Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sunday Walkabout 7-12-2020

I know, I know…the date is wrong.

I got waylaid, side-tracked and distracted.

You know. Pretty much the story of my life.

After I missed the deadline for a “Sunday Walk-about” last week, I fully intended to post this to mark our twenty-third anniversary of living here on the hill. Our “farm-iversary” I guess you’d call it. (that was Tuesday the 14th) I get a little nostalgic this time of year when I look around and see all the changes that have taken place since that final inspection was completed, the final check signed so we could spend the first night in our new home on the hill and continue the adventure of a lifetime. (a short-ish version of the story is here)

Even a cursory glance from the top of the drive reveals the transformation. However, the more significant changes are often subtle and overlooked. The struggle to grow and thrive doesn’t leave a mark upon the landscape like other things might, say building and gardening. But, over the years, we re-built our lives, developed a business, watched our children grow up and fly the nest, we welcomed sons-in-law and later grandsons, faced life and death situations, frightening diagnoses, major surgeries…all the while raising food and animals and selling at the Market. It has been a busy and productive life and we hope to keep it going for a while longer albeit at a slower pace…

ewes on a summer day

I was very nearly finished with that post when I realized the beans needed canning, the cucumbers needed pickling…and oh, dear god…I forgot to water in the hoophouse! There would surely be another dozen or so things calling for my attention as I hurried out to grab the hose in order to avert certain disaster.
the potato beetles are UNBELIEVABLE this year!

they are eating the plants before they come out of the ground!
they are even eating the tomato plants!
(did you know potatoes and tomatoes are related?
They are both in the nightshade family)

It’s definitely “Life in the fast lane” in the summertime around here.
a trip to process lambs takes us up the interstate

...but, it always looks the same...
hay 2020

Karma working hard
stacking hay
(could you BE any more in the way?)

always glad to get to the bottom of the haywagon

But, I’m pretty sure Don Henley and Glenn Frey of the Eagles didn’t have farming or gardening in mind when they wrote about “everything…all the time”. (and, yes, I know I used this theme at least once before…

beets ready for harvest

pickles and relish

pretty Walla Walla onions
green beans ready for canning

And, I won’t even get into how HOT it is.  I mean, we are smack-dab in the middle of the “dog days” of summer…so, it really should be expected. (if you’re wondering about “dog days” read this     and it looks like I covered this subject before…

looks like it's gonna be a hot one

The strawberries in the hoophouse were finally ripening and I could almost taste a batch of jam.

the first berry

Then...they started disappearing. I thought it was my imagination. I thought it was the Boss (a snack is not unheard of). Could it be birds? the cat? a groundhog?  My questioning and obsessing about strawberries had me convinced that I had finally turned into some weird version of Captain Queeg. (surely you've seen the Caine Mutiny ?)

this is all that was left

We tried bird netting, mousetraps...I finally caught a teeny, tiny mouse in a rat trap.

But, we got jam!

strawberry freezer ham

Seriously, I can assure you that all the weird happenings can  “surely make you lose your mind” fairly frequently. (and I'll stop with the Eagles' lyrics now)

…but, that’s exactly where I was going originally...mental health and stress…so, other than taking the scenic route…here we are.

We’re always talking about being so busy and stressed and losing our minds like that is a good thing.   But, stress can do a number on our bodies and our minds. Not a good number, either. Personal experience speaking here, y'all.

Any health professional will tell you that getting out in nature is beneficial to your well-being, both physical and mental. Personally, I think that the sheer amount of time spent outdoors that this life demands is perhaps the main reason I can make any claims to being “well-adjusted”. (although I use the term lightly) Life on the hill has been a challenge. It has also brought moments of infinite beauty and extraordinary achievement. But, throughout it all, we are surrounded by nature, that if nothing else gives us something to focus on besides those things that are testing our wills and trying our patience.

And, there certainly seems to be a lot of trying and testing lately. Worrisome times indeed. It is easy to get caught up in the distressing news and even easier to give into despair.

Which, I suppose makes the whole getting out in nature deal a whole lot more important right now.

I can’t offer any solutions to any of the concerns of this world.  I have no great ideas how to make anything better for anyone. Some days it's all I can do to keep going myself.

But, I can give you a little “virtual” taste of the nature that surrounds us. Here are a few of the things I saw this week/month...

the volunteer sunflower has provided a lot of photo ops

pretty daylilies by the barn

teeny, tiny cucumber

teeny, tiny praying mantis

this bumblebee enjoyed the sunflower, too

I am anxiously awaiting the ripening of these little tomatoes
dewy baby cucumber leaf

back-lit cucumber leaf

...and just like's a big cucumber!

it seemed like a peaceful morning
so, I didn't understand the ruckus...

there was a doe eating apples in the orchard! 
(you can see her in the photo above if you look real close)

dramatic daylily

those apples must have been good!
she's back at sunset for some more
full buck moon through the trees

sunflower on a misty morning

Mr. Bluebird in the early morning

onion flower/seedhead

red-tailed hawk at the creek
I didn't know they had green eyes!

Remy in a basket
(she has pretty green eyes, too)

a sea of sweet potato leaves

the Boss did a lot of tree trimming
(to improve our internet connection and the view)
and I was certain I saw a squirrel enjoying the view...

...after I saw the "squirrel" in the same spot for two days,
I looked closer..
.definitely NOT a squirrel!
(maybe I need to go back to wearing my glasses!)

despite the bad photo, I AM sure I saw a Cuckoo
(he/she was in the garden later)
I honestly didn't realize they existed outside of clocks
peach in the sunshine

sweet potato flower

sometimes you don't have to go out into nature, it comes to you
this toad was on the porch in the very early morning
(the fact that it escaped dog and human feet is somewhat miraculous)

end of another day
I don't really have a good ending for this post...

This week the world lost someone who devoted his life to making the world a better, more equitable  place, often at great cost to himself. While it does not speak of getting out in nature, it does address the need to persevere. So, I will leave you with his words that have been shared countless times across the internet as a tribute. Something to think about as we face a new week...

"Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble."  
-Rep. John Lewis 1940-2020

Thanks for reading…come back and “visit” again soon!
Happy Sunday!

the promise and possibilities of a new day