Tater Time and Crossed Fingers

The ones in the box have been morphing from potatoes to aliens. The ones beside the box are some organic russets from the grocer. It was time to put them in the garden bed. There are now 32 potatoes planted and hoping that the spring like weather holds or they stay small enough to cover. Any potatoes from these will be bonuses.

The two beds nearest the old raspberries are challenge, sprouts are popping up everywhere there isn’t cardboard or weed mat down. Every trip over there results in digging out more volunteers. I hope I win the battle before it is time to put the tomatoes and peppers in the bed, the rest are in the blueberries and require carefully digging so I don’t damage the roots of the blueberries.

I have a sick laying hen. She is isolated in the garage and doesn’t look any worse, but not improving much either. It will be several months before the littles are producing. If this hen doesn’t improve, I will be down to 7 layers. An average of 3 eggs a day.

I finally gave up on the Cilantro seed and started a germination test with the seed I used and a different batch. Hopefully I will end up with some sprouts soon. If not, I will have to buy plants when they are available.

I planted Baptisia in the garden last fall which is one of the techniques I read about, then put more seed in the hydroponic garden. I’m hoping it comes up in one place or the other.

The tomato starts continue spending most days outdoors on the deck and in the south windows at night and until the mornings reach 50. Daughter and I want too many different varieties of peppers, so I am hoping for healthy starts from the nursery in about another few weeks.

On a non gardening note, I finished my second breed for the blanket and knit two squares.

I have realized that have been too obsessive about trying to get two or three breeds for the blanket done when the requirement is for 1. This has resulted in not getting anything else knit or woven. If I am going to have anything in my shop in the fall for holiday shows, I am going to have to cut back and get some other items done.

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.

It Wants To Be Spring . . .

but it is struggling today, tonight, and until Saturday. The Forsythia and Daffodils are blooming. The grass has turned emerald green, the Asian Pear unfortunately is blooming as are the Blueberries and the Peach tree is just starting, so there may be no fruit from them. Last night it went down to 33f, today stays cold and windy and tonight it will drop to 20f, with tomorrow and tomorrow night nearly carbon copies.

Since there are tiny plants in the garden, young peas, young onions, lettuce, kale, and spinach, they are protected. Last night wasn’t enough to cause damage, but tonight and tomorrow night will be.

In the cold biting wind this morning, cheap plastic shower curtain liners that I use in rainy weather on my vending canopy were put to new use, protecting the tender growth in the garden. The sturdy little tomato plants won’t get outdoor time today or tomorrow.

The chicks got their heat lamp lowered, though they will be moved to the coop as soon as it warms up again, they are so crowded in the big black water trough. I reconfigured their pen, putting a second layer of fence wire with smaller openings and making the pen larger while removing the narrow run. The newly enlarged pen, covered with plastic erosion fencing to keep the hawks from feasting on them once they are out and about. Yesterday the old fence wire that I used to make the temporary run to herd the hens to their new dwelling was rolled and put beside the garden until it could be moved for storage. This morning, I see the rolls blown by the wind overnight have been relocated to a field. When it warms up a few degrees or the wind dies down, I will go gather them back up and find a place to store them.

The hens suprised me. I was sure egg production would be down due to the stress of moving and being locked up, but I have gotten 4 or 5 eggs every day since the move. They are making little ground nests in the straw, kicking any straw I put in the nesting boxes out and mostly ignoring the boxes, so it is like an Easter egg hunt every time I go to gather them, but they are laying.

The dishwasher installer finally came on Monday, the tractor pick up was delayed with no notice as I sat here all day Tuesday awaiting them. When I called to find out when they were coming, I was told it was delayed until yesterday in the pouring rain and that I didn’t have to be here. I wish they had told me that in the first place, the day they were supposed to come was a beautiful day and our walk could have been midday instead of after dinner. I did get the blade off the tractor and moved out of their way before they got here, that thing is heavy, and though the tire was totally flat and losing the fluid fill, they drove it up on the truck and hauled it off for repair and servicing. I have no idea how long they are going to keep it, but there are no pressing needs for it right now.

I finished 15 squares for my Breed Blanket Project by yesterday. Thirteen of them are shown here. The additional two are another like the one lower right and another of the white in the row above on the left. I don’t think I will do 15 each quarter, but I should end up with a decent sized wool throw from my year’s effort. The second April challenge doesn’t appeal to me as it would require me to spin 25 grams on my oldest spindle and 25 grams on my oldest Jenkins Turkish spindle, ply them together, and knit all 50 grams. My oldest spindle is the bottom whorl spindle I take to re enactments and I don’t like spinning on top and bottom whorl spindles since I discovered the Jenkins Turkish spindles. I may take a pass on that challenge and just work on the blanket challenge. All of the left overs from doing the squares are being knit into a much smaller log cabin pattern blanket that will become my table cover for events and craftshows. Each band of the log cabin will be labelled with the breed of wool that was spun. I am enjoying that challenge, spinning wools I have never used before or spinning some I did for the Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em challenge only this time on spindles instead of the wheel. Between the two challenges, I have decided that my favorite wools to spin are not longwools and not the supersoft from the Merino line, but sturdier wools that mostly aren’t next to the skin soft.

That basket is full of 25 to 100 gram samples left to be spun for the blankets. I better get busy. This month is one I have never spun before, North Ronaldsay from Scotland/Orkney Islands, fairly soft and another light gray. My second breed for the month is one I have spun on the wheel, Finn, my last dyed sample. The rest of the year will be natural white, gray, morrit, black, and tan wools.