What is that bright orb?

Oh my, the sun actually came out. I had forgotten what it was like.

This morning I sliced the loaf of bread that was made last night and it is delicious.

The hens are overwhelming me with eggs. I didn’t realize really how many eggs the produced in a week until I was trying to use them all myself. Not being able to go out and share them is eye opening. One of the gals seems to be having egg laying issues. Her eggs have been oddly elongated with a distinct “waist” and off center yolk. This started when she resumed laying from winter.

Her egg is upper left.

With the sun, I decided to try to get the lawn mowed before it rains again. I got a couple of smaller areas mowed and the riding mower broke the belt that drives the blades in the deck. Power Zone has ordered me a new belt, daughter will pick it up when it comes in and then the fun begins.

Today’s walk took me back out our rural road and up the hill above our house.

Blue sky finally.
You lookin’ at me? Leave me alone and let me eat. Go on now.
Blacksburg is right through that gap, can’t you see it?
Six spring calves hanging together while Mom’s are off somewhere.

It was a beautiful day even if the mower broke. Our daily outing was to take the overflowing garbage and recycling bins down to the “convenience center” and home for a thorough hand washing.

Staying busy in this trying time and making the best of my time and resources. Stay safe everyone and wash your hands.

Another rainy day

But at least it isn’t snow. My two year memory for today on Facebook was a good amount of snow and the dogs playing in it.

The grass needs to be mowed, it is emerald green now and growing so fast you can almost watch it change, but it is too wet, way too wet.

The chicken pen was slick as a sloped ice rink when I went over to lock them up at dark last night. I grabbed a few hands full of the moldy spoiled hay from the big bale near their run and laid down a path to the pop door. This morning in the rain, sheets of the bale were put in the pen to keep it from being so muddy and to make going in to let the hens out a bit safer to my old bones. They get free range time for part of each day, but unlike prior flocks, this group has a few that won’t follow me back to the safely of their pen when I shake a cup of scratch, thus making them a target for our Mastiff to try and chase. He couldn’t catch one even when he was young, and running hurts his hips so he become even more lethargic in the house. Usually the hens are released when the dogs are fed in the afternoon and they stay out until dusk when they wander back to the pen and eventually coop up for the night.

As soon as they are let out, they peck around the hay bale for a while then run straight for the gravel under the cars. Eventually out to the front yard and under the cedar trees across the driveway from the forsythia. When the forsythia and lilacs are fully leafed out, they prefer to shelter there and are really difficult to get out of that place.

The half barrel planted with lettuce, radishes, and Chinese cabbage is showing signs of sprouting. When the sprouts are a little larger, the second one will be planted with lettuce, radishes, and Pak Choy. The third one will get some edible flower seed, dill, and basil, but it must get a bit warmer before that one can be planted. The 4th one is undecided, it has a returning perennial of some sort coming up in it. I want to try to sprout some parsley seed. If successful, it may be planted with more herbs for summer cooking to dry or freeze for next winter.

The area inside the wall that gets so overgrown I think will receive a generous handful of mixed sunflower seed and allowed to grow and bloom until it can be cleared of rocks, weed mat or cardboard put down and covered with leaf mulch to plant as the herb, flower, and dye garden. Today’s exercise was moving more rocks and extending the path from the deck to the stone step that was where the old deck ended. That required heavy lifting and some serious weeding. On the step you can see a pigweed root that somehow I managed to lift from the earth whole, it must be 18″ long.

The grill is always in the way when I mow. Eventually it will have a stone pad inside the wall on which to sit. Today, I just moved rocks, weeded a spot and wrestled it to the inside of the wall. It is not a permanent place and I wouldn’t cook on it at that angle, but it is out of the way. The new part of the path starts at the stone step and comes toward the deck. Those six boulders aren’t the only ones I had to move to do that much.

