Midnight Marauders?

With all of the pears and most of the apples gone, and now the grape vine totally stripped of leaves, I think I must have midnight marauders. I have run deer out of the orchard dozens of times, but nothing has ever bothered the grape vine before. Two days ago, one end was stripped of leaves, yesterday about half, this morning, it is bare.

There is still plenty of wild vegetation and grass so I’m not sure why they are coming this close to the house and eating the grape leaves. I guess as soon as the weather chills, it will get a pruning job. I’m glad I got the grapes before this occurred because the few that were left to ripen are also gone. Perhaps, I need to run the electric fence strands around the orchard as well as the garden.

A couple of years ago, I was looking for a waste free chicken feeder to put inside the coop and found the plans for this using a 5 gallon bucket, a hole saw, 3 PVC elbows, and it is perfect. It holds an entire 25 lb bag of feed pellets, three hens can feed at a time, and because they have to stick their head in and down to get to the food they don’t toss it everywhere or scratch it out like they do in an open or tray edged container. The only drawback is the lid provides a great perch to look out the windows toward the house, so I have to add a flower pot on top to keep the lid from getting fouled by the fowl. That designer was genius and the plans were easy to follow. If I hung it, it would become a moving target, bet it would be fun to watch them trying to feed, but it sits on an old galvanized feeder tray to raise it off the floor a few inches.

I finished the mittens yesterday and returned to spinning the ruby and purple Shetland/Bombyx braid, using my new ring distaff and the Finch spindle. I can’t model the mittens as they are for someone with small hands like a tiny woman or larger child. I had someone look at mittens in my booth two years in a row and say they wanted mittens when walking their dog, but their hands were too small for the ones I had. I will put then in the shop with the dimensions posted, maybe they will fit someone’s idea for mittens. There is enough of the blue Tunis left to spin for a matching hat. The mittens need to be washed and blocked still.

It is a slow day. No canning. I still need to mow before we start getting rain again.

Take care and enjoy the pending fall weather.

A Better Start

My day started earlier than I wanted due to an ailing pup, and not being able to go back to sleep after dealing with him, but it got me up to see the sun rising, the fog lifting, chores and breakfast done in time to peel, chop, cook, and can the basket of tomatoes before hubby was up. The basket minus a couple of slicers that were slightly green on the crown were all used and it made 7 pints of plain diced tomatoes to be used however needed in the coming months. Only 6 pints fit in the canner, so the 7th was put in a wide mouth jar with a storage lid and will go in the refrigerator to be used in some recipe in the next week. If I only need half, the other half will be frozen until it is needed. As I began this post, the lids are popping indicating the seal. Since my lovely SIL sent me the lids, I have canned 4 dozen jars of goodness and I still await the delivery of the reuseable ones I ordered. Tracking shows they should be here on Wednesday, so I have a break of at least a couple mornings before there are enough tomatoes or tomatillos to process. I am almost through my jars as well, though there are wide mouth pints that can be used if needed. There are some half pints being used for storage that can be switched to other containers if needed.

The shelves await the cooling tomatoes. They are deep enough to hold 3 or 4 jars front to back depending on the size of the jars. I will save enough jars for a batch of pear marmalade if I can get the pears, and a small batch of ground cherry jam if they produce before frost. Tomatoes and tomatillos after available jars are exhausted, will be blanched and frozen. Peppers are dried, frozen, and brined in quart or half gallon jars and there are plenty to get through this season. Other than peppers, the remaining tomatoes ripening and the tomatillos, the only other items growing are beans and peas which are used fresh and blanched and frozen. The paltry few carrots that germinated can stay in the garden until needed. Any spinach or lettuce used fresh until frost kills them off. It has been a good garden season. As the weather cools, I will finally make the final box or boxes and will spend the milder winter days doing more maintenance in the garden. It was fairly easy to manage this year but would be easier if I was more consistent with the use of cardboard under the edges and between the boxes and if something other than old hay was in the paths. Maybe now that I have an easy to use line trimmer, I should just let grass grow and keep it mowed short, though wood chip mulch would be better. I may rent a small wood chipper to grind the corn and sunflower stalks to help them break down. If I do, there are plenty of fallen branches that could be chipped for mulch.

