Oh the wonders of youth

This has been a week full of youth. Tuesday, Son2 and his family arrived with almost 2/3 of our grandkids. Lots of food, lots of noise, lots of hugs and snuggles. And they brought their beautiful young German Shepherd, so lots of puppy love. It is so cool to see the developmental changes in the younger kiddos. Going from throwing the blocks to the 4 year old intent on putting together the 4 sixteen piece puzzles and wanting to do it himself. Son 2 and I had to evict some mice from their RV stored here, so they slept in the house while we cleaned and trapped. The next day we worked to replace the water heater in the RV as the old one ruptured a while back in cold weather. This was a fun challenge as it wasn’t supposed to rain, but it started just as we opened the hole in the side of the RV. The big table umbrella came to our rescue , propped on the roof with me holding it in place with one hand while offering the other hand as an assistance.

The next few days were used to wash sheets and remake the beds used by them and also the linens from the RV that had been “miced.” Their linens are now sealed in rigid totes until they need them again. Any dishes that were not put away in the RV were also sanitized in our dishwasher and put away. And daily trap checks are being done to make sure we got them all.

There are often derogatory comments made about young adults. We loaned our scaffolding to a young couple that are friends of friends. As soon as they borrowed it, offers to do anything to help us were made. The wife has house and dog sat for us a couple of times, but still they asked for jobs to help. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I wanted to redo the chicken run but had to get the supplies. In the meantime, I decided to create a covered tunnel around most of the vegetable garden inside the fence so they could keep the weeds and bugs at bay. I had begun that task, but found pounding in T post to be challenging, so I quit with only about 12-15 feet done. There was a lot of old fence wire in the back of the barn. Early this week, plans were made for her and her husband to come assist me. There is now a tunnel around all of the garden except the gate area and enough room to the left of the gate to get to the wide path in the garden. And it is covered. Then the berry half barrels were moved, cardboard from daughter’s recent move laid every where there isn’t a tunnel or garden box, the half barrels put back in place on top where they had been, then most of a round bale of last year’s hay spread to cover all paths and all the cardboard as well as thick layer in the chicken run. We worked together for about 3.5-4 hours and did more work that I would have gotten done in weeks. All I have to do now is keep the beds weeded and that is very doable. They are going to come another weekend and help me dismantle the chicken tractor that blew over and broke a few years ago and get rid of the rotting wood, roll the hardware cloth to store. They were terrific and so gracious with their strength and energy.

And the offer to come help anytime I need assistance on jobs that are more easily done with help is so welcome.

The only error was not cutting an opening from the tunnel I had put in to the one we created today, but I think I have come up with a solution. Next up is creating a structure around the box where the galvanized tub is resting to become the compost piles.

I am tired from the week, but rejuvenated by all of the youth in our lives this week. Tomorrow, daughter and I will join forces to make empanadas for dinner with her family and us. It is always fun to work in the kitchen with her.

Olio-May 18,2024

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things (thoughts)

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day and my love gave me a fitness tracker watch to add to the motivation of the daily walks and workouts from my Physical Trainer. She is an great young woman and Mom who was a perfect match to work with this senior citizen with a bad shoulder and bicep. My strength and flexibility have greatly improved. On gym days, which is my training day and any day too rainy for outdoor walks, I prefer the treadmill. I can do 4 miles in an hour and push myself much faster than outdoor walks with hubby. I have more than met my goal of 8000 steps a day every day, usually more like 11500-12000.

For Mother’s Day evening, daughter and her two kiddos came and we went to the restaurant at Mountain Lake Lodge for a meal treat together. After dinner, we walked the old lake bed and up through the grounds of the Lodge. The creeks in the lake bed were full of tadpoles. Maybe someday the lake will return. It has emptied and refilled in the past but I doubt we will ever see it full again. It was a real lake when we purchased our land.

During the week, which has been a very wet one, too wet for gardening, I finished the Kantha quilt that I have been working on for the past 6 or 8 weeks. I wish I had made it somewhat larger, but it is large enough to cover my legs and lap when stretched out in my recliner on cool nights.

Work on it has taken priority over spinning or knitting, though there are projects of both being done; a scarf from my Christmas gift fiber spun in January and early February, and about 20 grams of singles spun on spindles from a sample batt that came with some other fiber I had purchased.

It still needs to be plyed, skeined, measured, and washed to see if there is enough to even make fingerless mitts, or if I will have to use it as trim on something else.

Now that there are no barn cats and no dogs meandering the farm, and with the chickens penned up to protect them from the hawk, we have been invaded by several of these adorable, destructive little ground squirrels/chipmunks. They dig up my flower pots and I keep having to sprinkle hot pepper powder on the pots to deter them. At least two chipmunks have taken up residence in the stone wall behind the deck and scurry around the deck and stone patio behind the house. They don’t like hot pepper or vinegar, so all extra vinegar from pickles or canned jalapenos is used as weed killer on the patio. Perhaps a new barn cat would discourage their residence, but we really don’t want to take on any more pets.

