Sunday, April 19, 2020

Sunday Walkabout 4-19-2020

Where to start?

We seem to have hit our limit, crisis-fatigue (if that can be a thing) has set in…there have been incendiary remarks, protests, arguments, altercations that took a tragic turn, gunfights… I think someone even died.

Oh. Wait. You probably think…

Not us.

I am not talking personally here. Although, there has been more swearing more than usual, serious tension, at least one meltdown and far too many frustrated tears. But I was talking societally, locally...every day is some new shocking story. People are reacting to this crisis in some disturbing ways. These are scary and unsettling times.
I probably should stop reading the news.

The Virginia stay-at-home order remains in effect (until June 10th) and the governor angered some folks when he extended the “non-essential business” closures until May 8th. I totally understand the concerns regarding the economy, I do. And, I’ve got some serious financial worries, so I get it…totally. However, dead people can’t work at all and once the medical system is overwhelmed, we’re all going to be in a very bad place.

But, you didn’t come here to read about my opinions or tales of other people’s bad behavior. You’re looking for some pretty pictures and maybe a funny animal story…

And, that’s probably all I’ve got for you this week.

The sheep are enjoying the lush grass of early Spring and there are SO many flowers this year that it is absolutely gorgeous out there. (we just try to overlook the pollen that threatens to overwhelm our sinuses) I don’t know if we can attribute that to the lack of any real winter, or what. But, it has been amazing. It has also been cold, hot, windy, rainy…SNOWY. (yep, on April 15th!) The crazy weather has just added to the overall uncertainty of EVERYTHING these days, and I keep thinking of Winnie-the-Pooh’s Eeyore (and quite possibly my true “spirit animal”) when he said “at least we haven't had an earthquake lately.” (which, is really a good thing, people are still talking about the one we had in 2011) That may be the only thing we haven’t had.

frosted dandelion
pretty lilacs
the first dogwood flower
a profusion of apple blossoms

pink honeysuckle
(and a little fly)
more apple blossoms

lots and lots of tulips

amazing redbud flowers

bumblebee at work
pretty flowers can't take incessant WIND

wet blossoms

Adding to the weirdness is the lack of the Farmers’ Market as an anchor in our lives. When I anticipated leaving the Market behind, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to develop a new rhythm and routine to keep life moving smoothly (I also didn’t anticipate how a global pandemic would affect absolutely everything) Even though it didn’t directly affect us, finally… after much planning and consulting, Staunton’s “modified market” opened on Saturday. Vendors and customers reported a smooth operation. So, there is at least some good news to report. You can see the few photos .here.
wild crabapple blossoms

autumn olive in the fencerow

This developing a new chapter/a new plan/ a new persona is hard. Some days I think it is beyond me. Our market-vendor routine is gone, and nothing works like it used to. (and I do mean nothing…health and age-related issues are major hurdles that affect us on a daily basis)  

The other day I read a story about a girl, who in the midst of a health crisis and mental/emotional meltdown, looked at her mother and asked, “any strategies?”  The reason this story is in any way a story is that the girl in question is autistic. And, if any segment of the population is struggling with this whole world turned upside down, it is those dear folks on the spectrum. But, in that moment, this girl who struggles so much on a daily basis was cognizant of her need AND willing to ask for help. That is amazing…that is inspiring…neurotypical folks could learn a thing or two from this chick.

So, all week, I’ve been thinking about finding/needing strategies…strategies to cope, to deal, to figure things out…to just keep going.

Sometimes, it’s taking a walk. Getting outside in nature helps. And, even during the pandemic it is encouraged. Just don’t get too close!
chillin' with the sheep

chipping sparrow

Otis is always chill

cardinal in backyard maple
(best thing we ever did was put the birdfeeder outside the kitchen window)
the bumblebees seem happy

Sometimes it’s looking at things from a new perspective. Again, getting outside helps…or maybe bringing the outside…in.
when I brought crabapple blossoms inside
Remy seemed to appreciate them too
for days, she would sit beside them

Sometimes, you just need a whole new day...
even a "broody" sunrise
holds the potential of a new day

...and there are always "acts of service" to get your mind off yourself and your troubles... 

I suppose I could get all serious here...but, the heavy crisis situation needs a little levity...
Otis often accompanies me up the driveway when I head out for a walk. However, he expects treats when I return. He is partial to a fine dandelion bouquet.
oh yum!

truly tasty!
have ya got any MORE?
Sometimes, someone else has an answer…or at least the possibility of an answer.

