Olio 7/22/2022

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

There hasn’t been an olio post in a while, but events and photos have been gathering so let’s throw them together here.

I don’t use family names in my blog, but those of you who actually know me will identify this one. Son 1 has been working very hard to complete his PhD, and yesterday he successfully defended his dissertation. His defense was able to be watched via Zoom and hubby did watch it and shouted out when the congratulatory announcement was made. We are so very proud of his achievement that he has worked so hard to earn while also teaching and being the Director of Communications of the Honors’ College at the University where he works.

The very hot weather and intermittent evening thunderstorms have produced some delightful sunsets lately. Because the hens need to be secured each night, many of these sunsets have been appreciated and a few photographed by me. Here are two of the better ones.

The peach tree and berry canes have been providing delicious fresh fruit this week. Most of the berries go into the freezer for breakfast smoothies, but always some enjoyed as they are being picked. The peaches are just coming into their period of ripeness and several have been enjoyed fresh. A batch of some sort of peach jam will soon be made, though most jam making is going to be skipped this year. Last year’s jams were not a consistency that I liked and most of them ended up in the compost this spring so the jars could be washed for reuse as they sat unopened all winter. Very little jam gets eaten here and with not doing many craft shows, it isn’t getting sold either. I do make a couple of jams that are used as meat sauces, so they will be made in smaller quantities. Perhaps, canned peach halves or slices will join the shelves this year. They aren’t freestone peaches, so getting clean halves or slices is more difficult, but doable. Next up will be the apples and Asian pears. The deer have eaten all the lower apples and leaves and there seem to be fewer Asian pears this year, but enough for some fresh eating and some Pear Marmalade. And the deer have denuded the grape vine leaves that aren’t netted, the chickens having eaten all the grapes except one cluster they can’t reach. Before next year, a means to keep them out from under the vines needs to be formed. If it was downhill from the garden, the fencing could be expanded to protect it, but it is uphill and the chicken coop is in the way. Perhaps training the vines up a taller trellis so the hens can’t reach the hanging fruit. The deer are so bold they come right up to the house, into the walled garden and graze the flowering plants in pots and half barrels down. Just as I thought there would be flowers on some seed sown late spring, the plants are nipped off. Netted tomato cages can prevent that but it is so unsightly.

The bees need tending. They have been neglected for the past couple of weeks while I healed from the Bald Faced Hornet attack that hubby and I suffered on the back deck. That giant nest is now dead and removed and the deck is again useable, the swelling in my hand and arm and the itching have subsided from the 5 stings I received, so the bees need tending. It is just too hot to go out midday when they are foraging, wearing the bee protective clothing and they are all in the hives late in the day and early in the morning, but with two weeks of extreme temperatures ahead, it will have to be done anyway, one hive at a time so outside exposure is limited.

Some of the fall planted seed is up in the garden, though I still don’t see pumpkin seedling. More careful tending of the weeds is in order so it doesn’t require so much effort later.

The mower still sits without diagnosing whether the belt broke or jumped the pulley’s. With it so hot, the grass won’t sprout up as fast, so there may be a couple weeks before it becomes an issue, but it should be addressed and remedied before it is needed.

The spindle group scavenger hunt this month has been a fun diversion and has kept my spindles busy and the knitted tribute hat is coming along nicely too, a few rows at a time, which is all the arthritis in my hands allows. Spinning doesn’t bother them, but knitting does. Maybe I should return to crochet and see if that is painful. My fiber arts began with crochet, about 60 years ago. Crochet was lost to smocking, to counted cross stitch and crewel, to knitting, then spinning and a little weaving. Weaving doesn’t bother the arthritis, but warping the loom is stressful, so not as much weaving is done as it should be.

The randomness of the Olio posts is fun at times. I hope you enjoy them as well.

Hot summer

The world seems hot, wild fires, drought. Our garden hasn’t been watered except rainfall and two other well water sessions, but the weeds don’t seem to care. It was looking terrible yesterday, so the line trimmer was taken over to attack the paths. The deadnettle has been regularly weeded from the tomatoes and peppers and when I see it in the beans, the copy cat weed. As the trimming was being done, there were many blueberries to be picked, a total distraction, but also realization that if weedwacking was done there, it would damage many low branches of those shrubs. That put me on hands and knees to pull all of the grass and the insidious creeping weed that is trying to overtake the garden, but the blueberries are clear for now and the corn bed was done too. Doing that showed that the only pumpkin that came up was gone. Seminole pumpkins take 60-90 days and we have that much time before first frost, so this morning, more were planted.

In the cooler part of the morning, today, the last of the spring peas were picked, providing about 8 ounces of shelled peas. A basket full of green snap beans also picked, a handful of blackberries. The blueberries and blackberries were added to my bag of frozen smoothie fruits, a favorite summer breakfast.

