Sunday, October 27, 2019

October 2019 Walkabout

poison ivy creates a spot of color
(just don't touch it!)

October is generally the time of brilliant blue skies, gorgeous leaf displays and a frosty nip in the air.

But, in a year where generalizations have pretty much been turned on their head, October is no exception.
we had weeks of feats of amazing aerial skill as hordes of dragonflies
filled the air eating the tiny midge flies
the last of the monarchs have flown through
a crop-duster plane had the neighbors talking
his acrobatics were good,
but nothing like the dragonflies
fortunately, most of the grasshoppers have hopped/flown away, too

I got to see the migration in progress
as countless butterflies flew over me in rapid succession

After months of drought and brutally hot temperatures, everything seems worn and tired. (including the humans) And, while there are spots of beautiful fall colors, many trees dropped their leaves early due to lack of moisture. When the rains began in earnest, even more fell to the ground before the leaf-peepers even got a glimpse. The grass has gotten brown and crunchy. A glorious fall seems to be a fleeting wish.

However, since I was beginning to feel like my very soul was shriveling deep inside with every passing dry day, I am sitting here listening to the rain on the roof with a deep sense of gratitude.
(the drought drying my very soul is the reason there was no September walk-about…I just couldn’t deal…it was too hard to find anything uplifting)

The first frost (October 18) was a reminder of the fact that winter is rapidly approaching, although the temperatures quickly rebounded, and I think we’re still running a bit above normal. If there had been adequate precipitation, it would have made for a phenomenally long growing season. As it was, any fall harvest here on the hill has been decidedly under-whelming.

The fall brassicas were doomed from the beginning. It was so hot at planting time that they didn’t get a good start. (brassicas really like it cool)  Then the rains all but stopped and while irrigation is wonderful, it couldn’t begin to compensate for the high temperatures. The plants were stunted and hopes for an abundant harvest were fading. By planting in a new spot, we had hoped to utilize a portion of the farm that would have otherwise been idle. Good idea…in theory. In reality, it allowed the groundhog (or possibly more than one) easy access to a delicious meal. So, we (the Boss) fenced the groundhog out. no sooner was that problem solved and the bugs descended. Now, the stunted, gnawed on plants were beginning to look like they had leaves made of lace as the insects munched voraciously. After we garnered some measure of control over the bugs, the plants made some major recovery and I began to have some real hope…

It was short-lived. 
I saw her in the orchard eating apples

The marauding deer herd has finally decided to breach the perimeter fence. Yep…hopped right in that broccoli and mowed every one of them down. It looks like someone took a weed-whacker to the entire patch. (the dogs are on patrol, and I have seen them chasing deer, they just can’t be everywhere at once, I reckon) so…despite the wonderful rain today, sadly there won’t be any late broccoli. (first time for everything)
harvesting potatoes 2019

And, it may be worth mentioning that for the first time ever we harvested less potatoes than we planted. (no, wait, this may have happened once before) With growing conditions being both hot and incredibly dry, the potatoes started to produce, but the tubers never got much bigger than eggs, leaving us with less poundage harvested than what we bought and planted. Wow! And, once the plants died back, there was no point leaving them in the ground. They would have just rotted rather than growing. So, “tiny ‘taters” it is. At least the customers will buy the little ones!

So, the late season was rather disappointing. Although, I am happy to report that the grass has come back to some degree, and we have not resorted to feeding the sheep any hay. (unlike some of the cattle farmers in the area) We will take good news wherever we can find it.

it's been a long time since we saw
puddles in the driveway

despite the shenanigans that go on in the sheep corral
it looks like all the ewes are bred
the lambchop crop should begin to arrive in January

volunteer grape tomatoes in October
great story...the plant grew in the fence along the hen yard,
but the hens couldn't reach the tomatoes
score for the humans!

