Sunday, July 1

Tail End of the Week: Get Your Friday Farm Fix #16

Welcome to the Friday Farm Fix, a new series on Farmgirl Fare where I share a random sampling of what's been happening around the farm during the past week (usually on Fridays). Just joining us? You'll find all the Friday Farm Fix posts here.

(1) Kit Kat Kate by the echinacea (purple coneflower) -
Kit Kat Kate perched above the echinacea patch

It's bad out there. Really bad. The months of relentless heat and drought will not give up. It just keeps getting hotter and drier, and it's going to get worse before it gets better. We stopped looking at the thermometer when it got up to 106 degrees in the shade. We've stopped looking at the ten day forecast hoping for a chance of rain.

Last year at this time we had 695 bales of hay safely stored in the barn, ready to feed the sheep and donkeys all winter (and then put up another 180 bales of summer grass in early September). So far this year we haven't put up any. Everyone is scrambling for hay, and nobody has any for sale. If we do find some, it will probably be low quality and priced sky high.

The front field, where 33 sheep are supposed to be grazing all summer and into the fall, has nothing left to eat in it. The green grass you can see in the photos below, which were taken a week ago, is gone. Everything that gets full sun has burned up.

Tomorrow morning after we work the sheep we'll let them out loose to forage for food in the dry creekbed and the woods. Thank goodness we sold half the flock in May. I just hope we don't have to sell any more sheep—or any donkeys.

Donkeyland looks almost as bad as the front field, but the perimeter of our 240 acre property, which is mostly steep wooded hillsides, isn't fenced, and the donkeys tend to wander—like up to the highway.

All we can do is try not to get too stressed out (which isn't easy, as evidenced by my tears earlier), water the kitchen garden twice a day, limit our time working out in the heat, drink plenty of water (and Tension Tamer iced tea!), remember to breathe, and find joy in the little things around us.

A nest of hungry baby birds in a very unlikely spot. The cute spotted frog who has taken up residence in the greenhouse. Peeping chicks all over the place. A beagle with his catch and release bunny. Grilled burgers on freshly baked onion rye buns. Delicious bounty from our garden and our neighbors, sizzling cast iron skillets, the first sweet corn of the season, our first summer sleeping in air conditioning.

Everything may be dying of thirst, but farm life still tastes good.

27 more farm photos below - hover over each photo to see a short description. . .

(2) Frenchie and her daughter -

(3) Echinacea (purple coneflower) is my favorite flowering perennial -

(4) Get back in here you kids -

(5) Red Russian (Ragged Jack) kale that grew right back after last month's cutting -

(6) Lacinato kale (dinosaur kale) grew right back  in just a few weeks -

(7) Parris Island cos (romaine) lettuce is tasty and very heat tolerant -

(8) Freshly picked Slenderette green beans -

(9) Lokey and her 10 chicks -

(10) The wild mullein is drought and heat tolerant -

(10) This cute spotted frog has claimed the greenhouse -

(11) Bringing in the flock for Sheep Working Sunday -

(12) Heading to the barn for Sheep Working Sunday -

(13) Mourning dove on the high wire -

(14) Four of Lokey's ten chicks - love the brown one -

(15) The Donkeyland gate -

(16) Baby phoebes in a plunger -

(17) Nest of baby phoebes in a plunger -

(18) Beagle Bert with his catch and release bunny rabbit -

(19) Zucchini and potatoes bought from our Amish friends -

(20) Lokey and her 10 chicks -

(21) Building a cabinet for the kitchen utility sink on the new workbench -

(22) Candy onions curing in the sun -

(24) Lucky Buddy Bear on baby chick guard duty by the echinacea -

(25) Specks and two of her twelve chicks -

(26) Dolores and the other donks -

(27) Another heart rock embedded in this place -

Want a bigger farm fix?
(click here to see all these posts on one long page)
Friday Farm Fix #1

©, where hundreds of dragonflies kept me company while I watered the garden this evening. So magical.


  1. I wish you rain...and lots of it! That bird nest is just plain crazy!

  2. I'm sorry to hear you're suffering from the drought. I grew up on a farm in KY, and I remember what they're like (miserable for everybody). I talked to my Dad just yesterday, and he had spent 3 days haying in the 100+ heat. He told me that in a field we usually get 3-5 large round bales out of he only got one. I really worry about him working outside in this heat. Stay cool if you can- I've taken to misting a cotton blanket with cold water to sleep under, and it works pretty well!