One of my favorite authors posted the following. I know she’s said this before. It’s kind of her “thing”. Read Happiness for Beginners

Katherine Center:  “…start keeping a list of 3 Good Things every day. I’ve been doing this lately—and it genuinely, truly helps. I do it first thing in the morning, thinking back over the day before. It doesn’t fix things or change things or solve things. But it shifts your perceptions. It forces you to notice good things in a way you wouldn’t have otherwise. It trains your brain to collect upsides, moments of grace, and little blessings. Honestly, once you make yourself start the list, you often wind up with more than three things. But it’s not what’s on the list that matters. It’s the act of looking. I promise, it helps. Try it.”

 “the act of looking” …there is an epiphany in that phrase. A shift in perspective…perhaps it’s a new strategy…

the end of another day

So…while I’m thinking about that one, search for strategies and trying to figure out just what the heck I’m supposed to be doing now…

I  hope you have a

 Happy Sunday!  

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

Y'all come on back now...
ya hear?

**since Blogger seems to have gotten weird about my photos, I will be posting a mid-week photo post over on my Wordpress site. Come over there and check it out. **

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sunday Walkabout 4-5-2020

"social distancing" sparrow

It’s been a long week.

It has been a week, right? Just a WEEK?  I seem to have lost all track of time.

This whole deal is getting to me. That statement alone is something, when you consider that it has just been uttered by an introvert with social anxiety, who has lived the self-sufficient lifestyle beyond the sidewalks for…well…let’s just say…a very long time.

Nothing particularly awful happened…but, then, it may just be that NOTHING happened. I just feel blah and meh and even the smallest thing requires far too much effort. I am not alone in this. It seems that a lot of folks hit a wall this week. The isolation, the monotony, the uncertainty (oh, dear god, the uncertainty)…all demand sheer willpower and strength the likes of which we’ve never experienced. And, it’s hard.

And, yeah, I know, I did write about Glennon Doyle’s new book UNTAMED and “we can do hard things” last week. I did. And, I believe that. I do. It is still a great book! (and you should really check out her FB  and Insta platforms) But, it doesn’t make this any less hard.

And my mood seems at odds with the glory that is early spring…with the birds singing and the flowers blooming…
the birds are up singing before sunrise

Sunday sunrise

pear blossoms

apple blossoms

wild cherry blossoms

It is possible to get caught up in the busy-ness of spring, to revel in the sun as we plant the seeds or ready the garden, nearly forgetting for one short moment what is going on in the world. The fertilizer trucks and the cattle trailers are still cruising down the road. Personally, we need to make a feed run and collect the eggs, again. Agricultural life can’t come to a standstill, not even for a global pandemic.
raking in the early potato crop

onion plants
pea fence
...and Otis in the background
arugula flowers

But, then, just as quickly, news that the state is under “stay-at-home” orders until June 10th brings it all to the forefront of our minds again. The news of a rising death toll, the CDC recommendation to wear a mask outdoors, and a supply chain that still hasn’t returned to normal. And, then, the realization that for the first time since 1998, we would not be getting ready for Opening Day of the Staunton Farmers’ Market.

--now, personally, I had been looking forward to this…the first time in…well, nearly forever, that I wasn’t going into spring concerned about the Market, or little kids, or the Market and little kids…I had a plan…I did…and then came the pandemic…

Discussions regarding the logistics of getting the Farmers’ Market up and running while in compliance with the new restrictions kept the Boss busy for days in back and forth email “meetings” and phonecalls with the Market committee and the City Manager. They finally came up with a plan. But, the Market that is compliant and the safest option for both farmers and customers does NOT look anything like the Market that everyone has come to know and love. Nothing. And, at this point, there is no assurance that it ever will.

We have to be concerned with keeping our friends and neighbors (the customers) safe. At the same time, the FARMERS have to be kept safe as well. (without the FARMERS there is no farmers’ market) I don’t know if the people protesting closure/changes gave that any thought. They just seemed to want what they wanted and not have any changes.

Ummm, pandemic…people…EVERYTHING has changed!

We really need to think about the other people involved in providing for the things we need or just want. All those folks in the supply chain are on the frontlines right now. Farmers, grocers, food delivery people…the UPS drivers…  All of these people are at special risk.

