The Crud

Being a pair of over 70’s, one with a compromised immune system of unknown reason, we always get flu shots and have both gotten the old and the new pneumonia shots. As a young Air Force officer, hubby was stationed in Missouri and contracted what might have been histoplasmosis, but because they couldn’t culture it, he ended up having a thoracotomy from the back instead of the chest and a partial lung lobe removed. As a result, if he ever gets an upper respiratory infection, he will begin to get better then it settles in his lungs and usually becomes bronchitis.

Three weeks ago, he began to have cold symptoms, then a full blown cold, then started feeling better by earlier in the week. By Thursday, we were in the doctor’s office and he ended up on antibiotics. I had tiptoed around, washing my hands frequently, keeping surfaces wiped down with cleaner, washing dishes in the dishwasher on hot and doing everything but wearing a hazmat suit and respirator mask, but by Wednesday, I knew I hadn’t avoided it. In my case, upper respiratory infections generally go to my sinuses, but usually not as bad as his and shorter lived.

Saturdays in our house begin with breakfast out and then the farmers market, but we had a winter weather advisory and I really didn’t need anything available this time of year at the market, so we decided to change our routine. When I got up, it was in the low 30’s and there was a trace of tiny ice pellets on the back deck. It wasn’t doing anything when I went out to do morning chicken chores and let them out. Since the weather wasn’t looking too bad, we drove in and got fast food and came home, built fires in the basement woodstove and the living room fireplace and hunkered down indoors to see what the weather would bring. The temperature has climbed slowly during the day to the upper 30s and it has rained and rained and we have kept the fires burning, it was so gloomy out. The weather forecast shows today’s high will be around midnight tonight hitting about 41, then turning downward all day tomorrow to a low tomorrow night of 16. At least the precipitation is supposed to end before the temperature falls and we have several days of real winter temperatures.

Because of having caught his crud and the weather being crud, today has been a sit and knit, drinks lots of hot tea and a quick stir fry dinner with leftover rice. I turned mine into a big bowl of miso soup. I figure I might drown the crud.

Brrrrr – Nov. 13, 2019

It is November, still Autumn according to the calendar, but the thermometer and the weather prognisticators say otherwise. When 70% of the country is expecting freezing or below weather in November, something is wrong. Two days ago, I was in a long sleeve tee working in the garden, yesterday we awoke to snow falling and lightly coating the world with it hovering at freezing and expected to fall all day and through the night. I awoke at dawn, the heatpump not keeping up with the cold and no fires stokes and not wanting to get out from under the two quilts on the bed. Wishing I had worn wool socks to bed last night.

With two pups nudging me to get up, let them out, and feed them, I finally conceded, layering on wool layers from the skin out (wish I had some wool trousers) and going down to let them out, cook their egg, and get my coffee going. This is what the front porch thermometer read.

The early dawn hours it reached 14f. We have experienced colder weather skiing out west, in Vermont, even in West Virginia. It has dropped below that on the farm, but not in November. At 8:30 when I finally added boots, hat, gloves, and barn parka to go out to the chickens it was 17f, sunny, the wind from yesterday finally calmed, but bitingly cold.

In this world of social media, we have friends we know, we hang out with, can hug or shake hands with even if it is only once or twice a year. Then we have friends we have met through social media that have similar or like interests with whom we share photos and online conversations. One of the later is a retired physician that lives in Iowa (bet it is colder there today than here), who is a fabulous fiber artist. She makes beautiful one of a kind jackets and coats hand spun yarn, felts among other things. Her Etsy shop is FiberCurio. Late last winter, I mentioned having regrettably not purchased a felt hat at SAFF quite a number of years ago and Ellen came to the rescue and made me a gray felted hat to which I added one of my woven tapes. I like the hat and wear it when it is cold. Though I spin yarn and knit many hats, my head doesn’t seem to be the right shape to make a knitted hat fit well and look good. Last week, Ellen posted pictures of some felted women’s hats she was taking to a craft event and one of them shouted at me. Now, I can’t attend an event in Iowa, but I reached out to her about that hat and by the next day it was in the mail to me. Yesterday in the midst of falling temperatures, snow flurries, and brutal wind, a package arrived, my new hat.

I love the cloche, it pulls down over my ears and is warm felted Merino. It should help keep my head warm when it is truly winter here, and now during our early Arctic Blast that looks to be lingering for another day or two with very cold nights and early mornings even after that. Social media can be wonderful at times.

And You Thought Garden Posts Were Done for the Year – Nov. 10, 2019

The last few nights have been very cold for this time of year. A couple hovering around 20 f but today the day time temperature is above 60 f, the sky clear and very little wind. With one more day similar to this due tomorrow, it seemed like a good time to prep the garden for winter and to get the perennial onions and garlic planted.

The bed that was designated for it is a 4′ x 4′ raised bed that had sunflowers and cucumbers in it this past summer. It was cleared of stalks and a few weeds. Each time I put straw or woodchips in the chicken run, they scratch them into wonderful compost mixed with their droppings and some of it gets kicked out the low end of the pen. I was able to gather a full wheelbarrow full of this rich compost to add to the bed.

The alliums were planted, a thick layer of hay spread over the top and mesh fencing laid over the top to hold the hay in place in the wind and to keep the chickens from digging that bed up when I let them scratch in the garden during the winter.

While I was in the garden, I pulled the Creeping Charlie from the Blueberry bed, removed the deteriorated tarp from over the mint bed, grabbed armloads of mint, dead pepper plants, and weeds to throw to the chickens. Cardboard was placed over the mint bed. I am going to add another layer to it when I can get some, place heavy rocks to hold it down and put hay over it too. Maybe I can regain control of that bed.

Each morning, I go to the coop to let the hens out. They get free range time for several hours until the dogs need to go out again. Once I release them from the coop, I look in to see the cleanliness of the coop, to check to see if their water is frozen, and make sure their 5 gallon feeder still has feed. They have been only providing 1 or 2 eggs each day now for a couple of weeks, or so I thought. When I looked in the coop this morning, I saw an egg in the back corner opposite the nesting boxes so I climbed up in the coop to get it. Tucked in a neat nest there were 11 eggs. Sneaky birds. And I actually bought eggs yesterday at the Farmers Market.

Having an extra dozen around with Thanksgiving coming is a good thing. Eldest son and family will be here for a couple of days so breakfast will be needed for 4, hubby doesn’t usually get up for it. Pumpkins pies will need to be made, so more eggs will be used than the usual amount. I cook an egg for the dogs each morning and sometimes one for me for breakfast or dinner. Now that I know they are being sneaky, I checked the coop while out in the garden and sure enough, there were two more in that corner, plus one in the nesting boxes. I guess I am going to have to check daily.

If tomorrow proves to be another good day as forcast, after I go for my hearing aid fitting tomorrow morning, I will weed a couple more beds, cut back the asparagus tops and get hay on that bed as well. It is fenced off so the hens can’t get in it. Then the hens will be given time in the garden to scratch for bugs and seeds to help keep the weeds down in the spring. I still want to get help to redo the fencing and posts, but the garden is getting bedded down for winter.