The Goings On – June 2023

As Summer takes full hold of Southern Alabama, there are a few things that become common place. In our neighborhood, the sound of little ones playing with each other & their puppy dogs is welcomed chime that reverberates in the wind. Around lunch, the many working parents come home and check in on their young ones, some transporting children for summer activities while others are placed back on track for their daily chores, and by afternoon, it is quiet. The roosters occasionally join the birds in song, slowly giving way to the buzzing of pollinators with the sporadic humming bird tossing a hum here and there. This is one of the scenes we invite into our summers each year. Other scenes, however, are not so alluring.

Constant Rain & Thunderstorms

It is an uncommon situation to complain of too much rain in the summers of Alabama, yet it is precisely what I find myself doing. It seems as soon as hurricane season arrived the scary weather ensued. High winds, weather sirens, flash flooding, & lightening strikes were a week long or more occurrence during this month. Some nearby towns even experienced tornado damage leveling buildings and homes. Our hearts go out to those who experienced such power up close and personal. Our homestead was fortunately not terribly affected. We have still a lot of loose leaves to rake and random items to reorganize but we are truly thankful to be ok.

The skies create such ominous art just to become something completely different by the time the storm is over, sometimes minutes apart.

Heat Advisories

The wind presented some challenges with our last week of the Flowers by BHG Spring session. Many of our flowers sustained damage or were broken altogether. Thankfully, we were at the end of this session, and the flowers we grew in the protection of Hoopty were able to fill the gaps of what was lost. This reminded us of a valuable lesson to never put all our eggs, one basket. The reminder even changed our planting schedule for the remaining of the season. Inclement weather is fully out of our control. However, by splitting crops between the high tunnel & fields, should there be damaging winds or heavy rain, as there have been, some of our crops can be persevered. That is a door that swings both ways. In the case of extreme heat or pest, infestation in the high tunnel, field planted crops would be the surviving crops. Of course, we prefer there be no issues limiting our bounty. One can dream.

We all know that Summer in Southern Alabama comes with a vengeance. This is not a new development. No matter how old the news is, it is no easier to deal with! Previous years, before livestock, we would simply wait the summer out, only being outdoors early mornings or late evenings. Now that we have chickens & rabbits to tend to, the summer brings more chaos and concern than ever before! Along with ensuring that plants are watered and shaded adequately to thrive, we must do the same for the animals. This means checking on them throughout the day, especially when temps rise above 90°, to make sure they not only have water but that it is nice and cool. At times, they will get frozen snacks. Other times, ice in their waterers is enough. It takes diligent effort to keep them happy and healthy.

Minor Inconveniences

As some of you know, I personally deal with several chronic health issues. Most of my diagnoses are related to bone, joint, and nerve issues, which at times can greatly limit my mobility. It is in those times, which seem to happen more often as I age, that planting schedules fall behind and we have losses. Although I do not participate in much of the manual labor for the farm due to my health, when you are family owned and operated every effort counts. Since my husband works full time for the family and volunteers time to assist our congregation, his time for doing such things is limited. While our 16 year old hopes to complete high school a year early, she is still working towards completion. Our oldest son has a home, pets, and a full-time job, so his time is golden as well. So you see, there are very few laborers available most days to do the many chores to be done. However, maintaining the day-to-day things, our daughter, myself, and my brother do manage, & quite well, I may add. You see, my brother, while intellectually disabled, is physically sound. We joke and say we make a whole person together. I seldomly address my physical limitations in the blog in times past because I have tried not to be defined by it, rather to be strengthened by enduring it. Oddly enough I hold myself to high standards (so I’m told) even with my physical limitations. This has suited me well over the years. Most of the careers I have chosen – nursing, photographer, farmer, homesteader – require good physical ability. I may be a little crazy but I love to succeed where it is not so clear to the naked eye that I will. I remember being a young child recuperating from surgery. I was in what, looking back, must have been physical therapy. That was the first memory I have of my mom telling me to wipe the word can’t from my vocabulary. Mom lovingly pushed me to do the best I can at everything but especially the things that are difficult. To this day that mentality drives me. I does require balance, admittedly. I think that as long as my endeavors are so for the right reasons, I will continue to have the support of my family and friends but most importantly, my God – the foundation of my victories, small and great.

When there are more items on the to-do list, such as fall planting that needs to be started yesterday, that we run into issues. Being a grower with significant health issues definitely has its challenges. I find it does make me more efficient, however. Each step must count, as there are limited ones I’ll have before the body rebels. I often leave the house with my garden apron full of many random items and seeds heading up the hill to the high tunnel. I’ll remain for hours should body and temperatures hold out. The saying. ” you may come running over but you’ll be limping back” comes to mind. I have to laugh at myself. Many times, the endorphins from doing what I love overrides the discomfort until I’m done. Our daughter calls me an overachiever because I push myself. They all look after me very well!. even the dog I can’t be trusted to my own devices. I’m to determined to do what I love because what I love is what my family, in fact every family on the plant needs – to be growing clean food with their own hands. Let not these minor inconveniences get in the way.

Spring & Summer In Review

If I had to use one word to describe the Spring and Summer growing seasons I think it would have to be interesting. While we had wonderful success with crops we hadn’t previously like kohlrabi and collards, other produce items that are generally easy to grow for us such as okra, cucumbers, and squash just did not do well! At one point I really expected someone to confiscate my farmer card. Squash = I mean, COME ON! Thankfully, friends and fellow farmers Hawkins Homestead Farm has been able to supply us with some goodies we’ve had trouble with. We got some big, beautiful cucumbers from them recently. We were thankful to have them as a source for organic produce. Right now they have their Seasonal Farm Box available for purchase. If you are local to the Dothan, Al area, consider supporting their farm.

I do realize that anything we are able to harvest from the land is something to rejoice about. Therefore I’m attempting to adjust my thinking from success and failure to more of growth, still learning, and could improve.

Our subscription services ran fairly smoothly this season so we can put them in the growth column. We hope to gain even more supporters and the years go on. Ideally we would like to support more local restaurants. That is why we attended a Restaurant and Farmer Networking Event hosted by Sweet Grown Alabama at the end of June. The idea was to bring locally grown products to the attention local stores and restauranters. I have to say it was very nice and informative.

The most growth we have had thus far I feel to be our chickens. They are growing nicely and last years new additions started laying just when we needed them to. I’ve really dropped the ball and haven’t taken individual photos of the teens yet. It is our hope that the teens that are slowly being integrated into existing flocks will begin to lay in by late summer or early Fall. Either way, come Spring 2024 we should have an even more beautiful array of home grown butt nuggets!

Those local to our area please feel free to check out our shop page as we have just updated listings adding our roselle leaves and eggs!! Till next time!