We Have Winter

Last year, there was a brutally cold week around Christmas, but otherwise a warm winter and no snow. We have had a few days of snow showers with only a dusting to show for it, that quickly melted away. The most recent nearly nationwide storm gave us snow. Not a lot, only a few inches, but so pretty.

My social media memory from two years ago showed quite a bit more snow this week and a brief sledding adventure on one of our hills before fleeing back into the house to warm up. No sledding on this, it isn’t really deep enough, but more snow showers are due Friday, probably not enough to make a difference. At least some of this will still linger as we do have cold. Last night it went down to 6*f and not expected to go above 24 today. With a few more nights in the teens or single digits expected before it warms back up above freezing at night next week.

The Nandina bushes across the front of the house are probably not happy, they all looked like they died last winter. Most of them tried to come back last summer, but look skimpy. This cold may be the end of them. Something low and more hardy may have to replace them this spring.

The chickens haven’t left the coop in 3 days and probably won’t today either. The water freezes even in the coop. Once the weather warms enough to melt the snow, the coop will be thoroughly cleaned and the water removed to the run. I am thinking about using coarse sand in the coop now that can be scooped and added to as needed. And keeping the water out of the coop to keep it drier in there. The east side has a screened drop down wooden panel that needs to be replaced with a more air and water tight option. There are two small round bales of hay that were left to put in the run, but it is too cold to go out there to spread it. Providing water, food, and scratch is all I can manage in single digit temperatures.

Egg production is picking up. There are tiny green, blue, and chocolate pullet eggs, and green, pink, and brown hen eggs appearing daily now. Usually around 4 eggs a day. Shadow, the GSD and I are able to enjoy an egg each day and still provide daughter and her family with eggs. The two young roosters seem to get along, but I don’t need two roosters with 8 hens. I need to find a new home for one of them and figure out how to catch him. With the days lengthening, the electric pop door hours will have to be adjusted soon, so no birds end up locked out at night. It might be time to replace the batteries as well.

The two French doors on the back of the house are both showing light between them on the lower edge. New weather stripping needs to be applied, if I can find the right product for the job.

Spring, summer, and autumn are beautiful on the mountain. Winter is depressing except when there is snow to change the bleak gray to bright white. This was the first accumulating snow in two years, I’m sure there will be more in our future, we have gotten snow as late as the end of March, but this one wasn’t deep enough to strand us in the hollow and VDOT actually plowed our gravel state maintained road yesterday.

Not a lot of crafting or reading is getting done lately. The second cataract surgery also produced cornea swelling and so far it hasn’t totally resolved. The surgeon put me on a hypertonic saline drop last week to try to help it resolve. It seems to be helping.

Stay warm and safe with the extreme storms that have hammered the world lately.

Olio – October 20, 2023

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

Fall is in the air. The daily walks are more vivid each day. A few days ago, we ventured farther into Heritage Park than we have ever walked before doing two more miles on the Huckleberry Trail. The park was a farm purchased by the town of Blackburg. One terminus of the Huckleberry is at one end of the farm and we have walked through the edge of the park many times but have never ventured into the fields. There are several of the old farm building and silos still there and several large fields that are mowed for hay still. Walking the perimeters of two of the large fields, we discovered a Play Park between the field and the old farm buildings.

The pullets have fully integrated into the flock or visa versa. They all reside in the coop together and free range as a unit now. The Orphans being a smaller breed don’t look as large as the others yet, but the Hatchlings and Marans that was added in with them are as large as the hens, but still lack much in the way of combs. The old Olive egger that was surrogate Mama Hen is being the most consistent layer, but a few days ago, she produced a robin’s egg blue egg that was as gritty as sand on the surface, but normal green eggs on the adjacent days. That has never happened before.

One of the Buff Orpingtons hasn’t laid an egg all summer. Her comb is small and pale. I think she may be removed from the flock. The older hens are all beginning to molt and the pullets are still weeks from starting to lay, so eggs are going to be scarce for a while.

Last weekend was a living history day at the Museum. I love this photo that was taken of me as I sat and demonstrated spinning, probably between visitors as I stood and talked when they were present.

The garden is still an overgrown mess. We may have our first frost Sunday night. I’m hoping so. I will then gather pumpkins and pull the vines, cut down tomato vines, cut back the asparagus, and prune the berries. Maybe then I can clear out a bed to plant next year’s garlic crop and move a wooden box over the asparagus bed to define their patch and add some soil and compost to the stalks before layering straw for the winter, and see if there are any potatoes and sweet potatoes in the hidden box.

The garden wasn’t as prolific as years past, but no fall garden was planted and the pumpkins just took over. There are pickles, pickled peppers, tomatoes and sauce, a small batch of apple/Asian pear sauce, and a very few quart bags of beans and peas. It looks like a couple dozen small Seminole pumpkins are hiding out in the vines.

Early mornings and evenings are being spent knitting on my sweater. Much more yarn than was needed was spun, so another project will have to be found for the remainder. The spindles get some time each day working on another batch of yarn.

On Sunday afternoon and evening, I will again participate in the Museum Spirit Trail event, portraying Mary Draper Ingalls, then Tuesday and Thursday, demonstrate for 4th graders at the museum in the mornings.

Wednesday, I have my consult for cataract surgery. I am a bit anxious about that even though I have been reassured by many people who have already had it done that it isn’t a big deal and I will be so happy once it is done.

Olio – September 1, 2023

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

The garden is a mess, the two pumpkins vines have taken over and what isn’t under their leaves are weeds. The zucchini finally quit, the cucumbers are scarce, but there are many pickled in the refrigerator. The tomatoes have produced well but many were lost with a period of rain and then being away for 4 days. A bucket full is awaiting attention on the kitchen counter. It will be turned into sauce this afternoon and what isn’t used for dinner will be frozen in quart freezer bags as I still haven’t the drive to can this year. The Tomatillos are producing fruit but it is rotting on the vine or getting eaten so only 1 have been brought in. The peppers are still not doing much.

I did get away last weekend for an annual fiber retreat in beautiful Black Mountain, NC. The group was on the smaller side due to some folks that had to drop out at the last minute, but I did meet some new people and look forward to seeing them again maybe at Hawk’s Nest in February or next year at Black Mountain.

A morning walk while there an encounter with a very tolerant hen Turkey and her three poults.

Once home, the Mama Hen has started making her 5ish week old chicks get up on the roost at night. The two orphans spend the night hiding behind the feeder and waterer and the day roaming the coop. They have only ventured out twice and both times have been attacked by the flock of hens. Today we purchased a wire dog cage and I put them in it where they will be seen, but protected. On nice days, I will pull it out and put it in a shady spot in the yard and hopefully eventually they will be accepted or will at least be big enough to defend themselves.

Not much else happening.