Sunday, September 26, 2021

September 2021 Walkabout

It took a message from the other side of the world to get my attention. Wow! It really had been “ages” since I posted. More than six months to be exact. So, thanks to Virginia from New Zealand for the wake-up call. 

I meant to keep posting, I really did. I made more than a few attempts. But, between some ill-timed internet hiccups (that only occurred just as I was ready to post) and unexpected life events…it got easier and easier to put off posting and wait for something “more interesting” to happen, for things to get “better”. 

Spoiler alert—things did not get "better" or "more interesting". 

When I last posted, everything was good. Lambing had been successful. We were just waiting for spring. We knew this year would be a new “adventure” as it would be our first time without the Farmers’ Market dictating our schedule in any way. 

rainbow over our Valley

We were eligible for vaccination fairly early and were looking to enjoy the whole “retirement” thing despite the continuing pandemic. 

baby cardinals

beautiful sky over the farm

ladybug in the lettuce


crescent moon at daybreak

cardinals in the redbud tree


mr. bluebird checking out a new home

 Life apparently had other plans… 

All these things occurred in the past 6 months. (not necessarily in this order) Keep in mind, this is the abridged version. 

We lost 4 lambs in 2 days, and I still don’t know why. 
Otis died unexpectedly and despite our best efforts AND an emergency vet call. 
Gus laid down in the flower bed and died. 
The desperately needed lane paving job required a far bigger investment than originally expected. 
The hay guy decided to stop selling hay. 
Tom had a kidney stone attack, requiring a Sunday morning trip to the Emergency Room. (that was early May and we’re still not finished) 
He has had 2 surgeries. He is awaiting the third in hopes of saving his kidney. (in addition to the ever-lurking cancer concerns) 
A hawk attacked the hens. 
The garden came under attack. First by the gigantic doe that roams the neighborhood. Next by bugs and critters. 
My new medication makes me feel like I might literally melt. 
The area endured an extended heatwave AND drought. (making my “melting” a very real concern and liability) 
While picking tomatoes, Tom injured his sciatic nerve and has been in excruciating pain ever since. (nearly 6 weeks, despite doc visits and medication) 
We’ve been stuck here, doing very little for months. There is no end in sight. Despite this, I have made no progress on the projects I was certain would be finished by now. 
It’s been another year of weird, socially-distanced family gatherings. 
Because of the actions of the local anti-mask/anti-vax folks, the numbers are worse now than they have been. The hospital CEO even made a video appeal to the community. 
We have been under continual self-imposed quasi-quarantine for months now. As we cannot risk exposure to anything that might postpone that next procedure. (we are going a bit stir-crazy) 
All the news seems all bad lately, if the pandemic doesn’t get us, the weather issues caused by climate change will. And, don’t even get me started on the political divisiveness. There are people actually calling for civil war. 
We sold ALL the sheep and made the decision to stop our lamb sales. We can’t possibly call ourselves a farm. So, just what are we doing?

despite all his annoying habits, I'll miss ole Gus

 --those are just the highlights…or would that be low-lights? 

 I reckon I could swing the other direction and embrace all these things with an air of acceptance and heartfelt gratitude, hopefully stopping short of becoming some sort of weird “new age Pollyanna”. 

apple in the morning light

arugula flowers

baby brussels sprouts

green beans in the hoophouse

cantelope tendril

apple on a post

Falling Springs Falls
Covington, VA

curious fawn at the mailbox

Boxerwood Gardens
Lexington, VA

french breakfast radishes

Giant Winter Spinach is aptly named

monarch caterpillar on milkweed

nice-looking lamb

peach blossoms at sunrise

poison ivy is the first to change color in the fall


ripe melon from hoophouse

ready to eat

black vulture warming its wings on the stockyard fence

dragonfly on a log
Boxerwood Gardens
Lexington, VA

Karma guarding the corn

That one can be a serious challenge, but here goes… 

We got the new HVAC system installed BEFORE one of the hottest summers ever. 
We got our vaccinations and didn’t experience horrible side-effects, nor any break-through infection.
 The costly paving job on the lane took out every single bump. (highly important when one is traveling and in pain) 
The hawk only killed one hen and hasn’t been seen again. 
 This is the first time in twenty-five years that a deer got in the garden. And, at least we’re not growing for market! (that became a recurring refrain this summer) 
We were able to preserve plenty of veggies for winter despite the bugs, deer and other varmints. We’ve even donated to the mission and shared with family.
The surviving lambs grew out wonderfully. 
The freezer is full of delicious lamb. (no worries about going hungry) 
We got a good price for the other lambs. (thanks, Anathallo Acres!) 
Tom was able to build a deer fence and protect the garden from further damage, despite his health issues. 
 We have the time and resources to address said health issues. 
 My new medication muted the neuropathy that has plagued me for at least five years…AND helps with my anxiety/depression, making the fibromyalgia pain and chronic fatigue more bearable. (and I can watch Netflix while lying on the floor under the breeze of the ceiling fan when recovering from the heat) 
We were able to visit “in-person”, even if it was just a couple of times. Those hugs were awesome!
 I made it to 500 consecutive days of meditation. 
 The “garden experiments” I did in the hoophouse were mostly successful. 
We got to go on a few little day-trips and see some beautiful sights. 
 The flower barrel beautification project by the kitchen door has been lovely all summer. 
And, the daylilies we planted out front survived the drought and will be gorgeous in the spring. (thanks Karen and Dennis!) 
The remnants of hurricane Ida brought 3 inches of much-needed rain without any damage. 
Waiting for Tom at his countless appointments has given me time to read some AMAZING books. Video chat is accessible. As is Netflix AND Hulu. 
Everything we need is readily available online AND the UPS driver stopped dumping the packages along the lane. 
That last check from the stockyard (for the old ewes) was pretty doggone impressive. 

So, take your pick on perspective. 

All summer, I’ve been trying to embrace the thought that…“right now, it’s like this” (the radical acceptance that I scoffed at when the therapist brought it up years ago). Not resisting the hardships, but also not missing the gifts. Not worrying that it will always be awful/challenging or irritating and definitely not taking for granted it will always be pleasant/beautiful/peaceful. Take each moment as it comes. Hold on with an open hand, instead of grasping and attempting to keep things the same. That can be a real challenge sometimes. 

baby cardinals almost ready to fledge

back-lit hummer

dove on front fence

lost fawn

goldfinch in redbud tree

hawk at the creek


hummer in redbud tree

robin in cherry tree

sheep through the pines

singing wren

Karma and Sissie


newly hatched monarch

When our girls were little and had a bad day, I would tell them (and myself) tomorrow will be different. We can’t be sure it will be better…and don’t assume it will be worse…but, it most assuredly will not be exactly the same. Maybe I had forgotten my own advice. 

This message is repeated by one of the books I’ve been reading this summer. (a gift from my dear friend Peg, Braiding Sweetgrass (2013) ) It is beautifully written, the prose being more like poetry and it’s brimming with information and insight that have the potential to change any negative outlook. (a pleasant respite from the news of the day) The author, Robin Wall Kimmerer, is both a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a Professor of Environmental Biology SUNY, giving her a unique perspective. 

“We are surrounded every day with gifts, but they are not meant for us to keep. Their life is in their movement, the inhale and exhale of our shared breath. Our work and our joy is to pass along the gift and to trust that what we put out into the universe will always come back.” 

That is what I wish for all of us today…to see the gifts that surround us and share them with someone else. 

Happy Sunday! 

 Thanks for reading!

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.