Summer before the Solstice

The weather is hot. And dry. We did benefit from some rain a few days ago that was spotty around the area, but did give us a little respite from the heat and the dryness.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the front porch with Randy. Randy was our postal carrier for most of the years since we built and moved here, but he retired a few years ago. He also runs cattle with two younger men, men about our sons’ ages. He had come over to let us know that they were going to mow our hay today so I wouldn’t let critters out that might be harmed by huge mowers and we were just sitting and visiting when he looked beyond me and asked if that was a snake on the porch rail. Sure enough, a black rat snake about 6- 6.5 feet long, just chillin’ on the rail behind me. Black rat snakes are our friends as long as they stay out of the house and out of the coop. He probably had been feasting on the chipmunks that have taken over since the dogs and barn cats have all passed away. The snake had been hanging out up near the barn, but had moseyed on down to the house. I went through the house, grabbed leather garden gloves, a 5 gallon bucket, and lid and came back out to relocate it. Randy looked at me like I was nuts and said, “Don’t ask me to help.” He did take the photo though.

This is the 5th one that we have relocated from the house or coop. The bucket was taken a couple miles away and the snake turned loose in the woods by a field.

Last night I did finish the June spinning challenge and finished plying the rainbow yarn.

It ended up 558 yards almost 4 ounces done totally on the spindles in the photo in 18 days. A project has already been begun.

The mowers did arrive this afternoon, two mowers and a tractor with a tedder to fluff up what was mowed. They will return Friday and bale it. I don’t think they are going to have a very good harvest as it didn’t get mowed in the fall and it didn’t get fertilized this spring. Randy said they are already about 60 bales short of what they usually get before reaching us, so he may not have much to sell this year, hopefully enough for their cattle.

The dry heat had caused the pea vines to yellow, so while they mowed, I harvested peas, the potatoes that were in one of the pea beds, a handful of Jalapenos, and a basket of plums. There are about that many more plums still ripening. They sure are good, not very large, but very sweet. And I also pulled the pea vines to be chopped up and put in the compost. My clippers are old and dull and wouldn’t do the job, so I may ask to borrow my daughter’s.

It took 3 hours to shell all of those peas, filling a bucket with empty pods, and yielding several quarts of peas. We enjoyed some for dinner and the rest frozen for meals when fresh veggies aren’t available except trucked across the country. In a couple of days, the tiny green beans will be large enough to start enjoying them and freezing more for later meals. The tomatoes have flowers, but no fruit yet and flowers on the cucumbers, but again, no fruit yet. One of the pea beds will be planted with more green beans, the other covered with old hay until cooler weather allows fall greens to be started.

We saw the doe with the singleton fawn, still a tiny one after the mowers left. Probably wondering where their tall grass covering had gone.

While I was talking to one of the younger mowers, we realized that a large branch in the top of one of my Asian pears is totally dead with pears on it, so recently dead. It doesn’t look like a lightening strike, but at some point it is going to have to be cut out. I don’t know what caused it. It is concerning as that is the tree that produces the most pears.

More heat and no rain for the next 10 days. At least the grass doesn’t grow fast when it is hot and dry.

Take care, stay cool, be safe.

Hot Weather and Harvest time

Much to our delight, the hayfields mowed and baled just before ours were done late this week and there is no rain in the forecast next week, so we might actually have our fields cleared this week. It is going to be brutally hot though, highs in the 90’s every day. That will make garden time happen only in the early morning and I will have to be sure the chicken’s water stays filled. They already are digging dust bath holes in the shade of the asparagus that are now more than 5 feet tall and full fern mode.

Every day, a cup of blueberries, a basket of peas, a few new potatoes, and a handful of delicious plums come in. The tomatoes and cucumbers have flowers. The green beans are full height and blooming, and there are small hot peppers on several of the plants. A few Jalapenos were brought in this week. The peas are reaching the end of their season and most of the potatoes had already died back and been dug. There are peas in the freezer and we have been enjoying fresh ones a few times a week. There may only be 1 more basket full to harvest, then the vines will be pulled and chopped for compost, the bed covered with straw until it cools enough to plant some fall crops later in the season.

Trying to stay out of the boot in the house as much as possible means that when I go downstairs in the morning to fix my coffee and breakfast, I often sit on the couch looking out the front windows, up the driveway. The doe with a singleton fawn was out there a couple days ago, standing patiently on the edge of the driveway, while her little one nursed. I have never seen that happen out in the open, so with no dogs here, she must feel safe.

Not the best photo as it was taken from inside the house, through the screen, and zoomed so as not to chase her off. She would periodically turn and clean the little one while it ate.

