Sunday, May 1, 2022

A Sunday Walk in May 5 1 2022


 It’s the first of May! 

Are you celebrating International Workers’ Day? May Day? getting ready for Cinco de Mayo? 

 Maybe none of those seem quite right for you. Here is an interesting article on the origins of the holiday. May Day history While I will try not to get on my soapbox or go off on a political rant, I should say I am incredibly grateful for the people who fought (some literally died) to make sure the rest of us had reasonable work hours and weekends. While I didn’t have a weekend off for a large portion of my adult life, I am truly glad some people did. And, I am glad those folks spent a portion of their time (and paycheck) at the Farmers’ Market. Without weekend shoppers, I do not know how we would have made a living from this tiny piece of land, or had the opportunity for life-changing experiences.

 Whether you’re observing a holiday, or catching up on chores…I’m going to guess that no one is where we are right now. The one year anniversary of what I have begun to refer to as “the kidney saga” is rapidly approaching. In “celebration”, Tom has yet another surgery scheduled for this week. 

 Yep. STILL in the midst of the “kidney saga”… 

If someone had told me a year ago that we would spend over 12 months trying to get Tom’s kidney stone issues righted, I would have laughed…or at the very least argued with you. I thought I knew what they did for kidney stones. I had a kidney stone years ago, I felt horrible and thought I would die from the pain, threw up a few times, drank a lot of water, passed the stone and went on with life. I credit going cold-turkey on my caffeinated power drinks with the fact I haven’t had to endure that again. Truly THE worst pain ever. And, I’ve done the whole “un-medicated” childbirth deal. If it was any more serious, they would just “blast” it and the patient would be good to go. No real big deal. 

Anyway, such is not always the case, sadly. 

While everyone else is “getting back to normal” and putting the pandemic anxiety in the rear-view, Tom has spent the past year either in excruciating pain, going to the hospital, in the hospital, having another test or scan, on his way home from the hospital, recovering from surgery, and/or anticipating another test or scan. He has literally been to the hospital campus 25 times… 

That’s how we found ourselves heading “over the mountain” the other day for yet another pre-surgery testing/registration in anticipation of this Thursday’s surgery. 

Going to UVA medical center is never good news. From here it means that our local hospital cannot provide the level of care necessary to potential healing. All too often it means things are dire. (and dire is NOT a word anyone wants to use in relation to their health and/or well-being) While I am truly grateful that such care is possible and that we have the ability to obtain it, I can think of innumerable ways we would rather spend our time. (and money)

And, it’s beyond difficult to be grateful when you are worried, and have been worried for…well, a year. (just with this particular issue) Although, for the most part, we’ve endured the “self-isolation” fairly well. Meaning that our sanity is more or less intact, (although that was somewhat questionable before) and we’re still getting along. We’ve found plenty to do to keep us occupied. And, in case you wondered, among the FOUR pages of pre-surgery instructions is a paragraph that tells the patient (and anyone else living in the home) to “self-isolate” for 14 days before a procedure. With so many procedures in the past 12 months, it’s needless to say we are now probably perceived as total hermits. 

On the other hand, it’s Spring. 

nothing says spring quite like apple blossoms

Glorious, beautiful Spring… 

Spring that included an unexpected snowstorm not quite two weeks ago that left about 3 inches or so of wet, sloppy ice/snow/sleet all over everything. Then, it got brutally cold…well below freezing. Then, it got SO hot. And, last week, the first severe thunderstorm of the season spawned a small tornado not far from here and dropped nickel sized hail that covered the ground in some locations… 

Here are a few shots from the unexpected snow:

So…maybe spring is not so glorious after all. Or, maybe it’s just not what I (or anyone else) was expecting. 

That’s it. Expectations are the single biggest cause of disappointment and heartache. Maybe we should lower our expectations, or at the very least be far more open to other possibilities. 

Recently I took a course in “Writing through your Trauma” with Lisa Cooper Ellison  .  It was a GREAT course. Part of the assigned reading was a chapter from Dr. Fred Luskin’s book, Forgive, for Good. The one chapter was so enlightening that I had to buy (and read) the entire book.

I have read a LOT of books in the past year, but this one is at the top of my recommendation list. Dr. Luskin talks a lot about our “unenforceable rules”…those things we demand or expect from ourselves, life, other people. By allowing these rules to dictate what we will accept, we set ourselves up to be miserable and have problematic relationships. It has given me a lot to think about. 

So, I suppose the imposition of this “self-isolation” has been a good thing in some ways. 

