Sunday Musings

The trek to better health kicked off with a bang on Monday when I hiked with Daughter and her two kiddos. It was a great morning that reminded me what a sluggard I had been all winter. Over the past couple of years, I have let a few pounds settle around my middle. My BMI is still normal, but the pictures of me on Monday and the many stops to catch my breath on the ascent caused me to pause and re evaluate. Every weekday this past week and today, there was a good walk taken, my diet again cleaned up of bad habits I was slipping into such as grabbing a few Wheat Thins or a graham cracker a couple times a day, going out for ice cream or making popcorn too many nights a week, not drinking enough water. I don’t need those snacks, I’m not hungry when I get them. If I get hungry, I will eat an ounce of Pistachio nuts that I have to crack from the shell and wash them down with a HydroFlask of water. I’ve started carrying that bottle with me all the time now. In less than a week, progress is being seen. I can again walk up the hill to the mailbox without stopping part way to catch my breath. I have seen a few pounds slide back off my frame. There are a few more to go.

Yesterday was Market day and though I didn’t need much, we enjoy the change in routine on Saturday’s. I had preordered some more garden starts and to reach the minimum sale order, added a bag of lettuce mix and a bunch of salad turnips. The starts were my cabbage plants and some leaf lettuce from which you can repeatedly cut for salads or sandwiches. They were tucked in the bed that will eventually have the popcorn and winter squash at the other end, the longest of the new beds, and covered with the floating row cover over the new poles. They get light, water, and a barrier to the cabbage moth that lays her eggs to produce the little green cabbage worms that make lace from the brassicas. The row cover protected the other lettuce, spinach, and kale from a hail storm on Friday. Last night they were well watered in with heavy rain storms. While I was tucking the new plants in, I noticed at least a dozen raspberry canes coming up in and around the blueberry bed which is next to where the failed barrels that had contained the raspberries had been sitting. They were all dug out and I will have to be vigilant to continue to remove them until the runners all die off.

It took the hens less than a day to remove every blade of grass in the temporary pen. This morning, I took one of the rolls of fencing that I have yet to remove to storage, mostly because the tractor still hasn’t been returned, and enlarged their temporary pen. I’m sure by nightfall, it will be barren too. I may try again tomorrow to open it and see if they will return to that coop by nightfall. I can’t keep them penned in there forever. I really should purchase a 100 foot roll of electric mesh and just move them around each day or two to protect them from domestic and wild predators. That way they are in grass each day but safe.

I finished spinning two breeds for the Breed Blanket Project. The official one for the month was North Ronaldsay, a sheep breed from Scotland and the Orkney Islands. They roam the coast, will eat seaweed, and get sand and other material in their wool. Much of it is processed in a small mill in the Orkney Islands. It wasn’t too bad to spin, and it knit up nicely, but I sure wouldn’t want to wear it next to my skin nor knit it on the edge of the blanket.

The second breed is Finn, dyed in dark colors. It is spun and plied and I just began my first square of it last night. The smaller blanket above the squares is using up the scraps, each breed marked with a deer antler button on which the breed is written. It will be for display use when done and probably will not contain all the breeds in the big blanket.

More spring

I do love this time of year with the trees blooming, tiny leaves emerging, the drab color of the winter mountains changing. The Peach and Asian Pear held enough blooms during the two freezing days and nights that they are full of blossoms, so there will be fruit.

The Gold Finches are turning their bright summer color.

Last evening, I went over to collect eggs and one of the hens who refuses the nesting boxes in the Palace was sitting in the corner where several of them have been laying. I must have gone over just as she settled in to lay her egg, so I waited outside until she was done. It was quite a bit longer than I expected and when she was finished, she squawked past me and out into the yard.

I foolishly thought that nearly two weeks was long enough for them to return to the Palace at close up time, so I turned them loose into the orchard. At first they pecked and scratched around the base of the Palace, then suddenly almost as a unit ran flapping their wings up the field to the area of the pen and coop. They seemed quite distraught that they couldn’t get in the pen, thus into the coop. With some effort, I herded 4 of them back and shut the door. The other four are the more skittish ones that won’t come near me even if I have treats, so I had to rig a trap with a length of old fence and catch them one at a time, carry them back to the Palace and shut them in. Today, they will have to be content with the temporary pen I built in front of the Palace and it may be a week or two more before I try again. I really want them returning to that coop before I begin letting the littles into the other pen.

I mentioned that the littles will eat out of my hand. Still not all of them, but if a couple come over, more push in to see what is going on.

I realized that the closed up coop got too hot yesterday when the temperature rose to near 80 and two of the chicks seemed stressed. I opened the windows to let some air in and closed it back up at nightfall. This morning, though it is going to be somewhat cooler as we return to more seasonal temperatures, I opened windows on both sides. Late this afternoon, it is supposed to begin to rain for a few days, so I will close them again.

For the next few days, we will have to try to work our daily walks in between thunderstorms. It is important to keep moving and try to get my summer stamina back. Most winter’s I walk the hills around the farm to stay in shape, but this winter, I was a slacker and I’m paying for it now.

As soon as the weather stabilizes to warmer days, milder nights, and dry weather, I need to stain the south and east sides of the garage that are sadly in need. If you ever want to build a house, don’t build a log home. Though I love it dearly, the frequency it needs to be stained is a pian and it is expensive to hire the job out. Son 1 has done a good job of staying on top of it, but those two sides of the garage didn’t get done last time, COVID and a dissertation have kept him away.

We Survived

The two cold days and frigid nights are in our past. Hopefully, the last of the season, but it is still 5 weeks to last frost date. The covered young plants all survived, though I need to made the fence tunnels for the two 4 foot square beds so I can drape plastic over them to make a mini hoop houses. The plastic shower curtain liners wouldn’t stay taut enough to not droop down on top of some of the seedlings. Yesterday I pulled them back tight and this morning they were droopy again.

The chicks in the garage did fine, though they are so very crowded in the big water trough. I do want to power wash the inside of the coop before I put fresh straw in it to move them. Three are still smaller than the others, but all have feathers and I think they will be fine with the warmer nights upcoming.

Saturdays are Farmer’s Market days and this was the first week the opening changed from 10 a.m. to 8 a.m. and I didn’t want to be there that early, so I feared it would be mobbed. It was so cold, it was mostly vendors out there, bundled up and standing out in the sun in front of or behind their stalls. The weeks goodies were purchased and we went down to Tractor Supply to get chick feed and some poultry fence so I could build a temporary pen for the big hens. They have been cooped in the Palace for a week, it is dark in there with no windows except some hardware cloth high on the south end and a hardware cloth door on the north end. Once home, a small 64 square foot pen was erected and they were allowed out into the grass to peck and scratch. If they return into the Palace on their own for the next few nights, I will remove the pen and give them free range time again.

I don’t really want to have to set real fence posts and erect a wire fence to give them more room if they balk at using the Palace as their new home. I have the posts and the old fence wire available if I have to take that route.

Tomorrow I will have daughter and her kiddos here for Easter dinner. I have hidden some eggs with trinkets and coins in them for an Easter Egg hunt, though I suspect grandson will find it childish as a young teen. Granddaughter will enjoy it. There are six different colors of eggs and I have assigned 3 colors to each, plus a small Chocolate bunny each, so it will be fair and no arguments (I hope). At the Farmer’s Market I bought Hot Cross buns for the bread for dinner to go with the ham, au gratin potatoes with local cheese, and a green salad or cooked vegetable. I wish the asparagus were up, but not yet. Daughter will bring deviled eggs and we will enjoy some time togther. I found out this week that both sons have had at least one vaccine, so maybe we will be able to see all of our family again soon.