This morning was Farmer’s Market Day and every week, we purchase some flowers from our friends that grow flowers for market and weddings. Once a month, I get the larger bouquet and today’s one is so colorful and gorgeous.

We are halfway through the month and I am almost finished with the June Jenkins spindle challenge to spin a rainbow. We were challenged to spin at least 10 grams of each of the 7 colors, but I have chosen to spin the entire pigtail of each one, about 16 to 18 grams per color. The photo shows the 5 finished ones and the indigo ready to spin, but it is now more than half spun. Once it is done, only the violet will remain.

Next month we do a daily scavenger hunt and post our spindle with the found object. It usually only requires a single gram per day but I’m sure more will actually be spun. I need to get back to work on the pound of gray Shetland wool that is on my spinning wheel, but I think I need to give my foot another week to heal first.

I did resume my sessions with my physical trainer this week after 3 weeks off with us having had visitors, her going on vacation, and me wearing a new boot. We did only upper body on the various machines. The area where we usually train with hand weights is getting new flooring, so all the machines and equipment are moved out of that area. About 2/3 of the gym has thick padded glued down rubber mat type flooring. The other 1/3 had carpet with rolled out mat pads that had shifted due to the movement of the equipment and there were wrinkles that were hazardous if you weren’t paying attention. All the carpet and old rolled out mat pads are being removed and that area is getting the same type of flooring as the rest of the gym. It makes using areas awkward but the end result will be great. At home, I continue to use resistance bands and hand weights.

Stay safe, and if travelling, be careful until we meet here again.

Getting Old Ain’t for Sissies

The PC visit went about how I figured. She is reasonably sure I have a stress fracture in a metatarsal but sent me for Xrays to make sure there wasn’t a more significant break or dislocation. When I get up in the morning, I think all is well, but 10-15 minutes walking around or standing to prepare a meal without the boot sends the throbbing ache back with a vengeance. The Xray did not show dislocation and most stress fractures don’t show in them, so my PC feels the best way to treat the issue is an Orthopedic Walking boot for at least 4 weeks and to stay off of it as much as possible. She said I can walk around as needed in the boot. What she didn’t say and I didn’t know from experience is that the boot throws your posture off and more than a little while walking in it causes back pain. So, I guess, other than meal prep, necessary errands and grocery shopping, I will spend a lot of time for the next 4 weeks in my recliner with my feet up. I can still go to my trainer, but we have to work only on upper body and core. Maybe I will join the Rec Center pool so I can at least get some cardio without impact to further aggravate my foot. Definitely not how I planned to spend my summer. I guess that is what I get for pushing myself to over 4 mph on the treadmill as a septuagenarian.

The time down has allowed me to spin more on the rainbow challenge.

The red and orange are done, a total of 155 yards of spun and plyed yarn and the yellow has been started.

The rain we have been getting had the grass getting entirely too tall and thick, and since mowing means riding around on the riding mower, I did get it done today while we have a milder, dryer day. The trimming with the line trimmer will have to wait a few weeks. While mowing, I notice the Dogwood, I think a Japanese Dogwood, that blooms well after all of the natives, has red speckled petals.

I have never noticed that before and don’t know if it is a natural occurrence or a disease. The tan spots are a sign of disease. I hate that we might lose this little tree.

Also while mowing, I survey the development of the various fruits. Most of the apple trees have lots of young fruit. One of the Asian pears is bearing, though for the second year, the other one is sparse. There are peaches coming, grapes on the vines, though the deer are eating the grape leaves. The plums are ripening and I ate the first two of the season while riding around. Maybe after dinner, I will hobble over to gather whatever berries have ripened in the past couple days if the birds haven’t beat me to them. This week there should be shelling peas and plenty more Sugar snap peas to enjoy. The tomatoes need to be tied up higher on the trellis, the cucumbers urged to grow up their trellis and not sprawl on the ground. Soon there will be onions and probably some new potatoes can be teased out from the plants. Green beans are growing, but not blooming yet but there are blooms on some of the peppers. I’m so glad, the young couple helped me get the cardboard and old hay down in the paths, so the garden maintenance is minimal.

No one is mowing hay on our mountain yet. I guess it will be July before they get to us again this year. The tall hay hides the fawns and Turkey poults as they trail along behind their Mom’s. We have seen a doe with a single fawn and another with twins. This morning, a hen Turkey with poults, but all you could see was the grass moving, so I don’t know how many she has. In a few weeks, they will be tall enough to see and count. Spring on the farm.

Stay well, stay safe, until next time.