Sunday, September 30, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 9-30

Ever had a feeling that you can’t go on?
Trying to be strong but getting weaker
Carrying the weight of every single day
Having lost your way, feeling defeated
Sat staring, counting spiral patterns on the wall
You wonder if your luck is ever gonna turn around at all
Confused and battered by the motion of the changing tides
You’re nearing empty and you’ve barely got the will to fight
You wonder if you’re gonna life or if you will survive at all…
(“head held high”-kodaline)

I "borrowed" this song from my daughter’s training playlist.

You see, my daughter is a runner.
More specifically, my daughter is a marathon runner. That’s a whole ‘nuther creature. She puts in hundreds of miles, pounding the pavement in all sorts of weather. Her focus is like a laser beam, her determination daunting to others.
But, I’m not really writing this to point out how cool my kid is…I’ve written posts about both my daughters, they’re fairly amazing (and that’s not just the mama talking). Nor am I writing about running, or marathons, or anything like that…because I don’t get any of it. Except maybe the “carb-loading”. Yeah, I’ve been doing that pretty near my whole life. But, running…not so much.
But, as I have said before, I’ve learned a lot from my kids. And, this week was no exception.
She’s in training mode and her focus in on getting across that finish line. (and maybe qualifying for Boston…and, I hope I didn’t just jinx that) It’s an incredibly difficult task she’s set for herself. A marathon is 26.2 miles. Our bodies don’t have any natural desire to run that far (some of our bodies would balk at a far shorter distance) When pushed to extremes, muscles don’t want to cooperate, and sprains and strains are not uncommon. A suspected injury is worrisome to say the least. But, eyes on the prize and all that stuff. So, she pumps herself up with positive vibes, good food, attention to her health and upbeat tunes.  

You may wonder where this is all going.

Lately, LIFE has been challenging on all fronts. It truly seems like a marathon.

And, one I haven’t trained for at all.  Except for maybe loadin’ those carbs…
The news has been frightening, frustrating and triggering. And, while I think I would like to ignore the world completely, it keeps calling to my morbid curiosity and I find myself drawn to it time and time again. Only to wonder…HOW can people be so dreadful?
And, then there is the weather…
It has rained for approximately 100million days.

Made it in the house just in time!
another downpour
Okay. Not really. I don’t know how many days it really rained. But, I do know that we have received 12 inches of rain this month. 12 inches…one FOOT of rain! And, that is just for September. (other places have gotten far more!) As of September 30, we have noted over 42 inches of precipitation here on the hill. Our area averages approximately 33 inches annually, so you might say it’s a bit soggy.

another day
another storm warning
Forget soggy. The ground is sodden, saturated, mucky, and some afternoons, completely fluid. There has been a pond behind the barn for days. And, when it isn’t raining, it’s too wet to do anything outside (wait a minute, I think I wrote those exact words LAST week)
Yes. Yes, I did. Rather than go into a litany of all the things that are troublesome in the garden this year, check out last week's post.
the last tomato
as the vines just wither and disappear 
On the upside, this week was all about animal protein successes…and that’s a good thing.

another wet trip on the interstate
(but, we got chocolate milkshakes!)
Monday, we took a trip up the interstate to pick up the lamb chops and the freezer is full once more.
Tuesday, despite the continued rain, we got the final batch of broilers processed.

getting ready to catch the last batch of broilers
(in the rain)
It’s nice to know the chicken freezer(s) are stocked to overflowing and we’re finished with that project until 2019.
the last broiler of 2018

Wednesday morning, the Post Office called bright and early. Wait. Did you notice I said BRIGHT and early? Yes. We finally saw the sun again!
I always peek inside the box before I leave the Post Office
With Karma’s super-attentive help, I got the layer chicks tucked into the brooder.

It always amazes me that in 5 short months, these tiny beings will be producing eggs. Eggs that are larger than the chicks themselves are right now!

so cute!
SO sleepy!

I hope they aren't traumatized forever
by my "helper"

WHAT is that thing?

On my way to town, I noticed the signage posted for Staunton’s weekend-long festival. I realize that the fact that I am not at all in favor of this event makes me somewhat of a spoil-sport, a party pooper, and just maybe a curmudgeon. But, closing the downtown area cannot possibly be in the best interest of everyone, or for that matter, the majority. However, there’s nothing I can do about it. 

