summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Friday, May 30, 2014

It Will Get Better

My garden continues to display, or rather not display, the effects of a difficult winter and a cool, wet spring.


The early spring blooming flowers were sparse to non-existent.


Now, the mid-spring blooms seem to be following that direction and creating an unpleasant trend.


The bearded iris and peonies were mostly foliage accompanied with very few blooms.  Both these perennials are normally abundant with flowers, but not this year.  In total, my three peony plants exhibited a paltry three, and uncharacteristically, small flowers.


The Siberian and Japanese irises performed better, but the amount of floweing was still less than previous years.

The weeds and grass growing among these flower beds are profuse. They did not seem to be hindered by the negative conditions.  Also, these obnoxious, unwanted species are taking over the spaces left open by perennials that did not survive - ugh!

So, I take extra delight in the colorful blossoms that dot my gardens that managed to survive the punishing elements of a not-so-kind season.

As I dig out the strong and well-rooted weeds, as I replant many voids, I continually glance up and out about my garden to enjoy each and every flower that stands strong. 


And, I smile.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

They Were Cute

Lambing season is just about over.  The initial number of births was good.  And, like always, the little lambs are always so cute.

this old ewe delivered triplets, so to ease her stress I am bottle-feeding the mostly white cutie

newborn lambs love to sleep

Unfortunately, we have had a major problem this season…coyotes, hungry coyotes, at that!


Since introducing sheep to our farm three years ago, we have always had coyote predators and a few local dogs reducing our flock. But, this year, that reduction has increased drastically. Those cute, little lambs do not look so cute dead, headless and half-eaten.  (You would think the coyote could be considerate enough to eat the entire lamb rather than kill and nibble.)


Glenn has tried hunting, moving the flock closer to the house for the night (when the deadly offenses take place), and obtaining advice from locals with more knowledge of these ‘killing machine’ animals.  Nothing, to date, has deterred our coyotes.


The latest modus operandi is keeping the flock with the cattle (usually we separate the ewes away from the cattle during lambing - those cows easily step on those tiny lambs) at all times, hoping that the cattle would provide more protection.  Our donkey Jenny, obtained for that purpose, has been ineffective. But, combining the cows, calves, ewes and lambs does not seem to have slowed the coyote(s).


Our potential future options would be:  1. Liquidate our sheep flock - but, we like the sheep.  2.  Get a guard dog - but, we think such a dog would become more of a family pet than guard dog. 3.  Refence all our sheep enclosures with tighter mesh fencing to prevent the coyotes from going through the fence - of course, they could still dig under it.  And, 4. Spend the entire night among the sheep - after all, that is what ‘real’ shepherds do. Matt is the only one willing to follow through on option four, but he is not available.


We are still considering these options.


In the meantime, the flock gets smaller, and smaller, and smaller.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Most Unlikely Visitor

Glenn, Becky and another pair of hands, not mine, worked the sheep and cattle most of the day.


I stayed up the house catching up on laundry, dishes, and the like.


Glenn called me.


He informed me that he caught a goose.  Now, how did he catch a goose?


Yes…we have a pair or more Canada geese that frequent our pond, but surely these geese would not let Glenn catch them.


Then, he said this goose was about 3 inches by three inches.  Oh, a baby goose?


Evidently, as the three health-checked the sheep and band-castrated the ram lambs, this little ball of fuzz just waddled through the waiting flock to them.  The sheep did not seem to mind the unlikely visitor.


Becky wandered around the area to see if she could find a nest or parents.  She found neither.


Of course, with that phone call, I had to take my hike down to the working area to see the baby goose for myself.


A baby goose is much larger than a baby chick.  The down felt almost hair-like and was a beautiful golden brown. And, the obvious is that it has webbed feet.  Those webs were so soft and supple.


What happened to the adult geese and, surely, other baby goslings?


But, most importantly, what do we do with an orphaned baby goose?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Disappointing Spring

Following an unending winter, this spring had to be the coldest on record since moving to Virginia over 20 years ago.


First, many of my perennials and shrubs failed to emerge/break bud this spring. 


Then, just as the spring flower buds were about to burst open with color and fanfare, we received several days of freezing temperatures.  My wisteria, for one, normally overflowing with pendulous  lavender blooms that exude buckets of sweetness was reduced to one, yes one - that is an easy count, blossom.


The daffodils were fair at best.  The lilac flowers…non-existent.  I am still holding comment on the fate of all my irises.


