Tour de Fleece

Many fiber groups participate in Tour de Fleece. It is a fun activity that coincides with the Tour de France, in normal years. Generally you do something to challenge yourself on challenge day, “rest” on rest days, etc. I have never participated in this before, but I belong to a group on a social media site that is for Jenkins Turkish Spindles which have been my sanity during the stay at home order and following self isolation as things are opening back up and virus cases increasing. Spindle spinning is relaxing to me and I have plenty of fiber to play with, but spindle spinning slows down the process and makes the fiber last longer.

The group for the past 23 days has had a “Scavenger Hunt” and the found item is photographed with your spindle(s) with 1 or more gram of newly spun fiber on it. The items have to be from your “home” and that includes your property. Some of the items have been quite easy such as a fresh fruit or vegetable, more difficult such as your favorite piece or pottery or basket, your favorite piece of wall art, etc. Those items aren’t as difficult to fiber artists as you might think because of mugs, yarn bowls, baskets to store knitting or spinning. A few days required two items, such as something to climb and a helmet.

Surrounded by hills and mountains, I chose my grandfather’s old wooden ladder and helmets from activities neither of us can do any longer, but still have the helmets.

Yesterday was the final day and if you have ever followed Tour de France, you know that the daily leader and final winner wear a yellow shirt. I had no trouble with the first 22 days other than deciding on some days which basket or piece of pottery, which live plant, book, item that began with a certain letter to use. The final one was tough. We both look ill or like we are about to be if we wear yellow. The object has to be in your home, so borrowing or buying one is not an option. There were no yellow shirts to be found, anywhere in the house, including the clothing stash that Son 1 and DIL keep in the basement bedroom dresser. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world to not have it, but prize entries were based on the number of items found and when. You had to find one each day but two with two grace days to get three entries and if you got all 23, you got an extra entry. I was not to be out done by this. I have an extensive spice collection as I love to cook, so there was a bottle of ground turmeric. A pot of boiling turmeric and water and one of hubby’s undershirts simmered for 15 minutes then treated with a good dose of salted vinegar and I had a yellow shirt.

Photographed with the 126 g of fiber spun in the 23 days. That shirt will have to be washed separately or everything we own will be yellow and it will become a painting shirt, but I ended up with my yellow shirt.

What a fun way to take your mind off of being at home. It was fun reading through as many of the more than 8000 posts as I could and seeing objects from other folks homes in the US and other countries, reading about events in others lives, meeting new friends. The group moderator must have been super woman to keep up with what started as 106 participants and ended up with 99 chatty folks, tracking our finds and ending and starting each day. The last find has to be posted by 11 a.m. EDT today, then she has to finish the tally and do the prize drawings. I donated 3 of the prizes so items will be mailed off to the winners when announced.

To “extend” our fun, she as introduced a spin 15 minutes a day for a week. Many of the same folks have signed up for this too, so we can continue being in each other’s lives for a while longer.


Yesterday we had a dozen bags of Black Cow manure compost loaded into the back of the car. And a roll of weed mat. When we got home, I unloaded the compost in the yard just outside of the walled garden. It isn’t nearly enough, but it is a start to hold down the cardboard and the hay that was placed over it. The garden is filled to the top of the wall in the deep part below the retaining wall.

After it gets rained on and the hay begins to compost, more soil or leaf mulch will have to be added. The first dozen bags went farther than I anticipated they would and the steep part at the edge of the retaining wall will be a challenge. I may run a secondary retaining wall of stones like in the outer wall from the top end of the retaining wall to the outer stone wall to hold the soil on the uphill side. More stone was moved, and one plant was relocated, but it really isn’t a good location for it as it is tall and is right on the edge of the bed at the wall. There is a large clump of the same plant at the corner of the garage, so I may sacrifice what is here and move some once the bed is finished. It would be perfect against the large stone you see above in the retaining wall. A clump of Dutch Iris was moved to the bed behind the garage wall, a garden I am really liking this summer with all of the bright colored flowers.

Note the posts holding plastic mesh fence to deter the deer.

It is a mix of iris, day lilies, Calendula, Zinneas, with annual yellow coneflower, marigolds, coreopsis, and a few other annuals tossed in for more color. All of the bright colors make me happy. It got too hot to continue to work back there in the sun so I quit working on it for the day. It is a work in progress, not something that must be done immediately.

