Catching Up

The garden is planted except for the corn. It probably should have gone in yesterday as we finally have rain today and off and on for the rest of the week. In looking in the freezer in the basement to see what was left, it looks pretty barren. There are two frozen pizzas that were purchased nearly a year ago for a grandson that was staying with us for a couple of weeks, several quart bags of enchilada sauce I made with dried peppers from one of the local Latin stores, and a gallon bag of frozen whole unpeeled tomatoes. There was a second bag of tomatoes in the refrigerator freezer. At the Farmer’s Market this morning, a bag of beets was purchased. Since it is a rainy day, the beets were cooked, peeled, sliced and some of them frozen for future meals and the tomatoes were dumped in a sink of water so the peels would come off. While they partially thawed; onions, fresh basil and oregano from the garden and a pot in the house were sauteed in a bit of olive oil then the peeled tomatoes added. Once thawed through a quick whir with the immersion blender and a few hours simmer time and 5 pints of pasta sauce are jarred up. I had to use wide mouth pints as there were no new lids available and they will have to be frozen instead of canned, but we now have enough pasta sauce to last until this year’s crop of tomatoes begin to come in. I guess lids need to go on the grocery list. There are plenty of jars and rings to use as produce starts coming in. I think before much is added to the freezer, I need to put the items in it in a cooler and thoroughly clean the bottom and defrost the sides.

The peas are about a foot tall, but not flowering yet. Potatoes are up and the transplanted peppers look like they all set in nicely.

The 6 littles and the 4 mature hens have established some level of peace treaty. Though they still sleep at opposite ends of the perch, they cohabitate in the run and tunnel and will even eat together if scratch or kitchen scraps are provided. My best guess is they are about 10 or 11 weeks old now, so another 10 weeks to go before we start seeing pullet eggs.

My physical trainer and I had decided on a 4 workouts about 6 weeks ago and this week determined that that rotation was too spread out, so beginning this week, there will be two whole body workouts to rotate, adding reps or weight as tolerated as we go forward. There is also going to be a new beginner yoga class that I am going to attend once a week. Shoulder and bicep exercises that I could only handle a 3 pound weight on when I began, I am now up to 8 pounds, and ones I was using 7.5 or 10 on, I’m now using 15 and 20 with many more reps, so I guess progress is being made. We are still doing daily walks. On bad weather and PT days, I do about 2-2.5 miles at an average of 3.9 mph on the treadmill. When we are outdoors, it is generally about 3.5 to 4 miles, but not at that pace.

The Kantha quilt is progressing, though it is getting too warm to want to stitch with it in my lap at night.

The monthly challenge for the spindle group has me plying what I spun in late March and through April and spinning a sample I received with a fiber order on another spindle.

The local grandson has agreed to come assist me with extending the chicken’s tunnel. And I need to get the line trimmer to work with a level of consistency so that the now very tall grass up against the foundation and around the gardens can be brought under control. It is pushing toward summer and I don’t do well in the heat, so the heavier chores need to get done now.

Nice Weather, More History

We have had a taste of summer this week until today. Warm nights, very warm days for walks, and if it rained, only late afternoon thunder storms. Today is cooler and we had rain.

Yesterday, we had 119 sixth graders at the museum, and we had 6 stations to rotate them through. Unfortunately, our 7th station, the blacksmith was absent due to illness she didn’t want to share with the kids or us. It went well, they were very engaged. That age group understands the history for the most part and can comprehend the seed or sheep to garment process in the period before mills and yard goods could be purchased. The weather was perfect for them.

Today, we had 23 second graders. It seemed like 230 of them. We thought we were going to get by with decent weather, but after they were there for about 40 minutes, it began to rain. The first thing after they got there, the adults with them gave them a snack, Capri sun drinks and Rice crispy treats, so they started off sugared up. Second graders are very curious and very tactile in their approach. They lack the history foundation, the concept of age (asking me if the people that once occupied the 1810 loom house were still alive), and can’t follow the fact that they couldn’t just go to the store and purchase their clothing and the food they ate. That the 10 by 10 foot building housed a family, that they cooked in the fireplace, that there was no electricity or bathroom. Next week’s group is also 2nd graders, so my presentation will be more tactile, letting them handle some of the equipment, passing around more items to feel, and just going with the flow of “what is that?” questions that punctuated every minute of the 15-20 minutes they are with me.

To add to our difficulties today was the fact that we only had three stations, the inside of the museum with a 12 minute historical video of the region, the old German barn with lots of equipment to see, and me in the loom house with the loom, spinning wheel, and my stuff. By the end of the third rotation with it still raining, they left without the outdoor games that would have appealed to them more than the rest. We only had to tell several of them, that “No, Abe Lincoln didn’t live in that log house.”

On one of our walks this week, on the paved Huckleberry trail, we saw a quartet of folks with two dogs stall as we were approaching and start tossing small sticks into the path, then dodge out into the grass around the edge of the path. Upon arriving at the spot, we saw a large black rat snake, lazily making it’s way across the warm asphalt.

This was the 3rd snake we have spotted this spring on these walks, the first two were small garter snakes.