Farmers are not immune to health issues that put them in the “high-risk” categories. (someone once told me that they were sure farmers didn’t have any health issues…uh, wrong) And, the “up-close- and personal” aspect of the Market puts them directly in harm’s way. These people cannot/should not be endangered just because you think you want a bag of spinach, so the Market cannot look like it always has. And, this is not because anybody hates the Market, or doesn’t want to support local, or wants to force you to go to the “big-box store” (honest to god, what happened to commonsense and empathy?) Yes, my husband is one of those people in the “high-risk” category…so, yeah, I do have a personal interest here. I am trying not to be angry and snarky, but it is hard. I have written and deleted and worried and groused. All to no avail. Pretty sure I need to give up on this one. You just can’t fight all the battles…

So. Anyway. The much-modified Staunton Farmers’ Market will open on April 18th…WITHOUT the Boss. (at least for now)

He was planning on stepping down at the end of the season, it just looks like the end may have come far sooner than either of us expected. That is weird. Anti-climactic. And, vaguely unsettling, for reasons I can’t quite identify.
looks like spring at the creek

I've never seen these at this stage before
this is a poplar tree

these are sprouted corn kernels
(yes, they are's Captan-a fungicide to protect the seeds
it does not harm bees, fish or the environment)

It’s time for a new chapter.
even in the dim light of sunrise
the flowers are beautiful

Now, I knew that. I did. I had a plan. But, the pandemic…

But, now we’re tasked with writing a different “new” chapter in the midst of trauma with countless unknowns looming over our heads. So, again, it’s hard. HARD! And, definitely NOT the time for all the memes about what famous people did during the plague and how this is the perfect time for productivity. We have had a lot of discussions about positivity and hope, leaving me with neither… (which, quite honestly didn’t help that quest for peace and tranquility among the “inmates” as well---yeah, it has been a week…)

Although, in the quest for positivity--- our gardening experiment in the hoophouse is finally showing some signs of growth! Actually, we harvested enough stuff to share…so, definite success.

Some time ago, we were visiting with the hay-guy after returning one of his wagons. He was in the midst of tidying up around the barn and mentioned that he had all these used plastic mineral tubs he didn’t know what to do with. They looked far “too good to throw away” but, the pile was getting pretty big. (Every farm I have ever visited has a stash of the “too good to throw away” stuff stuck away for someday) Did we want some?

We took a couple home and stuck them in the shed, thinking that we would figure out a use for them, someday. Because, seriously, they really were “too good to throw away”!

I don’t know how long they sat in the shed until one day the Boss had an epiphany…

What if we changed up the hoophouse? What if we didn’t have to get down on our old, creaky, painful knees to plant and harvest? What if…? 

And, he was off and running with a new project.

After tilling up the ground in the hoophouse and leveling it off (well, to some degree) he covered it with weed-block cloth. This would keep the area open and easy to maintain. Then, we made a run to the hay farm and picked up a bigger pile of tubs. A trip to the compost producer was next. After putting drain-holes in the bottoms of the tubs, they were filled with the compost. Then it was just a matter of either planting seedlings or sowing seeds.

the project begins

The hoophouse was transformed.

(we even got a few more tubs to expand the project)

Of course, the hoophouse is nowhere near as productive as it used to be. Then again, neither are we. But, it is enough for us (and maybe some to share). And, best part…no more kneeling on the hard ground! (actually, it isn’t the kneeling…it’s the getting up again. lol)

the season begins...beautiful lettuce

We’ve started harvesting lettuce, spinach, kale and green garlic. It has proven to be a super tasty and a much-needed positive experiment in the midst of crisis. And, there is something soothing about working in the dirt, even if it is in what is essentially a gigantic flower-pot.

It would appear that lots of other people are trying their hand at home gardening this year. There was a story in the Washington Post that seed sales are at an all-time high and some companies are running short. I do hope all the people that ordered seeds actually use them and learn a little bit about growing and perhaps preserving food. Those are some useful life-skills! I guess it's possible some good may come out of this deal after all.

And, on that note, I reckon I’ll close for the week.

Here, in no particular order and for no particular reason, are some random shots from around the farm.

maple helicopters
flowering quince at the mailbox

orange tulip

yellow tulips

more tulips

I love these flowering quince

I do hope you are healthy and safe and can find a way to     
have a Happy Sunday!

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

just some chillin' sheep