Saturday, July 28

Farm Photo 7/28/07:
A Picture Perfect Walk In The Woods

Forest By Mother Earth

Accessories By Mother Nature

Something strange is going on. On July 16th, I took 81 photographs. I haven't taken a single one since. At some point during the past 12 days I stopped lugging around
my beloved camera and didn't even notice.

I'm blaming summer. I don't function well when it gets above 80 degrees (okay, okay 65). Toss in 90% humidity (yes, that's really what it is, I just checked), and my brain hangs out a giant Do Not Disturb sign, while my body wishes it could do the same. Even the smallest outdoor chores feel monumental.

When I moved from northern California to Missouri
back in 1994 it was November. And it was lovely. A big ice storm hit the small town we were staying in a few days after our arrival, and every single thing became encased in ice. While everyone else was huddled indoors staying warm, I bundled up and went for walks, admiring the glistening landscape that had magically appeared overnight. I felt as if I'd moved to Disneyland.

Then people began asking me if I'd been here in the summer yet. Lots of people. People who all said a variation of the exact same thing: "I thought it was humid in [insert nearly any state in the country here], but that was nothing compared to Missouri." I started getting very nervous. And unfortunately my fears did not go unfounded. Summer in southern Missouri must be experienced to be believed, and in a bad year you have from early May until late September to experience it.

I realize, of course, that there are many lizard-type people who think there is nothing better than lying on a burning hot rock in the scorching sun while most of the water in your body pours out of your skin at a medically alarming rate. It's too bad I'm not one of them. In my opinion, if you're not moving, you shouldn't be sweating profusely.

All of this whining is in fact leading to a point.

I know that many of you have come to believe I live a picture perfect life in a picture perfect place, and while I don't like to complain about all the bad stuff (and on a farm we definitely get our share of it), once in a while I think it's only fair to set you straight.

It's beautiful here. Really, really beautiful. Stops-me-in-my-tracks several times a day beautiful. My life is far from perfect, but I do in fact live in a picture perfect place. What you do not want to do, however, is actually climb into some of the pictures. Take the one at the top for example. I could have said nothing about it and simply let you believe that Bear and I were out for a pleasant stroll in the woods, enjoying nature and the crisp, refreshing air.

The reality, though, is that despite the early morning hour, it was already very hot and very muggy, and my clothes were completely soaked with sweat. A small part of my brain was functioning well enough to see the photo opportunity in front of me, but the rest of it was taken up with counting out how many more months until autumn on my fingers, and thinking about how much nicer everything would look if it were covered with several inches of snow. Right now it feels like a jungle. A jungle with pine trees.

I wasn't planning to write this. I was actually in the middle of watering the garden
and feeding insect-ravaged turnip greens and Swiss chard to Whitey and her not-so-baby-anymore chicks (yes, I promise a long overdue chick update is coming soon). I only popped inside to jot down a couple of notes before the sun zapped them right out of my mind, which is what's been constantly happening lately.

Originally I was going to post these two photos with nothing but their captions and let you think whatever you like. In retrospect, that may have been the better way to go. You could have stared contently at them, letting out a small sigh and taking in a deep breath of cool woodland air. But as they say, misery loves company, and so I thought it only fair to hit you head-on with a sweat-drenched, furnace-like blast of my summer reality instead. Besides, the longer I sit here and type, the longer I can stay holed up in my little office--the only room in The Shack with air-conditioning--before I have to open the door and step back out into those perfect pictures where there won't be any snow for months.

P.S. There are plenty of nice winter photos in the monthly archives located on the homepage sidebar
if you feel like cooling off.

© 2007, the sweat-drenched foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares photos & stories of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres—no matter what the weather.


  1. Like you, I also don't function well in the heat (my optimal temps are also below 65F--and I empathize with your love of ice and snow and all things freezing). But thank you for the pictures and describing them beyond that one sense of vision, and letting us into the tactile sensations of those moments.