I will note that it hurt the Market terribly. Many vendors stayed away rather than face the traffic issues, the lack of customers and very uncertain earnings. Customers were cut off from parking anywhere close to the Market and many decided to go elsewhere for their produce and farm products. Personally, while it was not quite as dismal as I had anticipated, we made approximately 1/3 of what we generally make on Saturday. And, that’s it. That’s our only opportunity for sales for the week. That is another harsh blow in an already difficult season.

But, that is not my complaint. Bad days happen. 
What frustrated me was the lack of consideration for the Market from a) the City and b) the event organizers. The City didn’t discuss any of this with the Market until after plans were made. The organizers did nothing to involve or include the Market. And, the parking lot that was supposed to be full of magical crafts and a food village during Market hours…sat empty. Completely empty for the duration. With all traffic cut off, Staunton was like a ghost-town until 10am when the first of the festival-goers started trickling through. And, since the Market was not included on the map, most folks didn’t even notice it on their way elsewhere. It is more than a little frustrating, hurtful, aggravating (you name it) to realize that the Farmers’ Market and its long history with the City doesn’t really count for much (if anything) in the big picture.
Since 2006, the Market has brought in over 5 million dollars. On a single morning a week. With little or no involvement from the City. And, not only does the City benefit from this (in tax revenues), so do the other downtown merchants. It seems that would be worthy of some sort of consideration. And, sadly, it is not.

 Nothing I can do or say will ever change any of it.

Staunton's clocktower

So, like my marathon-running daughter, we will focus on positive vibes, good food, attention to our health and upbeat tunes as we test our endurance to finish out the season. Thanks, Blondie, for the tunes and inspiration!

You need a little light to guide the way
Waiting on the sun to shine again
You got to keep your head up high
You need a little hope to carry on

And, a big THANK YOU to our customers who did come out to show their support despite the challenges of the day. Y’all are the best! 

It’s a beautiful day out there...

there were 13 cardinals under the sheep feeders!

apparently, someone is very tired

can't a girl take a nap around here?

a beautiful morning

we may end up with an oak tree in the front yard

the last of the okra and tomatoes
this was DELICIOUS!

SO glad to see the blue sky!

end of September farm

Hope y’all have a Happy Sunday! 
grazing at daybreak
Thanks for stopping by.  Come back and “visit” again soon!

Kodaline might just be my new favorite band. I know I love this song.

Here’s the link to the Boss’ Market photos.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 9-23

I have a confession to make. The past week was not a model of productivity and looking back, I am almost certain I accomplished nothing of import. That may be a new record. And, I don’t even have any excuses.

After all our “hurricane preparedness” work, we got very little rain (and virtually no wind) from Hurricane Florence. The same cannot be said for many other places. They are just beginning to deal with the destruction from post-hurricane flooding in North Carolina. The situation is dire for many farmers and the environment. Huge numbers of hogs and chickens were killed in the post-hurricane flooding. In addition, there is the concern that some of the lagoons (used for animal waste) will flow into the rivers. And, there is also the danger that coal dust will contaminate the environment as well. I have seen numerous articles covering the situation. Here is just one.  
after the storm sky

post-hurricane sunset

backside of the storm
afternoon sky

grazing sheep 

Fortunately, around here things were nowhere near that dire. Although it has been bad. There was some serious flooding elsewhere in the county, so school was closed for two days.

I "borrowed" these shots from the internet...
flooding out on Hewitt Road

flood damage on Stover Shop Road

And, you can see the effects of the weather on the crops in the fields, although locally nothing was actually underwater. Getting the crops OUT of the field may be another matter as the ground is super-saturated and we’ve gotten a fair amount of additional rain recently.

soybean field on Howardsville Road

The continual rain brings to mind Noah and his ark. How in the world did they stand it for 40 days and 40 nights of rain? trapped in that ark with those animals? I know there are many who doubt the story, but bear with me here… the confinement, the animals, the utter boredom, the uncertainty…how did Mrs. Noah deal? Since there is no mention of her later in the bible, I am seriously beginning to think that she jumped ship somewhere along the way. I mean, think about it... 
ANOTHER gloomy/rainy day

Bad/questionable theology aside, here’s what’s been happening on the hill:

On Monday, our eldest daughter and grandsons 1 and 3 came by. Since school was out and she needed to borrow our office for a bit, #1 and I baked some cookies and played while #3 took a little nap. Then when the sun finally peeked out, we were able to go outdoors for a while.

nothing like jumping in a puddle after the rain!

