It is going away

Slowly, piece by piece, the cottage business is departing. Still there are 5 spindles that get used regularly, the spinning wheel from my friend’s estate sale, the rigid heddle loom and stand, my knitting needles, and of course the great wheel that was never part of the business. I’ve kept the re-enactment folding table and period folding chair as I will still participate at events for fiber arts in history, and though they were sometimes used as part of displays, they aren’t part of the business. The remaining baskets and crates can be repurposed here at home. The two small tobacco style baskets can be made into door or wall decorations and may be made up in that style for the last event just before Christmas.

Next week, I will attend a fiber retreat and vend wares that were already in stock. One grandson asked for a pair of soft, dark fingerless mitts, so a skein will be set aside for that. There are 3 more events before the end of the year and no more stock will be made for them.

As the spinning is a stress relief for me, it will continue to be a hobby, but what I spin will be done with purpose as something that can be woven or knit as a gift. And as I reverted to spindles during the beginnings of the pandemic, most spinning will continue to be on spindles as it gives me pleasure and slows the production to a useable pace.

Batches of soap were made this week to be used at home, to be given as gifts, and to share with family members and friends that desire them.

It took me a long time to come to the decision to end this venture, but there is actually a sense of relief that it is coming to an end. I will move on to other adventures in my retirement. As long as family wants mitts, scarves, hats, and the occasional sweater, and friends want soap, it will keep me happy.

The online shop has already been shut down, so it is just moving out stock at events, trying to get to a manageable amount that can be used here or as gifts.

The blog will continue as it deals more with life on the farm. Keep watching for more posts as the seasons change.

Always more tasks this time of year

Two days of tomatoes were cooked down to pizza sauce and canned yesterday during the rainy afternoon. It made 6 half pints, but I didn’t waterbath one, instead used half of it on last night’s pizza and froze the rest for next time. The red and a handful of green Seranos and Jalapenos were chopped up in the blender and started as a hot sauce ferment while the sauce was processing.

Though I don’t grow as many tomatoes as I used to and don’t can nearly as much as it is just the two of us, it does my heart good to see the shelves beginning to fill.

It is nearly time to add applesauce, apple/pear sauce, and a few jars of pear marmalade to the shelves, and more hot peppers as they mature.

Yesterday morning, the pots in the back garden were scattered around the bed I weeded, the sprinkler set up on a pedestal, but we ended up with a couple inches of rain between yesterday afternoon, over night, and into this morning, so no watering was needed. More of the smaller rocks were moved from the work area to the back edge or top of the wall to clear them. And every pot of boiling water left from cooking pasta or canning goodies is taken our and poured on the vetch. Slowly, it is dying off and the edge of the work area and remaining rocks will be visible.

This afternoon was to be used to make soap and instead, I got involved in closing down the shop business. Much of my equipment that I only used for vending has been sold. Today, a small loom that was beautiful, but didn’t get much use was also sold. By the end of the year, hopefully, there will not be much stock left and what is left can be donated to the museum or given as gifts and my fiber arts and soap making will be for family and close friends. Though I enjoyed the years of being Cabin Crafted, the tax ramification were just too stressful for a cottage business that broke even each year at best.

Somehow, we manage to get our walks in each day, around the rain showers, or sometimes in them. Since my wellness check, and the report of slightly elevated cholesterol, we have both picked up the pace and extended the distance by about 3/4 of a mile. My already healthy, low meat diet has been tweaked more to totally eliminate dairy products except for cheese in Mexican food and on pizza. My morning smoothie is made with plant milk, whey protein, flax, peanut butter powder, and frozen berries. Most mornings, it is like eating a cup of ice cream it is so thick. Ice cream has been reduced to a single scoop once a week. Starches limited to whole grains and fresh vegetables that contain starch like corn and potatoes, and then prepared steamed or boiled. It isn’t terribly different than I was eating, except I was using homemade whole milk yogurt and real peanut butter in the smoothies, a slice of sourdough bread with it, often buttered with avocado, more cheese, and butter on many vegetables. I was put on a low dose statin, though I didn’t react well to one about 14 years ago and hope that maybe the diet changes and exercise will allow me to not take it after a while.

All of the garden work aggravated the arthritis and trigger finger in my hands, so crafting has been minimal for the past few days, but I did finish two more Sashiko panels and used one to decorate a small canvas zip bag to hold the Sashiko supplies and unfinished small panels in.