Hours later:

The belt has been returned, the new one picked up. The cucumber vines are pulled, planting #2 of beans were picked clean and pulled and #3 provided a generous harvest to blanch and freeze this evening along with enough for tonight’s dinner with our corn and our last cucumber.

Tomatillos will be blanched and frozen, Jalapenos brined, there are a couple more Thai peppers somewhere in the midst of the beans, I guess they will show up when the beans are washed for the pot. A few more tomatoes to finish ripening on the sill, if I leave them on the vines, the birds peck holes in them. Some of the slicers will be eaten, some frozen with the paste tomatoes for winter use.

I didn’t quite finish the mittens last night, I quit before I was done. The top is being closed in, the thumb will be finished, it is less than an hour’s work to be done.

Stay safe, if you are in the middle of the country, find your parkas and hope the snow is light and quickly gone for another month or so. It is getting delightfully cool at night, but still hot during the daytime. We should have 5 or 6 more weeks before first frost.

Yesterday’s Calm to today’s Chaos

Lately, I have been donating or listing for sale, items that are not used by us, but occupy space in the house. Yesterday, two different listings went online and immediately received response. Now, both listings show that the items are located in or near the village of our zip code. Arrangements were made for me to meet a buyer at 9 a.m. this morning for one item. I arrived 10 minutes early as I needed fuel for the car only to discover that the computer system that allows the use of credit cards was down, thus I couldn’t get fuel. I then sat for almost 20 minutes past the meeting time and no one showed. Frustration 1 of the day, though I had several other people interested in the item and they were contacted. Person #2 did show up at the designated time and place. The other item has had two people interested, but they want me to drive about 20 miles to meet them halfway and send them reminder notices. This is a $25 item, not a big item. I amended the ad to reiterate the location and where I am willing to meet.

Yesterday, I finished doing the yard trimming with the line trimmer so today I was going to mow. The riding mower had a low tire again so I pulled out the pump that runs on the car auxillary power plug and pumped it back up, got about 4 rounds of the front lawn area done and the mower deck belt broke for the second time this season. That meant a trip back to town and I picked up the belt that the store’s book said was the correct one as a replacement, based on the part number I had with me. I have a very kind neighbor that helps me put the belt on and it was so tight the engine wouldn’t turn over. Tomorrow, the belt will have to be returned and I have ordered one from a parts store, like the last replacement that I can pick up and the neighbor is going to put it on for me.

All of this shot a huge hole in the day and my plan to process the basket full of tomatoes drained away.

These are the ones picked this morning and the ones from the window sill. The basil is still thriving and that basket full was stripped from the stems and set out to dry to add to the jar that has already dried. I will try to get to the tomatoes tomorrow and try to get the belt returned, the new one picked up, and the lawn mowed.

While out in the yard, I noticed that something has eaten all of the leaves off of one end of the grape vines. At least it is the end of the season and the grapes have been harvested and made into jelly.

And this afternoon, I realized that we actually got a few ears of corn from the 3 plantings. These 5 ears are the only ones of about a dozen that developed decent kernels, so bed prep, three plantings, and only 5 ears of corn, not a good return.

Several days ago, I sowed spinach, radishes, and salad mix in a tray. I will transplant some of the spinach and salad mix to a bed, but am surprised that there are already seedlings under the grow light.

For the past few days, I have worked off and on knitting a pair of mittens from some of the yarn I spun last month. I started off knitting two at a time and once the cuffs were done, decided that the yarn was too thin to make decent mittens, so I ripped the stitches out and started again, holding two strands together. While that one was being knit, I spun more yarn that when plied would be heavy enough to use without two strands. Mitten 1 is done, mitten two cuff was done and I realized a dropped a stitch on about the 3rd row in ribbing, not worth trying to repair, so I ripped out the stitches again and started over. I am finally back up to the thumb gusset on that mitten, it should be finished tonight (I hope). Plain, simple, vanilla mittens, I should be able to knit half asleep.

Off to finish laundry, my least favorite household chore.