Bits and Pieces

An old song, but the song of this summer. Everything seems to be happening in bits and pieces.

We are entering August in a couple of days and we still have half of the big south field in standing hay. That has never happened since we moved to this farm. Usually the hay is down, baled, and hauled away by the end of the first week of July. This year they finished part of one field, were threatened with rain so teddered, raked, and baled that part. Then another window opened and they finished the upper fields. Last week, the older farmer (a decade my junior in calendar age, a decade older in physical age) came and worked alone as the younger farmer workers hold day jobs and usually work late afternoons and early evenings when the storms threaten. He started mowing the south field, got maybe half done before he had to quit for the day, then it rained on it. He teddered it two days in a row and with pending rain, he raked and baled 19 more 5 X 4′ round bales alone yesterday afternoon.

And more rain is due, so the rest of the field won’t get done anytime soon. Fortunately, all the fields they work and have been able to get done are producing higher yield, quality hay, so if they lose the remaining 19-20 bales down there, they may be able to at least sell it for contractor’s work.

The garden is providing in bits and pieces, too. There has only been one canning session, a batch of Spicy Bread and Butter pickles, though another of them may be in the near future. The cucumbers are loving the heat and rain showers and I bring in a basket every couple of days. Two half gallon jars of quick brine dill pickles have been made and put in the refrigerator this week, two quart jars of fermented dills are working on the counter, and there were at least a dozen finger sized cucumbers last night that will be ready in a couple of days. Two huge ones were missed in my earlier searches through the sticky vines and they were broken in half and tossed to the hens.

Not yesterday’s basket, but typical, cucumbers, a small handful of jalapenos, a tomato or two, a couple of tomatillos that are about egg sized, and last night, a huge bunch of basil to dry. The tomatoes and tomatillos are popped into gallon bags and tossed into the freezer until there are enough to prep into sauce for canning. The jalapenos quick brined a pint at a time when there are enough to fill a pint. I am making the brine a half gallon at a time and keeping it in the refrigerator to heat up what I need per pint, though I may switch to quart jars soon to save the pints for canning tomatoes and later applesauce. Because it is just two of us at home, quarts are used for dry storage and not for canning except for quick brine jalapenos. Hubby will go through 8 or 9 quart jars a winter.

Yarn is being spun in bits and pieces this summer too, a tiny spindle full at a time. When the spindle is full, the singles are wound off onto a bobbin, when a second spindle is full, the two are wound together into a ply ball. When the ply ball gets about the size of a baseball, it is plied on the spinning wheel with each ply ball being added to the bobbin as it fills. When the bobbin is full, there is enough yarn to be a decent skein and it is wound off, tied, soaked to full it and set the twist.

Today or tomorrow, the second tiny spindle that I am getting in a trade for a larger spindle should arrive. Tracking showed it arrived at the local distribution center in the middle of the night. The spinning in bits and pieces has been a conscious choice to center me and to slow down the rate at which I create items that would likely end up in my shop, as craft events are not happening and as people are out of work, nothing is selling. Yesterday, I received back several skeins of yarn that had been for sale on consignment in a friend’s lovely little yarn shop that she has closed, so it too will be added to my shop. If you are a knitting, weaving, or crocheting reader that doesn’t spin, be sure to check out the new listings in the shop, there is a link at the top of the blog. I have added about 8 new yarns this week and will add more soon.

Each morning as I am heading out to do chores or sitting on a porch to enjoy the cool morning with my breakfast, I find webs. The one in yesterday’s blog was gone by afternoon and back this morning. This one was in the tiny plum tree that though it is about 4 years old can’t get a good start because the deer keep clipping off the new growth. I have put temporary fencing around it and they still manage to get to it.

My fig that I bought last year in a big pot had a couple of figs on it when I purchased it. It was only about 18″ tall then. Of the figs on it, I got 1. It didn’t appear to have survived the winter, so in the late spring, I mowed over where it was planted and the next time I went over to mow the orchard, I saw new growth. It is a variety that will die back each winter and regrow each spring. It is a much more vigorous plant than I brought home, but alas, no figs. I will give it more protection this winter, perhaps build a mini greenhouse shelter around it with the corrugated plastic panels that are coming off the rotting chicken tractor.

Last year, my only remaining peach tree produced fruit, but every peach was small and had tiny holes that oozed a clear sappy goo, and they rotted before they were ripe enough to pick. This year the peaches were large enough to be good, but again, each peach has the tiny holes and are rotting on the tree. I tried picking a few that seemed intact, but once in the house, they too started oozing and rotting before they ripened. I don’t know what is causing it, I don’t like to spray. Maybe peaches that I don’t purchase at the Farmer’s Market are just not in my future. It is keeping the deer fed and right now smells fermented, so I may see staggering critters on the farm.

The grape vine that I was sure would not do anything this year after I sharply pruned it and tied it up off the ground is very vigorous and full of fruit that is just beginning to turn from green to Concord blue/purple. There will be grape jelly.

Now I need to learn how to properly prune it so we get fruit again next year.

Take care out there everyone.

I would love to hear your comments on this post.

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