was another load of hay in our future. (actually, there are several, but some can stay in storage for a while) So, it should have come as no surprise when there was a message from our hardworking hay-guy on Sunday afternoon. Arrangements were made to pick up the load on Tuesday.

Now we knew it would be hot. I mean HOT. As in “heat advisory” hot. But, if we went early…

hot hens getting a drink of water

It didn’t matter…it as already HOT at morning choretime. By the time we hooked up the hay wagon, you could see the heat and humidity shimmering in the very air.
no denying it
it's HOT!

I honestly didn’t know if we had it in us to get the enormous load off the wagon and stacked in the barn. However, we didn’t have much choice, it wasn’t going to stack itself. And, getting help just wasn’t happening this year.

In case you didn’t know…it’s hot up there on the top of that wagon. Unloading hay is a sweaty job. You don’t glow or glisten…you just flat out sweat. And, hayseeds and chaff are “no respecter of persons”. They end up in some mighty uncomfortable spots, stuck to all that sweat. And, while the Boss might argue that stacking is the harder/hotter proposition, it isn’t a contest anyone would want to win anyway.
a hot job

a new perspective

unloading hay

The hay stacked, the wagon returned, and the check delivered, it was time for the next thing…(the key is to keep moving, once you slow down, you run the very real risk of melting)
at the hay farm

Back in the garden, the squash we planted looked more than a little peaked after we finished. Running the irrigation only helps to a certain extent, so I took a bucket and gave each plant a little drink. And, despite an attack from another marauding skunk (?) who dug up a number of the plants, it looks like this planting will indeed survive.
poor little wilted plant

Apparently, everyone in the area is having some sort of challenges with squash this year. We have spoken with numerous folks who are having a wide variety of issues. not real sure what’s causing the problems…so we’ll just keep plugging away and trying to piece together the clues. (and get a few squash in the meantime) The rest of the garden seems to be doing well. So, there is that.

ready to haul broilers on a hot, hot day

Processing broilers seemed like a good activity for the fourth of July. This was off-schedule, but we were hoping to keep the birds from becoming quite as enormous as the last batch. Extremely large chickens seem to put off some customers, due in part to the pricetag. But, a lot of folks have no idea what to do with leftovers. (story for another time, no doubt)  Smaller birds would theoretically sell better and grant a slightly higher profit margin. 
We shall see…

All week we watched the storms go all around us. It seemed like everyone in the county must have been getting rain but us. (a quick survey of market vendors revealed that was not true) The skies were beautiful as the huge clouds built and the storms developed elsewhere. 

A few sky views from our trips to town...

The thunder was close enough to send Gus ducking for cover under the back porch, but there was nary a raindrop in sight.
Tess does not look thrilled to have to comfort such a "baby"!

It’s probably all sorts of evil to covet your neighbor’s rain, but that’s what I found I was doing. I was so hot. It was so dry. Oh, it only it would rain!

will it make it?

Finally, a small storm cell rolled right over us on Friday evening. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to break the heatwave and provide some much-needed moisture.

It was cool, almost chilly, as we loaded up for Market on Saturday morning. After the sweltering heat, we were so appreciative of the lovely weather. As an additional bonus, the sunrise was an amazing show of color and light.
first light

from the lamb paddock

Sugarloaf mountain at sunrise


the light show is ending

The change in weather was the talk of the Market. Which, despite the challenges that continue, ended with a most respectable sales total.

gorgeous Market morning

Back on the hill, there’s still work to do, but the change in weather brought a change of attitude. And the very real possibility of an afternoon on the front porch…just appreciating our beautiful surroundings---after the green beans get picked. So, here’s hoping the week ahead will be productive as well as pleasant.

front porch lilies at sunrise

Have a Happy Sunday! 

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

 Check out the Boss' Market photos!


  1. Hot, hot , hot here as well. The little bit of work I do in my gardening is difficult enough in this heat, I can't imagine having to do it all day long! I love the picture of Gus and friend! -Jenn

  2. Thank you for the lovely tour. Memories of living and farming in beautiful Middlebrook warmed my spirit. Happy harvesting.😍

  3. It seems to be the same everywhere doesn't it? Here the temperature has made life almost unbearable but today there is cloud cover and it is a little bit cooler - bliss.

  4. Hi Barb! I totally understand the need to get hay in HOT weather! I am cutting back on my sheep herd as right now - it is only me and hubby putting the hay in the barn - and I have a bad back and he has bad knees! But, unfortunately, he wants to always keep ALL the sheep - not understanding the need for all the hay! So, this year, I am cutting back - it just too much anymore. So, I too will pray for rain and a little cooler weather for your hay days! God Bless!