26 June 2016


Even after more than seven years, friends, both old and new, politely inquire as to whether Mr Fuzzy misses his old digs in New Mexico. Except for dear friends, green chile, and the wonderful home designed by Malcolm Worby, the answer is simple: not at all. My home here is nestled into  the forest like a babe in its mother's arms but my open view southward is to the horizon. In the winter, when the forest is without leaves, Buffalo Mountain, about 20 miles away, is easily seen. The clouds are every bit as beautiful here, and the iconic flower of the Southwest, the yucca, naturalizes here very nicely.

Wildlife abounds on the farm, especially deer and turkeys, both sometimes making themselves pests. Eagles are seen every once in a while, saw one riding the currents yesterday. The sound of frogs and forest insecta are literally music to my ears at night. Here is a photo of a doe and her twins, taken by my old friend, Gary, who is visiting.

No desire to return to New Mexico whatsoever. I love it here.

18 June 2016


After a cool and wet spring, lasting into mid-June, the rains suddenly halted and old Sol reigned supreme. The days were clear, hot, and relatively low humidity. This break in the weather came just in time for haying- the grasses were mature, dry, ready to harvest. A high wind might have laid them down, ruining all.

   With a lot of assistance from my neighbor, we worked on both his hay and mine. My role was kicking the hay, the process after the mowing and before raking into wind rows. The kicking scatters the hay so it dries well. The days were hot and windy so the drying process proceeded very quickly. It looks like the week long heat spell allowed almost everyone to bale their hay. My yields were very good, maybe a record, we'll see when the bales are counted.
Kicker at work behind me
   After baling, the grass is tender, its leaves shredded makes for moisture loss and with no cover, the roots become hot and dehydrate readily. The heat hung on days after the last bales were tied, causing some amount of worry. Then two days ago, an unforecast large storm cell drifted over the county and dropped 1.25" here at Stratheden Farms (over three inches in Roanoke, enough to cause flooding). The thirsty ground absorbed nearly all.
   Then yesterday, another quarter of an inch fell and about the same today. The pasture, garden and farmer are all content.
view from the Blue Ridge Parkway today

01 June 2016

Yard (sale) & Gardens

One of the major cultural landmarks of this region is the huge flea market held down the road thirty miles in Hillsville on Memorial Day weekend. Purported to draw 500,000 potential buyers, the effect of the sale radiates outward through adjoining counties. Along State Highway 221, from Roanoke to Hillsville, for 70 miles, every farm house and parking lot has folks trying to dispose of junk without making the trip to the dump- by making it someone else's junk. Just a walking distance away from the farm, the Falling Branch Methodist church has a good flea market; Stratheden Farm doesn't need anymore junque but there are always a few cakes and pies for sale, made by ladies old enough to know how to make them from scratch. Mrs. Sower's German Chocolate Coconut Pound Cake (for $6.00 - the ingredients cost more than that!) went back to Stratheden to be destroyed at leisure.

This is gardening season, The little garden, although having been tilled twice already, was about to be overtaken by weeds/grasses and needed another turning before more seedlings could be transplanted.

Much of the garden is still vacant, most seedlings still not yet of adequate size to go into the ground. The flea beetles have already attacked tomato seedlings as they sit on the patio. A Japanese beetle was also spied - and destroyed. It seems several weeks too early for these destructive pests.

Writing must cease and weeding must begin. Until the next post, best wishes to you.