Shortly after six and I am awake. I never set an alarm. I wake up with the sun. As much as I have tried to ease into this time of year..........produce season......it hits full force, and there is no turning back until the last potato is finally picked up in the fall.

I get out of bed slowly......my bones ache in the mornings. Once out of bed, I move faster. I have a lot to do this morning. After slipping into some barn clothes, I head for the kitchen and put the milker together, unload the dishwasher, and head down to let the Dachshunds out. Once the dogs are out, I fill their bowls with kibbles and water, and throw of load of clothes in the dryer. The Dachshunds return wagging their tails and dive into their kibbles.

I head out the door with milker in tow, stopping by the pen where Sadie and Spencer are jumping up and down in anticipation of the morning routine. I let them out and and they run barking to the wood pile to try and intimidate the cat who stares down at them with a general lack of disinterest. Since the Corgis can't rouse the cat, they head toward the barn to see what they can find to herd there.

Mike takes over the milking this morning, and I take care of feeding. I let the chickens out to free range, making sure they have plenty of water and clabbered milk for the day. I throw them a handful of corn to scratch and put a little in the feeder inside the house for the juvenile birds. I check on the bantams in another building and give the food and water as well. I water and feed the calves. Then, I go down and feed the goats.

Sadie and Spencer keeping trying to round up the chickens and I keep yelling at them "LEAVE IT!" to let them know that it's ok that the chickens are roaming and they don't need to be herded back to their pen. Mike finishes milking about the time I finish feeding and he carrys the milk to the kitchen for me and then heads down to the other farm.

I strain the milk and put it in the refrigerator, clean and sterilize the milker and then head for the shower. After a a quick shower, I send off a couple of emails, and change the message on the answering machine. I also set the time and date on the machine knowing that I will be away a lot and need to know what time the messages are being recorded.

After drying my hair but giving up on actually styling it, I pull it back, put on a little makeup and head for the car. I was driving Josh's truck but Alissa's car blew up last week and I signed Josh's truck over to her. It's just a few minutes after eight. I grab a few dozen eggs just in case we are running low at the other farm.

I arrive at the farm and Mike is washing the produce he has been picking. He has mud past his ankles due to al the rain we have been having. I am greeted by JJ, the big farm Collie but J is not as rowdy as usually this morning. He seems to be limping. I carry the eggs inside and put them in the frig and then carry out a stack of cartons that folks have left for me to recycle. There are also a half dozen gallon jars there that Mike has not brought home from the milk that I send down for my in-laws to drink.

I tidy things up a bit at the stand and admire Mike's handiwork. He has made some bins for us this year to display the veggies in. That's about as high-tech as we are going to get. We do everything simply. We figure the cost of the veggies either in or head or on a pad of paper. We recycle the bags that folks bring in to us. We don't hire any farm help and we do all the work ourselves. It's simple although hard work, but we prefer it that way.

Mike comes to the house.........a big white farm house that started out as a log house back in the 1700's and a place where he frequented as a child helping his dad and grandad on the farm. We take off our shoes and head inside and up the back stairs to the kitchen where Mike's mom has fixed breakfast. A farm breakfast is really more than a breakfast. In fact, we rarely have breakfast food. We actually eat a dinner meal. In the past when three generations of men in the family were running the dairy, they would set down to eat breakfast mid-morning after milking. Now we eat earlier so that we can open the produce stand by nine.

Treva, Mike's mom, has fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, creamed peas and new potatoes, and cabbage with pound cake and strawberries for dessert. Over the winter I have been out of the habit of eating early, choosing rather to sip a quart jar of Kefir instead. We bow our head for grace and then eat the meal that has been lovingly prepared. We have tried to get Treva to stop cooking for us, but she insists on doing it. She loves preparing food for her family and we certainly enjoy eating the bounty!

We finish the meal and I gather the dishes and Treva and I exchange laughter and conversation while I was and she dries. I then make a phone call to do some price comparisons before setting prices on our vegetables. When folks come to our produce stand, they rarely pay more than grocery store prices for good, homegrown, vegetables that come right off our farm. The produce man at the grocery store where Josh use to work knows me well and is always willing to give me prices on the produce they have in stock. I couldn't get anyone to answer the phones at the local store and had to talk to a man in Staunton. He was nice, but not as helpful. However, I did get the information I needed.

By the time I got outside, it was nine and folks were rolling in. I looked around for Mike but didn't see him, so started waiting on the customers. They were some of our faithful customers who come back year after year. They waited patiently while I tried to wrap my mind around things. I was starting to panic. Something that I have done since Josh's death. I felt like I couldn't get my act together. Mike came around the corner and I let him help me. We worked through the first set of customers together and then he went out in the garden to pick more peas. The few customers that we had already almost wiped us out of peas.

The next couple that came in were also regulars but brought with them some new folks. The new couple moved here from Italy recently and the husband did not speak any English. The wife did a wonderful job of translating. The man was soaking in the country air and loved looking at the garden. As his wife interpreted he asked me about the antique garden tools that my father-in-law had hanging for decoration. He wanted to know where he could buy some because that was what they used in Italy. He also wanted to know why we didn't sell our Zucchini blossoms and wanted to know if he could bring his old shoes and come back and harvest them later. He insists you can harvest the blossoms and still have the Zucchini. I am uncertain and will have to check into that.