The money plant proved to be a true champion.  This plant displays lovely deep purple blooms that last for weeks.

my original money plant location

And, fortunately for me, it is growing all over my gardens.  Not by my design, but by the plant’s character.  Once established in the original planting bed, this plant relocated (via wind blowing the decorative seed pods) just about everywhere. 


growing among my spiderwort

growing among my daylilies

hiding my chicken yard decoration
growing next to a poppy which is growing in a walkway
growing among the candytuft

growing next to my cut-off miniature barberry...and growing, in what seems to be, a million other places


I am glad that I had maintained my reluctance to pull the rebel plants out last fall.


Those purple flowers are sheer joy in this iffy spring.


 hummingbird clearwing moth arrived just as I was taking this photo
Now, the purple rhododendron and magenta azalea are near full bloom.  Both are gorgeous.


this azalea is very brittle and the dogs always managed to break a branch or two or three...this is the biggest and the best it has ever looked since I planted and babied it close to ten years now
Spring is turning out to be just fine.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Staunton Farmers Market - Introducing Becky's Barnyard


Today, was Becky’s FIRST Farmers Market experience as a seller…a producer of farm fresh, naturally raised meat and eggs.  And, I was able to capture/share the experience because I was present as the cheap, as in free, help.


My day began by waking and getting up at 3:00 AM instead of the planned 4:00 AM.


Becky arrived by 4:30 to start packing all the remaining supplies and paraphernalia (in addition to what she already packed at her house) gathered at my house. And, I do mean ALL.  Besides the eggs, lamb and pork, we had two tables, one chair, a  large 10’ X 10’ canopy, tablecloths, a sandwich-style dry-erase easel, a pig silhouette painted with blackboard paint, a photo album, a decorative chicken, a potted Gerber daisy which held a blackboard-painted mini sign-on-a-stick, a basket, business cards, price lists, three calculators (just in case of battery failure),  tape, twine, scissors, chalk, pens, pencils, receipt pads, camera,  farm name banner (made my me - I have to get back to my sewing  - I am losing my skills) and money box.   Beef will not be ready for another two weeks. 


We left the farm by 5:30 to arrive at the Staunton Farmers Market venue by 6:00 to have a full hour of set -up which included erecting the borrowed 10’ X 10’ canopy - what fun!  Actually, the set-up was a breeze and quite painless.  Needless to say, it is challenging to create an attention-grabbing display when the products you are selling are frozen and hidden away in coolers.  The display will always be a ‘work in progress’ as Becky tries different visuals to entice market attendees to become her market buyers.


Then, we waited.  And, we waited.


The Wednesday Farmers’ Market is not as well attended as the one offered on Saturdays. This we discovered quite early in the day.  The other vendors praised the Saturday market as the ‘sell out’ market.  These vendors attend both markets. Wednesdays is the lesser market day.


Becky chose the Wednesday market for two reasons.  One reason was to be a vendor in a less crowded market for her first exposure as a vendor and the second reason was to be the only meat/egg vendor at the market.  Was giving up numbers as in buyers for the opportunity to be the exclusive vendor of meat and eggs worth it in terms of overall sales?  Only time will tell.  Becky is hoping it is.


But, for now, it is time to take a well-deserved nap. Next Wednesday is a mere seven days away and I need to recuperate.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's A Boy, and A Girl, and A Boy, and Another Boy, and ...

Becky’s first litter of pig was born yesterday…and, like all babies, they are so cute! We believe there are 6 males and 3 females.

Can you count the nine?

My first glimpse of them was just hours after they were born.  They were all huddled together and taking naps while mother sow was off, but nearby, eating and drinking.


When Mom returned, having a few extra humans around did not seem to bother her. 


Glenn went right into the pen and wanted to determine the sex of each piglet.  Becky wanted a picture of herself with one of the newbies.  I even wanted to hold one.


They are not as little as I expected.  They were solid ‘little porkers’ with a firm but soft snout.  The best part was that they did not have a squeal yet.  We all held the little tikes and each one was quite quiet.  Glenn informs us that won’t last long. 


Now, the challenge is to keep them alive.  Sows have a tendency to roll over and do not care much what they are rolling over…their babies included.



Friday, May 2, 2014

Apple Blossoms

I thought the last freeze we had only several nights back was the doom to our apple blossoms.


Thankfully, I was wrong.


Today, all three apples trees are full of blossoms and bees.  As a light breeze blows, the petals release into the air like a delicate snowfall.


And, the scent…amazingly fresh, but subtle.  During my day, I make sure to take several trips past the trees to imbibe on the sweet scent.  I have only a few precious days during the season to take advantage of nature’s original apple blossom perfume. 


Then, come fall, I now know that I will have delicious, crunchy apples to savor. 


My apple angst has eased.