Sunday, February 14, 2021

A February Walk-about


I read an article the other day in which the author claimed that we’d all “hit the wall” of the pandemic. You know, like marathon runners often do, just shy of the finish line. Some of the commentors dragged her for her sloppy use of metaphor and others pointed out some fallacies in her analogy. But, after reading social media posts from friends and family, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I think she was right. Or at the very least, made a credible point.

We have hit a wall. No hyperbole. Not even a little bit.

even Gus is done with winter

The difference being in a marathon, be it 26.2 or the unimaginable 50 or 100 miles of an ultra, you at least know there IS a finish line. And, you’ve signed on and prepared for the event. Through rigorous training you know your own capabilities, you have a support team in place. And, there is some sort of reward waiting at that finish line.

I can’t imagine trying to run a marathon without any preparation. Yet, that is how we are facing COVID-19.      

No one I know expected a global pandemic. Although, after reading Robin Cook’s Outbreak (published in 1987) I paid attention each and every time some strange new illness popped up in the news. I wondered what would happen if fiction ever became reality. We heard tragic reports as the virus made its way around the globe and that first US death February 6, 2020 drove it all home.

I won’t recap the year of shut-downs and cancellations, isolation and fear…I’m sure you can account for all of those yourself.  It’s completely understandable that we’re weary and worn and out of sorts, and few have offered any truly viable solutions.

February is hard anyway. (my very personal musing can be found HERE)  It’s cold and dark…and despite the hoopla surrounding Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions, (I’d really like to know WHO decided that a groundhog has prognostication powers) Spring always seems too far away.

At least it is pretty...

This year, we’ve had more snow in the 14 days of February than all of last winter. (not saying much, last winter was pretty much a bust) But, I’ve measured nearly 2 feet in our yard over the past two weeks. And, that’s not counting the freezing rain/sleet. Yesterday’s precipitation is frozen on top of the last snow, making for a treacherous trek to the barn. The roadways are apparently in bad shape, too. (I’m thinking it will be a long, long time before I attempt going down our steep driveway) During a nine-hour period, the VA state police responded to 366 traffic accidents across the state. And, there are still thousands of people without power.

so pretty

cleaning off the hoophouse

another 6 inches!

blowing snow...again

Between the pandemic, the weather and personal concerns…we won’t even address politics and societal ills…the worries just keep on coming. Traumas build on each other. And, after a while, they truly seem overwhelming.

Hit the wall? I’d say so.

That was quite literally the case of the Mbrk Post Office. Someone drove their vehicle INTO the building, right through the brick wall. I don’t know if this was weather-related. I do know that the Post Office employee was not injured, although badly shakened. Mail delivery will be re-routed for at least three weeks while they repair the building. So, one more for the record books. (seriously, 2021 will far surpass 2020 when it comes to historic events—and not in a good way)

I don’t have any jazzy “life-hacks” to help get through this hard time. I can’t tell you how to jump to the front of the vaccination queue. I'm struggling to find my own motivation, so I cannot fault you for searching for yours. I won’t tell you to “think positive” or “get in nature” or “eat some carbs”. (seriously, that’s the best some advisors can do?) I wish I could make spring come quicker. Or grant a little encouragement, not only to you…but, to myself.

But, if there is any comfort in the sameness of life on the hill, then I do have something to offer.

The rhythm of the seasons continues…and yet there is always something new to discover. Take a look around... 


arugula flower in the hoophouse

baby lettuce in the greenhouse


voicing their opinion about the snow 
(it's not good)

crow behind the barn

barn icicles

feather in the morning light


kingfisher at the creek


cardinals in the birch tree



"ice fog"

well, howdy, Otis!


redwing blackbird in the snow

Remy does not approve
(your choice of subject)


cardinal in the snow

snow on wisteria

teasels at the creek


like mother, like daughter

table scrap treats tempt the hens out of the house

Lambing season is over and considered a success by any standard. While the hens don’t appreciate the snow on their little bare chicken feet, the pullets are beginning to lay, so the cycle of life continues. And, the seed orders, small by comparison to the past, have arrived and are awaiting warmer days. Farm life continues...

look at those eyes!
peek-a-boo lamb
hello, handsome!

lunch al fresco

how do I tell the cat the heatlamps are for LAMBS?

lots of lambs

warm lambs on a cold morning

just hangin' out with my sheeps

So, there are reasons to hope.

I suppose we just need to hold onto those…particularly when the days seem dark and dismal and the way seems long and hard.

Keep in mind…

                                            “Every storm runs out of rain.”   -Maya Angelou

(time for my requisite sky photos)

weather rolling in

sunrise at the barn

15 minutes later





Thanks for stopping by. 

Otis says, "Have a great week!"

Happy Sunday! 



Hope you’ll “visit” again soon. 




Sunday, January 3, 2021

Here's to 2021 - a Sunday walkabout

2021 started in the best possible way…

...or at least for a shepherd…

My very first trip to the barn of the new year revealed healthy twin lambs. Mama sheep was fine, too. No human interaction was necessary.

That is indeed a good thing.

I suppose I could claim this as an omen for 2021…maybe I should. But, if 2020 taught us anything, there is NO predicting the future.

