Rainy Day Olio – 3/25/2021

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

My Facebook memory for the day shows snow 3 years ago, so I have to keep reminding myself that it is spring on the calendar, but still 6 weeks to the last average frost. I am not patient when it comes to the garden. Once I start, I want to plant, to harvest, to start putting by for the off seasons, then I look at the pantry shelves and freezer and realize we haven’t used all of last year’s stuff up yet. I have never had much luck starting my own seeds that aren’t direct sown, but the new hydroponic unit with 12 plugs has the healthiest little dozen tomato plants. The unit has LED lights and a gentle fan so the plants are sturdy and only several inches tall, not shooting for the moon as leggy starts.

Eventually they will be transplanted into 4″ plantable pots and start spending part of each day outdoors on the deck, but not yet. Most of the starts of spinach, kale, and mesclun greens that I transplanted and then covered with plastic didn’t get enough water from the rains and few survived. The 8 mini head lettuces that I bought at the Farmer’s Market as transplants are doing great. Yesterday after morning showers and before today’s rain, I direct sowed more lettuce, kale, lacinato kale, and spinach in the bed and left the plastic off. I see no frost nights until late next week and I will cover them just for the nights then.

I have resumed my love affair with spindles over the past year. They are so portable and can be put down on the side table and left until I’m ready to return to them. They can be put in a tin and dropped in my bag to take with me in the car, and the smaller ones can even be used when hubby is driving as long as the road isn’t too winding. On a spindle I can create fine, even, consistent yarns, the small balls wound together and plied on either a larger spindle or even on my wheel. My wheel has suffered neglect this year. To use it by my chair, I have to move the ottoman and move the wheel every time I need to get up. But day before yesterday, I chose to pull it over and decided to finish spinning a 5 ounce braid of very soft wool/silk blend I had started on the spindles. It took me two days to finish spinning two very full bobbins and plying it on my jumbo flyer and large bobbin. I told hubby I thought it was about 1000 yards of singles spun.

I finished plying it last night and let it sit overnight before winding it off this morning. I was close, it is a two ply yarn, lace weight, and finished at 484.5 yards, so it was 969 yards of singles. It is a very pretty, soft and drapey yarn that has been washed and is drying now. The spindle is the one my hubby gave me for my birthday last November and it is spinning wool for my breed blanket. I should have 14 or 15 squares finished by the end of the month. I will lay them all out and take a picture then.

When a spindle isn’t in use, it is safely nested in it’s own little compartment on thick felt in this box. When out and about, it travels in a tin like one of these, nested on a bed of the fiber being spun on it.

On Sunday, the museum where I used to go and spin in costume, regularly, is scheduled to have Founder’s Day. As I am fully vaccinated and the event is supposed to be outdoors, I plan to attend as a period spinner with wheel and spindles, combs, and cards, and wool I washed to process for spinning. The event has other re enactors, carriage rides (pre-registered) through town, but the weather app is showing a 90% chance of rain. I can’t take a wheel, yarn, and knits out in the yard in the rain. I guess I will wait and see if the forecast improves or see if I can be on the roofed porch, still “outdoors,” but protected. I will be so glad when it is safe to resume life again.

It’s done, it’s done

Yesterday and today were glorious dry, blue sky, spring like days and I was going to rest and recover. The storms attacking the southern states are headed our way and tomorrow it is going to rain and rain and rain. I have been trying since December to get VDOT to come clear our culvert and re dig the ditch above it as the crusher run from the last maintenance has the ditch filled almost to the road grade. I have filed work requests online, talked to them on the telephone, filed another work request and still no action. Yesterday, DH and I went up with the tractor, a garden fork, and a shovel and the two senior citizens managed to get a 5 foot area cleared above the upper end of the culvert, however the pipe itself is about half full of debris and the ditch above is still full of gravel and sand. We don’t want the rain to create gullies in our driveway. I filed a follow up report with VDOT to let them know that we managed to barely open it but it still needs work, but I doubt it will come to any good. When I filed one last July, they came and did the work but left the work order open. When I file again, they just close the new work order, leaving the July one open. When I called, I tried to get her to close the July one and leave the December one open, but she closed December and wrote comments. So that day of rest and recover was shot.

Today we went for a walk on the rail grade, then went and got the remaining bags of mulch and since I didn’t rest yesterday, I went ahead and put down more weed fabric and mulched the back side that I had run out of mulch doing a few days ago. There are 3 bags left to use after the garlic is harvested and that last box is closed in. I dug up most of the comfrey that was on the side of the garden and moved some of it up to the upper corner where last year’s compost had been and some of it to the walled garden I built last summer. That will allow me to mulch up to the top of the box that is unfinished for now.