    Your place does look so beautiful--and this heat-and-humidity-hating person thanks you for allowing me to experience your place without an ounce of sweat!

  2. I live in Wisconsin. People think it is the frozen tundra, but during July and August our lawns turn brown and we literally sweat our eyelashes off.

    But I love it all the same. And soon, very very soon, I will wake up to hear the high temp for the day is 12 degrees. And I will strap on my ski mask to walk the dog. But I so inspired by your adventures. My yard work and daily walks seem so enjoyable after reading your blog. There is magic in connecting with nature.

    Our family loves hearing about your farm. I show the photos to my tiny daughter and we bask in a world so very foreign to the great city life we lead! She especially loves the lambs and "chickies"!

    How you stay lucid in the heat. Thanks for sharing all of it!--

    A fan from Madison, WI

  3. I think it is full disclosure that you wrote about the heat. The other thing that sometimes surprises me is the variety of bugs, smells and spider webs! The spiders here build huge webs across every conceivable path around our place - so I look like a maniac (OK MORE of a maniac) walking around with a stick in the air above my head and slightly to the front of my body - waving it around to knock down the webs before they are plastered all over my skin. BUT - we both live in beautiful places and I'm not as anti-hot weather as you - but you have total sympathy from this country gal! Think glaciers and frostbite - without summer - fall isn't diddly and tall icey glasses of mojitos - a good use of all that mint you often have!

  4. My Wisconsin lawn is very, very thirsty right now. The good strong storms keep winding around us. I feel guilty for running air-conditioning, but right now it's 80+ for the fifth day in a row. Your woods looks wonderful; Mother Earth and Mother Nature provide such beauty.

  5. Hello, I live near a rainforest here in the Philippines and your nice picture looks like our walkways here! Yah, I know humidity like anything and it's really a bummer to do some walking in such a climate. Thanks for all the wonderful pictures and narratives that you share! We both live in paradise :-) and yes, sometimes, you'd wish to be billeted in a hotel instead! Warm Regards!:-)

  6. It seems that Paradise always has its price.
    When I moved from Colorado to Massachusetts last October - no one mentioned the Summers here. I constantly marvel at my lush green surroundings. But there have been several days that I have been totally useless because of the humidity. I long for the high desert of the Rocky Mountains.
    That said, I love reading about your farm! Thank yo for sharing the beauty that Mother Eater and Mother Nature have blessed you with!

  7. I understand the reality vs public veiw point. We're dairy farmers on the edge of town where folks do drive-bys to take in the the awe value of our country life... LOL.
    The heat, the smell, the flies, the dirt. the work....
    But I love it 95% of the time.
    Enjoying your blog in MI.

  8. I chuckled when I saw your photo from yesterday, then was so happy you disclosed the reality. I live near Washington Missouri, and it was a complete steam bath yesterday. I thought oh, it looks like a refreshing picture, but if people only knew the humidity-it totally zaps the strength out of you. Love your blog. And we need a photo of YOU!! Even an outline reflection photo from a pond? I've read your blog for so long and would love to put a face with the name. I picture you as having brown hair, petite/muscly build, humm.....

    Back to my small horse farm chores.....


  9. As you describe the humidity, I thought you were describing Memphis. My granddaughter, her mom, brother, the other grandma and I went for a little picnic and walk in the woods at Shelby Farms the other day. The trails we took were overgrown, with grass and poison ivy all around. As we walked, the sweat was dripping in my eyes and my ponytail was dripping wet, we did see a heron on a pond and nice flowers, but what I remember is the sweat. I'm right there with ya!!!

  10. Hi Susan. Well we sure know how to whine about the weather in the UK, and if the news has reached you, Summer has virtually passed us by this year.

    Humidity is a tricky one for us to really understand; even the warmest summers in the city have rarely given us more than a few days of high humidity, and I doubt 90% has ever been reached here.

    I can imagine it's draining effect, but I wonder what each person's paradise would be? For me, somewhere like the high desert climate of Flagstaff, Az.