There was no more work on our hay last night. They may have been baling the last field on the farm down the mountain. Two of the their tractors are still parked under the trees in our field. I expect they will return after their day jobs today as they have today and tomorrow before we have more rain in the forecast. They need to at least get what is down baled, even if they can’t get the last field done yet.

Late last night, hubby let the pups out for their last nightly outing and one of them returned smelling skunky. Not a full on spraying, but more like they walked through somewhere that had been recently sprayed. If it wasn’t going to be 90 today, I would open all the windows and turn on all the fans. When I went out to do morning outdoor chores and returned into the house, the odor hit me again. What an effective and unpleasant defense mechanism. I have feared having one of them directly sprayed ever since we got dogs. The big guy seems to be in a lot of pain lately in spite of being given a human adult sized dose of Meloxicam every morning. He is coming up the stairs to be with us again and then reluctantly goes back down, not limping as badly as he was, but he is a very old man for a huge Mastiff.

I try to avoid politics in my blog and not to dwell on COVID, but it is terrifying that cases are rising nationwide and there is no national unity in addressing it, that so many people are dismissing it as a hoax and refusing to adopt basic safely practices to help slow the spread. During the early months when it was rampant down the east and central part of the state, the rural areas where we are were not experiencing many cases, but it is on the rise now. We are starting to see businesses in our area shutter their doors permanently and many more will likely follow. We obey other safely laws and rules for the good of ourselves and others, why have masks and social distancing become such a devisive issue. Travel is not advised now, and we would love a vacation, but won’t, yet I see friends and acquaintances posting pictures in areas where the virus is a hot spot, then they return to our area. I want to return to a more normal lifestyle, but can’t afford the risk of catching or spreading the virus to someone more vulnerable.

I will continue to play in my gardens, spin on my spindles, read my books mostly e-books from the library, and avoid the public except for essentials. We will continue to wear masks, I have made dozens for us and family, continue to wash our hands until the skin feels like it will dry and crack off, continue to eat in to the detriment of some of our favorite restaurants, and hope that someday, life will return to something that resembles the old normal, or at least a variation of it.

If you use my link at the top of my blog to go to my shop, you will see that it now goes to my Etsy Shop. As of today, Square Up was going to migrate my shop to a new format and to have my domain linked to it was going to cost me more than I have ever earned from that shop, so it is being deactivated. All of my wares are in the Etsy Shop and shipping can be free with them.

The garden thrives and so does the hay.

The mowers did most of the farm down the mountain, but the rest of the back field was partially mowed and has sat idle for several days. Our hay still stands. Maybe this week, maybe not, the weather will control that. This is as late as it has ever stood, I don’t know about hay nutrition, but I would think that when the seed heads mature and drop their seed that the hay loses nutrition, but it means it is self seeding the fields.

I found the concentrated citric acid weed killer a couple of days ago and mixed up a gallon at the lowest concentration to spray the inside of the walled garden. It did a fairly good job on miner’s lettuce and a few other tender weeds, barely touched the grass and the pigweed thumbed it’s leaves at it. I guess I will up the concentration and try again. I don’t want any of that coming up once the cardboard and mulch are put down. Yesterday and today are fairly comfortable temperatures and I was hoping to get that job done but it will have to wait another day or two if the second spraying does work.

The daylilies continue to bloom and brighten the east side of the garage. I love spring and early summer as first the iris bloom, then the Dutch iris, and finally the daylilies. The Calendula bed really self seeded last year and it is full of blooms, far more than I will use in a year of making herbal salve. I will gather some seed and add a patch of it to the walled garden for bright yellow and orange color. The marigolds in the vegetable garden that I planted from seed are about to bloom, but the plants that I bought and put in half barrels look puny.

I am continuing to spin on the Jenkins Turkish spindles for the Tour de Fleece/Jenkins Team. It is fun seeing what item you have to seek to photograph with your spindle(s). However, Ravelry recently changed their website and though it is cleaner in appearance, it is an ocular migraine inducer for me. They have a link to a variation of their old look, but it really isn’t and it too causes the migraine, so I have been going on as the item is listed, posting my photo and staying off the rest of the day. Yesterday was spent mostly making masks for family. Some of yesterday’s that were made.

Well off to find a “Christmas or Holiday ornament that can hang” for today’s hunt. I have plenty, but the boxes are all stored away, nothing got left out by accident. The spindles are ready.

Stay safe everyone.