2020 rendered me speechless.

(okay, anyone who knows me in real life would point out I talk far too much to ever be considered “speechless”…would you accept unable to write coherently?)

Words failed me in 2020.

They really did.

So, I will leave the review of the year to others, as well as the argument over if it was the “worst year ever”. But, if you need a chuckle, you should read Dave Barry’s take on the whole thing.

Suffice it to say, 2020 was not what anyone expected. As a matter of fact, that sentence alone is a huge understatement. I feel completely safe in saying that every single plan we had made for 2020 met with some sort of revision, re-work, or removal. Keeping with the “r” theme, 2020 was, in a word, revelatory.

The pandemic, the social unrest, and the historic election cycle showed us things about the country, society and our family, friends, acquaintances, and even ourselves that had remained hidden in plain sight, and accepted, unchallenged and overlooked for far too long. Some of those things I truly wish I did not know or feel responsible for. But, others granted some real freedom and opportunities for personal growth. Now, perhaps with our new insight, we can make some much-needed changes to ourselves, our community and the world. That alone is a reason for hope.

I had planned on writing some sort of retrospective about 2020 last week, but the internet went out. Losing the internet is not exactly a tragedy, but it certainly seems to impact every aspect of our lives. And, then I always feel like we go through the whole “seven stages of grief” before it ever comes back, generally getting stuck in the denial/anger stage. (if this seems like an overstatement, try “unplugging” for a couple of days…without the benefit of planning the event) I never regained my train of thought even after internet access returned two days later as unexpectedly as it disappeared.

The source of the outage was never identified…simply one of the quirks of living at the edge of nowhere, no doubt. Back in the days of the landline telephone communication, we lost service at least twice due to a groundhog expansion project next to the phone pedestal. As the ”whistle-pigs” dug for larger accommodations, they chewed through the phone cable. While it was annoying, it made a great story and gave the repairman a laugh. With those days securely in the past, you might think that communication all high-tech and constant. Not so. Our internet service is beamed from the mountaintop to an antenna in the middle of a cow pasture, to another site, to us (or something like that)…I am nearly certain the outage had an equally “interesting” cause, although we will never know for certain. I’ll just rejoice quickly that it is working…and get that seed order placed post-haste. Another lesson of 2020, (or maybe it was all that mindfulness work/meditation) it would be to appreciate this “one perfect moment”…because you never know what is coming next.

While 2020 could only be described as annus horribilus by so many, we were not terribly impacted. I don’t know it that means our life is incredibly lame and pathetic so that isolation is somewhat normal…or we are truly approaching self-sufficiency. This is not to say the year wasn’t without difficulty, but by comparison, we have no cause for complaint.

So, it is probably best that I leave the retrospective and synopsis to others and spend some time looking forward. Instead of any verbose ramblings, here are a few photos...

carolina wren in redbud tree

stunning sunrise


female cardinal in the snow


morning icicles


ice formation at the creek

frozen pansy seed-pod

turnips in the hoophouse

strawberry leaves in the early morning light

white-throated sparrow in the snow/hoarfrost

the great conjunction 2020
(due to cloud cover we didn't see this until 12/22)


sheep in the early morning light

sunlight through frozen collard leaves

first light of day

early morning ice crystals


chickadee at the feeder

cardinal in the snow

female cardinal in the redbud tree



birch branches against the December sky


Although, I’m not even sure how/why/if we should try to plan for 2021…I lost track of what day it was somewhere around July…now, it seems to feel like a never-ending Thursday, or maybe Tuesday on a continuous loop…like I said, I have no idea. Without the rhythm of the Market, we seem to have lost our sense of time, and some of our sense of purpose. One thing to attempt in the new year is to find a new focus and direction.

woodpecker in the redbud tree
(although I was incredibly sad to lose the backyard maple
I had no idea that I was missing so much bird action in the backyard)

song sparrow

another amazing sunrise

(he might be flossing his teeth on the fence...?)

pretty pink sunrise over the barn



collard leaf
ready for New Year's

busy bird feeder

mid-winter lettuce crop is growing

the Cold Full Moon sinks behind the trees


But, I would be remiss if I made it sound like 2020 was all bad. Oddly, it was not. (and I feel a little bit guilty and over-privileged for being able to say that) 

The lambchop crop grew well, we were able to get them processed, and despite the pandemic-weirdness, our amazing customers came through and we had a very good sales year. THANKS, Y’all! Fingers crossed that we can do it again.

And, while I can assure you I am NOT a fan of practicing social-distancing with my family, I miss hugging all those little guys SO much…video-chatting with my grandsons is one of my newly discovered amusements. It’s wildly hilarious, despite the fact I miss a whole lot of the conversation while we’re running, dancing, singing, riding four-wheelers, or I’m laughing too hard to see.

...and if you're not using the 
silly filters...
you're doing it wrong!

So, as we begin a New Year, as we wait for more new lambs, it is a little easier to feel just a little bit hopeful. It is my sincere wish that you have some reasons for hopefulness as well.

even the ewes are "looking forward" to the New Year

Happy Sunday! 

I think I found a "message from the Universe"
a little heart-shape in the ice crystals on the hoophouse

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