June 2009


Well, it’s Tuesday morning and I am actually on time for tea!!! I’ve been posting TT on my other blog – so here’s the link:


http://artfullyooglebloops.blogspot.com/2009/06/tea-on-tuesday_30.html#comments

As I mentioned in that post, I did go out to pick raspberries – but, as I thought, the crop is just about gone. there are maybe 10 berries left to ripen – we’ll see who gets them first, the critters or me!!!

The blackberries promise to be a bumper crop- cannot wait for that!!! Should be ready in another 2 weeks!

I took Princess Allie, one of our 4 pits, on the berry picking walk. She is the only one who will listen off leash – sort of. She will head where I point, and return, if I call. And, being almost 7, and a tad bit portly, does not have the speed necessary to really catch anything (other than a ground hog).

She enjoyed her walk – altho saw a rabbit(?) and chased that into the brush, then saw a deer all the way across the field and took off after it. I called her and she did return – but I am not sure that she came because I asked her to, or that she realized that the deer was pretty far away – and it might be a wasted trip, by the time she reached it!!

She checked out the ground hog holes, and marked her territory -face it- it’s ALL her territory!!! We meandered over to check out my vegetable garden, and Allie got there first and took off! I can only assume that the feral cat was sitting there- but Allie can’t and won’t fit thru the sticker bushes, so the cat was pretty safe!

Allie is having a pretty good couple of days – she played soccer with my son, who is visiting and adores her. She went swimming in the river with him, posed for endless amounts of photos, and last evening went swimming at the fishing hole with him. Needless to say, no fish were caught with Allie splashing around!

Right now, Allie is resting, like the queen she is (or is that princess?), and when the son arises, she will be ready for another day in the water with him!!!

Playing ball in the river

Playing ball in the river

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All is well, and still a bit sunny, at Mountain Meadows this morning………

Like many other people in this area of Virginia, the unusual amount of rainfall, kept us from cutting the first hay of the season.

It’s not as easy as just mowing the lawn.  The fields must be dry, so the tractor doesn’t sink in the mud.  There have to be enough dry days for the cut hay to lay in the sun, then be tossed the next day, to dry again, and then to be baled. This summer, whenever we had a dry spell, it was not long enough to accomplish any of that!!!

As a result of all the rain, the hay, and everything else – grew tall, and went to seed, making the 1st cut of hay only suitable for cattle, not horses.

The up side of this, is all the seed will grow a thicker cover of hay next growing season. The husband managed to cull quite a bit of seed off the back of the machinery to scatter in the paddocks, in hopes of having lusher orchard grass there later in the season and next year. The horses will certainly appreciate his efforts!

Since we usually sell the hay from the front of the property to our horsey clients, it was kind of a financial loss this first cut. The 2nd cut promises to be a good one, and the clients will be happy with that! Weather permitting!!

We are learning that a farmer’s success not only depends on his talents and sweat, but more on Mother Nature!  A summer of drought may bring only 2 cuts of hay, and wells that are lower than they should be. Too much rain can rot root crops, wash away seed, or prevent that first cut of hay from happening in a timely manner.  A unexpected late frost, can also decimate crops that were planted a little too soon. To the farmers that depend on their crops for their livelihood, the weather is of the utmost importance!!

Suburbanites just worry about whether or not to carry an umbrella or leave the top to the convertible down. Farmers live by the weather channel, the almanac, and planting traditions handed down thru the generations. Weather rules!

The husband and I don’t profess to be “real ” farmers by any means – we are fledgling farmers, in a learn as we go mode !!! We are learning not to count our chickens before they are hatched – and really understand the true meaning and origin of that old adage now!!!

The husband just  put up a pole barn to store the hay, and we were planning on the sale of the 1st cut of square bales to cover the cost of the barn. Well, the rains came, and the best laid plans were not to be!!

But, on the up side- the 62 round bales sold the day they were baled to a farmer down the road, for his cattle. Granted, we cleared about less than half what we would have with 10x that many squares. But, at least they sold!!!

As I sit at the computer, I can glance out the window and see the fruits of our labor, (and the labor of the farmer who baled for us) scattered all over the front field in photogenic rolls. And, living here, I can now see hay bales for all they represent – which is much, much more than just a photographic opportunity………

making hay

making hay

Photogenic, aren't they?

