Wild and Woolly Afternoon

Yesterday morning it rained lightly alternating with periods of sunshine. By early afternoon, you could see the storm coming. The photo below was taken right after our phones alarmed simultaneously of severe thunderstorm warning with ping pong ball sized hail.

Our house has a large 2 plus car garage, but like most garages, it has too much other stuff in it and normally only houses the motorcycle. There are two large built in work benches, a built in floor to ceiling shelving unit, many sets of scaffolding with it’s braces and walk boards, scrap wood, various 5 gallon buckets (well more than a dozen), my garden cart with tools, the gas mower and weed wacker. One wall has pegs with hanging tools another wall has two high shelves of camping and outdoor gear. Of course, all the wild bird food, chicken food, and a half bale of pine shavings for their coop. There are 3 ladders, and the two bicycles were also in there. When the alert came, we scrambled to try to get the two cars in there too. Items were shoved and shifted willy nilly, the bicycles moved to a large unused coop and my car was put in on the tighter size as it is the smaller of the two. Hubby with much back and forth moved the motorcycle to the middle and stayed on it while I drove his larger car in.

To get out of my car, I had to climb over to the passenger side to get out and very carefully slid out the driver’s side of his car. There was no room to move around in there at all. We had just accomplished this, closed the doors and come back in when the phones alarmed a tornado warning in our area. We have a basement, but our dogs know it is off limits, so they had to be lead around the house and in the back door one at a time. There is a TV down there so we turned it on to monitor the storm and waited out the all clear.

Because I had spent a good portion of the day making two batches of sandwich rolls, I had decided to make spicy sloppy joe for dinner and started it and some hash browns. The sloppy joe was barely done and I was right at the end of the frying for the potatoes when the power went out. It was early for dinner, but eat we did and as the wind howled, the rain started, then the hail. Fortunately it was pea sized, not ping pong ball sized and doesn’t seem to have done any damage.

This is not typical weather for us, tornado warnings are very rare and I don’t remember large hail ever since we have lived here.

The power stayed out for about 3 hours and the clouds thinned, the wind continued. In the early morning hours this morning, it again rained, thundered, and flashed and the wind was scary sounding. I kept waiting for the phone to alarm again, but it didn’t, I just couldn’t sleep well with the storms. Today is mostly clear, still very windy and cooler, but comfortable with a near freezing night tonight and tomorrow night.

After lunch, I moved the cars carefully back out into the driveway and committed to clean up and reorganize the garage in case we are faced again with having to quickly put the cars in. The scaffolding braces were tightened up, my craft show shelter finally put back in its bag, scrap wood organized and tightened up, cans better organized and out of the way but so that chicken feed can still be accessed even with cars in there. A large rolling plastic crate that was purchased several years ago to move new chicks to the warm basement during a late fall cold snap was moved back to the utility area of the basement where it can be stored until it is needed for that use again. The mower and garden cart arranged tightly against the scaffolding. The only vehicle in the garage now is the motorcycle and it is still in the middle as there are no plans for it to go out. Usually, the riding mower is parked on the side where my car was yesterday, but the repair folks had picked it up. It will go back in the garage when it is returned, but if another warning comes, I will drive it up to the bay of the barn that has the tractor parked in it, it will be okay there for short periods, but I don’t want mice in the engine compartment. I would like to organize shelves and workbenches better, but I needed a break. If we had to quickly put the cars in now, it would be much easier and still be able to get through the garage.

Now I need to go get the house plants protected, it is going down to 35 tonight.

Our daily bread

The self isolation has prompted a return to bread baking and consumption of homemade bread. When we knew that we would be staying at home and began our supply stocking, some sandwich type rolls and a loaf of sourdough bread were purchased and frozen. A month into the isolation, those supplies are long gone which prompted a resurrection of the sourdough. While the sourdough was being fed and restored, a couple of loaves of no knead artisan bread were made, then the starter was ready and several loaves have been baked, giving one to the neighbor that helped with the mower. This morning, I realized that there were no sandwich rolls left, so the starter discard was put to use to mix up a batch of dough for them. There are two recipes that I use for rolls, one with sourdough and one without. The sourdough ones take longer to make but use up the daily discard. The ones below are the yeast raised ones.