  11. Chiming in to say, Awww, I'm sorry it is so miserable. Humidity makes me want to vacate the body.
    I wanted you to know that my family and I are moving to a giant cattle/horse ranch in Colorado to work, and you inspire us. (we are moving from Northern CA Lost Coast!) Can't wait to keep chickens and freeze my arse off the first winter!
    Drink lots of Lemonade and Watermelon Juice!

  12. I live in Southern Missouri, too. So I ABSOLUTELY know how you feel. I really don't think there's anywhere else in the US, (except maybe New Orleans) that is as humid as here.

  13. I can dig it, Susan, sitting up here in St. louis. The garden looks so tempting...until I step onto the back porch.

    I will say, high school down in Houston was worse. The flip side of that is that everything, EVERYTHING, in Houston had air conditioning. Not 100% true in St. Louis (though it's probably close).

  14. This post was hilarious--I feel your pain. Here today in Georgia, it was 92 degrees with 52% humidity--a heat index of 99. And it'll be like this until, oh, the middle of October.

    But at least you've been getting rain so your pictures are full of greenery and life. There's always something to be thankful for, isn't there? :-)

  15. I hate humidity! We have it here in Minnesota, too. Back in South Dakota, where I grew up, a 15% humidity was nasty! Now I am looking at 86% with a 67 d. temperature ... it's going to be nasty again today! I hate air conditioning but love it, too. We are so dry that the corn is wilting, so where the $%$##%^^ does this humidity come from?

    I hear your pain -- I suffer in it, as well. And I hate heat - I am best at 70 d. with no humidity!


  16. Don't you know, Mis-souri loves company. =)

  17. I'll share this whine...there are a couple of other Wisconsin posts, and all I can add is, yep, it's been a hot and dry summer thus far and we've got another week of it to look forward to. But I grew up in Southern Illinois, so I knew the heat and humidity you're going thru. It rarely gets that bad here and I don't miss it for a minute. I've pretty much come to the conclusion that most people who say they like summer have air conditioners!

  18. Today when I again looked for your not so baby chicks and found Spy Cat I was ready to hear that the chicks had left us under unfortunate circumstances. Thanks for your inspiring food pictures as well,which enhance my foodie husband's and my life. Your Blueberry/peach Breakfast Bars are a hit - local peaches still available in northwest Louisiana. Love your blog with its view of living on your special farm. Our Patchy (Apache) cat greets yours.

  19. Thanks for posting the woods photo. I haven't visited southern Missouri in quite some time and I do miss it. That picture reminds me of such joyful times.

  20. I think it's wonderful that you're honest. You're right that it's easy to look at your beautiful photos and read the wonderful stories from the farm and picture an easy, idyllic life. And it's really important for people to realize that farming is tough and it's not 65 degrees and sunny every day. I grew up in the wet-cotton air of central Illinois and don't miss those summers a bit (except for their freedom from schedules... and the appreciation of autumn)!

  21. Oh lordie girl, you can't tell the truth! I was out in the herb garden at the magic hour yesterday and have some of the most gorgeous shots! Light to cry over, gorgeous!

    In real life, however, the 'squitos were biting and squishing them meant they stuck to my sweaty face. Lovely. I must go pick blueberries before it gets too frakking hot to move.

    happylaney, that was soooo bad!

  22. You know what's worse than humidity? Sitting in an air-conditioned cubicle in corporate America.....

  23. The humidity saps my will to live too. Somehow the midwest this summer has been more cruel than last summer, when I lived in West Africa.

    I just wanted to say I LOVE your photos...glad to hear you'll keep up the good work weather or not.

  24. Let me just say that I can't understand how you could leave Northern CA for Missouri! Well, I do, but.... I live in the Willamette Valley of Oregon now after some miserable periods in Nebraska and Minnesota, and too many visits to MI, OK and KS. Yes, it rains in the winter here, but it doesn't bother me. The heat and humidity of the midwest BOTHERS me; you described it perfectly. I've told my husband he'll have to move me in a pine box to get me out of this country (he'd go back to NE in a heartbeat)....

