Strange Season

November started off too warm and dry. Then a few days ago, it switched to still warm and wet. The difference between the daytime and nighttime temperatures has only varied by less than 20 degrees, staying in the 50’s at night. That is going to change tonight. Today won’t reach 60 during the day and for the next 10 days the highs will be 40’s and 50’s and lows as low as 24. The fig I nursed with a ring of wire wrapped in translucent plastic and covered with mylar when necessary never ripened the dozen figs on it. It is a young bush, this was only it’s second year and I thought I lost it last winter. The leaves have mostly dropped along with the unripe figs, so this morning, I prepared it for winter hibernation. The branches were pulled together and loosely tied, a deep mulch of hay placed around the base, 3 long garden poles placed as a tripod and tied together with a long run of paracord then the sheet of plastic was wrapped around several times, wrapped with the paracord and tied. Spots that looked like they might pull up were anchored with rocks or garden stakes. With any luck, it will be better protected than last winter and maybe the upcoming summer will produce a crop of figs. I learned this year that it should have been planted on the south side of the house close enough to benefit from the protection and solar warmth. Maybe a second fig will join the orchard trees next year and be planted in a better location. This one is small enough still that it is possible to transplant it toward the end of the season next year if I prep it correctly, but I don’t want to stunt it’s growth and production.

Last evening during dinner prep, I went to the garden to see if any of the pea pods had filled out enough to provide us with some fresh peas for our meal. When I planted the garlic which in in the box uphill from the peas, I covered the straw mulch with plastic erosion fence and laid metal garden stakes on top to hold it all in place. The erosion fence was a few inches too short on one side and I discovered that the hens had found that and with an entire garden to scratch and dig, they had dug an 8″ deep trench along the inside edge of the box, uprooting several cloves of garlic. The trench was refilled and more garden stakes laid over the top until this morning. I found another piece of erosion fence that was idle and added it to the bare edge and anchored it with a couple of poles. A few minutes with a hoe cleaned up the asparagus bed and around it and it was fenced in with more fencing and a thick layer of hay dumped inside to mulch the asparagus for the cold. To try to distract the hens from their intense focus on how to get to the hay, I tossed a foot thick layer near their water in the run for them to dig through.

The near box with the garlic is the one that will be moved after the garlic harvest and that corner will again become a compost area. I think a real compost bin is going to be built there. The asparagus will mark the end of the growing bed there.

The molt seems to be mostly over, there are fewer feathers flying and only a couple of the hens look motley. For several weeks, two of the Oliver eggers, the two that lay green eggs have been providing. Last night there were two eggs and one was brown, so production seems to be on the upswing.

Tomorrow is two weeks since Halloween and all of the unmasked Trunk/Trick or Treaters in the county. Today there are 13 new cases of COVID since day before yesterday and 2 more hospitalizations. It’s getting ugly out there, but people here still won’t wear a mask.

The Rain Did It Again

I think we got our month’s worth yesterday and last night. It rained hard enough last night to again clog the ditches and culverts along our road, filled the ditch on the top end of our culvert with road gravel and washed huge ruts down our driveway. Again I have filed a report with VDOT, but they would rather come in and grade and clear ditches half a dozen times a year than do it right the first time. The ditch needs to change sides of the road several times which would involve putting culverts under the road.

I had a package to mail, so we went out to get a newspaper, drop the package in a post box and get carry out lunch. I also needed two flower pots as I made a decision to let the two huge hanging spider plants stay outside for the winter which will result in their demise, but I cut plantlets and brought them in to root to start them over in clean soil in the spring. The plantlets were ready to be planted, so we went to the local nursery to get two terra cotta pots and plastic saucers. The nursery is near the road down to the river so we chose to come home along the river. This is what we found.

The river was over it’s banks, the rocks at the falls totally submerged. We saw a pick up truck go through that overwash on the road, but we wisely turned around and came home on the high road. That isn’t the only low spot, or even the lowest spot on the route home.

Our creeks are rushing, the one at the bottom of the mountain is very full, but not as full as we have seen it a few times.

The rain seems to have tapered off, though it is still thick with gray clouds out.

