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!


  1. I just came in from harvesting chestnuts to have a snack and am so glad to have checked Facebook. I was thrilled to see your post. I appreciate all you have to say and the awesome pictures that you take. You are missed at market by so many. When covid conditions improve we hope you will visit us. Thanks and take care. Love Karen

  2. Lovely . . . simply lovely. You and Tom take care!

  3. Oh dear. You certainly have had a tough time. You’ll miss Otis and Gus, but your health challenges would be difficult enough without the added complication of Covid, and the crazy behaviour that puts everyone at risk. I’m glad you’re both vaccinated, and taking all the precautions you can to keep safe.

    Here in New Zealand we’re coping with a Delta breakthrough. Some of the most vulnerable of the indigenous people - Maori and also the Polynesian immigrants - are not yet vaccinate - either just hesitant or worse, misled by (often religious) mischief-makers. Of course, unfortunately, the rates are hugely correlated to socio-economic, educational level and affluence and those most at risk are those with fewest resources. Sad. Every single adult we know is vaccinated, but of course our young grandchildren are still at risk. If necessary we will turn into hermits to protect them. Mask wearing has been mandated in public - and largely complied with, and required indoors unless eating. There are requirements about using a Covid App which traces contacts and limits on numbers and spacing requirements indoors. So far we've had very few deaths, but I fear Delta means we'll see more, especially amongst the unprotected. Covid has certainly changed our world, hasn't it.

    Your photos are wonderful - you must have a very good camera - and know how to get the best from it.

    I do hope Tom's surgery saves his kidney - dialysis is so confining, and not an easy thing to manage.

    I'll keep you both in my thought, and wish you peace and strength to meet each new day.

    1. Hi Virginia!
      It is so sweet of you to read and comment, and I apologize for my delay in responding.

      I am astounded at the differing response to the Covid crisis. And, honestly, I've watched New Zealand's approach with a sense of wonder and envy.

      Here in the US, the entire subject has become highly divisive. We have had an enormous loss of lives and still there are deniers. Very locally, we just had a big surge and the hospital was imploring people to get vaccinated and stay home if possible as the numbers rose exponentially. While it looks like things have calmed down somewhat, it is still concerning. Particularly as everyone seems in a great rush to return to "normal" with school back in full session, activities such as sports, returning to regular schedule and the holidays fast approaching. Weird and unsettling times to say the least.

      Thanks for you kind words and wishes! Do keep in touch.

      Sending love to you as you take care of you and yours on the other side of the world!

  4. Beautiful photographs & wonderful, everyday philosophy!