pink peony

pink peony
old-fashioned peony

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


We normally harvest much of our hay and silage in late spring and early summer, but this year has been different, in almost every way. The extremely hot and dry weather that began as early as March meant that first cuttings were skimpy, and second cuttings were non-existent. Putting up hay now feels like it's the first hay of the season. A couple of nice rains this month have given the plants just the boost they were waiting for; it seemed as if you could see the grass, alfalfa, lespedeza, orchard grass and crab -- yes, crab -- grass grow. (University extension studies show that crab grass makes a very nutritious feed.)

This evening the boss was baling late. He wanted to finish the field before he came in. So at about the time most suburban midwestern families were sitting down to dinner in their dining rooms, I took him a milkshake and a hot dog; he smiled his thanks (I couldn't hear over the roar of the tractor and baler) and kept on chugging.

I ate mine as I watched him for a while.Every little bit he would stop and let the baler deliver one of these babies.

He was working in the field through which I normally take my walk.

I've been noting the progress of other crops along my route. The one I've been keeping a close eye upon is the crop of buckeyes.

I love these small trees! They bloom beautifully in spring, and their fruit is so interesting. This is how they look when they begin to ripen,

and this is how they look when the shell splits and the seeds emerge.

No wonder they are named as they are -- see the eye?

Despite the difficult summer, there appears to be an abundant crop of most everything, including walnuts,

hickory nuts

and some straggler wild plums.

This is the true crop we produce on our place.

The hay (and silage) are harvested for their benefit; we use all we produce.

If we had extra this year, we could do right well selling hay because the shortage has put it at a premium.

We're just thankful to have some to go into our barns. The cows and calves will be very grateful in a few short months.

I have never ceased to wonder at the vision of our ancestors who saw the potential in the Ozarks land, for it was surely rugged and rough, covered with deep woods, with nary a prairie to be seen down here.

But with lots of hard work and sweat equity, farms have been carved into the hollows and on the ridge tops. While it may not be the easiest place in the world to farm, surely it is one of the most beautiful.

The sun was nearly down, but as I came back home, I stopped to admire this passion flower,

growing among the ditch weeds. If it were dug up and trained upon a fancy trellis in the garden of a society horticulturalist, it would be oohed and ahhed over, its lovely blue noted as remarkable. I note it each time I walk -- another gift.

Hope your Wednesday has been a remarkable fall day.


  1. What a beautiful piece of the Ozarks, Janet! It's so interesting to read about the farm work, and and all the beauty you find everywhere. That place you walk looks lovely. I've never seen a buckeye in the shell, and I love your cows!

  2. Enjoyed your post. And you know what? I have lived in the Ozarks my entire life and never seen a buckeye tree! And the hickory nuts this year are in abundance. May have to harvest some for some baking :) Like you, we are very thankful for the hay finally growing and seeing some green grass in the pastures again for the cows to munch on. One day this week while checking the cows I noticed they were fat and sassy and probably the fullest they've been in six months; even though we've been rolling the hay out to them since early June. There's just something different about them when they get to fill up on grass. We're going to start laying hay down for baling in the next week! Oh so very thankful for a Fall hay crop! And I very much agree.....we certainly live in a beautiful place under the heavens!

  3. I am just catching up on your blog posts! I love the pictures of your farm and farm life! And in looking back to your prayer shawl - I love the color you chose and the pattern!