The dismal harvest made our “planned obsolescence” run a little ahead of schedule and I’m fairly certain we will run out of inventory prior to the end of the Market. (except for eggs) Which means I will have to continue to answer the question, “where is everything?” another approximately 9 million times. (slight exaggeration)

But, when the garden starts looking like's time to bush-hog it, turn the chickens in to eat the leftovers and wait until it's time to start planting for next year...

last of the okra

late season tomatoes

forgotten cucumber

corn is long gone
But, it is what it is. And, the lack of product just seems another sign that it’s time to turn the page, start a new chapter in this epic saga.

not everyone benefits from rain...
the hens are still enjoying garden clean-up

wet leaves on the porch
leaves through the kitchen window
my attempts at fall photography have been somewhat impeded by my "helper"

I may have given the wrong impression when I wrote about our “retirement” in my last post. Did you read this?

That did sound a little final…the very thing I was trying to avoid.

We won’t be giving up our lifestyle completely. The sheep are still working toward a lambchop crop for 2020. (just need to come up with our marketing strategy for this one) And, we’ll be growing stuff for ourselves.

We just won’t be selling at the Market anymore.

I don’t think anyone who hasn’t at least attempted this type of life has any idea how very difficult it is. Taxing on the mind, wearing on the body and trying to your spirit. Not to negate the positives (and there are a lot of those)…but, the reality is farming (of any type) is brutally hard. Add to that health challenges and aging and you can begin to understand why more folks are not interested in agriculture.

(random shots that don't fit anywhere in this post...but, I thought they were pretty)

millet at sunrise

view across the valley in autumn

moon through the trees

Sissie-the-barncat pondering life

But, that’s not where I wanted to go with this.

We have been talking about changes for a long time. But, the time never seemed quite right. It’s scary to consider changing your entire identity. Particularly when you don’t seem to have any specifics in mind.

But, last week we were talking to someone about the whole “retirement deal” and he said something that I’ve been mulling over ever since.

He said that sometimes you just need to go for it…take a leap of faith. He likened it to sky-diving. And, while you might ask yourself why anyone would jump out of a perfectly good plane, that small step into the unknown took them on an adventure few others have experienced. A. The only thing between you and the fulfillment of a dream, the adventure of a lifetime or maybe even finding your purpose in life is one small step. So…Claim it. Own it. (thanks Danny, I appreciate your words of wisdom)

I, WE, changed our lives once before. And, quite honestly, it wasn’t adventurous or invigorating like I envision sky-diving. It was more like someone pushed us out of a plane, came back firing missiles at us and crashed the plane into the ground on top of us. It was horrifying, terrifying and cost us nearly everything. Not an experience I want to repeat in any way.

So, I reckon that’s why I’ve felt a little like Wile E. Coyote in a free-fall high above the canyon floor. Why I find myself hesitating when “so, what are you going to DO?” comes up in conversation. (again, about 9 million times)  It is so scary to face the unknown. To consider giving up your very identity.

But, watching the leaves swirling through the air I am reminded of a meme that I keep seeing on social media. It says…”the trees are about to show us how beautiful it can be to let things go”.
It’s time to let this one go and find out what is waiting around the corner.

 And, take the time to appreciate all we have.

there is something almost magical about a misty sunrise

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

Come back and “visit” again soon.


  1. Facing any kind of retirement is scary - I know this from experience. But sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. In the case of both times when I have done it (second time after remarrying and then sadly losing my dear farmer)
    I have found it much less scary than I expected once I had jumped. Good luck. But don't stop blogging, I so enjoy reading you.

    1. Oh thank you, Pat!
      I truly appreciate the encouragement. And, I have long admired your attitude that comes across in your blog. I think of you often and hope that everything is going well.
      I plan on writing for a long time. Thanks for reading!

  2. Hello Barbara! Change is a fact of life - love it or not! And there are times we are pushed to change - and times we CHOOSE to change!! Right now, this is your choice - own it and ENJOY it!! I can't wait for the book to come out!!! :) God Bless!

    1. Thanks for reading!
      Thanks for the encouraging words. I'll keep you posted on my book progress.

  3. I retired in July and am still wondering "but what will I do?" but my life is evolving and I do NOT miss my job! I read on another blog that we retirees "have nothing to do and all day to do it!" Activities are added one by one and I am adapting to a life that is just mine to plan. Let's see what adventures await!
    Best of luck to you!