 While life is nothing like I expected it to be at this point…I have found that accepting it as it is (or at least attempting to) and finding the small positives here and there make it far more bearable than if we simply railed against it all the time. 

In that vein, here are some of the sights from here on the hill… 

peach blossom




birch catkins

pear blossoms


chipping sparrows


wild crabapple tree

maple "helicopters" in the making

chicken feather

first strawberry

first tulip

glorious tulips




daffodils after the cold

Mr. Bluebird checking out the housing market

apple blossoms (before the cold)

peach blossoms


American robin

rufus-sided towhee

end of the glorious tulips

If nothing else, Spring is beautiful and full of possibilities. 

baby grapes

apple blossoms with what I hope is a baby apple

asparagus is coming
(don't mind the weeds)

baby mulberries

snap peas 
(Yay,the mouse didn't eat all the seeds!)

 I truly hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

new life at sunrise
(calf at the farm across the way)

 Here’s hoping you’re finding some little bits of happiness and encouragement along your way. 

Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, January 30, 2022

A January Walkabout 2022




January 30th.

Wow…time sure flies…

I meant to write a year-end post. You know, a look back at the year’s accomplishments? But, in some ways the end of the farm as we have known it seemed too depressing. It’s hard enough to watch the landscape slowly close in and erase any signs of productivity now that the animals are gone and the gardens are dormant, I felt no real compunction to document it as well.

So, I didn’t.

Then I thought maybe I would write a new year’s post. You know, one with hopes and goals for the upcoming year? But, that seemed to tempt fate in some way…what with the pandemic numbers surging and Tom’s health still somewhat precarious. Figuring out our “third act” during what seems like an endless pandemic is daunting to say the least. Add our recurring and chronic health issues and it’s next to impossible.

So, I didn’t.

Now, here I am 30 days into the new year and wondering if it’s too late to ask for a refund on this new year. This is surely still the trial period…right? Maybe an exchange? If these first few weeks are any indication, 2022 does NOT meet with my expectations.


Lest you think I am just whining...

at first Karma loved it

then she seemed a little disgusted by the icicle on her feet

now she's started hanging out in the barn
napping with the cats

ice crystals on top of the hoophouse

more hoophouse ice crystals

chicken feather frozen into the water tank


icicles under the wolf moon

more icicles



front porch milkcan in the snow

snow across the valley

So far this year (in the last 30 days) we have had more snow than all of last winter (over 26 inches so far), experienced near record cold temps. (-1*) repaired the hoophouse twice (in the snow), made three trips to the hospital…one of those included emergency surgery AND an overnight stay (potentially more lie ahead). The pandemic is still raging locally, and our state government has essentially lost its mind. And, I’m certain I’ve missed something…

Yep. I definitely want a refund. Or at least some sort of credit… 2022 is off to a rocky start.

despite his pain and surgeries
the snow must be blown

On the other hand, without the animals and/or market garden worries…we are somewhat free to address the issues at hand. So, I suppose there is some silver lining to all these clouds that seem to be hanging over us of late. More than once we have looked at each other and said “well, at least we don’t have lambs!”

In past years, we would be smack-dab in the middle of lambing season with its round-the-clock barn checks and potential emergencies needing human intervention. Between the weather, my physical limitations, and Tom’s trips to the hospital, I am certain there would have been numerous losses, and I would hate those.

So, anyway…I don’t want to be “Debbie-downer” here…let’s look for something positive in all of this.

I suppose you could say that “all’s well that ends well…” although nothing has actually ended yet.

We were really hoping that the kidney saga that started LAST year (May 9th to be exact) was finally coming to an end. He had one more scan and we were hopeful that would tell us everything had improved.

Two days before the scheduled scan, he started feeling bad. Really bad. Figuring it was just another stone, trying to avoid the ER on Sunday, and the weather was a little sketchy, he decided to ride it out. When he was no better on Monday, the clinic told him to come in for a check.

The next thing I heard, he was in the emergency room, headed for surgery! The doctor said something about possible renal failure…

**just an aside here…COVID precautions mean that I cannot go inside the hospital with him for his appointments. I have spent the equivalent of days in the hospital parking lot…just waiting. I’m getting a lot of great reading done-even a little writing…so I guess it’s not all bad. However, this time they forgot about me…and the only information I got was straight from the patient. (that freaked me out just a little bit)

As a precaution, they kept him overnight and released him the next day. There was some talk about a trip to UVA (the medical center over the mountain) for a more serious surgery if things didn’t improve…

**another aside…I did go home rather than slowly freeze to death waiting in the car**

The second surgery (still at our local hospital) went better than expected and while we still don’t know if the trip over the mountain will be necessary, at least Tom isn’t in excruciating pain anymore. And, neither one of us has gotten sick (so far).

