Where did August go?

It’s been quite a month, quite a summer actually. You will notice none of these pictures show progress or completion on the various house painting projects that are STILL on the go (third summer, sigh). We weren’t idle however. The girls made raspberry jelly at the end of July, the younger girl picked 50 lbs of plums most of which she sold, and she picked a few more pounds for me to make plum sauce and chutney.

The older girl has picked up a job at the deli in the grocery store in the village, but at the beginning of August was still valiantly trying to do farm stuff, work and have a social life. Now that she is getting ready for university in a few weeks, farming has definitely taken a back seat. Her new plan for her little layer flock (no pictures, but they’re beautiful little pullets – Columbian Rocks and Red Rock Crosses)is to raise them to point of lay and sell them on the local equivalent to Craigslist.

The younger girl has been busy too. She’s whittling away at her end of the painting job, she’s almost finished her online math course (Math 11 Pre-calc), and in addition to picking plums, our neighbour (age 86) broke his ankle (fell of a ladder while pounding in a T post for his bean trellis) and asked if he could hire her for the rest of the summer to walk their dog, and do housework and odd jobs. Plus she’s doing the usual amount of chores here. She’s managed to get some time with friends despite all – an evening at the fireworks at Butchart Gardens, and a few Wednesday evenings at the music in the park in the village.

Due to poor planning, just about the time the little layer chicks turned 3 weeks old, the 150 broiler chicks arrived. The brooder got pretty busy. About then, the weather switched on a few degrees warmer, and our problem quickly became keeping the chicks from getting TOO hot. This week, we got the broilers out on the field which is much better. The layer chicks are still stuck inside because their new home is still occupied by the old layer flock (well, 20 of them, hubby and I processed 25 of them a few weeks ago).

The pigs are thriving. Big pig is around 200 lbs, little pig slightly less. We had a fun morning the other day moving the fence together, the pigs and I, so they could have fresh pasture. Let me just say that this is not a good job to share with pigs. They are just way too helpful. However, they have new pasture – with shade, which delights them, and they have been hard at work building a new wallow. This pair of pigs are expert wallow builders. Their wallows have walls, with an edge above ground level. And room for two to wallow comfortably. I’ll have to do a post another time to show you.

From worrying about being able to sell my extra side of pork when a customer who’d ordered a side in January backed out in May (“I thought I ordered a lamb from you”, she said), I now have the much nicer situation of having a waiting list of 3. Wow. And to think my husband was worried that I’d priced the pork too high. The fact is good pork takes time and money to produce.

Around the time the little layer chicks began flying out of their side of the brooder, and the heat was at it’s most intense for the broiler chicks, was about the time the pigs started dumping their water bucket at various points in the day. This was also about the time that hubby and I went on our three day jaunt to celebrate our 25th anniversary. It was a nutso time to leave the farm in the hands of the not exactly idle teenagers. I wrote a 2 page oporder, which I don’t believe they touched. I had back up plans to back up plans for fans and hoses etc for pigs and broiler chicks. I forgot to buy in favourite teen food before I left, but hubby pointed out (on the ferry where I was bemoaning this) that one of them worked in a grocery store for pete’s sake, they won’t starve). The girls managed marvellously, and nature was kind and provided a spectacular thunder storm the first night we were away followed by rain and fog for the next two days.

Hubby and I went to the Olympic Peninsula, staying in Port Townsend for two nights. We spent our first morning up on Hurricane Ridge, which we had last visited 26 years before, the week after we were engaged. Port Townsend was delightful, especially for sailors. Our bed and breakfast (Commanders Beach House) was amazing. I would happily have sat on the porch all day doing nothing, but…there were all these organic producers of veg, fruit and meat, wine, cheese, and cider. So we spent a full day exploring around the Chimacum and Sequim area, nibbling and sipping contentedly. Our favourite stop was Finnriver Cider Farm, where we tasted cider and wandered for a couple of hours. We drove home via Whidbey Island, where I had last been with the Navy about 30 years ago (and didn’t get to go ashore). What a beautiful spot, even in the fog.

The garden got away on me, but tomatoes are flowing into the kitchen, we’re still pulling some carrots, and the potatoes need to be dug. Lettuce has only just started to bolt, and the runner beans are producing like crazy. Some of them might qualify for longest bean at the fair in a week and a half.

Two nights ago, hubby and I were dawdling our way through the evening round of chores, enjoying the cool air and the sunset (this amounts to a date for us :)), when our friend Bryce phoned to see if we wanted to see the combine at work. He was harvesting a field just up the road from us – maybe 3 acres total, of malt barley, destined for Phillips Brewery. Those of you in the Mid-West might think this is not very exciting, but grain growing has been absent from the Island for much of the last 80 years, and Bryce is one of the few people with a combine in our area. We each got to ride around the field with Bryce, learning how the process works, seeing how complex the machine is to run. Very cool. And it put my summer in perspective, because Bryce told us that between hay, wheat, lentils and barley, he and his gang have been harvesting for 80 days straight. In between, making runs to the mill on the mainland to get wheat milled for the local bakery. My days suddenly don’t seem as impossible as I thought.

The Fall Fair is next weekend, Labour Day weekend, and always marks the end of summer round here, as the kids go back to school the next day. It rushed up on me, and I didn’t even realize how close it was till I saw the tents starting to go up the other day.

