Olio- 6/22/2021

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Son 1 and Grandson 1 arrived on the weekend for some work and some play. Son 1 and I did some staining, trying to get parts of the log house stained that didn’t get done year before last and that the pandemic prevented from getting done last year. We also needed to have our septic tank pumped and hubby and I were unable to dig down through our rocky soil to get to the tank top, so a couple weeks ago when Son 1 was also here working, we used the site map to try to locate it, used a metal detector to confirm the location based on a length of buried rebar, and attempted to hire someone to come dig it out.

Now mind you, we live near a University town and there are Help needed signs posted everywhere. There aren’t many students here in the summer and I guess the ones that are either are struggling to stay in school or trying to get ahead and don’t want jobs. I posted a paid gig on Craigslist and one guy said he would come out, but wanted $25 more than we offered. We agreed, he showed up almost at dark, dug for 5 minutes with our tools, said he would be back the next morning at 8 a.m. with a helper and “more equipment” and we never saw him again. The second inquiry also was a no show. Son 1 upon his afternoon arrival went to work and the tank top lid and observation port were uncovered, working together, we freed the lid yesterday afternoon, and the pumping crew came and did their stinky job this morning. Grandson 1 and I will pick rocks from the soil pile and refill the hole and we are going to put in a small flower bed of annuals on topsoil right over the lid and port so it will be easy to find and easier to dig in a couple years when we have to have a repeat pumping session. The lid is about 28″ down. Son 1 us a gem to leave his home, his own tasks, and come on his weekends, away from his job to help us get these tasks done. It is a shame that we can’t get people locally to come out for pay to do them.

Grandson 1 will stay with us for a couple weeks to help me with some other tasks, but Son 1 headed home this morning.

For fun, after we worked on Sunday with staining, we cleaned up and with Daughter, took a couple hour kayak trip on the New River.

After we were back at Daughter’s house with the kayaks and they were rehung, Son 1 and I went out and bought all the fixings for a fantastic Father’s Day meal for hubby and Son 1 that we prepared and ate at Daughter’s house.

Grandson 1 on his first afternoon here used the riding mower to finish mowing our lawn that I had barely begun the day before and yesterday, mowed Daughter’s lawn with her AWD lawnmower, a necessity as her lawn has a steep hill in the front and a serious though not too steep slope in the back.

Last night at egg collection time, I found the first pullet egg from the littles. It was from an Easter egger and will be blue when she figures it all out.

Her first attempt is kind of green, blue, and gray speckled, but it had a nice hard shell and it did have a yolk. A couple more of the pullets look like they are about ready too, but most look like they may still need a few more weeks.

I had gotten frustrated with Ms. Houdini’s escape and attempts to get under or on the porch and caught her, putting her in the enclosed run with the pullets. That lasted only 24 hours until she managed to escape from there too and spent the day yesterday again trying to get on or under the porch, then all of the free rangers got into the walled garden yesterday afternoon and started digging up my flowers. They were treated with a hose spraying to send them into and over the mesh fence to get out and away from the jet of water. It is raining today, but when it ends, I will have to repair their damage to the bed and restring the mesh. I really like for them to wander the grounds eating bugs and ticks, but hate for them to get into the gardens and wreck havoc, and also when they are unrestricted free ranging, they hide their eggs and I may or may not find them. Yesterday there was only 1 from them, 1 hen and 1 pullet from the coop and penned ones. Maybe I need to use electric fence around the orchard and both coops and have controlled free range time. Soon the two roosters and the old hens will find their way to freezer camp. They are farm birds after all, not pets.

Olio since it isn’t Sunday for Musings

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The outlook forward is spring (with summer for the next few days.) In a week’s time we have had freezing nights, snow flurries, strong wind, chilly gray days, and 83 f expected for today, tomorrow, and Thursday.

This morning, the Geraniums took up residence in their deck pots. Last summer, those pots would blow off the deck and down the steps in strong wind, and they are too deep for the root system of most decorative plants, so this year, I filled them 1/3 full of fist sized rocks before adding the soil and planting the bright red flowers.

Geraniums and Petunias are my favorites to put in pots on the deck and steps. There are two empty pots on the top steps that will hold a pair of Petunia plants as soon as they are purchased. The two pots on the stoop on the north side of the house are always a conundrum. I want color, but it doesn’t have to be flowers, I have used Coleus in the past with some success but I think a variety of Begonias that was successful in the past might be what will go in those pots. The Spider plant babies that overwintered in the utility room need to be planted in the hanging pots and put out on the porch.

The tomatoes are beginning to bloom, still in the 4″ starter pots on the deck. Mother’s Day is the magic date here to put them in the ground, but if the future forecast stays mild, I might sneak them in a week early. They are strong, healthy seedlings, the first successful tomatoes seedlings I have ever started. There are several purchased pepper plants also on the deck with some Thai basil. They live there unless the nights are going to drop below 45 f but that isn’t in the forecast for the next 10 days. Soon the tomatoes will be divided up with daughter for their garden and my 10 will get staked out in the garden. And a few more pepper plants, of different varieties, though I still have more than a half gallon of dried Thai peppers so I don’t think I will plant them this year. Maybe cayenne for crushed red pepper flakes that get used generously here and Serranos so Sriracha style sauce can be fermented in the fall.

The Hummingbirds are becoming regular visitors again, though still no photos. I should make a fresh batch of nectar and clean the feeders for them. That is a weekly addition to the summer routine. Once the flowers and grasses are blooming and seeding, the other feeders will come down and be cleaned up until fall. I miss seeing the little flocks of small birds during the summer, but when they can forage on their own and the bears and raccoons are active, the feeders come down and are put away.

The net on the walled garden has had little effect at keeping the chickens out, but at least they can’t scratch through it. There must be a solution short of an ugly fence around a flower and herb garden. Since the Baptisia either didn’t come up or was scratched up, I ordered a shrub already started. It is a perennial, so once it is established, I’m good. The Cilantro germination test showed that the seed was viable, so sprouted seed was planted and it looks like there may actually be some developing.

A trip to the Nursery is in order to fill the remaining deck pots and decide on other additions to the walled garden. I garden full of blooms that will come back each year and spread to fill the area is my dream, a few plants at a time. There is a patch of Brown Eyed Susan that comes up on the edge of one of the fields they hay, I would love to transplant some of it before it gets cut down, but have had very little luck moving it. There is a clump by the garage door that has over the years established itself there inspite of the the chicken scratching in that area. Two of the clumps of daffodils I planted on the east side of the garage keep getting dug up by the hens. Once the daylilies and Iris in that bed begin to show, I fence off that area, but my fence isn’t long enough to go all the way around the daffodils too. I love having my chickens, but dislike the havoc they wreck doing what comes naturally.

The two freeze nights last week burned the Peonies and somewhat the peas in the garden. I hope they recover as they are one of our favorite vegetables from the garden. The onions and the covered bed did fine. I fear the potatoes that were planted just before the freeze may or may not have survived. While weeding yesterday, one of the “weeds” I dug up was a potato I missed last year with healthy sprouts, so it was transplanted to the raised bed with the other potatoes. Time will tell if anything comes up. If not, they can be replanted until mid June and I’m sure a bag of organic potatoes left out in the light will produce sprouts in short order. The Peonies have never done very well where they are planted, they have been there for more than a dozen years and have produced fewer than half a dozen blooms. Perhaps they would be happier in the better soil of the walled garden. That is a move to consider.

Enough musings for today. Enjoy the nice weather if you are having it and if not, I hope it comes your way soon.

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.