  25. Thanks for the perspective. You've earned the right to "gripe" a bit.

    I have to admit, I often think your "grass looks a little greener".

  26. You hit it right on the button! Misery loves company. Ha... I just posted my misery of summer 'dog days'. ;-) Hang in there, only a month or two to go.
    Tammy in Missouri

  27. I looked at the picture of the road and the trees and the puddle and thought to myself, "Must be muggier than hell there."

    And that was before I read your commentary :) I'm originally from Arkansas. Jungley woodlands come with a price, for sure.

    I love your blog. Thanks for taking pictures when you do, and writing about why when you don't.

  28. I've got to agree with the previous poster--I'm from Oklahoma, and immediately thought of how muggy it probably was in the lovely pictures (the worst thing when it's like that here is thinking of how much fun the 100 degree days of August are going to be).

    Anyway, I loved the post--your honesty made me giggle, since I *hate* humidity!

  29. Yeah, Bubba has scared me with the Legend of Crappy Missouri Summers since I'm a NorCal pantywaist that has never experienced the "real humidity" cooked up in the midwest.

    Personally, I think he's just doing it so that we don't have to visit his family in KS.

    I thought of you this weekend as I picked a truckload of blackberries and made the first pie of the season. It was some big times. About a dozen pints of blackberries and nary a flesh wound. Que milagro.

  30. I live in CA where the weather is actually perfect. The downside, all the people that move here because of that. I tend to idolize you out there in MO. I know, you would have me not, but, the people can drive you nuts. I would rather hang out with Snugglebunny. All give and take. Lately I am back on to reading your site because it is a nice escape at work. I hope you are keeping cool enough. Berkeley is foggy and crowded. Stacey M.

  31. Ugh - humidity! We all pay some price for living where we do, and while I admit most of the time the price is worth it, feeling sweat trickle down your back while standing still is disconcerting.

    We'e in a still-rural-though-growing area of central Ohio. We live in the midst of open fields so we do, at least, catch the breezes that whiff past. That makes it tolerable. But this knitter can't wait for cool weather, when a lapful of wool won't seem like penance.

  32. Heart stopping beauty is something you do have plenty of, that is true. Thanks for sharing it in so many photos. I love your blog. I know about steamy midwestern weather and I would never want to leave where I am unless to move up north along the coast. I am going now and taking a good look at those baked beauties in the picture. Yum! Thanks for sharing!

  33. Hi Everybody,
    I had a feeling when I posted this little rant that it would inspire some interesting comments. It's been lots of fun reading all your weather reports and stories--and of course how much so many of you also despise humidity!

    For me, being able to hear from you is one of the neatest things about blogging, and I thank you all for taking the time to write. I know I often don't have a chance to reply individually to your comments, but believe me, I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate each and every one of them.

    And if I've failed to answer a question you've left or reply to an e-mail you've sent, I sincerely apologize. Please don't take it personally.

    As for the weather, what amazes me is how there can be so much moisture in the air and yet everything is totally dry. We haven't had any rain in weeks, and now we're in the midst of temps in the mid 90s and not a drop of rain on the horizon. The fields crunch when you walk on them, and we're all kicking up dust wherever we go. You know it's bad when a little lamb takes a bite of grass and the whole plant pulls right out of the ground.

    Only a month or two of this craziness left to go. Stay cool if you can!

    P.S. Diane, as for what I look like--I have long brown hair, am size medium, and am much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it, though I did post a self-portrait once. Click here. : )

  34. I say home is where you hang your hat , and your farm is Americana at its best. When I was a young Californian I wanted seasons and snow like my cousins in New York. When I moved to Oklahoma, I got just that. Now in Texas, it is a little of both. Thanks for sharing Farmgirl!


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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