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12 thoughts on “Where did August go?

  1. A belated happy 25th anniversary wish to you both and yay to the girls for holding the fort while you were off on your jaunt. Had never thought of making raspberry jelly as it’s always been an all in jam/preserve in my little world. Definitely giving it a try! Hooray for the porkie waiting list and for the longest bean. Enjoy your Labour Day fair. Over here, we’re looking forward to the blossoms appearing with a vengence!

    • Thank you! Funny you saying that about the blossoms down there…I was thinking today as I went about the chores how much the air felt like it had in Queenstown in early March – that hot in the sun, but cool in the shade feeling. I guess we were there about 5 1/2 months ago, so the timing for our topsy turviness (wow, spell check doesn’t like that!) is just about right. Blossoms…you will be posting pictures, I hope!

  2. Busy busy busy…me too several hundred miles south. I’ve become a canning fool…this morning gleaned a bunch of plums and pears and have prepared so many different things I hope I label the jars right. I also recently took a part time job helping on a local farm until season ends (mid November??) so I will be putting my action where my admiration has been. Any advice for sore muscles? LOL

    • Stretches. Three times a day at least. Lavender bath salts (or put lavender in with your Epsom salts). Wine :). Congrats on the job. Bet it’s going to be a great experience (except for the muscles).

  3. Bill says:

    You’ve had a busy summer. But summers on a farm are like that, aren’t they? So glad you’ve got all your pigs sold. When we sold them the way you do we had someone back out once too, putting us in a bind since we didn’t have extra freezer space. We switched over to selling by the cut but if we did hog shares again we’d require a big deposit. Our pigs have hit their growth spurt stage. The biggest is about 180 lbs now and the next biggest is about 160. Soon it will be time to start thinking about how I’m going to get them to go in the trailer. 🙂

  4. Your summer is probably much busier than mine, with so much produce on the go and markets and all. I didn’t mention it in the post, but one of the things that made me feel a wee bit stressed about it all as the summer wore on was the fact that I was working extra hours – which I booked myself. They seemed like a good idea when I booked them, and I was careful to leave myself two days off plus Sunday, but it definitely wore me down, trying to hold it all together. The heat was another factor, which I shouldn’t even mention, given what you endure, but which has been really quite warm for us up here in the PNW. I know what you mean about the trailer…I was plotting about that when I was moving pig fence the other day, thinking how to arrange the fence so it would coincide with the tractor gate in mid September.

  5. Whew! You have been quite busy! Glad you were able to have some fun and celebrate your anniversary in between all of the work. I love the Port Townsend area. We almost bought property near Sequim, but the deal fell through at the last minute. It would have been a very easy area to market to.
    You are so lucky to have reliable teenagers to hold the fort down so you can take time off to get away from it all. We need to figure that out soon before we go crazy. Some time away together from the two properties would be grand. And that porch looks so inviting…

  6. You have no idea how much I count my blessings over these two girls. We are very lucky. Given where we live, I didn’t think the Port Townsend trip would be as much of a change as it was…I think it was really the absence of chores, the sheer grind of getting through everything, etc. that was the real vacation. We probably could have been in a B & B an hour away and had just as great a time.

    You two are putting so much energy and muscle and time into your property in Oregon, I can only imagine how exhausting it must be doing that weekends and short breaks while also maintaining your present home and commuting to work. I hope you are able to take a break some time soon, and I can highly recommend the Commander’s Beach House, though you won’t be able to take your dog(they have an elderly dog of their own).

    • Yes – you are definitely blessed! Says a lot about how they were raised.
      and funny you said Oregon – our property is about 30 minutes SW of Olympia ,so still in Washington – but the first property we tried to buy was in Oregon. We backed out of that one when the inspection revealed some soil issues… We searched for a couple of years all the way from Port Townsend down to Gold Beach, Oregon and ended up in somewhere in the middle.

      • Interesting. I wonder why I had the idea you’d bought in Oregon – in my head you were just over the line. Middle age brain, lol – I blame it a lot.

        The inland side of the Olympic Peninsula is beautiful, and some lovely, lovely land in there. And a thriving producer community. A lot like Vancouver Island actually, without the transportation limitations of living on an island (even a very large one). I’ve been to Olympia, (join the Navy, see the world – old slogan they used to advertise with), but not further south.

  7. Toward the end of a long week of teaching tech my class asked me to diagram and explain how a combine works. LOL.

    “[Pigs] are just way too helpful.” It’s fun when they decide to help themselves to more pasture without involving you. That’s why it si a good idea to train them to come when you call.

    Summer went fast this year. Maybe I’m just getting better at traveling forward in time.

  8. df says:

    I loved reading your update of a whirlwind month and summer! The raspberry jelly looks divine, so great your girls whipped up a batch. (I’m contemplating trying to fit in a second batch of strawberry jam as our local growers have been successful with a variety that is still producing fruit now.) Plum sauce looks yummy too. Those pigs are so big!! How did that happen? You must be absolutely thrilled to have a waiting list, that must feel good. Glad to hear you got a few days away to celebrate your anniversary, it sounds like it was a lovely few days. The Finnriver spot looks like a wonderful place to spent a bit of time. Hope you all enjoy your end of summer hurrah at the fair and are blessed with (at least reasonably) good weather for it.

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