That’s a good thing, because after each of the month’s big snowstorms, I’ve found a big rip in the hoophouse. While we aren’t growing for market anymore, the hoophouse makes it possible to (theoretically) have greens year-round, get a jump on the season, and gives me a place to play in the dirt and think when it’s too cold or windy out in the elements. I don’t think we’re ready to give up the hoophouse just yet.

hole in the hoophouse

another storm
another rip

first hoophouse repair

second hoophouse repair
the snow really is THAT deep!

We bought new plastic to “skin” the hoophouse last summer. But things being what they were, the job never got done. Which, again, is a good thing, I suppose. At least we’ll be ready to “re-skin” as soon at the weather breaks. This means the hoophouse is still a viable growing option. In the meantime, we’ve done a couple repair jobs with some old tarps and a bunch of rope. It looks awful and there will probably be no more off-season greens…but, at least it’s not ripped to shreds and blowing around the county.

We’re quite the pair…” the halt and the lame” …or however you’d describe our disabilities. Again, we’re fortunate (I really hesitate to say “blessed” because believe me…it is SO hard to find gratitude for one’s afflictions) that there is nothing that absolutely requires our undivided attention and effort.

Although, the hens did put me to the test when they decided to camp out during one of the big snows. With the wind whipping and the snow coming sideways, the dog and barn cats still needed their supper. I just happened to peer through the white-out to see a bunch of little dark lumps in the chicken yard. Those stupid hens were all sitting there, snow piling on their backs and icicles forming on their combs and little eyelashes (chickens DO have eyelashes). Only one hen remained in the house, cackling to herself that she didn’t have to share the feeder. She looked a little perturbed when I dropped the first snowy chicken next to her. One by one, I managed to capture them and put them inside, where they seemed surprisingly “chatty” and happy to eat. Of course, the last one freaked out, went under the henhouse and required me to “army-crawl” in after her (through the snow, of course)

seriously...they had icicles on them!

But, again, “all’s well that ends well”. They were none the worse for wear, and Tom still has eggs for his breakfast.

That little adventure gave me a new appreciation for my prescriptions, though. The cold weather doesn’t do anything good for my fibromyalgia. Definitely not. The fascia (connecting tissue) that is usually somewhat stiff, becomes almost totally immobile with the dropping temperatures. It takes real effort to maintain any level of activity. I would be all for human-hibernation if that was a thing. I try to walk everyday (except when it’s extremely wind and frigid…or super icy) to keep all “the juices” flowing. (and because I know the cardiologist will ask) that at least gets me out of the house and into nature for a little bit.

Although, nature is all around us. It’s an endless parade at the bird feeders, as I can tell from my photo files.

I was kind of surprised to see this girl looking at me from just beyond the mailbox

this little squirrel was traversing the creek paddock with a nut



the creek looks magical in the early morning frost

fungus on a fallen tree


dry thistle heads looking kind of moody

now I know why I have to buy bird seed so often
that woodpecker has atrocious table manners!

it's WINDY!

some wild times at the bird feeder

this sparrow looks cold

okay, everybody looks cold

there are SO many cardinals!

Mama Cardinal

house finch

this looks like it should be an album cover
"the four cardinals sing...something..."

chipping sparrow

it's so cold he has ice on his feathers!


Not too long ago, there was a huge flock of turkey vultures "Cathartes aura" (more commonly referred to--at least around here---as just plain Buzzards) that roosted in the trees out front. It was a little eerie to see at least 2 dozen buzzards sitting in the bare branches, and then swooping and flying overhead. They made a frightful sound when they landed on the house.

buzzards in the trees

I counted 26 one day

getting settled for the night

taking off at daybreak

It was the first time I’d ever seen such a large group here on the hill. it reminded me of a story a friend used to tell…

He spent summers building fence with his dad around the county. When the day got hot and work slowed to a crawl, his dad would look up and say “Son, better get a move on…we’re movin’ so slow, you’re lookin’ a lot like lunch to them buzzards!” for some reason, I have always gotten a chuckle out of that story. …and felt the need to keep moving…

Which, I suppose I should be doing now.

wolf moon at sunrise

spectacular sunset

amazing sunrise


crescent moon at sunset

Like another friend used to say at the end of his radio show…”nothing much happened in our town this week…”

Here’s where I sign off as well. Because as you can see…nothing much ever happens around here!

Thanks for reading! 

Happy Sunday! 


...and yes, that is a turkey buzzard soaring away there in the early morning light...kinda pretty, huh?