Last weekend, my frustration with the line trimmer we own resulted in me being near tears as it “ate” the line every couple of feet of attempted edging of the stone walled garden and stoops around the house. We ended up going out and discussing the problem with the guy at the hardware store that sells that brand and another and the consensus was that it just wasn’t designed for that level of use, but rather for very light trimming on a small townhouse or home with a very small yard. We purchased a beefier one of the other brand and in two sessions (the battery lasts about 30 minutes of use) I got nearly everything that needed done trimmed finally. It really didn’t get done last year at all because of the inefficient trimmer. I still have a small section of fence at the vegetable garden and around the Chicken Palace to finish if it ever stops raining. Though heavier than the older one, it is so much easier to use and it is a self winding model, so no trying to wind the wire on and hold it in place while reassembling the head.

The Calico popcorn that was planted in the garden did not come up and the bed, though it has peas and sugar snap peas as well as a volunteer potato or two growing well at the other end of the 15′ bed, has quarter sized holes throughout. That end of the bed has a piece of welded wire fence over the wooden frame to deter crows and other seed eating intruders, but the holes seem to come from below, so I suspect voles have gotten into the bed. This is the third year in a row of having corn fail. A little research indicated that if you aren’t planting an entire field of it, that it can be started indoors and transplanted later that will discourage the seed eaters. A few days ago, 36 seeds were planted in Jiffy plugs and set on the heat mat. There are now 36 one to two inch seedlings under a grow light. When they get some size and roots begin to appear in the sides of the plugs, a transplant session will be held. Maybe the torrential rain will end before then so they don’t float away.

Some of the sunflowers and Tithonia have come up in that bed but I think more will be started in more of the plugs and transplanted at the same time. I love having sunflowers in the garden to attract the native bees, which are so docile, they buzz around while I am gardening and show me no aggression.

In rereading above, I have complained about the rain, but in truth, it is much needed. Parts of Virginia are in drought lasting a few years and here in SW Virginia, we were on the verge of drought. This isn’t Camelot, so we can’t rule that it only rain after sundown and end by morning.

Until I visit here again, have a safe spring and good health.

Catching Up

The garden is planted except for the corn. It probably should have gone in yesterday as we finally have rain today and off and on for the rest of the week. In looking in the freezer in the basement to see what was left, it looks pretty barren. There are two frozen pizzas that were purchased nearly a year ago for a grandson that was staying with us for a couple of weeks, several quart bags of enchilada sauce I made with dried peppers from one of the local Latin stores, and a gallon bag of frozen whole unpeeled tomatoes. There was a second bag of tomatoes in the refrigerator freezer. At the Farmer’s Market this morning, a bag of beets was purchased. Since it is a rainy day, the beets were cooked, peeled, sliced and some of them frozen for future meals and the tomatoes were dumped in a sink of water so the peels would come off. While they partially thawed; onions, fresh basil and oregano from the garden and a pot in the house were sauteed in a bit of olive oil then the peeled tomatoes added. Once thawed through a quick whir with the immersion blender and a few hours simmer time and 5 pints of pasta sauce are jarred up. I had to use wide mouth pints as there were no new lids available and they will have to be frozen instead of canned, but we now have enough pasta sauce to last until this year’s crop of tomatoes begin to come in. I guess lids need to go on the grocery list. There are plenty of jars and rings to use as produce starts coming in. I think before much is added to the freezer, I need to put the items in it in a cooler and thoroughly clean the bottom and defrost the sides.

The peas are about a foot tall, but not flowering yet. Potatoes are up and the transplanted peppers look like they all set in nicely.

The 6 littles and the 4 mature hens have established some level of peace treaty. Though they still sleep at opposite ends of the perch, they cohabitate in the run and tunnel and will even eat together if scratch or kitchen scraps are provided. My best guess is they are about 10 or 11 weeks old now, so another 10 weeks to go before we start seeing pullet eggs.

My physical trainer and I had decided on a 4 workouts about 6 weeks ago and this week determined that that rotation was too spread out, so beginning this week, there will be two whole body workouts to rotate, adding reps or weight as tolerated as we go forward. There is also going to be a new beginner yoga class that I am going to attend once a week. Shoulder and bicep exercises that I could only handle a 3 pound weight on when I began, I am now up to 8 pounds, and ones I was using 7.5 or 10 on, I’m now using 15 and 20 with many more reps, so I guess progress is being made. We are still doing daily walks. On bad weather and PT days, I do about 2-2.5 miles at an average of 3.9 mph on the treadmill. When we are outdoors, it is generally about 3.5 to 4 miles, but not at that pace.

The Kantha quilt is progressing, though it is getting too warm to want to stitch with it in my lap at night.

The monthly challenge for the spindle group has me plying what I spun in late March and through April and spinning a sample I received with a fiber order on another spindle.

The local grandson has agreed to come assist me with extending the chicken’s tunnel. And I need to get the line trimmer to work with a level of consistency so that the now very tall grass up against the foundation and around the gardens can be brought under control. It is pushing toward summer and I don’t do well in the heat, so the heavier chores need to get done now.