  3. So sorry, Susan. I have been following your blog for a few years now and love hearing your farm updates-- I'm am sad it has been such a hot and dry Spring/Summer on your beautiful farm. We've been pretty dry here in Southern Wisconsin and I know the farmers here badly need the rain, too. Our grass is brown, which never happens this early in the summer here. Hope we all get rain soon. Take care and thanks for continuing to update!
    -- Lisa in Madison

  4. Praying for rain for you and all of us who need it so badly. God bless you......God bless those precious animals.

  5. Wish I could send you some rain from Maine - we've had an overabundance which causes its own problems. Now, if we could just even things out a little. Hope this turns around for you. Sharon

  6. Beautiful beans, onions, skillets ;), glorious air conditioning. Gorgeous stove!!! My heart is with you. Praying for good, sustaining rain.

  7. I am another follower of your blog for some time now. My mom lives in SC and she's almost 86. I, too am worried about her in the awful heat. Please take care, try to keep hydrated and cool as you can. Perhaps our Northwest June-ary will shift and come visit you.

  8. Susan, I am in north central (north of Dallas) Texas...we have had our share of drought years too, and I'm afraid we are in for another one this year. I have already bought my hay for the year for my horses and cows. If you get to a point that you are going to need to buy some and find that you can't find any locally, I do still have some hay contacts that still have hay here, and would be happy to scout for some for you. Worrying about where I'm going to get good hay is one of my least favorite things to do. Blessings from hot Texas, Liz

  9. Wish I knew how to do a rain dance, I'd come down and stomp around in an effort to get you some of that lovely sky-water. Breaks my heart to see what you are going through, saddened by the sheep sell-off but oh Lord if you had to sell any of the donkeys...

  10. So, Bert catches bunnies and then lets them go? That's impressive! Praying for rain and milder temps for y'all and the beasts.

  11. Hello, I'm Anabela and I live in Portugal (Europe). some years now that I follow your blog. I love it because it makes me dream of a wonderful place like this, surrounded by the animals I love. In Portugal there are no spaces so large, it is tiny, I can not imagine the greatness. I love your farm. I wish I could live there. I am very sad about the drought that has affected you so much. I hope it passes quickly. A big kiss. Anabela White

  12. At least you got a good crop of chickens! Love the plunger nest...I guess when ya gotten lay eggs ya just gotta make do!~!
    So many are suffering heat distress this year, it's just terrible. It's not often one wishes for winter but I think I'll make an exception.

  13. I'm in southern IL and I feel your pain. All my pastures are gone so the sheep and horses are eating the hay I was able to find for winter. Where I'll find more to replace that is unknown. The lambs have quit gaining so that delays butchering and I must keep them fed until they're sold. Yikes

    Fans run 24 hrs a day to cool the chickens, rabbits and keep the horse flies off the miniature horses. I'm watering my vast flower beds weekly to try and keep young trees, shrubs and plants alive while hauling water to the front acres in 5 gal. buckets to keep young trees alive. I didn't know you could sweat so much! I feel like I'm back in CA living in the desert as my grass is various shades of brown. Perhaps I'm too old to do this much longer.....

  14. I'm in Florida, and the hay grown here is the only stuff that WILL grow on sand in all this sun and heat--so not great stuff. I admire UGA's breeding program for how good they *have* been able to make it, but it's still sand grass.

    Last year, most of the local hay growers SOLD OUT by November. Conditions across the country (droughts, floods, and fires) were so bad they were coming *here*, for our terrible grass hay, to take home. I hope this year is better, and other parts of the country are able to grow at least some hay.

    Heh. Firmly tongue n cheek: When Florida itself was in a severe drought several years ago, we irrigated our front pasture so we'd be able to keep grass growing in the worst of conditions (as long as the well holds out, fingers crossed). Immediately, and I mean it washed out the ditch dug for the buried pipe, we had storms that broke the drought ;) Maybe putting in irrigation is the solution to your drought, too. I mean, if I'd known that irrigating to live through the drought would have ended the drought, I'd have done it YEARS before.

    But hey, at least I can overseed rye and give them something to eat in the winter, too, with that irrigation in place. I suspect you're too far north for anything like that to work for you; I'm sorry. All I can do is hope you get plentiful rain before the growing season is over, enough to feed your critters until next spring, which will hopefully be a sufficiently wet one.

