Hay is done, so is the garlic

This is starting off to be a good year. The hay crew cut and baled 89 five foot round bales off of our farm. Last year is was about 82, but more than half of them were only 4 foot round bales, so there was a lot more hay this year.

Those are way down in the south field and they finished baling it mid afternon and are gathering it to move. A couple of trailer loads have already been hauled from the near field. They managed to mow and bale a few areas that we have just brush hogged in the past and got a couple bales there as well. Because they were all large bales, one of the men brought me a 4 foot bale from the cutting on his property as I use the hay in the chicken runs as the hens make great compost from it to use in the garden.

The garlic was pulled and left in the sun for a few days and when rain showers threatened, it was moved to the garage floor for a few more days. This afternoon the garlic was trimmed of stalks and roots and left out to further cure in the garage on a raised screen. After a couple of weeks, it will be moved to the wire shelves in the non climate controlled part of the basement. There are 83 heads of garlic, plus 4 tiny ones from the bulblets from last year that were planted, harvested, and will be replanted this fall to make heads for next year. I ended up giving garlic to daughter and Son 1 for their gardens from last year’s crop, so I think I will reduce the amount planted this fall to about 50, enough to get us through a year.

With the garlic pulled, the last box can be finished in the garden. The end was cut last spring, but the garlic bed had to be cleared before it could be fastened in place. Since the peas are all pulled and the stalks chopped for the compost, that bed will be planted with a second crop of bush beans. The first crop is blooming and soon there will be beans to enjoy and freeze.

We have Grandson 1 for only a few more days this trip, he will return later in the summer for another week or so. Rain is expected for the next couple of days, but I am hopeful that it will be dry and cooler on the weekend so that we can get the chicken coop repaired and stained. The repairs can be made between rain showers, but it has to be dry to stain it. Today Grandson 1’s hard work was rewarded with a play day, getting him in a pick up basketball game with two other guys, followed by an hour and a half in the local outdoor pool to cool off.

The new asparagus bed has not produced any growth, but the old one is shooting up the tall thin stalks that feed the crowns for the rest of the summer. I am hopeful that the new crowns in the contained bed will produce, if not, I will try to dig more of the crowns from the old bed and transplant them, or move the new galvanized sides around it and fill it with more soil.

This month’s spinning challenge coincides with the Tour de France, so it began on June 26 and will end on July 18. We were to challenge ourselves but complete spinning at least 25 g of fiber and making something from it. My challenge was to learn how to ply on the fly with the Turkish spindle and use it and some other wools I have spun on the spindles to make a hat for my shop. I got the first 28 g of my wool done by yesterday and the hat started today while I work on the second half of the wool. I must say, that though it was a learning curve, and my yarn is much heavier than I normally do on spindles, it is 3 ply and a good weight for knitting the hat. I feel like a new spinner as I get the hang of it and I’m sure in time, my yarn weight will thin down. The wool I am spinning I usually spin a bit thicker anyway.

When I finish spinning for this challenge, I will begin working on my Breed Blanket wool of the month, Navajo Churro, not a soft wool, but this is nicely prepared and should spin thin enough for my blanket square.

The spindle I purchased from a destash from Sweden spent 28 days being held hostage by customs in Chicago. The tracking a few days ago showed it on the move and it should arrive here tomorrow or Friday. I also purchased from destash a plying size spindle with a hummingbird painted on one of it’s wings. Though it is new to me, it is my oldest spindle, having been made in 2015. I am quite enamoured with it.

When my Dad was alive, he filled the beds in the back and side of his back yard with orange Daylilies and Zinneas. When we bought our farm in the mountains, he dug several clumps of the lilies for me and I planted them along the stream bank at the top of the property as there was no house then. After he passed away, I went up and dug a couple of clumps from the stream bed where they had spread and stabilized the bank and brought them down to the house. They are not the first nor last to bloom from my collection, but they bloom the longest. In the past couple of days, they have begun to open.

And in his memory, I plant zinneas each year. I miss him always and the flowers he loved are bittersweet to me.

Fire and Heat

We aren’t nearly as hot as the west coast, but it got up to 91f today. That is hot for the Virginia Mountains. In spite of the heat, Grandson 1 and I tackled a couple of jobs, such as reducing the old garden boxes to ash, what 16 year old boy doesn’t like playing with fire.

I didn’t think his choice of going shirtless was too wise, but he didn’t get burned and the boxes are all gone. While he was doing that, I took all the hardware off of the rotting chicken tractor, but gave up before it was totally disassembled. We will save that for another hot day, we have several more in our near future. Most of the wood from the chicken tractor will be burned as well.

As we finished up, the hay crew arrived, three tractors, 2 with mowers and 1 with the tetter. The first mower started at about 3 p.m. and by 8 p.m., all of the hay was down.

They left the tetter here attached to one of the tractors and will return tomorrow with the rake and baler and it will all be baled to haul away. It looks thick this year and if the other nearby fields are an indicator, they will get a lot of hay this year. Now that I can get to the edges, I may start pulling Autumn Olive bushes up by the roots with our tractor once they are done.

The last of the peas were picked today, some enjoyed with dinner, the rest blanched and flozen for later. And the first tiny paste tomato was harvested and shared with Grandson 1.

This Echinacea was planted from seed last year. It is blooming this year and the butterflies love it.

We still need to finish getting the chicken tractor disassembled and the coop repaired and stained.

Only two of the pullets are laying, but it is fun getting the tiny blue and greenish eggs.

Getting it done

The various summer projects are slowly being completed. Son 1 with some help from Grandson 1 and from me got most of the staining done. This is the last time he will do it, we will hire it out in the future, it just isn’t fair to him to deal with it.

When he returned home on Tuesday morning, he left me a 16 year old worker, who so far will do just about anything I ask of him.

Son 1 dug out the septic tank top and found the cleanout so we could get it pumped out and to eliminate the hassle in the future of finding it and digging it out of the hard rocky soil, once it was pumped, Grandson 1 and I erected a baffle and filled the parts that wouldn’t have been needed to be dug if we had known. We sorted out rocks and filled in with the soil and gravel sized rock. Yesterday we purchased topsoil in bags, some edging, and a couple large flower pots and some perinnials to plant in them. We also purchased a small bag of grass seed and I seeded around the new bed. It was well watered in yesterday afternoon and straw sprinkled over it. The hens will all remain cooped or penned up until the grass emerges. The topsoil we purchased was all my car could handle and wasn’t enough, so today another load was picked up and we finished placing the edging, filling with soil, mulching over with wood chips, and placing the potted plants on the bed.

There is now a well defined and much smaller area that will have to be dug out of easy to dig soil in a few years when we have to do it again.

Last evening, the tall worker also helped me get hay down in both chicken runs and in the Chicken Palace. Still up on our agenda, next week, is to deconstruct the collapsing Chicken Tractor, salvaging what we can, burning the rest. And to make repairs on the coop and get it stained.

It is nice having a strong back to lift 40-45 pound sacks and work with me to get the jobs done.

The pullets have begun to lay eggs. I have been getting a small blue egg each day from the Easter Eggers. The New Hampshire reds look like they are about to add to it.

The hay guys are finishing up the fields down from us. We should be up next and the fields will again be clear enough to walk.

I have spent the last hour or so setting up two new phones for hubby and me. Our phones were at least 5 years old and failing.