The garden is generously providing the first produce of the season with lots of asparagus. I love them, hubby doesn’t. Today, I shared bags of them with the coordinator of the museum and with my physical trainer at my session after my museum stint.

We have cooler weather this weekend before a return to the warmer, milder weather. Soon it will be time to plant the remainder of the garden.

Last night when I went over to check on the 4 hens that somehow escaped the run and tunnel earlier yesterday, and to check on the chicks, who are now quite large, they had managed to pull down part of the barricade and half of them were perched beside the older hens. This afternoon, the barricade was pulled down entirely and they will share the coop. The young ones haven’t figured out to go out yet and when they do, there will probably be a few nights of catching them and showing them how to return to the coop. It will still be 12 or more weeks before they begin to lay.

For now, I am drying out my Colonial clothing from today’s rain, trying to figure out next Thursday’s second graders, and just generally unwinding from a busy week. Son 1 will come in late tomorrow night to spend Sunday with us, before being put back on the bus to the train very early Monday morning. It will be good to see him, and we will all go to daughter’s new house to grill out on Sunday.

A Weekly Missive

I have been a lax blogger of late. We have had another round of doctors and imaging, and most of it has been at least in the right direction. More to come in the following week.

My physical trainer and I decided that since I wanted to continue working with her, the best thing to do was come up with 4 workouts to add to the walks. Two whole body, 1 upper body, and 1 lower body. We finished the series this week and will now work to increase reps and weights as tolerated by my shoulder and other achy joints. My strength and flexibility have improved, even in the shoulder with bursitis and torn bicep. On nice days (above 50, not too windy, and dry), we walk a local trail. On cooler days, rainy days, we have been walking a small indoor mall, 6 laps to a mile. Yesterday and today, we both went back to the gym. While hubby walks the indoor track, 9 laps to a mile, I hop on a treadmill. I have been working on increasing my speed while still keeping my heart rate in a “safe” for a 76 year old zone. Today I did 2 miles at 4 mph, then walked a few laps of the track with hubby to cool down some and did my lower body workout. Per Nietzsche, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”

It has been too cool to do much in the garden. We even had 3 days of snow flurries this week. And the wind for the past couple of weeks has been brutal. The peas are up, except a 2 foot strip where two of the hens got in the garden and decided to dig there. The asparagus are beginning to show. Soon there will be plenty to enjoy and share with daughter. On one of the only warm sunny days last week, something got in the bin of tomato and pepper starts and took off with a pepper plant. I guess I will have to figure out how to protect them when they are on the deck and replant that pot (again).

Two of my houseplants that summer on the front porch were looking ragged in the corner they occupy during the winter. One is a Dracena fragrans, the other a large Jade plant. Today, the Dracena was cut back and repotted in fresh soil and the Jade was pruned. I purchased a fig that can grow in a container and it came yesterday. It was potted up as well and all three of the pots on floor protecting rolling trays were put in a sunnier location on the south side of the house until they can be put outdoors.

Today was moving day for the chicks. The Calico Princesses are huge, the Buff Orpington, and the little black pullet catching up in size, were moved to the coop. After our walk, workout, and grocery run, the coop was divided in half with a baby gate and pieces of plastic erosion fencing with the hens having their food on the pop door side and access to 3 nesting boxes. The chicks having their food and water on the door side with 3 nesting boxes and perching room. A few weeks of cohabitation safely divided and a little more size on the pullets, they will be set free in the coop with the divider down. There will be some settling of pecking order, but that is inevitable.

When I went out to snap this photo, there was a dog I have never seen before nosing around the chicken run. The hens had the sense to go in the coop as you can see through the barricade. When I ran it off, it took off not toward known neighbors. I hope I don’t have another predator to have to deal with.

We loaned our scaffolding to a young couple to build their house. Most of it was returned a very long time ago, but we let them hold on to a few sections for additional tasks they had. They volunteered their help on anything I needed in exchange. Once I figure out the configuration and make a materials list, they are going to help me rebuild the chicken run, well made, and covered with chicken wire, hopefully tall enough or nearly tall enough for me to work inside and to keep the hawks out from above and the dogs and coyotes out from the sides. The gate will need to be secured better than the rock that leans up against the outside of it now.

On the craft front, I purchased some fabric, mostly Kaffe Fassett prints, made strips of 4 patterns sewn together with a layer of flannel between the top and the back and I’m making a Kantha quilt lap blanket to use on my new recliner on cool nights. In a week, I have managed about 1/4 of the running stitches that hold the layers together.

It isn’t quite as large as I hoped, but large enough for a first attempt. The fiber hubby gave me for Christmas and spun on my spindles is being knit into a Reyna scarf for me. There is a little bit of spinning going on, but it is not a current priority.

The week is supposed to warm back up, so the peas will be replanted, any additional weeding needed will be done. And Wednesday will be the first of 4 class sessions at the Museum over the next 3 weeks. I do enjoy doing them, most are 4th and 6th graders, but one group will be 2nd graders. I’m going to have to think about how to present to them. I need to make sure my costume is clean and pressed.