Someone mentions some things I had for sale a yard sale last fall right before Josh died. They were some of Josh's things. I stumble across my words and tell them I am not sure where those items are now. I tell them I lost Josh in September. Sympathies are given and then "what happened?" I can't talk about it so I give them a brief explanation. More sympathies and they leave. I head inside the house and hold back the tears for a while but then they start trickling out. It's going to be a long summer. I am going to face so many people that don't know or have not had the chance to express their sympathies. I start to panic again. I breath deeply, say a prayer and head back outside.

While waiting for more customers, I go to the garden and help Mike pick peas. When we have about half a bushel, I head back to the carport and start shelling. The collie lays at my feet and snores and I just keep shelling. Customers come and go and between customers, I keep shelling.

A customer comes about the same time that Alissa drops by. I introduce them. I hear the lady talking to Treva about almost losing her husband. She says he died twice on the table but the doctors revived him. I am happy for her. What a joy to be able to continue their married life together.

I plan to leave the produce stand an go home and check on the animals, freeze peas and get supper started but Treva insists I have a snack first. At the farm, we may or may not have a snack in the middle of the day. It's never called "lunch" because being a true southern family, the mid-day meal is called "dinner" and the evening meal is called "supper". Since we had "dinner" food for breakfast, what we have in the middle of the day (when we are not too busy to have it) is called a snack. We have sliced cheese, crackers, strawberries, pound cake, and chicken salad and bread. I am not hungry and eat just a little cheese to be polite and drink my sweet tea. The cheese is good but it's not homemade and I have become spoiled. It just didn't taste "real" to me.

After eating a snack, Alissa, Cousin Angela, Mike and I head for the barn to find the little kittens. I snap some pictures of the cows along the way and then a few of Alissa with the kitten they she is going to adopt. Someone dropped them at the barn.........a mother cat with babies. Alissa wants the little Calico girl to raise along with her grey striped cat that she adopted last year when it was dropped at the farm.

I head home and let the dogs out while I unload the care of the egg cartons, milk jars, peas I have shelled and other produce I brought home for our own personal use. I check the farm animals out to make sure nothing needs my immediate attention and head for the kitchen.

I blanch the peas and vacuum seal them while starting preparations for supper. I can't wait to cook supper when I get back in from milking or we would not eat until ten or eleven at night. Instead I prepare it in the afternoon before milking at six. I make cream peas and potatoes. I figured Mike was tired of them, as that was what his mom had fixed but he actually requested them. I had put out a call to the satellite internet service as we had been having a lot of trouble. The tech came out and worked on that and came in about the time I was making the cream sauce for the peas and potatoes. He asked me to check my internet service but I asked him if he could do it for me since I didn't want lumps in my sauce! He left but not before expressing his condolences over the loss of Josh. He said he had been to the house right after Josh died. I don't remember that. I guess there's a lot I don't remember.

I finish the preps for supper and it's almost time to head out to the barn again. Before I go, I send off a few emails and check a couple of forums that I frequent. I call my baby sister for a minute and we have a nice little chat. I then put the milker together and head outside for evening chores.

The baby goats need hay and I stop to scratch S'Mores. She loves attention. I try to touch Moonbeam but she runs from me. She is still afraid and I don't think she will ever be comfortable being touched. I gather the eggs and give the hens more clabber and water. I check on the bantams but they don't need anything tonight. I feed the calves a little grain and then milk the "girls". I am working on drying ButterCupp off and I am not milking her every time. So, tonight I only have three to milk. The milking goes smoothly and I finish about the time Mike gets home. I am dumping the milk tonight to make clabber for the chickens. Mike comes down and fixes the gate that needs repair. We take a look at the two cows that are due this month and head for the house.

Mike brought home another bushel of peas. He will work on shelling those while I do other things this evening. He takes a shower while I warm up supper and clean up the milking equipment. After eating, Mike's son, Mikey helps me clear off the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher. I sweep and mop the floor and by this time it is after eight. I head outside to feed the Corgis and lock up the free range hens for the night. I let the Dachshunds out to walk with us. The dogs smell a wild animal and all five of them start barking and running and trying to flush out something. I think about going to get the gun, but decide that whatever it was had already left the area. I checked on the two pregnant cows again, the calves and the goats and locked up the Corgis in their pen for the night. The Dachshunds returned to their room inside the house and I switched out some laundry from the washer to the dryer and started another load. I washed the eggs I had gathered earlier and then went upstairs to unload the dishwasher.

Mike watched tv and shelled peas and I went to take a shower and made it to the couch about nine, which is still quite early for us on a typical summer schedule. I tried to work online for a bit but got too sleepy. Mike had finished the peas and after mentioning how good a piece of blueberry pie would taste (hinting to me to make one!) promptly fell asleep in the chair. I shut down the computer and went upstairs to read a few minutes before I turned the light out around ten-thirty.

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