The yeast raised ones are done, the sourdough have 4 more hours plus baking time. Think I will stick to yeast raised for sandwich buns.

The bread making helps pass the time and since we aren’t going anywhere, there is plenty of that. Because flour is a rare commodity, I can’t go out to get it, I’m using so much of it, I ordered fresh stone milled organic flour. It comes from a mill where a blogger friend works and it arrived today. I just sprayed the outer box with 1% bleach spray and will open it with gloves on once it is dry and bring my 4 three pound bags in. Can’t wait to try it, but with one each of the roll recipes rising on the counter that will make 12 buns, and about a half a loaf of sourdough remaining from yesterday’s baking, it will have to wait a day or two and will probably be a loaf of sandwich bread.

This morning, the mower repair people came and picked up the riding mower to take in to fix and when I stepped out to yell up to the guy to see if we paid for the pick up now or when it was returned, I saw our neighborly mower had again jumped her fence and come to visit.

If she is going to come mow, I wish she would at least come down to an area that I have to mow, not an area that is saved for hay. Of course it had just started raining when I called her owner to let her know where “Bad” Penny was. She is due to calf in May so maybe she will stay home and not leave her little one then.

The time at home has my garden in a better place than it has ever been this early in the spring, but we have two days of rain followed by a chilly day and near freezing night ahead, so it will sit idle. The asparagus look like they will provide enough for a meal soon, then they will overwhelm and I only like them fresh, so freezing or otherwise preserving is not going to happen. I know daughter and granddaughter love them and I’m sure she will be glad to come out to pick up a bag full and a dozen eggs. I need to get out between rain showers and string some trellis for the peas.

I AM NOT A QUITTER

A few days ago, I said I had given up on the fencing. Today is another beautiful day and I am less sore, and have more energy, so I attacked it again. There were two long pieces of garden fencing partially loose on the ends attached to several T-posts and it served no useful purpose. I started taking it down last summer to make mowing easier but it was really overgrown in the grass and I couldn’t get it free. It is now down, the T-posts all pulled, a dozen of them. Old rotting wooden fence posts that were laid along the bottom to keep the chickens in when there was a run that it enclosed were pulled up and stacked along the edge of the large A frame coop.

The row of tall weeds is where it was, the garden fence to the right, the orchard to the left, and I am standing with my back to the chicken run where they kick out the compost. That large coop was built so I could raise some meat chickens. Maybe this fall if the virus subsides, I will get a dozen or so Freedom Rangers and some electric net fencing and put that coop back to use. It becomes the holding coop when old hens are replaced with new pullets.

Feeling smug that the task was accomplished and going back to last year’s idea of a garden fence closer to the garden inside the original sturdier fence, making a run around the perimeter of the garden for the chickens was revisited. I had done that last year, but had used 3 foot fencing in places and the chickens would get a running start and go over it and get out or in to the garden. The fence I took down is 4 feet and the exterior fence is 4 feet and if I put a cover over the end near the coop, they can’t get a running start and fly onto the egg door. The first section of that fence was put in place, but then I got down near Mrs. Wren and she got agitated, so I left her alone to sit. I went back to it after lunch and got by her so she won’t be bothered again. I got the fence put back, and the chickens can have the run of that alley and scratch the henbit, chickweed, and other goodies looking for bugs. It helps keep the weeds down, gives them some running room and more area to scratch.

It didn’t take them long to find the feast, it won’t take them long to beat down the weeds in that perimeter. There is very little left to do inside the garden fence now. A few small areas of henbit, a deteriorated tarp at the farthest end to be removed.

When the leaves fall in autumn, we look forward to the new greening in the spring. Usually we see no green hints except on scrub until early to mid May. We aren’t even to the middle of April and the trees are beginning to leaf out. This is such an atypical spring. My seedlings are thriving and get a bit of sheltered time on the back deck during the day. Some heartier house plants have been returned to the porches. I watch the weather and if a frost sneaks up on us, some will be brought back in.

The hens are being generous. The nine of them produce about 5 eggs a day, but yesterday they were in overdrive.

The oblong layer is still producing odd oblong eggs and her shells are very thin and brittle.