Chickens make great compost

Yesterday morning, we had two neighbors visit and help with the grass mowing since the belt for the riding mower still hasn’t come in.

Meet Jumper Jr. and her sister “Bad” Penny. They belong to the neighbor to the west and find our spring grass greener than their own every year. The neighbor is a female farmer and she spends too much of her time in the spring trying to outsmart these two with new strands of barbed wire, new posts, new fencing, but Jumper Jr. like her Mom would, will go over the fence. When she makes a hole, she sometimes bring along other visitors.

After preparing and eating lunch, I donned sunscreen, a wide brimmed hat securely tied down, and a long sleeved shirt, gathered some weeding tools and headed out to the garden. It was very, very windy, I think it tried to rip my head off a few times when it grabbed at the hat.

Three of the rebuilt boxes had not been weeded when the boxes were set, so my project was to get the weeds out from inside the boxes and from the paths between boxes. Also it was time to remove the hay from the asparagus bed and in doing so, I broke off the very first spear, white from being covered and about 3 inches long. Not to waste fresh food, it was wiped clean and eaten right in the garden. I didn’t see any more new spears, but the hay is off and they will start emerging now. They are such a delight each spring.

The boxes were cleared, the weeds piled in a tub to dump in the chicken run for them to dig through, eat the leaves, and make more compost. Because of the slope of their run, I try to keep a layer of spoiled hay on the ground, also when I clean the coop, the dirty straw or pine chips go in the run, and all kitchen scraps go to the chickens. They dig through all of that matter, adding chicken fertilizer to it and kicking a good amount of thoroughly broken down material through the fence at the down hill end of the run. This was raked and shoveled into the garden cart and wheeled around the garden. Each of the three boxes weeded today received an entire cart full of rich compost and a few fat earthworms that had taken up residence in it.

Those boxes will be easy to keep weeded now until time to plant beans, cucumbers, and the tomato and pepper starts. There is still a 4 X 8 foot bed that hasn’t been weeded and a new 4 X 4 foot box that needs a load of compost. The corn bed needs to be weeded and the hills dug, but it is still 4 or 5 weeks before it can be planted. See the mint on the center right. I think I am going to sacrifice a dark tarp and hold it down with heavy rocks on the edges, just leave it in place for a year. The sun will kill the mint off. While adding a bit of compost to the raspberry barrels, I spotted a Preying Mantis nest, YAY! It is inside the garden and will hatch in late April or May. Helping keep the pests at bay.

Today and tomorrow are rainy, so no garden work for a couple of days. Today’s high is 40 degrees (f) colder than it was three days ago. Ah, spring fickleness.

Yesterday before gardening, I finished the second skinny scarf for daughter’s wardrobe accent. I love knitting and weaving for family rather than taking the time and effort to spin yarn, knit or weave and then put it in my shop for less than it is worth in time and skill. These two days will be for spinning and knitting.

Oh, and that gorgeous handstitched (not machine stitched) quilt, I won on a $.50 ticket to a raffle about 15 years ago. It is a treasure.

Finishing Day

Today was chilly and gloomy outside, no incentive to go out and play outdoors. The American Shakespeare Theater had a performance by their travelling troupe on the Blackfriar’s stage via live stream with no live audience on Facebook today of Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. I had seen a different troupe perform it on that stage live with eldest son a family a few years ago and very much wanted to watch the performance today. There were so many people watching it that the stream was choppy and the words weren’t with the mouths. After about 30 minutes, I logged off of it disappointed. Son 1 said it improved once the viewers dropped to around 1300, but I had quit by then.

Instead of sitting here on social media and news, I shut down all electronics and went to my sewing machine instead. About a year and a half ago, we joined Son 2 and his family in Hawaii for a week of their 2 week vacation. One evening, we went to Polynesian Cultural Center to the various exhibits and later a luau and show. During the afternoon, the two older grands wanted to take a ukulele lesson and even before the lesson, begged for a uke. While they were taking their lesson, hubby and I purchased them one with the Hawaiian Islands etched on the face. We wanted to have a talk with them about sharing and impress on them that it wasn’t a toy prior to giving it to them and presenting us with a dilemma of how to keep it hidden until we could do that, while walking around the park and waiting in line for the luau. The same shop had bags that were made at the center and one that I liked was deep enough to hide the box, so we purchased it for me to use for the remainder of the trip. The bag had a single diagonal twill tape strap and the bag was too deep to be useful for much else other than the purpose for which it was purchased. I have looked at several solutions to make it more useful and recently purchased some prequilted fabric to use to modify it. Today, I cut about 4 inches off of the bottom, made backpack type straps from the black quilted fabric and made it into a useful backpack.

When that was finished, I took the sample scarf that I wove on my Christmas gift rigid heddle loom to practice various weaving techniques, crocheted a loop and took one of the deer antler toggle button that daughter in law had made for my use and for sale and turned the scarf that wasn’t long enough as a scarf into a cowl/shawlette.

I was on a roll. I had a woven strip 8″ wide and about 19″ long that I had plans to make into a bag. I had purchased some gray subtle print fabric to use as lining and got to work making the bag. The strip was steam blocked, the lining fabric cut to size, edges pressed, and it was sewn to the woven strip. I am currently knitting I-cord for a strap from some dark gray Shetland hand spun wool and it will be sewn to the sides to close them up as soon as the I-cord is long enough.

I haven’t decided whether to add a snap closure of just let the twisted tassels on the flap hold it down.

It has been a productive day.

Projects, more project ideas

While the yarn dries, and some parchment colored Coopworth is being spun, I hope worsted weight this time, I needed a pocket project for today. While looking through my remnants of yarn, I found another small skein of the merlot colored Coopworth that I used for the last mitts, and a partially used skein of the same yarn. A project was started. The Owl hat required Aran weight yarn, the two skeins, held together produced about Aran weight, so I cast on for the hat yesterday afternoon instead of warping the loom.

I got about halfway through the owl last night and finished the owl and started on the decreases while in the PT waiting room today. First they were 30 minutes late taking him in, plus the 30ish minutes he was in the back. The owl will stand out more when the white buttons for the eyes are added.

This gave me the idea that maybe instead of random hats, I could do ones with cats, frogs, alpacas, and owls on them. Since hats and mitts are going to be the primary knit items in the shop and for the fall and winter markets, they might sell better than plain or striped ones.

Larger wraps, cowls, and scarves will be woven.

It seems that more and more people are doing soap and other body products at events, so other than my B&B contract, I may just return to making soap for family and friends that have a particular one they like or limiting myself to just a few favorites for the markets.