Away and back again

A few weeks ago, we lost our gentle giant of a dog. His lack of mobility had kept us from any travel without finding a farm sitter strong enough to help him to his feet and he weighed 200 lbs. It was very sad for us, but he was nearly 12 years old and had lived a good life. His partner in crime is a 95 lb German Shepherd who is 11 1/2, but still able to get into the back of the car with a running start and sometimes a human assist. We decided to board her and get away for a few days. Our travel had ceased with Covid then human health issues, and the big dog’s issues.

We reserved 3 nights at Big Meadows Lodge on the Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park and two days before we were to leave, we received a call that the electricity had been cut to the Lodge for the safety of the firefighters who were fighting a slow moving wildfire that started outside the park on the east side, but had encroached into the park, not threatening any building, but requiring the power cut and seriously impacting the air quality in that part of the park due to the smoke. We were offered a full refund, a change of reservation to next year, or change to Skyland 10 miles farther north. We chose that option but just for 2 nights. Hiked some, climbed Big Stony Man and looked down on the valley and also down on our cabin. It was pleasant, but not the same as our preferred Big Meadows where we have very fond memories with our children as they grew up. We hiked in shirt sleeves on Thursday.

And Friday, we awoke to snow and ice, but not more than an inch before we left and drove another hour plus to pick up Son 1 at work and let him drive us to Bethesda, Md were they live and to our hotel. The hotel, a high rise 4 star venue that was gorgeous until we found out our room was infested with cockroaches, a major turn off. The weather in Bethesda was very nice Friday night and until we left after breakfast today. We enjoyed a delightful dinner our with son, his gal and her son, a trip to the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy space museum on Saturday with all, then a lovely Tex Mex meal at their apartment afterward. This morning, breakfast at their apartment then the trip home.

It was so nice to get away for a few days. The boarded pup was retrieved, dinner prepped and enjoyed, and the laundry will wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, my left eye will get it’s cataract surgery to improve my eye health and vision.

As usual, I packed more non clothing items than I needed by far, too many snacks, too much fiber, knitting I never touched. It is all put away now. Tonight we sleep in our own bed.

Olio – October 20, 2023

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

Fall is in the air. The daily walks are more vivid each day. A few days ago, we ventured farther into Heritage Park than we have ever walked before doing two more miles on the Huckleberry Trail. The park was a farm purchased by the town of Blackburg. One terminus of the Huckleberry is at one end of the farm and we have walked through the edge of the park many times but have never ventured into the fields. There are several of the old farm building and silos still there and several large fields that are mowed for hay still. Walking the perimeters of two of the large fields, we discovered a Play Park between the field and the old farm buildings.

The pullets have fully integrated into the flock or visa versa. They all reside in the coop together and free range as a unit now. The Orphans being a smaller breed don’t look as large as the others yet, but the Hatchlings and Marans that was added in with them are as large as the hens, but still lack much in the way of combs. The old Olive egger that was surrogate Mama Hen is being the most consistent layer, but a few days ago, she produced a robin’s egg blue egg that was as gritty as sand on the surface, but normal green eggs on the adjacent days. That has never happened before.

One of the Buff Orpingtons hasn’t laid an egg all summer. Her comb is small and pale. I think she may be removed from the flock. The older hens are all beginning to molt and the pullets are still weeks from starting to lay, so eggs are going to be scarce for a while.

Last weekend was a living history day at the Museum. I love this photo that was taken of me as I sat and demonstrated spinning, probably between visitors as I stood and talked when they were present.

The garden is still an overgrown mess. We may have our first frost Sunday night. I’m hoping so. I will then gather pumpkins and pull the vines, cut down tomato vines, cut back the asparagus, and prune the berries. Maybe then I can clear out a bed to plant next year’s garlic crop and move a wooden box over the asparagus bed to define their patch and add some soil and compost to the stalks before layering straw for the winter, and see if there are any potatoes and sweet potatoes in the hidden box.

The garden wasn’t as prolific as years past, but no fall garden was planted and the pumpkins just took over. There are pickles, pickled peppers, tomatoes and sauce, a small batch of apple/Asian pear sauce, and a very few quart bags of beans and peas. It looks like a couple dozen small Seminole pumpkins are hiding out in the vines.

Early mornings and evenings are being spent knitting on my sweater. Much more yarn than was needed was spun, so another project will have to be found for the remainder. The spindles get some time each day working on another batch of yarn.

On Sunday afternoon and evening, I will again participate in the Museum Spirit Trail event, portraying Mary Draper Ingalls, then Tuesday and Thursday, demonstrate for 4th graders at the museum in the mornings.

Wednesday, I have my consult for cataract surgery. I am a bit anxious about that even though I have been reassured by many people who have already had it done that it isn’t a big deal and I will be so happy once it is done.

The Farm in Autumn

The garden is now one huge pumpkin patch. Planting Seminole pumpkins in there was an error on my part. Somewhere beneath the vines are potatoes, sweet potatoes, and peppers. They have nearly taken over the blueberry bed and are creeping through the fence and forming pumpkins outside the garden as well. The deer are loving that, eating the leaves and flowers, and gnawing the still green pumpkins outside of the fence. The tomatillos are finally flowering so there may be some of them after all. The tomatoes are brown stalks standing in the midst of the pumpkins vines and the peppers are engulfed.

As the leaves fall from the apple trees, the fruit is more visible and a bucket was harvested yesterday and applesauce will be made today. The apple pears will be added to that sauce, it makes a delicious fruit sauce.

There are two hens in with the littles now. No aggression is shown, but favoritism is definitely shown for the ones Mama Hen raised, so the orphans are still orphaned. They are all looking like little hens now. Mornings are foggy as they set out on their daily forage. Later in the day, the two hens will go off and the 5 littles will rejoin nearer the coop.

The 4 hens in the Palace, still isolated are producing few eggs. I want to know which two are producing, so later this week, I will let one of the Marans out and to rejoin the coop and see if I get a dark colored egg in the coop. Mama Hen started laying again and has produced a green egg every day for a week. Little Red hen lays about 4 a week. If there are no dark eggs provided in the coop, that Marans will be returned to the Palace at night and the other one put in the coop as I know one of them is laying. Then the same process will occur with the Buff Orpingtons. It is the only way I can figure out who is laying and who is not.

Yesterday as the lawn was being mowed, I noticed that Ranger’s Memorial tree is sporting autumnal colors. Leaves are changing and falling, but the color in the mountains isn’t very vivid this year.

During our walk yesterday, I spotted this huge mushroom. It was on the other side of a chain link fence so now the best photo, but it must have been 15″ in diameter.

Daily foggy morning, obscuring the south ridge behind our farm.

Welcome to October.