To make sure the new starts are well protected from possible hail tomorrow and three nights of freezing temperatures, I reinforced the mini greenhouse I had built. After the storms tomorrow and before Friday night’s 27 degrees, I will add an insulation layer of some sort over it as well.

The chicks are now 3 1/2 weeks and 4 1/2 weeks old. Three of them still look like cute little chicks, but most of them are gawky adolescents with long legs and little feathers sticking out all over the place, and they try to fly out of the brooder every time I move the baby gate that is on the top.

It doesn’t take long for them to cease being cute little fuzzy creatures. After the cold weekend, they will be moved to the big feed tank brought into the garage to give them more space. They empty the feeder and the water daily now. In about a week, the big hens will be moved to the other coop and locked in for about a week to get them used to that location and the smaller coop will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized so it can get dry before the little ones move out there in mid April, where they will be locked in for a week to get used to their new home. Some dustbath holes need to be filled, the run possibly shortened as there are some spots where the smaller birds could get under the fence.

Knowing that the run will be a muddy mess tomorrow, after I locked up the hens, I tossed down a new layer of old hay so I don’t fall on my keister when I go over to let them out in the morning.

Somehow in my efforts to feed all the critters, lay mulch, and clean me up afterwards, I managed to cut my left index finger (I’m left handed) and my right second finger so now both hands are sore. All the garden effort and the skin injuries have certainly cut into my spinning and knitting time so far this month. I have managed to spin enough of the Dorset Horn to knit two squares for my Breed Blanket Project, and just enough to count for the other challenge has been spun. Maybe with the rainy days ahead and with nothing else that can be done in the garden until planting time, I can finally rest and recover and maybe get some more spinning and knitting done.

This is the first square for March, now there are two.

I just finished reading “The Salt Path” by Raynor Winn, a memoir of a year in her life with her husband after double devastating events. It certainly caused me to stop and be thankful for what I have and my health, even if I come in sore, bruised, and battered from my farm and garden work. It is well written and well worth the time to read.

I would like to read her second book, but it isn’t available at our library.

Another Week Closes

It was a glorious winter day, bright sunshine, no clouds, and temperatures that remind you that it is winter. We have some cold rain, maybe a real winter storm being threatened for mid week. As that forecast firms, plans to be ready for snow, ice, and potential power failure will be made. A couple of meals prepared that can be reheated on the wood stove, a bathtub filled with water for dogs and toilets, the big 5 gallon water jug we used when camping filled for cooking and drinking water, loads of wood brought in to the basement and garage for heat. These plans are usually in vain, but we did have an ice storm a number of years ago that took our power out for a week and those preparations were necessary.

We ventured in to town today to pick up our curbside grocery order and as usual, a few items not available and substitutions that were not acceptable offered, but not items that were vital.

The second fiber I was spinning for the month was finished today and more knitted on the square that I pulled off of the blanket when it had been knit as a strip.

I think that I will aim for a 24 breed blanket so that each month there will be an official breed and an unofficial. This month, the official breed was BFL, a very soft wool, the unofficial one is the gray Masham, a longwool that is drapey but to me not next to the skin soft.

Each day this week, there have been two Houdini hens, two of the Oliver eggers. Usually by the time I went out to try to lock them back up each day, it was either time to prep dinner or it was too dark to figure out where they were getting out. This morning before I let them out, I walked the perimeter of the run and discovered that they had tunneled out near the far end of the run. I large blocky rock was wedged in the hole and today they were foiled. They are finally providing enough eggs for the household each week.

So far it is just the Olive Eggers, the pinkish ones are the oddball Olive Egger that doesn’t lay Olive eggs. The lighter green ones are still fairly rare, but the dark Olive and pink ones are coming with regularity. The Welsumers and the reds aren’t back in production yet.

Today marked 4 weeks since I set up my Christmas hydroponic herb garden. Time to rinse the reservoir, refill and feed the young plants. They are all growing, not enough for cooking with yet, except the dill, but they are large enough to pinch off bits and taste them.

I think the dill is going to need a pruning, so a recipe that calls for it needs to be planned. My favorite recipe other than making dill pickles is to use dill in sauteed carrot coins.

To add to the household goods and car that have failed this week, the Epson Ecotank printer that was still printing black but not color decided tonight to not print black either. I have looked for repair around here, but there is no one that works on household printers. We still have the laser jet, but it isn’t networked, it has to be plugged in to the computer, prints only black, and doesn’t copy. I thought the Ecotank would save us money in the long run and I haven’t had to buy cartridges in two years, so that may have paid for the printer, but now it is a paperweight.

We have begun the process of researching cars, not something I wanted to have to take on at our ages, but necessary. Still no call on the vaccine for me, an email was received, asking for patience and letting me know that they were working through the current groups but focusing on 75 year old and up and essential workers, so I wait.