Weeks go by

In the past week, our family celebrated three birthdays and Thanksgiving. One of the birthday’s was mine, entering me into the beginning of my 75th year. Unlike last year when we were all locked in and isolated, we were able to share. We are all vaccinated and the adults all boosted. Last year I took an outdoor hike with daughter and her kids, all of us masked because they hadn’t decided that outdoors was safe without a mask. We drove separate cars because of Covid. This year we took a couple walks with family here for Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday and the next night for a Mexican feast.

This year we even went into restaurants for two of the birthdays, but wore masks except to eat. Last year we had Thanksgiving alone, this year we had some of our family together to enjoy the fellowship of preparation and dining.

It is concerning that there is yet another variant to the virus, not knowing how it will impact. Travel is still out for us, except short car trips to visit family.

My focus has shifted from so much crafting to prepping for the holidays. Yesterday and today spent wrapping a birthday gift for Daughter and the Christmas gifts that have been accumulating for the past month or so. I like to have the shopping done, whether in person or online prior to the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and post Thanksgiving madness. Now that Daughter has had her birthday, we can begin to pull out some of the Christmas decorations. Fortunately I did a deep cleaning prior to Thanksgiving, so daily vacuuming and light dusting are all that is necessary.

There is still some spinning being done for the Breed Blanket and always having a small spindle in the car. I knit a couple of Christmas gifts, one I’ve shown here, one a fiddly knit, then discovered a pattern for Gnomes. They are quick and fun, so adorable that several have been knit for the Christmas Barn Bazaar this coming Saturday.

Time permitting, another one or two will be knit before Saturday, but I have another square for the blanket to knit so I’m not in a bind trying to finish it in December by the end of the month deadline.

I have been waiting for a warmer day to finish putting the garden to bed for winter. The asparagus tops need to be cut down and a bit of weeding done behind that bed. The tomato, pepper, and tomatillo vines never got chopped up to expedite their breaking down into compost and the greens didn’t get covered, but still seem to be hanging in there. The salad hydroponic was restarted with new salad greens during Thanksgiving weekend and the herb one is producing way more than I am using, so some are being cut and dried for later use.

While Son 1 was here, he and GS3 tackled a couple of big projects, repairing the basement ceiling where the failed dishwasher last winter damaged the drywall, rebuilt a section of the walled garden that had collapsed, and made significant progress on a stone patio off the back deck. Hubby and I had hauled 1500 pounds of sand, six 50 pound bags at a time over a couple of weeks. The rest will be delivered and dumped loose on a tarp to finish back there. Once the patio is done, a dump truck of topsoil will be added to the walled garden to bring the soil level up to the top of the wall and the edge of the patio. That will require digging up the perennials back there long enough to spread the soil as the garden will be 6 inches to 2 feet deeper. The chickens keep digging up the bulbs and scratching around the plants. I can’t keep them out of there and when the soil level is to the top of the wall, it will be worse. Today because the past 3 days, there have been fewer eggs, they were left penned up with a deep layer of hay in their run and a scoop of scratch to entertain them. I am trying to determine if I have one or two hiding eggs or if it is just attrition due to the shorter daylight hours.

The bed along that back garage wall above needs to be redefined, weeded, and mulched, but again, the chickens just scratch it off into the grass, so a means of keeping them out is necessary.

A few nights ago when I went to lock the hens up, I brought their feed bucket back to the garage and filled it, returned it to the coop and turned around to find this.

Pepe Le Pew was between me and the house and headed for the open side garage door. Fortunately he changed his mind and scurried off across the front yard to the cedar thicket. I was amazed at how fast they can move and thankful that spraying only happens when you really harrass them. Though I have smelled them near the house before, that is the first one I have seen.

This was really just a checking in for those of you who keep up with our goings on here. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Holiday’s approach

November is birthday month in our family, two grands, stepmom, nephew, daughter, and me, plus Thanksgiving. November and early December are the months that various Holiday Craft Markets occur, ones I participate in and ones I visit looking for gifts. I hate to shop, maybe abhor is a better word and some years I have a genius idea for the grands, not this year. They range in age now from 16 to less than a month. I have done fleece blankets in favored themes with books, hoodies and books, hand knit hats and books, but I’m out of ideas. I don’t know interests of them all and I’m trying to match age to known interests and still keep a reasonable budget. I am at an age where I don’t want more stuff in the house and have been making regular donation runs, and a shared yard sale with daughter, so I’m no help in answering the “what do you want” question to me. I want my family around me. I want visits to and from them, I want to know they are all healthy and successful, that they are achieving to their abilities.