After lunch and our hot walk, more time was going to be spent in the garden, planting the fall peas, fall potatoes, and preparing the bed that will be beneath the little greenhouse for carrots, radishes, spinach, and komatsuma, but just as I reached the back door, we were given a severe thunderstorm warning that produced lots of noise and light close by, but almost no rain. It seems to have passed, so a bit more work will be tackled out there to get the fall garden started. The green beans from the first planting provided 3 more pounds today but are no longer flowering, there are a few more to harvest, and the second planting is coming along nicely and just beginning to flower. The later ones are never as good, but if picked young enough, can be frozen or made into dilly beans for later in the year.

The garden really needs a real compost bin system or compost tumbler. I’m in a bad habit of weeding and leaving the weeds to compost in the paths instead of turning them into usable soil. This morning’s weeding was at least added to the pile, but yesterday’s weeds need to be cleared and put in the pile, and the pile needs to be turned.

This is the time of year when the garden had gotten ahead of me and a few days of work put it back into a friendlier place that doesn’t frustrate me when I see it.

The storm was short lived so another couple of hours were invested, the fall potatoes and fall peas were planted. The spring potato bed was smoothed and the greenhouse frame set in place to show position of the rows for the other fall seed that will be sown this week. As soon as it was done, rain started to provide a heavy shower to settle the seed in. Another shower is expected before dark.

I opened this house while smoothing the bed, to remove old nests and found these feathered little ones staring back at me. That task can wait for another day. I didn’t see Mom so I’m not sure what they are as I didn’t want to disturb them too much. There has been an Eastern Bluebird gathering food lately, so maybe hers.

Though I’m not much of a selfie person, I had to take this photo in front of the tallest sunflower, I can’t even reach the top.

The cleaned up garden. Some weeding along the fence is needed, but that too will have to wait for another day.

The first tomatoes are coming in, the pepper plants all have some peppers on them, the cucumbers are growing, but not producing yet. We will take what we get. The Pinto beans are beginning to dry. It doesn’t look like there will be a great number, but fun to have grown my own bed of them for the first time. Maybe next year there will be a large bed of them and forego the corn that really hasn’t done much.

During all of this, spinning and knitting is still in the works. The monthly challenge is a scavenger hunt with spindle photographed with the item. And some of the spinning from last month and early this month is being knit into a chemo cap as a tribute to my friend that passed from cancer earlier this summer.

Crazy Weather and Bees

In spite of 3 nights of freezing temps and graupel coating the deck two mornings, the bees seem to be thriving. They have emptied their pint syrup feeders twice already. Today I purchased 20 pounds of sugar. I don’t think I have bought that much sugar cumulatively in the past decade, but they need the 1:1 syrup until they are fully established and the weather settles in. They will feed in the winter too, but there are online recipes for making sugar bricks that are placed in the hive for their consumption during cold weather when they can’t fly about and there is no pollen available. Since the bricks have to dry thoroughly and as this is a fairly humid area, the making of the bricks will begin during the summer, dried, and stored in airtight containers for winter feeding. This is a good use for a dehydrator, but we don’t have one.

After the frigid three days, the temperatures have moderated and this weekend it is going to feel like summer and return to near freezing nights part of next week.

The asparagus are producing, peas, sugar snap peas, and potatoes are sprouting. There is a fair amount of spinach, and more goodies are coming to the Farmer’s Market each week now. The hens are being generous enough to share with family.

It really seems like spring is here for real. We are still about 3 weeks from last average chance of frost, but the potted herbs and tomato and pepper starts are spending more time on the back deck.

The week had two living history events with tours from local schools to the museum. We had about 100 sixth graders yesterday and a smaller group of 4th graders, scheduled for tomorrow that has had to be rescheduled due to illness among the teachers of the school. I love these events. For yesterday’s event, I set up in the “loom house” an original log cabin from around 1768. The original Newbern community along Wilderness Road was what today we would call a planned community. The residents were required to build a 16 foot square home with a fireplace and a storage/sleeping loft along the road. Many of these original homes can still be seen by placement of windows, though mostly now covered in siding and all expanded. The museum property also has the original German barn that has been restored, several other original buildings, and a reconstructed summer kitchen with a loft. The loom house is next on the renovation schedule, it will get a new roof and the chinking repaired, the chimney also repaired, though “real” fires are not being burned in any of the fireplaces, many have electric logs to simulate fires. Only about a dozen students and a teacher at a time could be in the house with me as the loom and a bed take up most of the space. The loom has enough space around it for a single file of students to stand and still leave enough room for me to set up the small quill wheel. Though not a lot of spinning gets done in the length of time, because each class had to be split in half to fit them inside, history of where and how the fiber to make their clothing was obtained and processed, lessons on fiber preparation, spinning, weaving of tapes and fabric and how family members were all involved in this process. Types of fabric made and how it was used, why certain fabrics were used for particular items. And personal grooming during the period. Kids are either fascinated or repelled by some of the information, and they are all left with the question of whether they would like to return to that lifestyle.