There are 8 more of these panels, 1 finished, 7 to stitch. Maybe they will become a tote bag, or a table runner. Time will tell. Spinning happens mostly in the car, a bit at night as I continue to work my way through the 5 ounce braid. It has lovely colors in the sunlight, greens, purples, golds, on a gray background, but in the house, those colors seem to hide so it feels like spinning gray. After a whole year of spinning only natural colors for the breed blanket, more color has been needed in my craft this year. I think it will weave on my rigid heddle loom into a lovely, drapey shawl once it is done. It is a smooth spin so it shouldn’t grab while weaving as long as it is strong enough to not break the warp threads. Maybe a commercially spun silk will be the warp as the braid is 25% silk.

The mornings, feel that summer is edging away, the daytime temperatures in the 70’s. This morning, herb and salad greens were sown in the hydroponics as the frost will take out the herbs and I never plant lettuce outdoors. We will enjoy salads all winter with the hydroponic garden and the salad greens will be refreshed as needed. For now, there are some greens and radishes being harvested from the garden, lettuce from the Farmer’s Market as needed, the cucumbers just starting to produce and new green beans about ready to harvest. Pumpkins this year will have to be purchased, they never did come up or at least didn’t produce vines and fruit. The peas are gaining size, strings need to be added to the posts for them and they should produce before we have our first frost. The greenhouse cover needs a minor repair before it is needed outdoors. Summer is moving on to a close, and it is raining hard again outside.

Garden recovery

After my last post about the wayward hens, and finding two more eggs in the back garden hidey hole, with a cooler evening, I tackled the back garden mess. One of my garden tools is a handle 15″ or so long with a T shaped end. One side is a 3″ wide hoe blade and a 3 tine digging fork on the other end of the T. It took me several hours of sitting in on the soil or the rock wall to eradicate a ton of bermuda grass and comfrey at the lower edge of the garden and vetch, oxalis, clover, and other invasions at the upper edge. Where the rocks are still piled awaiting removal by placement in the patio or along the wall, vetch was left as it doesn’t pull through the rocks very well. The half barrels on the wall and the potted perennials are going to be scattered through out the weeded bed for now.

Yesterday, in the heat of the day, under full sun, I sprayed the vetch with salted vinegar, donned leather gloves to remove a truly thorny invader, but walked away from it to let the spray do it’s magic. It doesn’t do magic on vetch that is still thriving today. I love the vetch when it isn’t in my gardens, the bees all love it too, but it can’t reside where it currently is.

The mostly finished patio and the transition area between the finished part and the garden part where the vetch is thriving.

As the sun lowered in the sky, the heat rose for some unexplained reason as the night was to be very seasonably cool, but my trusty tool and gloves were taken over to finish weeding the north edge of the vegetable garden behind and in the tall asparagus tops, the fall potato bed that never came up, and some in the tomato and pepper bed. As I work the beds, I am increasingly unhappy that I made two very long 4 foot wide boxes too close together. With tomatoes on one edge and corn behind it in the second bed, it is difficult to get to the weeds and harvest tomatoes without stepping in the beds. That design may be revisited this fall at the end of the season, breaking the longer of the boxes up and replacing it slightly uphill with 3 boxes that are 4 feet square. To do that, the blackberry half barrels will have to be moved down below the blueberries where the raspberry half barrels are, and if I put thick weed mat down first and line them up along that edge of the garden and mulch heavily around them, maybe the blueberries will stay less weedy.

The efforts in the vegetable garden produced a large compost pile that now needs some dry material on it, perhaps the soiled wood chips from the coop.

While weeding back there, I disturbed a bumblebee. They have never bothered me before, just flitting around where I worked, but this one became quite agitated at my efforts to remove the deadnettle and clover and she stung me three times, once on my midsections and twice under one arm. Bumblebees don’t have a barb on their stinger and can sting multiple times. The more she stung me, the more aggressive she became. I swatted her down with my glove and removed from the area. Today the stings are angry red and itchy. That makes 8 stings from bees and hornets this summer, more than I have gotten in my prior 74 years. So far, the red swelling, a headache, and three days of itching have been the only reaction. I truly hope it doesn’t develop into a more serious reaction, though a talk with a volunteer rescue squad member told me they do carry epinephrine on their trucks.

Today we have rain, so I’m off the move the pots and barrels around and pick tomatoes. This afternoon while it rains, I will can another batch of pizza sauce and use some of it on tonight’s dinner.