Photogenic, aren't they?

Inner circle

The Inner circle

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All is well, and peaceful, this hot Friday evening, at Mountain Meadows tonite………..




I was out last night about 8pm, taking a stroll down the old dirt road that abuts my property. Camera in hand, I was snapping away – mostly the wildflowers and day lilies that are now profusely blooming.

I was getting ready to change direction and head down to the river, when some movement caught my eye.

From the direction of the river, a little figure was happily gamboling up the road toward me, with a rollicking, rolling gait- not a care in the world. This little critter had a definite destination in mind, and not having the best eyesight, was totally unaware of me.

Discretion being the better part of valor, and I decided I had better let my presence be know! I softly said hi, and it took a few words, before he/she realized I was standing right in his path.

When realization hit, that a human was there, his total demeanor changed, from a happy, carefree look, to an expression that kind of said “Oh, crap!”

He pulled what I’ve come to call a “Miss Lilly”. If you’ve read my other posts, Miss Lilly is our miniature horse. Adorable as she is, when Miss Lilly doesn’t want to do something, she pins her ears, and turns her back on you, threatening to kick – which she never does!

My little visitor pulled a “Miss Lilly” – but instead of threatening to kick, he raised his tail!!!  It was a skunk!!!!! Unlike Miss Lilly, I was pretty sure he would carry out his threat if need be!!

We were at a standoff! He had a destination in mind and was not going to veer from his course!! I tried to take a few pictures of this little “flower” (remember Flower from Bambi?), and of course my camera battery was low – too many real flower pix! I started backing up, all the while murmuring sweet nothings to keep little Flower calm. Finally got the camera to work and got two shots of him.  This was the best one!

Unfortunately, I was wearing my old slip on sneakers that I wear to the river, and now I had to hike down the gravel road to another access to my property. As I glanced over my shoulder, I could see the skunk had resumed his walk- altho a bit more cautiously. So, there was literally no turning back. I had to cut across the field to get home. I was very happy that the hay had been cut and baled, so most of the grass was short! The idea of walking thru waist high grasses in capris and slip ons was not appealing – ticks and snakes!!! I may be a country girl – but I am not so country that I cavort thru the field barefoot and fancy free!!!

Walks at dusk turn up many interesting things- it’s never dull. Now we can add skunk to our list of residents. I hope to see him again – from a distance! Soooo glad I didn’t have any of the dogs with me!!!!

If you hear someone walking just before dark, talking to herself – that would be me – carrying on a singular conversation so that the wildlife is aware of me, before I am aware of them!!!

The stand off!

The stand off!

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All is well at Mountain Meadows early on Friday morning………….

Last night, I had everything baked, wrapped, and ready to go, for this morning’s Farmers Market. The fog was as thick as pea soup at 5:30am, and the weather forecast was dismal.

I went back and forth between should I go, or should I not? Note to self, get phone numbers of the other vendors, to see what’s up! I am, apparently, a fair weather “farmer”, at best!

The daughter went into work and called at 7:30am to let me know it was raining in Broadway. Soooo, guess I ‘m not going to sell at the market, and  by a little before 9am, it was pouring here, so it’s a no go this weekend.

Took all the baked goods, and put them in a box to be mailed to my son on Monday. Somebody’s gotta eat them!!!

I am planning to be at the market next weekend, but the husband may not be able to help me – so we will have to see. I have my new canopy, and am much more organized!!! Don’t think I can raise and lower the canopy by myself tho – we need a practice run at home!! If I don’t go next weekend – it will be the following weekend for sure – I may actually have real produce by then!!! Once the gardens start producing, I’ll be out there every weekend! In these economic times, in a small town, it is easier to sell produce than lavender wands or apple pincushions!!!

By noon today, the sun was out, and the husband wanted to go to the co-op’s open house – free lunch and entertainment! Woohoo!!

We went, it was a very nice gathering of all the patrons of the co-op. For those of you who aren’t in the know (and believe me, I wasn’t in the know, til I moved here!) the co-op is the Rockingham Cooperative – the place where you get everything from farm machinery,  plants for the garden, farm supplies, animal feed and meds, and fencing.  You can also get local gossip, tips on a job, or the best place to buy something if the co-op doesn’t carry it!

Yesterday, the employees were furiously cleaning and painting and moving stuff around, to make room for the food and ice cream freezer. A little stage with a canopy for the musicians was set up outside, and straw bales for sitting lined the loading dock and parking lot. All sorts of items were on sale, the representatives from the main office and different suppliers were there with coupons and free food and drink.

The young man playing the guitar, was saying how it was so hot and humid out, that his fingers get soft and makes it more difficult to strum the guitar. He was on his break, on the long line inside to get lunch.

We got our pork sandwiches, roast beef sandwiches, mac salad and chips, and took our place on a straw bale. Ice cream sandwiches in 3 flavors were the dessert of the day~and a local country trio, or was it a quartet, serenaded us with bluegrass tunes.

I’ve begun to recognize a few faces – our neighbors were there, the lady from the thrift store, various Mennonite families, plus alot of local folk  I’ve yet to meet.

The local feeling is you don’t get much for free at the co-op, so when they are offering free lunch – you go!! I think that is just some gentle ribbing- the co-op’s the best shopping in town!!

I wanted to take more pictures – especially of the folk sitting on the straw bales, enjoying their food and their neighbors. But still being a bit of an outsider – I didn’t want to draw more attention by being intrusive and snapping too many pics! It was really a study in rural americana, hard working , regular people- not the fancy urban types you see within the Beltway or any metropolitan city or suburb. These are real people, that have been living their lives this way for generations- and it’s really not a bad way to live!

I love the co-op. As I ‘ve written before, when I first moved here, I was afraid to go in – I stuck out like a sore thumb, and felt I really didn’t fit in. And, I probably didn’t!!! I still don’t really fit in – but they know my name, and everyone is very nice and helpful – and it is one of my favorite places in town to go!!!

My dogs love it when I go there – and they KNOW when I’ve been there. They get giant dog biscuits – 4 biscuits- 3/4 lb each time. We don’t even have to weigh them any more!! Sunny even got to go in with me one time – and I could see the bells go off in his mind as he headed straight to the biscuit bin!! Soooo, this is where she gets them………….!!!

We headed home, and after stopping to rescue a box turtle sunbathing on the double yellow line(!), we  pulled in the driveway to discover the killdeer eggs on the edge of the driveway, have finally hatched! Eggs # 1 and 2  were running around, with mom frantically trying to protect them from the huge car monster.

The former occupant of egg number 3 was drying out in the hot sun, flat on the gravel, a little dazed by his efforts to break free. Egg # 4 had hatched while we were at the co-op. Number 4 was still wet  and exhausted – his little rear just clear of the egg shell.  Unlike  most other baby  birds, Killdeer hatch almost ready to run. They are fully feathered, and just need time to dry off , fluff out and recoup from the hard work of breaking thru a shell! They are a member of the plover family and look very much like the birds you see zipping along the sand on the beach.

As the hatching time grows near – the mother becomes more frantic, putting on her wounded bird act, to draw predators and nosy humans away from her nest.

When the first egg was laid, on May 20, we marked the nest with a huge orange traffic cone – so no one would run over the eggs. There is no real nest, it is just a depression in the rocks, always in the most inappropriate place – right along the edge of the driveway, too near the road for me! What are these birds thinking!?!?! Every year, we keep an eye out and search for the eggs, and mark it with a cone, much to the amusement of the neighbors, I’m sure!

We marked the calendar for the approximate hatching date from the day the first egg was laid- and it went a few days over . But, if you figured the hatching date from the day the last egg was laid – today was exactly the right day.

I’ll miss being on killdeer watch, but am relieved to be able to move the cone and not worry about someone running them over!!!

One of the baskets of goodies that did not make it to the Farmers market today!

One of the baskets of goodies that did not make it to the Farmers market today!

Big time Saturday afternoon at the co-op

Big time Saturday afternoon at the co-op

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musical entertainment

musical entertainment on the loading dock

Unappreciative, but rescued turtle!

Unappreciative, but rescued turtle!

parent Killdeer, doing the broken wing act, in an attempt to draw me away from the babies.

parent Killdeer, doing the broken wing act, in an attempt to draw me away from the babies.

Baby #3, almost ready to run. See egg #4 in the lower right corner?

Baby #3, almost ready to run. See egg #4 in the lower right corner?

#3, two hours later, with newly hatched #4

#3, two hours later, with newly hatched #4

Where's Waldo? Can you spot #2 (or is it #1) trying to blend in?

Where's Waldo? Can you spot #2 (or is it #1) trying to blend in?

Very vocal parent- when her broken wing approach didn't work on this pesky human!

Very vocal parent- when her broken wing approach didn't work on this pesky human!

Thanks for spending Saturday with me, an average day, in a small town, in rural America!!

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All is well, sunny (for a change) and peaceful, at Mountain Meadows this Saturday afternoon……………………



Yesterday was my first day as a vendor at the local Farmers’ Market.

I was cool, until I woke up yesterday morning, and was instantly a nervous wreck!!! Thank goodness DH was able to go with me!! He drives me crazy, but he keeps me sane!!!

Since I don’t have a canopy yet, I was thankful that it was overcast!  It turned out to be a very nice morning! Not the greatest in sales, but I’m the new kid on the block. I sold a few things, made a few friends, and had a local friend or two show up to support me.

My vegetables are not in yet, so the farmers who have them, had the best sales. There are the loyal customers, who come back every year, looking for their favorite veggie or pie. And it helps to be a “local”, so you pretty much know everyone who walks by. I don’t have that luxury, only having lived here 2  1/2 years.

I did sell a lavender eye mask, some teas, scones and pound cake. Having samples out to taste helps!! As I was unloading the car, a lady bought several of my bird house gourds before I even had a chance to put them out! Woohoo!!

Of course, the vendors buy from each other- I got some wonderful lettuce, the quality and price of which FAR surpasses produce from the big chain supermarkets. I just finished my own lettuce, and  am starting a new lettuce crop, so was happy to buy from my neighbor. It might be a little too hot for lettuce now, but I will see how it goes.

One of the produce vendors raises llamas, and he is going to bring me some fleece next week – woohoo!!!

The camaraderie at the sale soon put me at ease. I got advise about chickens, something I hope to have very soon. Also got insight into the chicken industry, which is a big thing out here. Advice on growing vegetables, and keeping bugs away was freely given. And, found100_3990 out that one of the vendors lives right across the road from me!!

Everyone is willing to share about pricing- so that no one is undercutting anyone else. Prices are all pretty equal and fair. I sold my first couple of bird house gourds, unpainted, for 75 cents each – I was informed the going rate is $2!!!! Since I was the only one selling them (apparently they sell like gangbusters in the fall), my price was not a problem. But it will be up to $2 next week!! guess I better plant some more for next year!!!

My best tip of the day – which I intend to try out today – was how to eradicate flies!!! Now if you have read any of my previous posts, you know flies are the bane of my existance!!! Hate ’em and they drive me (and my horses) nuts!!!

I had noticed this “remedy” on the door of a local shop – and had no idea what it was!! Apparently, and no one knows why it works, but swear it does, if you fill a ziploc baggie with water and duct tape it near a door, or any area where flies get inside- they will stay away!!

Our flies get in thru the garage entry to the house, and also thru the doggie door. If this method works, I will be a happy camper!!! The ladies at the market suggested I try it in the barn also – but I would have to literally wallpaper the barn walls with water filled baggies!! I don’t understand how a little baggie of water will repel flies, when a water bucket or trough has no effect- but I am going to give it a shot!!!

So, all in all, it was a great morning at the market. I will be getting a canopy this week, mom is woodburning a sign to hang on the canopy, and I am working on a quilted one for the table. I may even have some zucchini ready to sell by next weekend!

DH manning my table

DH manning my table

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All is well, with some actual sun, at Mountain Meadows, early this Sunday morning………………………………………….

I started a post on life and death, nature, and survival of the fittest, and when I reread the draft, decided it was a bit too dour.

Instead, I will just do a short post on the wonderful Miss Lilly. I wonder how high my blog stats will shoot with that title?? LOL

I have written about Miss Lilly before – she is so adorable, and if she were a little girl – she would be spoiled and would shake her head and stamp her feet when she doesn’t get her way. She is a little equine girl, who shakes her head, and stamps her feet, when she doesn’t get her way!!!

In the first picture, she is not wearing some form of medieval torture. she is wearing a fly mask and grazing muzzle. The flies are horrendous, and the mask keeps them out of her eyes and off her face. The mask does not impair her vision – I’ve looked thru them to make sure!! The horses don’t wear the masks at night, or when it’s raining. If they roll in the mud with these on – then they really can’t see where they are going sometimes!!

The grazing muzzle is worn during the day. Lilly had eaten too much grass and was in the beginning stages of laminitis. When the grass is further into the growing stage,and her feet look better, she will be relieved of the muzzle. She might even be a tad thinner!!! She can still eat grass with the muzzle, it is just more of a challenge!!

Her men are the “big guy” and the “old man”. They weren’t too fond of her at first. But, now they all get along, and the old man uses her for a scratching post to ease his itchy face. She hangs around him for the feed that he tosses on the ground. So, it is a mutually beneficial relationship!

All dolled up!

All dolled up!

The angel

The angel

Ready for my closeup, Mr. deVille, uh, mom!!!!!

Ready for my closeup, Mr. deVille, uh, mom!!!!!

Miss Lilly's men retaining their air of mystery behind those masks...

Miss Lilly's men retaining their air of mystery behind those masks...

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All is well and peaceful at Mountain Meadows tonite…………..

Economic times being what they are, it seems like EVERYONE is getting into gardening nowadays!

Whispering is overheard at the co-ops and hardware stores – better get your canning jars now – so many new people have been coming in to buy them – that when we need ’em – they’ll be all gone!!!

That appears to be true. But, I have all I need. Altho’, this year, we have doubled our garden space, with a new corn and potato garden down by the river.

My regular garden, thanks to Mr. Green Jeans, is moving along quite nicely!! All the seeds have finally poked thru the ground. The last to show face were the parsnips, preceded by the carrots and tomatoes. Tomatoes proved to be a little more difficult to grow by seed out doors. I probably should have started them inside long ago. But I’m not worried – I have plenty of tomatoes of all kinds happily growing- cherry, yellow striped, a variety of heirlooms, along with a selection of beefy sandwich types. A late cold spell killed just about all of my first planting. I have learned that you can protect certain plants from frost – but NOT from the cold.

Gardens everywhere were sprouting plastic tubs and milk containers a couple of weeks ago, in an effort to save young plants.

But, we have rebounded from that cold – having more rain than we know what to do with and sunny days in between.

The National Gardening Association tells us that a 600 square foot garden (average sized) will produce 300 pounds of vegetables WOW!!! That would be worth about $600 – after spending maybe $70 to get it all going!

That is not hard to believe, considering the one year, in our old house in suburbia, I was bringing in 20+ pounds of tomatoes every other day- and that was with only 6 or 7 plants.

Farmers’ Market – here I come!!! It is alot of work – altho Mr. Green Jeans does most of the heavy work – I do the weeding and nurturing and harvesting. As DH mows, he takes the grass clippings and spreads them around the garden to keep the weeds under control. And, I am proud to say – so far, my gardens are pesticide free- and I hope they can remain that way. We are still working on perfecting the “pest” free – keeping the rabbits, groundhogs and other little critters out of there!!

I have started more seedlings, and the garage has turned out to be the perfect place for that! Who needs a greenhouse?? The garage stays nice and warm, and is light enough for the little ones to grow. Altho, a greenhouse might be a nice little project some day!!

The herbs have been relocated to the garden by the front porch. One side is dedicated to lavender, the other a mix of flowers and herbs. It does make it easier when I need something fresh for dinner!

The guys are coming tomorrow, weather permitting , to put the trusses and roof on the new pole barn that DH built. All this to house the Kubota and the 1st 600 bales of hay, that we may get to cut, if it ever stops raining long enough for the ground to dry out!

Homegrown lunch!!

Homegrown lunch!!

Partial row of tomatoes (pre-weeding and rototilling!)

Partial row of tomatoes (pre-weeding and rototilling!)

My little friend, who thoroughly enjoyed the misting I gave the seedlings!!

My little friend, who thoroughly enjoyed the misting I gave the seedlings!!

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As the day draws to a close, all is well, and growing nicely, at Mountain Meadows this evening…………………………………..