  15. The phoebes in the plunger are just precious! Good boy Bert, my Buddy wouldn't be so kind...
    I hope ya'll get some much needed rain soon. It is never fun to have to sell off livestock due to feed prices, I know. {{HUGS}}

  16. How I wish we could send you some rain from Oregon. Lately, though , it stopped and now it's just gloomy.
    Your chicks are adorable and your echinacia(sp?)is beautiful, but what are you going to do with all that kale? Actually, chickens love it, don't they?

  17. We have gotten some rain these past few day. Storm clouds build over the front range mountains and some days it rains. However it doesn't rain enough to make a difference. It does cool things down a bit though, so that that is welcome. We broke all heat records in June and that is ugly. We are all in need of a weather change. Mother Nature has once again proved she is totally in charge.

  18. I watch the radar every day and always look at Missouri, too. We are one of the driest counties in OUR state and I ALWAYS think of you. I'm so worried about you now that I proclaimed to my husband that all future Amazon purchases are required to go through your site and ONLY your site! I know I'm too far away to help.....but I sure would if I wasn't.....even though I'm clueless as to what that would mean. And maybe you could tell me how I to keep the petals on my Echinacea from falling off so quickly...yours are gorgeous!!! Oh...and I don't understand your Bert! He's quite the oxymoron!! (Chris in Indiana)

  19. Wow. Yeah. The heat has just been intense this summer everywhere east of CA. Just awful. I'll do a rain dance here for you.

    Meanwhile, CUTEST FROG!

  20. We're south of West Plains Susan. Understand exactly what you are seeing, feeling, breathing, and living in right now. Lucked into about 300 bales for the horses. Thank you Craigs List! My pasture is fried. About 9 acres. Found a wonderful home for my mare and colt. Down to 3 now. Winters feed bill will be much less. How the horses are managing to remain upright is beyond me. I hose them down a lot. Which they love. How are your critters doin? The deer have been so brazen and bold. My vegetable garden has been totaled. A few eggplant still stand. Guess they don't like mousaka. All those tomatoes peppers cukes beans-----kaput!

    I was in tears as I read your post. I'm in tears as I write my response. I have water and ac....hell I even have a home. Unlike all those in CO. And the Corgis are still driving us crazy! Nothing stops a Corgi. Hang in there Girl. The rains will come. Tracey.

  21. Hey so praying, wishing and hoping for rain for you guys. We are starting to enter a drought up here in the Catskills, got 20 minutes of rain today and we danced on the deck, we were so excited. Hang in there, we are thinking of you.

  22. We're in Springfield, Mo. for our annual summer vacation. Last night I took the kids to watch the country club's fireworks. Dad always says Mother Nature puts on her own display for the 4th, and every year he's been right. But not last night. Wishing you rain, hay, and a happy birthday.

    Vicki in MI

  23. Hello,

    I'm dutch and we live on a farm to. My dad is scrambling for hay also. But it's over here to rainy. So we'd send the clouds to you, haha.
    We have 75 cows, they walk in the whey together with their calves. The calves get to go in the autumn on transport.
    We have also two rabits, chickens, ducks and geese.
    Maybe I'll will start a blog to, than you can see pictures of our farm.



  24. Hi Everybody,
    Thank you so much for all of your kind comments. My apologies for not replying individually. My heart goes out to those of you fellow farmers who are in the same situation we are. It sure makes you feel helpless, doesn't it?

    Thanks, too, for all of the praying, dancing, and hoping for rain you're doing for us. It worked a little bit! We were thrilled to get a surprise half inch of rain early in the week. It's just a drop in a really big, dusty bucket, and though you can hardly tell now, it did actually help.

    Yesterday we had lots of thunder blow in, but only ended up with a few drops of rain and a big rise in the humidity. Hopefully somebody around here got a nice shower. The temps have still been well over 100 every day.

    The next Friday Farm Fix should be up today or tomorrow. In the meantime, please keep rain dancing and praying. Thanks! :)


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.

Hi! Thanks for visiting Farmgirl Fare and taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love hearing about your experiences with my recipes. Comments on older posts are always welcome!

Please note that I moderate comments, so if I'm away from the computer it may be a while before yours appears.

I try my best to answer all questions, though sometimes it takes me a few days. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your e-visits to our farm!