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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Woolly bear caterpillars

Fall seems to have arrived while I wasn't looking this week.  As I rushed out the door this morning, late for my off-farm job, I was taken aback by the feeling of the farm.  Piggles had not come out to greet me, teenage chickens were not eagerly chirping at the removal of their protective tarp, rabbits were huddled in cage corners and barely moved as I ushered them a hurried greeting and headed out the door, and the leaves on the big maple behind the piggle pen have gone a blush in just a few short days.  The air has been crisp this week, but not so much that I stopped to notice as I feed rabbits and open up chicken enclosures.

This morning, was different. 

I thought to myself as I threw my lunch cooler in the passenger seat, that the dew was really heavy.  I jammed the key into the ignition, tore on my seat belt, hit the defroster button, and turned on the windshield wipers.  As I pulled the gear shift down into drive, I heard the unmistakable crunch as the wipers pushed a layer of frost off the side of the SUV. 

My heart skipped a beat.

In my rush to accomplish end of summer harvests, beginning of fall preparations, worries about finances, and a smidgen of house cleaning, I had missed a frost warning.  Maybe the woolly bear caterpillars who I have seen in the last few weeks without a speck of black on them were right, winter will be here before we know it and it is going to be a doozy.

The geraniums that have been on this farm for generations were still in the flower beds.
Herbs that I want to overwinter were in their various summer homes.
Tomatoes and eggplant remain in the garden waiting to be harvested.

I backed out of my parking spot and headed up the hill, the piggles poked their heads from inside their house just enough to acknowledge my presence, but I was far from important enough to leave that warm spot.  My 30 minute ride to work allowed me time to reassure myself that all was not lost. 

Only half the flower bed has been weeded so the overgrown weeds have probably protected the geraniums from the worst of the frost damage.  The garden hasn't been weeded in weeks so the tomatoes and eggplant were certainly nestled in.  My herb garden has been much better tended so I might lose some of them, but herb seeds can be started indoors anytime. And on my way back into the house this evening, I was greeted by this little creature.  He shows a nice long fall and a bit of a winter, but far from all orange - I think he is my new best friend!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What should I work on next?

Daylight hours seem to be in incredibly short supply around here lately. As I look around at all that remains to be done when I return to the farm, I can wear myself out just thinking about it if I am not careful. It has been a busy summer with plans to begin part-time employment delayed well into the latter part of June and a brief interlude in August of full-time training for my new part-time job.
I continue to look ahead and do my best to keep the sense of
How the <insert expletive here> am I going to get in front of this?
from entering my mind every time I look away from whatever task is at hand.
I manage to get through it, but I have to remind myself to take it one project or job at a time and maintain a separate a running list of that which I hope to accomplish before the snow flies.  A guest in my head might hear a dialogue something like this -

If I am going to be able to park my car in the garage this winter, I need to get the rabbit shed finished - but the rabbits can be moved even when there is snow on the ground - mowing the Christmas trees has to be done before it snows.

Mowing the Christmas trees requires fuel for the lawn tractor and the big tractor but the big tractor has a broken hose which also requires cash. I have enough fuel for the big tractor if I can get the hose fixed, at least a quick pass with the brush hog before snow is better than nothing at all and we might be able to shear once we can find the trees - add that to the list for this week.

The darn chickens have pooped on the back porch again.

Produce that is slated for preservation sits on the table in our mudroom waiting for canning jars or freezer space, roosters that are almost four months old wait for time when little man is snoozing so that they can be butchered, two rabbits who are no longer producing need to be culled so that there is more cage space for growing litters.  All of these require me to defrost the freezer so that there is room to store some of this food for the winter - add that to the list for this week.

I should clean the litter box.

Because the plastic wasn’t installed properly on the greenhouse, repairs are required if I want to grow greens for the winter and hope to get a head start on spring plants- that needs a cash outlay for new plastic - that one will have to wait another week.

Another darned spider web, didn’t I just clean one out of here this morning?

I should get a load of laundry started, reminder to self to check to see if the well has refilled enough to switch from our back-up water supply.
It is no wonder I am exhausted!
As I sit in my rocking chair with little man at the end of the day, the dialogue calms to a dull roar and I reassure myself that everything will work out.  Little man smiles up at me with those big, blue, sleepy eyes and I know that my callused feet, aching back, extra yawns from lack of sleep, tripping over baby toys as I fly through the kitchen, extra flies, chicken poop on the porch, never ending to-do list, and even a dry well are all worth it.
Wandering Moose Farms Scorecard
Pigs – 2
Layers – 13
Pullets – 23
Roosters – 8
Rabbits – 72
Cats – 5
Dog – 1
Humans – 3