It was a brilliantly bright, glorious day. but, the ground was so saturated there was no thought of gardening. And, the rain effectively put an end to any tomato and zucchini production. The Boss was hoping for a few dry days to do some mowing and maybe even get in the potato garden for harvest.
grass growing ON the lawnmower
sunlit leaves

Tuesday it was a matter of playing catch-up from Monday’s rain-altered plans. And…it (rather unexpectedly) rained again. In the afternoon, I made a trip to the draft to sit with the boys while their mom ran an errand on the other side of the mountain.
I called for "reinforcements" when...

 a dinosaur was spotted watching TV in the Draft

Wednesday saw us going over the mountain for the Boss’ fluoroscopy appointment redux. This time the equipment was working, there were no delays and we were back home well before lunch. My presence on this trip seemed to serve no real purpose, particularly since the passenger side of the Xterra is equipped neither with brakes nor steering apparatus. (and the Boss would really appreciate if I kept my opinions to myself). There have been no updates from the medical center on the outcome of the tests, so we’re no closer to any solution at this point in time.

at least we had a sunny day for travel

Then we went out to lunch in celebration of our anniversary. 34 years...that's a long time!
I could only find a few pics taken on the actual date
we sure have changed!
(but, somebody might need a new hat)
The actual date wasn’t until Saturday, but we knew we’d be too tired after the Market and we’d never stay awake to go out to supper. So, lunch it was. On the way home, we picked up a pie from our friend Jane’s amazing pie shop.

delicious coconut cream pie

And, then (after it rained AGAIN) it was time to get ready for Market.

Market offerings 9-22

Not that there was much to get ready. This has been a difficult, disappointing growing season. And, I think the customers are starting to pick up on that fact. 

after the rains the zucchini all look like this
I suppose it is some sort of fungal disease
we cannot offer these for sale
last of the okra crop

that big clump of mud is full of potatoes
just a few butternut squash this year

We have been waiting for the broccoli harvest for what seems like forever now. The plants have been just sitting there… The warm, dark, wet days have not been good for growing. However, it is the perfect environment for insect growth and diseases. So, once the sun came out, we were fighting for the survival of the plants. It remains to be seen if we will win this battle and ever have any broccoli for Market.

looper moth caterpillar

caterpillar damage

On the other hand, when the sun does come out, it’s gorgeous. The sky is brilliant blue, and the puffy white clouds make for picture perfect vistas. There are countless butterflies and the wildflowers bloom with perfusion.

Orb spiders are everywhere

teasels down by the creek have sprouted on the seedhead
the SUN

…and then it rains again. I kid you not. (this is getting ridiculous)

short shower left 1/2 inch of rain!

Thankfully, the next rain held off until Saturday afternoon. Our neighbor Danny and his band provided some good old-time rock and roll music for the Market and it was a nice morning. Although the upcoming festival that will cut off vehicular traffic to the entire downtown area for 3 days seemed to be the over-riding topic of discussion and contention. I stand by my original statement that it CANNOT be good for the Farmers’ Market. But, it remains to be seen how this will all work out. (this weekend will tell the tale)

By the time we got home, there was yet another flood watch/warning posted for the county.

Somewhere between 2 and 5 inches of rain was predicted for the next twenty-four hours! Concerns about any more rain on the super-saturated soil are running high at this point. I’m sure those corn and soybean farmers are worried. And, I don’t know if we will ever get those potatoes out of the ground.

Two inches in the gauge when I first looked out definitely has me feeling that “Mrs. Noah” vibe this morning.

But, it is what it is.

I suppose it’s up to me to find a little positivity in all of this. And, I guess I should be glad for the chance to catch up on the housework, the filing, and that odd and random writing I’ve been putting off. We’ll find our way through it, we always do. We might even find that “all things work together for good…”  

Positive thoughts, that’s what we need right now.
Remy provides some silly distraction

Hope that you have a Happy Sunday! 

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

Here's the link to the Boss' Market photos: