What are we becoming?

I tend to avoid politically charged issues in my blog, but the current climate has me quite disturbed.  In light of recent comments attributed to the President and the ensuing days of talking heads commentary on those remarks and their meaning, we have had a few discussions here at home.

I am a senior citizen, I lived through the period of segregated everything, the marches and riots.  In high school, as a senior, I was part of a group of students who were taken to the segregated black high school to a symposium as the schools were to be integrated the next year. I was graduated by the time it happened and had gone on to college. I guess even then I stood out as seeing people as people, not as people who were different by color or religion.  My friends as I transitioned into adulthood and employment were diverse, we went out together, ate at each other’s homes, were in each other’s weddings and celebrated baptisms of our children in each other’s churches.  Those people were and many still are my friends.

The civil rights movement at least on the surface seemed to improve race relations, but in light of recent events, I think that maybe it just drove those who were racists, bigots,  and intolerant of others of different skin color or beliefs to become silent and less visible.

There have been a lot of changes in our society very quickly.  Changes that are good for the country, good for the people.  Changes that allow people to express their sexuality openly, changes that allow same sex marriage, changes that are supposed to make all people equal, give all people equal rights without regard to gender, color, race, or religion.

We are a country  founded by immigrants.  There are few in this country that are true pure Native Americans.  Our country has embraced a statue in the harbor of New York with this quote based on the sonnet by Emma Lazarus,

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It does not say to welcome only white, Christians.  It does not say to suppress the rights of those whose belief or color are different than yours

I fear that the current climate, though not a majority, just a very vocal minority, emboldened by our leader has determined that it is okay to be openly racists and bigoted. This saddens me, I had hoped that we had grown as a nation but fear that we are becoming a hated nation, a laughing stock.

 

And So We Endure Jan. 14, 2018

After the nearly 3 weeks of Arctic weather, we were due for a reprieve.  Daughter and family had moved  out nearly all of their furniture that had been moved in for their period of house sharing with us and our furniture that had been relocated to other parts of the house or stored returned.  Jim and I dismantled the bunk bed, storing the full size bottom bunk in the garage until they could pick it up yesterday and the twin size top bunk set up in a corner of the basement to provide another place to put family members if we have too many for the other beds.  The smaller south bedroom was scrubbed down, vacuumed, dusted, and the full size bed, tall chest, nightstand, and rocking chair returned to it.  New Navy blue curtains were hung, but once out of the package, I realized that they are not lined, so some lining fabric will be purchased and I will make the lining and sew it in.

Monday was supposed to be the first warmer day and the grand’s first day at their new school, but Ole Man Winter decided to play a trick and instead of a warmer dry day, we got an ice storm warning.  Schools closed throughout the region in anticipation and we ended up with the grands with us.  Grandson arrived in a too small knit hat that looked like a mouse had chewed it.  He helped me pick yarns and I told him I would trade him a new hat for the one he was wearing

Though initially we thought that it was unnecessary to close the schools, we did indeed get ice.   We got the grands home before it got too bad, but Monday night Jim went out to try to get the two male dogs back in and slipped, landing hard on his hip.  I didn’t hear him calling for help until he had crawled back to the front porch in pain.  As the night wore on, his more intense pain subsided, but he has continued to have a lot of soreness, not enough to keep us from our walks when weather permitted.  Tuesday the schools were to be delayed two hours to give the roads a chance to clear, but by 9 a.m., they again closed.  We were unsure we could get down our mountain road to get the grands, so SIL had to wait for the alternative care program to get straightened out and took the kids there, going in to work late.

The week did finally warm up and we enjoyed a few nice day, enough for the ice on the creeks and the blocks from the chicken watering pan to thaw.  Each day the pan was dumped and fresh water poured in and the yard and chicken run were littered with blocks the shape of the pan or the bucket.  Friday we got much needed rain, and mud.  The dogs come and go through the front door as the deck repair is still in progress out the back.  Late Friday, the rain turned to sleet then to snow and the temperature dropped.  It was 40ºf colder yesterday than Friday.  We got no more than a dusting as the snow blew horizontally until early afternoon when the wind died down, the clouds broke but the thermometer didn’t rise.  Our high yesterday was 21.  Last night to 10.

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The cold, blustery, snowy day encouraged me to continue putting the house together, the front bedroom received the same treatment that the other one got last weekend.  The walls swept down, windows and floor vacuumed and mopped or wiped down, fresh linen on the bed, the heavy quilt that has been stored for 3 years was returned to the bed and new insulated, room darkening curtains hung.

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Friday night when they came to pick up their dog and two housecats, he got his new hat, just in time for yesterday’s frigid weather.

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He had it on yesterday when they came to get the bed and a few more boxes.  I hope it keeps him warm as we endure another week of subfreezing days and bitter nights before the next break.  In the meantime, I am again accumulating blocks of ice from the water pans and buckets and though I thought I only got 1 egg yesterday, this morning when I let the hens out into the yard, I found 4 more, frozen and cracked in a corner of the coop, not in nesting boxes where they could be found.

The Empty Nest

When I moved to the mountains, leaving hubby to work on the coast for a couple more years, we still had one young adult at home and he and hubby shared space for those 3 years.  I was in an apartment for about 15 months, solo except for visits by hubby, son the younger,  or daughter, then moved into the house that we were building with son the elder, daughter in law, and grandson #1.  They shared the house for a couple of years then moved to town as hubby retired and moved to the mountains, leaving son the younger on his own, soon to become engaged and then married.  We had an empty nest for a few years, adding two dogs to the household.  Three years ago daughter and her two kids and their dog moved here while her husband stayed to sell their Florida house and find work here, he joined them in May of that year, bringing their two house cats.  The house has been full of life and energy for the past three years.  We have gotten the kids up  and ready school,  home from the afternoon bus and to Taekwondo a couple days a week for a couple of those years.

In November they bought a house about 18 miles from here in a different school district, but probably 30 minutes closer to work.  They continued to stay here while they got the house ready to move in and while they moved their household furniture and other accouterments from storage  and to allow the grands to finish at the school they started this year up to the Christmas break.

On Thursday, they spent the first night in their new home.  On Friday they got to go to see their new schools and grandson got to meet his teacher.  As their furniture has been removed from two bedrooms, ours has returned.  One room has been cleaned from top to bottom, the bed set up with a brand new mattress, the chest, night stand, rocking chair and lamp that have been stored or relocated for the three years , and that room has been sealed off from the cats.  Tomorrow new curtains will be purchased for that room as one of the Roman shades has been broken and the other two  shades are dirty and faded.

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The other bedroom needed new bed rails and though it has been put back together, their animals are still here until the end of this week to allow floor installers in their house without the dog and cats trying to escaping.  Once they are moved to their new house, that room will be wiped down from top to bottom and the decorations and heavy quilt returned to it.  It will get new curtains soon also as the decade old shades are dirty and faded.

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With them gone, the house looks and seems empty and quiet.  I miss them though we will still see them often, but the quiet is nice.  It is going to take some time to readjust to the empty nest.

Grandson #1 will be happy to have “his” bedroom back when he visits.  For the years he lived here and when he visited until they came, he slept in the south, smallest bedroom that the resident grands have been sharing.  While they have been here, he has slept on a futon in the basement during his visits.  Son the elder and his wife prefer the 4th bedroom in the basement as it is quieter and away from the animals that aggravate allergies.

With the basement, bathroom, two bedrooms, and kitchen cleaned up and reorganized, I need to tackle the loft and our bedroom.  Since hubby got me a nice Dyson vacuum for Christmas (yes, I asked for it), a thorough deep cleaning is in order.  Spring cleaning in the middle of winter.  Come spring, screens need to be repaired or replaced and windows cleaned, but that will wait for warmer weather.

 

 

Olio – January 3, 2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

The holidays are over, the decorations packed away, but the cold has really settled in.  Cold is relative.  There are parts of the world, even the USA that have the temperatures we are experiencing every winter and are prepared for it.  There are parts of the US that are used to very mild winters that are experiencing temperatures that we consider normal for this time of year, but they aren’t equipped for it.  It is cold here.  Our nights for the past couple of weeks have all been single digits.  The days in the teens, low 20’s if we are lucky.  But it has been dry.  There is some light snow expected tomorrow as another Arctic blast hits us, but no other real precipitation due as far as I can see in the forecast.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel though, if the forecast holds true, we will climb back up into the 30’s with mid 20’s at night in a few more days.

With the frigid weather, the dogs run out and back in.  The chickens have remained cooped some days and if it is sunny and calm, let out to free range on other days.  If it snows tomorrow, they won’t come out of their coop, no white stuff for them.  The shortened days and extreme cold have seriously curtailed egg laying.  Instead of 6 dozen or so a week, the 16 ten month old hens are providing less than half that a week.  The days are beginning to lengthen and the cold will abate, so hopefully they will begin to lay again soon.

We rarely go out for New Year’s Eve, but this fall, we saw a billboard for a New Year’s Eve event at Mountain Lake Lodge, the site of the filming of “Dirty Dancing.”  As soon as they were taking reservations, we booked one.  This lodge is 5 miles further up the road  our road descends from, an elevation change of about 2000 more feet and we were greeting with snow and frosted trees, a veritable winter wonderland, where though we are cold, we have no snow.

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The event included a stellar buffet dinner, a room for the night, a grand party with live band, favors, and champagne toast, and topped off with breakfast on New Year’s Day.  We met some wonderful folks, enjoyed their company, danced and partied, then walked upstairs to our lovely room for the night.  Such a great event we will probably repeat it next year.

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We got home on New Year’s Day to discover that the dripping faucet in the utility room had been turned off and the hot water line frozen.  We have kept the cold dripping, the heat turned up in there and a hot fire burning in the wood stove in the basement near where the pipe enters the utility room slab.  After three days of this treatment, the pipe finally thawed this afternoon and now both hot and cold are running at a slow trickle to prevent a recurrence.  The washing machine drain is still frozen though the sink drain is not.

I was knitting a Hitchhiker scarf and hoping to wear it last weekend as my last project for 2017, but ended up taking it with me with only 8 rows to complete.  Sitting in the tavern before dinner in front of a fire with a glass of wine, I saw an error a few rows back and had to rip those rows out to fix it.  It ended up being my first finished project of 2018.

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Knit with Freia Fibers Shawl ball

To get out of chronological order here, the past couple of weeks have been busy.  Daughter’s family has been moving into their new house a trunk full or our 5 X 8′ open trailer full at a time.  They have cleared the storage units that have held most of their belonging for the past three years that they shared our home with us, have moved toys, books, games, and shelving that held some of that in our rec room, and this past weekend, their master bedroom returning our furniture that they have stored.  They are still staying here until some flooring is laid, then they will move the kids dressers and part of the bunk bed and a few more smaller items and their pets.  The house is going to seem so empty after having the kids here.  They are close enough for us to still help out when needed, but in a different school district and closer to work.

The month of December had us on the road a lot.  We went to the coast to visit son the younger and his family one weekend, home the next for the second Holiday Market, then north to son the elder and his family, returning home on Christmas eve.  Son in law is from an Italian family and their tradition is pasta and antipasto on the eve and we arrived home to a delicious meal.  Christmas Day after gift exchange with daughter’s family and watching the children with all of their new things, I prepared a turkey and ham meal with all the trimmings.

The week after Christmas, our local yarn store closed for a week to relocate much closer to where I live and our spinning group that usually meets there on that Thursday of each month chipped in with other volunteers to help them with packing and actually moving so that they didn’t have to rent a truck.  A friend volunteered her pickup, I volunteered our larger SUV and the trailer and with a couple of other vehicles and two days, all of the fabric, yarn, and fixtures were moved in sub freezing temperatures.  They reopen on Friday and I am excited to see how all of the stuff we helped move will be displayed and so that I can purchase another Freia Fiber Shawl ball in another color way for my cruise knitting.  Our cruise is only a bit more than a month off.

I hope my readers have a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Olio December 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The second Holiday Market was yesterday.  It was biting cold when I got there to set up and it was noon before the sun came around enough to provide some warmth, never enough to remove my parka and hat, but I did finally remove my gloves.  It was a great market and I did very well.  It is the last event of the year for me.  The market manager told me that I should bring my spinning wheel and sit and spin.  It was too cold yesterday for me to even drop spindle until it warmed some.  When someone shows interest in the knitwear or yarn, I always let them know that it is hand spun and the knitwear, hand knit by me.  Two ladies were looking at the hats, sweater, and mitts when I told them that.  One of the ladies turned to me and said “What do you mean hand spun?”  Her companion said before I could answer, that it was spun on a spinning wheel.  Lady #1’s eyes got big and she said to me, “You make the yarn and then make the hats?”  She just couldn’t wrap her head around that idea even though I was standing behind my booth with a spinning drop spindle at the time and had knitting on the table.

The cold and wind when I had been fighting a cold for a couple days, left me totally voiceless today.   The week has been very cold and several days of  light snow.

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The grands missed one day of school and had a 2 hour delay the following day because of the extreme cold.  We drove across the state last weekend in the snow, but fortunately the roads were in decent shape.  We delivered Christmas gifts to our youngest and his family and enjoyed a few hours of visit and a meal out.

When we got home last weekend, we went to one of the cut your own Christmas tree farms and got our tree for the year.  It was put up in the stand and has been watered daily.  I put the lights on it and we were waiting for the grands to be able to help us decorate it, but between school, their activities, preparing for and moving stuff from storage to their new house, it hadn’t happened.  Since I am voiceless and a bit under the weather today, I built a fire, put on carols, and Jim and I put most of the ornaments on the tree, leaving a few for the kids to hang this evening.

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That finishes the decorating for this year, now we sit back and enjoy it for a couple of weeks.  Midweek, we made the Christmas dinner purchases as we will travel to visit eldest son and his family next weekend, coming home on Christmas eve.

There has been quite a bit of knitting going on with 3 little girl hats hand knit from my hand spun yarns. IMG_20171212_150448IMG_20171208_111447

 

I failed to photograph the third one, it was all pink.

Now I am working on a project for me, a Hitchhiker scarf, knit in a gradient merino commercial yarn that started with a soft salmon and has turned into a red, though several shades of reds to maroon.

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I tend to knit blues and teals for myself, so it is fun using something brighter.

The cold and snow have the chooks on strike.  Yesterday, there were only 2 eggs from 16 hens.  One of the hens doesn’t seem to be a layer.  Her body shape is more like a guinea hen, her neck longer and thin, and her comb and waddle pale.  She otherwise seems healthy enough as far as activity.  I haven’t seen any sign of parasite activity.  And unlike her Welsummer sisters, she can’t fly over the fence.  She may have to be culled from the coop.  There are too many hens for my coop right now and the coop is requiring frequent cleaning when most winters I can just use the deep litter method of keeping them clean and warm.

Hoping you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

 

Memories – December 11, 2017

Our memories of Christmas together go back 40 years and most are wonderful memories, a few sad, a few where a silent primal scream in the kitchen was in order.

As our daughter was born in late November, as soon as she had a voice and an idea of what a birthday was supposed to be, decorating was forbidden until the day after her birthday.  Usually the outdoor wreaths would go up the day after Thanksgiving whether it was the 23rd or the 29th, but the indoor decorations were left in the boxes in the attic or storage closet (depending on the house) until the 30th.

Early on in our relationship, a Santa collection was begun and as the family grew, so did the collection as it made a great gift from the kids or from hubby.  We lived in the Hampton Roads part of Virginia at the time and in the town of Portsmouth was a Nursery and greenhouse that in addition to selling Christmas trees, turned the entire property into a winter wonderland with animatronic displays of various themes, the Santa workshop, Candy factory, train displays, with one room of one building selling tree lights, ornaments, gifts, and hot cocoa.  Our first Santa and his Mrs. came from Coleman’s Nursery.

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Several of the more than 100 also came from there as I discovered the gnomes of Tom Clark and they became my favorites.

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At some point, a tiny village was also started and occupied the mantel when the children were small and later the corner of the hutch.

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Sometime in the late 1990’s, Coleman’s burned and they lost a lot of their displays, but vowed to rebuild.  In 2003, we heard that Coleman’s was closing and selling off their  remaining animatronics and trains and though we hadn’t been in a couple of years because it just wasn’t the same after the fire, we returned and came home with an addition to the village.  Most of the Santas and village pieces are dated by me and often have either where they were purchased or who gifted them to me.  One year at Coleman’s, we discovered that daughter, then maybe 4 was breaking out with chicken pox.  I always wondered how many children we infected that night before we realized, she never felt ill and fortunately didn’t get too many pox, but another memory.

There were Christmases when money was tight and we struggled to make sure that the kids got at least one major gift from their list.  Of course our kids were of the age to want Cabbage Patch doll or Transformers, sending us on merry chases to try to locate the gift that every other child of that age wanted that year.

One year, a small animatronic Santa with a working clock and tape player that played the Night Before Christmas Story appeared.

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He always sat in our foyer at Christmas, but has been stored away for more than a decade.  This year, not knowing if he even still worked, he was brought out for the resident grands and with a battery in the clock and a good dusting, he still works, including the cassette.

There were the sad Christmas times as I lost both of my parents in December, many years apart and the unwrapping of ornaments and Santas from them bring tears of love and sadness.

The memories, oh the memories.  I hope my children have mostly good memories of Christmas, I do.

Olio – Nov. 24, 2017

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

The blog has been quiet of late, but not for a lack of activity.  Jim and I continue to strive for a daily walk, though the past few days because of extra folk in the household, prep for Thanksgiving, child keeping for daughter and SIL to get their house painted inside before they move their furniture in, my walks have either been missed or have happened on our mountain road with visiting son, DIL, and eldest grandson.  Last evening, we walked our road so that I could show them the fossil.

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Grandson had been shown it before, but couldn’t find it again to show his parents.  It stays hidden and you have to know where to look to uncover it.

Today is  resident granddaughter’s  sixth birthday.  She was born on Thanksgiving and celebrated on Thanksgiving last year but won’t hit the holiday again for a few years.

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Her Dad is not a fan of spiders so her wicked sense of humor requested a chocolate cake with a spider web and spider on top. Above is daughter, our resident cake decorator, molding a purple spider from Rice Krispy treat mix to go on the cake that will be revealed tonight.

Yesterday’s feast was a treat.  We worked together to pull it off, with DIL helping with side dishes,  son’s assist to spatchcock the 19.5 lb turkey.  He also is in charge of rubbing the herb butter I made under the skin and lifting the monster onto and off of the baking rack and carving it.  This process produces the juiciest, tastiest poultry in such a short time.  It only took 90 minutes cooking time with this method.

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We don’t put the whole bird on the table to carve so it’s unconventional appearance is okay.  The aromatic vegetables under the turkey are pureed and added to the backbone, neck, giblets, and carcass to cook down for broth.  We ended up last night putting 2 1/2+ gallons of broth in jars for future gravies, cooking rice, potatoes, or beans.

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I survived turning 70 this past week.  It was a busy day of cleaning, food purchase for the feast and to feed the 9 people currently staying here, but ended with Jim taking me for a delightful meal at a local upscale restaurant.

This morning, eldest grandson (12), resident grandson (10), and the birthday girl, helped me stack the load of firewood that was delivered earlier this week.  This required removing the old wood from the makeshift rack first, driving a couple new T posts, scrounging for a few more old cedar posts to use as the base, and stacking high enough to have room, low enough to not topple over. The old wood then piled back on top to be burned first.

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It is two rows thick at one end and the chick raising water trough is full of old wood, set on it’s side behind the stacks as additional storage.

Today, being Black Friday, I won’t venture from the house.  I don’t like to shop when it is quiet, I sure don’t want to be out in the chaos that even our smaller towns seem to have.  I will support some of our local businesses later, and will purchase some gifts online next week.

I hope my readers, had quality time with family or friends yesterday or will be able to this weekend.  I am thankful for the time with my husband, children that could come and their families.  Hopefully, we will soon get to visit the one that could not come.

OLIO – November 12, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

This hasn’t been a particularly busy week, 2 days home with a sick almost 6 year old, daily walks the other days, fairly consistently getting the 10,000 suggested steps each day and our speed up, walking 3.7-4 miles per hour, not bad for two oldies but goodies.

Car time was spent finishing up another pair of fingerless mitts for the Holiday Markets and the shop.

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Hand spun Coopworth by me and the green is part mohair from a friend’s goats, blended commercially with merino maybe and dyed by the friend.

A few nights ago, we were threatened with our first hard freeze, we have had several light frosts, so a harvest of mint, oregano, flat leaf parsley, and lemon balm were made to dry for teas and culinary uses this winter.  They are scattered around on trays on the hutch top and shelf to dry.

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A couple of sprigs of rosemary were brought in and put in the rooter ball in the kitchen window to root before potting.  The intent was to put row cover over the plant in the garden and over the rainbow chard, but intent and action didn’t meet.

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I probably should have.  If it perks back up, I will harvest a fair amount of it and freeze it then cover the plants and see if there will still be fresh greens for a bit longer.  It looked even worse this morning when I went out to feed and water the chickens.

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It has been cold enough the past few mornings to warrant the big ugly pink hooded barn coat and gloves.  It is ugly, but it is warm and there are two pair of gloves, depending on the chore and temperature, a pair of leather rough out work gloves and a pair of thick insulated Columbia fleece gloves that used to go winter camping with me.  With the sharp drop in temperature the other night came very strong wind.  It flipped our gas grill over two half barrels of herbs in the yard, tipping them over as well.  Other than a dent, it seems undamaged, but it will be moved well away from the house before it is lit to be sure.

Recently a friend, who is also a blog friend, posted a finished beautiful shawlette/scarf called Hitchhiker.  Years ago I knit one and the grandkids said it looked like a Dragon’s tail.  Though I was pleased with the knit and the shape, I didn’t like the color that I had chosen for the yarn and it sold in a prior Holiday Market.  I commented on her blog post and she encouraged me to knit another.  It seemed like a good project to take when we travel in February as it is one that can be picked up, put down, fairly easily memorized so good for airports and planes.  I started looking for yarn and couldn’t find anything that struck my fancy.  I had been spinning a lovely colorful Merino on the Spanish Peacock drop spindles, but feared it would look muddy plyed on itself.  If Navajo plyed, it wouldn’t give me enough yardage for the pattern and would be a bit heavier yarn than desired.  I realized that the Hearts of the Meadow Farm Coopworth that I am spinning for a sweater was a great color match, so a bobbin of it was spun fine and the spindle singles was plyed with the bobbin singles to produce a 155 yard skein.

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I like it, just 350 more yards of it need to be made to complete the project.  That will be my spinning project for a bit, except for Thursday when I am at Smithfield House in costume for a large Homeschool group.  I will resume spinning the oatmeal colored Coopworth that day.

Knitting, I am working on a Wonderful Wallaby, a hooded, pocketed sweatshirt style sweater for daughter.  I have made many of them for grandkids, this is the first adult sized one.  The body is done up to where the sleeves must be attached so the sleeves were begun last night as they are knit separately and then knit onto the sweater.

In spite of the very cold morning yesterday, we bundled up and ventured out to breakfast and the Farmers’ Market.  There are still many vendors there with produce, a few with meat, a couple with coffee, candles, artisan breads, and other goodies.  We came home with some produce, sausage as the house will be brimming at Thanksgiving, a loaf of bread, and a small bouquet of flowers for the table.

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While there, I met up with the Market Manager, and Ian told me that our Holiday Market conflicts with a 12:30 home football game at the University, the last home game of the season.  Typically, home game days are not good market days as the parking around town all gets taken up by game goers, several of the larger lots that are on campus become tailgate sites, including the one across from the market where we typically park our cars and trucks, it will be closed to our use.  Jim may have to deliver and pick me up and I shouldn’t expect this market to be a good one.  December should be better.  I almost didn’t do the November market to do one at our local elementary/middle school.  Maybe that is what I should have done, but what is done is done.

After the market and the grocer and all was put away at home, we ventured to the local trail around the big pond to do our walk and it was still only in the low 30’s.  It was brisk and made us move quickly to keep warm,  Today is supposed to be a bit milder, up into the mid 40’s.

Another week on the farm, the mountain looking like winter, the leaves down, the trees barren, the little flock of finches, Tufted Titmice, and Chickadees frequenting the feeders, the chickens cleaning up what they spill and “weeding” my flower beds with their scratching.  I love life here, even in winter.  Must get some firewood though.

Olio – 11/6/2017

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

It is truly autumn here, near 70ºf one day and 40’s to 50’s the next.  Sunshine and gloom, but more gloom than sunshine of late.

With the last of the harvest from the garden (still some chard and herbs), it was mulched down last week.  The 8 quart bucket of the last of the peppers brought in though I kept forgetting to buy ziplock freezer bags.  I avoid the use of plastic for the environment, but some things that go in the freezer don’t have another good option.  Son in law picked up a box for me yesterday and last night after dinner, daughter packaged and labelled while I chopped.  I didn’t specify how to label them and she tends to be a creative sort when not given specific direction.

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There are some interestingly labelled chickens in the freezer for the same reason.  It makes me smile each time I pull out one of the packages.

The shorter days have slowed egg production from about a dozen a day down to about 8 a day.  It amazes me that with 30 acres to prowl, that those 16 birds can foul their coop so thoroughly as quickly as they do.  This morning, I could smell ammonia again, so I opened the pop door, the coop door, and all three windows fully to hopefully dry some of the straw, but hardly got back in the house when thick gloom formed again.  A weather app check said rain was due before 10 a.m.  With the garden dormant and a winter to break down the hot fertilizer, I forked the fouled straw out of the coop and onto the dormant beds and spread new straw in the coop, closed the main door and lowered the windows to a ventilating crack.  Back in the house, only 8:30 and the rain has already begun.

I hope the rain will stop by early afternoon.  Jim and I have been working together for the past 8 weeks to improve our health.  This has included behaving better at meals and eliminating most snacks, altering the types of snacks we do eat, and walking daily.  We started with a bit over 2 miles at a pace the hare would laugh at, but yesterday we did 3 miles at 15.05 minutes/mile.  He is willing to go to the gym and walk the treadmill, I am not, plus we don’t encourage each other doing it that way.  I walk faster when I am with him and I think he does also, so I don’t like rainy days that interfere.  When it gets cold, he will go to the gym, I will layer up and continue to walk outdoors if it isn’t raining.  So far, though I don’t see much weight change, I have dropped a size in my jeans and had to purchase a couple of new pair yesterday as I was constantly pulling the old ones up.

The first Holiday Market is coming up and I am spending car time and evenings, knitting hats and fingerless mitts with small skeins of hand spun yarns.

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If the day is cool or windy, hopefully they will sell.  Each new item also goes into my online shop with the link on the side of the blog.

Lately, I have been missing my Dad.  It is approaching two years since he took sick and passed.  On Halloween, while looking for a photo of my daughter doing professional grade Darth Maul makeup on her little brother to show her son who she was doing as the Joker from Batman, I stumbled on this photo from many (maybe a dozen) years ago at a holiday meal at his home.  This is my sister and me with Dad with a silly smirk that I saw so often.  I’m not sure why my little brother wasn’t in the picture as well.

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I had much shorter and much darker hair back then.  This morning, while sitting and eating my breakfast, I was watching the birds on the feeders.  Please excuse the dirty window, I can’t go safely out on the deck to clean it.

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He always had feeders full for the birds and squirrels and most of the ones I can name when they visit are because of his lessons.

One of the things I really miss is our weekly call that always had a discussion of what we were currently reading and his recommendations of many excellent books I have read over the years because of him.  I did have a nice long conversation with my step mom yesterday though.

I think I will end with a picture of the best buds.

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They had been wrestling over a ball and she putting her whole head in his mouth, but then they they just collapsed into a puppy pile to snuggle.

 

 

 

 

Goodnight garden – 11/2/2017

Today seems like a spring day, blue skies, 68ºf, sunshine.  With the several mornings of frost on the grass and the windshield when taking the grands to the bus stop and then below freezing temps and snow flurries all day Sunday, I knew the garden was done.  Since the day is gorgeous and Jim is off enjoying it on the Harley, grands in school, daughter and SIL at work, it seemed like a good day to put the garden to bed for the winter.

Boy was I surprised when I got out there. The pepper bed which happened to be right behind a big round hay bale that I rolled in before finishing the fence last spring though slightly frost bitten was still hearty plants loaded with peppers.

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An 8 quart bucket was filled and those peppers will be chopped and frozen for winter use.  The plants were then pulled and tossed in the chicken run for them to pick at the leaves and remaining peppers that were too small to bother picking.

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The Echinacea  is still blooming, it was tucked down beside the rotting bale of hay.

The herb bed is still thriving too with several mints, rosemary, hyssop, and oregano.

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And lots of swiss chard.  We have a few mild days and a bit of rain expected, but before the next cold night, the mint and oregano will be cut to dry and a sprig of rosemary cut to root for the kitchen window garden of the winter.  I think the herb bed is going to be covered with a row cover to try to save the rosemary for the spring.

The Tithonia was mostly bloomed out and the plants dry so it was pulled and tossed in the chicken pen for them to get the remaining seed from the seed heads.  It will be planted again next year, but it with the sunflowers are going to be on an edge of the garden, not in the middle.  The asparagus ferns were dry so they too were cut back to a couple inches and then all of the beds that had been cleaned out, the tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, sweet potatoes, garlic, and onion beds were all heavily layered in old hay with the garden stakes laid on top to help hold it down from the winter wind and the chickens that get in the garden.

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The big roll of hay, with much effort was moved from in front of the gate where it had protected the peppers.  Much of it used on the beds.  The remainer will mulch the large area where the corn was grown, and around the raspberries. They  still need to be cut back and thinned, but their leaves are gone so it shouldn’t be too difficult a job.  The containment rings are going to be set around clumps of them and cardboard heavily mulched will be placed around the rings and over to the edges of the garden boxes.

Though I love my home grown garlic, I think I am going to skip a year and see if I can break the cycle of the nematodes that damage about a third of the harvest each year.

The second fence around the garden that would make a 3-4 foot wide chicken run all the way around the garden never was completed last spring.  I have the posts, but need to replace a section of fencing on the north side of the garden, move a comfrey plant, and set the new fencing.  This will also necessitate two new gates and one of them will need a substantial gate post set.

The rest of the putting to bed activity will have to wait for tomorrow or this weekend.  Two or three hours of pulling plants and weeds is enough for one day.  The pigweed, smartweed, horsenettle, and some tall mint family weed in spite of the earlier weedings required a fair amount of today’s energy.IMG_20171102_131657

These girls weren’t much help.

The header was yesterday’s morning sky while waiting at the bus stop.  With daylight savings time starting this weekend, it will be light at the bus stop next week, but dark so much earlier in the evenings.  I don’t think daylight savings time is a good thing.

Off to pick up the grands from the bus.  Until next time.

Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family