In the spirit of the holidays, I will have two of our children and two of our grands for Thanksgiving dinner, right in the middle of the birthday week. And I am preparing for the only Holiday Market in which I am participating this year. My soap supply was basically depleted and to make some more holiday festive, I made three batches this week, actually 4, but one was a nightmare failure that set up too quickly and the colorant did weird things to the round bars. There are squares of goat milk, oatmeal, and honey soap with a “frosting” layer of finely ground roasted cacao blended in to a little, round bars of rosemary scented soap with a bit of green colorant blended unevenly (on purpose), and traditional shaped bars of peppermint scented soap with red colorant marbled in. I am working on a buttoned cowl in light mint green Merino handspun wool, and over the past week infused comfrey I grew into Avocado oil and made tins of salve to add to the other salves available. There will be hats, fingerless mitts, a couple cowls, some mittens, and a couple shawls and scarves available for people to purchase as gifts.

Along with these efforts, I am knitting a little stuffed frog to go with a book, spinning wool for my Breed Blanket Challenge, and actually cooking and prepping in the kitchen, not just making products. At Farmer’s Market last week, I purchased 3 good sized Daikon radishes, a white, a red, and a purple and they are fermenting on the counter for kimchi, my favorite kind of kimchi.

The peppers tented with heavy plastic did not survive the three nights in the mid 20’s, the greens are hanging in there, maybe they should be tented later this week when the temps are again going to plunge. It is nice to be able to pick some fresh goods still from the garden and salad and herbs from the hydroponics. Some of the lettuce is beginning to get bitter, so I should restart those cells with a new batch of seed. Winter is coming, life moves on, I am glad to be able to still preorder some produce from the Farmer’s Market at least until the middle of December, and get meats, breads, some cheese year round. Projects need to be done, so back to work.

First freeze

The forecast warned me and I took heed. Late yesterday afternoon, a few tomatoes, radishes, and all of the mature Jalapenos and red Seranos were harvested when I went to gather hens to their pen and bring in their eggs.

While there, I also picked some komatsuna (mustard spinach) and isn’t it gorgeous. The spinach, komatsuna, kohlrabi greens, and remaining radishes would fare fine over night in the deep wooden box. The peppers were given a cover for the night in hopes of a few more in our future.

Upon waking, the world was glittering with frost, the cover on the peppers frozen in spots. It is now hanging to dry and I am going to look for some heavy plastic today to make a tunnel over them and to cover the tunnel ribs over the greens. Tonight and tomorrow night are supposed to be even colder. According to the weather blogger in our local newpaper, this is the third latest first freeze on record.

In the cold this morning, the hens coop was refreshed, a very cold, very dirty egg found under their night perches and a warm fresh egg in a nesting box. Fresh warm eggs are great handwarmers, but I needed two. I will have to start wearing work gloves and the barn coat in the mornings for a while.

Later today, when it warms up a bit, the tomato vines will be pulled and added to the compost pile, the hedge clippers used to snip them and the tomatillo plants into bits small enough to break down, perhaps turning the pile to put them in a deeper layer. The garden will rest for the winter, the solar charger turned off. The asparagus tops cut back soon. It is time for rest for the winter ahead.

Some of the produce from last night was used to make me a bowl of soup. Son 1 recently introduced me to doenjang, a fermented soybean paste. A broth was made with crushed Szechuan pepper corns, garlic, and onion sauteed in sesame oil with chicken broth added and simmered. Diced yams were cooked until nearly tender, then chives, parsley, komatsuna, and a couple teaspoons of doenjang added until the greens wilted and the paste dissolved and blended in. The soup was poured over a sliced raw radish and a sliced serano pepper. It was delicious, warming, and headclearing. There was only enough left over chili for one bowl that was served to hubby and I enjoyed the soup. Once the weather chills, I could live on soup twice a day, good thick potato, Mexican soups, beef stew, chili, and the various Asian creations based on what is on hand. The Asian creations can be made a bowl at a time in 15 minutes and can have noodles, rice, or quinoa with the veggies, sometimes a boiled egg added. Hearty, warm, and filling.