Yesterday I commented that I didn’t care for the red fiber, it is very slick and not fun to spin on the spindles. Last night I decided to just spin it on the wheel and though it is going faster, it requires so much hand tension to keep it from pulling apart or slipping away, it is still going to take a while. An hour of spinning and my hand, elbow, and shoulder ache. I still have more than half of it to do. The singles are spinning up at about 38 WPI, so it is going to be fine yarn. I hope someone wants a lot of yardage of fine, smooth, soft yarn.

I have plenty of Shetland, Jacob, Coopworth, and Alpaca/Coopworth blend to keep me busy. Not the pretty colors, but much more fun to spin.

And the skies opened

Yesterday it sprinkled, today it poured. The weather forecast says we will get a month’s worth of rain in 2 days. When I got up this morning, the hunter was down the low field, it had rained hard off and on as I lay there too lazy to get up, knowing I was going to have to take the dogs out on leashes this morning. It rained all morning, though at times only lightly. As we were eating lunch, we saw him plod up the fields dejectedly and when he got to his car, he texted that he was soaked through and going to his brother’s house to dry off and would be back. I haven’t heard a single shot on the mountain this morning, nor have I seen a single deer. He did come back and was still here at dusk when I went over to lock up the hens. I did eventually see the doe with her spring twins and the orphaned spring fawn, but not down in the “hunting field” fortunately.

Today marks about year with a hearing aid and today marks a revisit to the Hearing Clinic to have it checked, cleaned, and adjusted. The gal that first tested me and fitted the aid is not there anymore, the new gal is an AuD and was very open about discussing my concerns and likes and dislikes. I will be retested in late spring to see if there has been any change in my hearing and whether the marginal need for the left ear aid has shifted to the need. I feel better knowing why certain aspects of wearing the aid cause various issues.

We are seeing a significant spike in COVID cases in our county. The population of the county is just over 16,000 and there have been 35 new cases and 2 new hospitalization in the past 10 days. This is a county that is very mask resistant. In our village, we saw more masks for a while, but fewer in the past couple weeks. The next town over, no one wears a mask except the staff of two of the restaurants that we occasionally get curbside pick-up from. The local outfitter and cafe is totally maskless, not even a pretense. Our village store, is less than 50% with some of the employees putting one on if you enter with one on and a couple that wear it under their chin or not at all. When we saw Son 1 last weekend for our socially distanced picnic, he ask what the cases per 100,000 and hospitalization percentage were. I didn’t know but have since looked it up. Cases per 100,000 is 1062.7 and the hospitalization percentage is 35.6. We were told that the area coroners weren’t counting deaths that had an underlying cause even if the patient had COVID at the time of death. I don’t know when people are going to quit making this a political statement and realize that things will open up much more quickly if everyone would comply with this simple solution. Our Governor is still just encouraging it and has not made it mandatory.

Before the rains began, I did get the asparagus bed and the corn and sunflower stalk piles burned. And the chickens have had 3 days of free range in the garden. I am still only getting a green egg or two a day, but it looks like all have finished molting except two or three hens, so I am hoping that I will start seeing more eggs soon.

While filling bird feeders and hanging a Niger Thistle sock, this little one landed on the feeder, inches from my face, ate several seed, then flitted down by my feet, apparently unaware I was standing there.

I did an update of the month’s spinning this morning. The “Apple Picking” braid of reds, pinks, yellows, is not my favorite spin. I love the colors, but not so much the slippery fiber. It is Merino, baby camel, and silk and feels slick and lifeless. I much prefer spinning fibers with some body and spring. The grays are Jacob and the burgundy and white blend is Alpaca and Coopworth. It may take me forever to end up with laceweight from the reds, but it is going to be lots of yardage. I decided to dedicate only one spindle to it and shifted the second one to Moorit Shetland.

After taking the photo, I listed the Olivewood Finch with the Jacob on it for trade on the Jenkins group, wishing for a heavier Finch and within a couple of hours a trade was made. I love that the Jenkins spindles are so desired that a sale or trade can be made quickly. After several purchases, sales, and trades, I have determined my favorite sizes and weights for their spindles. The Olivewood one will head to a new home tomorrow and a Pink Ivorywood one that weighs about 5 grams more will head my way.

Today is a day where I feel like I have done household chores all day. Bathroom cleaning, laundry, dishes, cooking and cleaning it up. Now I need to go unload the dishwasher and fold a load of laundry.

Stay safe out there and please WEAR A MASK, it is a health statement, not a political one.