Week Three

This is the third week of our social distancing. We have left the house, other than for walks on our property or rural road only 4 times. Three of those were for groceries, one, a failed attempt to walk in the National Forest where there were so many cars, we returned home.

I had read that the local grocer opened at 9 a.m. for seniors so I left with a list this morning to be there when they opened. When I arrived, the sign on the door said they opened at 7 for seniors. There weren’t too many cars in the lot, so I went ahead. The shelves were not well stocked, but I was able to get most of what I was seeking, using the hand scanner (I sanitized with a disinfecting wipe first) so that I didn’t have to have another person handle the items and so that I could load them directly into a washable bag. I had worn clothing that could all be washed in hot water on my return, had taken a canister of disinfecting wipes to wipe down my car handles, debit card, and hard surfaces of bottles and cans before putting them away. When I got in the lobby, an employee asked whether I wanted a small or large cart, sprayed it down, wiped the handle before letting me take it in the store. Once home, bags were emptied in the utility room. Hard packaging wiped down, other items put on shelves until needed, bags were tossed into the washer. Clothing was stripped and put in washer and a hot shower was taken. After the shower the stall was sprayed down with 1% bleach spray and towel added to the washer and it was run. There are still no reported cases in the New River Valley, but I wanted to keep us safe.

Today’s walk was on our farm. Since my farm walk a couple day ago, a partial skull appeared on the edge of the field. I can’t identify skulls, so I don’t know what critter it belonged to, and it was missing parts.

In the field there were many mysterious holes about the size of a half dollar, I expect skunks looking for grubs. And two ankle breaking size holes that I expect are ground hog holes. One in my path, so I filled it with rocks and took a picture of the other.

There were some wildflowers I can’t identify and the day lilies are up both in the cultivated bed and huge patches of them along the creek where I planted a few corms 15 years ago before the house was finished. The ones up by the creek came from my Dad’s garden and have multiplied and spread.

As long as I can get out to walk or garden, I will be okay. I tried to start the riding mower and it is out of fuel and wouldn’t start. There is no fuel here, I will have to go to the village and self pump a couple of 3 gallon cans. I also have to pump up a front tire and hope it holds air.

The Feeding Station

From fall into early summer, the feeding station is kept full of seed and suet to attract the native and migrating birds to the feeder. This has been a habit for more years than I can count. In the home that our kids mostly associate with as their growing up home, the yard had dozens of mature trees, so squirrels were often feeder raiders and I tried every trick to foil them. Feeder poles with baffles, greased poles, hanging feeders with top shields, nothing worked until… I had the idea to dangle a feeder about 15 feet from a large branch, high enough that I could mow under it, but still reach it to fill, and 10 to 12 feet away from the trunk of the tree. Squirrel proof, but how to accomplish it. By then, Son 1 was at least a young teen and already 6 feet tall, and a Scout so he had bear bag experience camping. I don’t remember what we used as a weight, but a weight was tied to a light rope and after several attempts, he lobbed that weight over the branch. If I recall, it wasn’t heavy enough to pull the rope and fall very far, but somehow we managed to pull it down, tied a vinyl coated clothes line cord to the rope and pulled it over. With his ingenuity and strength, I had a squirrel proof feeder. When asked how we got the rope there by visitors, a sly, “trained squirrel” comment was used more than once. Later as an adult, he built a terrific deck off the back french doors and many hours were spent in the shade watching the birds.

Once here in the mountains, I heard horror stories of feeders attracting bears, so I didn’t hang feeders for a few years, but finally broke down. There is a double shepherd’s crook pole in the back with two seed feeders and a suet feeder, and a single shepherd’s crook pole in the front for the hummingbird feeder from mid April til they leave in October. That one attracts ants and I haven’t been able to foil them.

I love sitting at the dining table or looking our the kitchen window at the birds that come to dine. The usual cast of characters include Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Purple Finches, House Finches, Gold Finches, and in the winter, Juncos that hop around under the feeder for dropped seed. This spring for the first time there are three woodpeckers that come to the suet. I identified them based on what my Dad used to call them, but then when I looked in my bird book, I’m not so sure about that. He called the smaller one a Downy Woodpecker, but this bird is larger than the description and better fits the Hairy Woodpecker description, but the book says they are shy birds, so I’m not sure they would come to the feeder. The other he called a Flicker, but I think it is a female Red Bellied. The third is definitely a male Red Bellied. For the past few days there has been a dove and this morning for the first time, a female Cardinal. I guess we will have to start folding our car mirrors in when not in use or Mr. Cardinal will fight with himself.

Mrs. Cardinal sharing the feeder, though the other birds seem to fear her.

At two corners of my garden are nesting boxes put there for the Eastern Bluebirds. The first year the boxes were there, we had a nest of baby Bluebirds, then the boxes were overtaken by the iridescent Tree Swallows who have occupied both boxes for the past few years. I was pleased to see that the Bluebirds have again staked out one of the boxes and the Swallows the other. I have a third box but the only available post that is already set is too close to the box the Bluebirds have chosen. I have a young peach tree that looked last year like it had died, though it has 4 blossoms on it this year. If it dies, perhaps I will strip the branches off and use the trunk as a post for the third nesting box for next year.

We have a very persistent pair of Barn Swallows that insist on building a nest against the logs on the top of the bathroom exhaust vent. I am as equally persistent in destroying their work before they lay eggs. We have a barn and they can build all the nests in and around it that they want, but I don’t want them on the house. Last year they sneaked around me and build a nest where the logs cross at the back of the garage, but the 6 foot blacksnake I later relocated after it found my coop, was heard and then seen trying to get back down from getting up to that nest.

I liked having it around as long as it was only eating rodents and other pests, but not when it took to climbing the house and getting in the coop.

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.