The mower got gassed up and the tire pumped up and it started. It is running a little rough, hopefully once it is out of the garage and can move some, it will be in better shape. The rain stopped in the afternoon, but it is too wet still.

The little potted rose my love gave me for Valentine’s Day was transplanted to a 10″ pot today now that it finished blooming. It is sitting in a sunny spot by the French doors until it is warm enough to put it on the deck. For some foolish reason, I decided last fall to overwinter,indoors, the begonias that were in the front of the house. One begonia and another pot were in the utility room window, two begonias on the floor by the French doors. I decided today that they were going to have to tough it out outdoors and put them out on the deck and front porch. If a frost is threatened, I will cover them, if they give up, I will plant some seeds in those pots.

Right after lunch, I got some bread started. The last loaf in the freezer is almost gone and since we are eating in 100% of the time, more will soon be needed.

Tomorrow is warmer and drier, maybe I can get the lawn part of the farm mowed. Next piece of equipment to fight with is the weed wacker, my least favorite, but necessary to get around the stone wall and the west side of the house. Maybe I can get it started too.

Where is Winter? – 1/15/2020

So far this is proving to be a mild winter, gray and drizzly. It suggests that stink bugs, ticks, and fleas will be prevalent this summer. It is so mild, that the weeds that are usually beat back in the vegetable garden in winter are not only growing, but thriving. Last summer, the garden was a lot of work and I tried to stay on top of the weeding, but was losing the battle with some of them. I never beat the mint bed and the Creeping Charlie is taking over and choking out everything. The garden is also too big for me to keep it all in rotation. I have looked at options for reducing the size, making some of the boxes 4 boards high instead of 2, but the perennials are at the two ends with a 4 X 8 bed of blueberry bushes that finally produced last summer, the 3 barrels that are old and fragile of red raspberries and I fear they would disintegrate if I try to move them and they finally have the raspberries contained at one end. The other end has the asparagus bed that is now 6 or 7 years old and produces more asparagus than daughter, a friend, and I can eat in a season. Those two perennial ends do control the garden size to some extent.

One side of the garden is a pathway away from the chicken pen for about half of the garden length, beyond the chicken pen is one of the worst patches of Creeping Charlie. I have considered pulling down all of the fencing and starting over. If the fencing was hard up against the boxes on the side that the chickens can reach, the length of the garden and if I keep the plantings far enough away from the fence to prevent long necks from reaching through to eat my veggies, perhaps their scratching would keep the weeds down on that side of the garden. The chickens won’t touch the Creeping Charlie to eat, but maybe their scratching for seeds and goodies tossed down there would reduce it. The sides of the garden nearer the house and south of the berries could be reduced and the boards from those boxes used to make the rear boxes taller so they are easier for me to work. The issue there is the post that has the solar charger on it is on that edge, though the charger is dead. Maybe it could be moved with the fence or just be removed entirely. If moved, I could hang a gate on it.

In April, the university has a service day that you can sign up for help. Maybe some help getting the fencing in order for the garden and chicken pen would be incentive to keep at it.

Today’s forecast looks like maybe the thunderstorms from a few days ago are going to be followed as the adage says with some snow to start the weekend. More likely it will be a sloppy mix of snow, freezing rain, and rain with little or no accumulation.

The hens must think it is spring. This week I have had a day with 3 eggs, one with 4, and yesterday I got 5. There probably won’t be any today, but that is okay. This is the first winter I have gotten any from my hens.

The warm weather has had me reluctant to use one of my Christmas gifts, a cast iron bread pan, but this bread is an easy loaf that can be made in just a couple of hours with no kneading, so we had a hot loaf of Herb and Onion bread for dinner one evening.

The drizzle outside, the doctor’s appointments, and now a pair of head colds between us have keep me indoors and instead of warping the loom, I finished spinning 4 ounces of Romeldale CVM that I got from my friend Gail (Sunrise Valley Farm) and got a generous 289.5 yards of light fingering yarn from it. It is now washed and awaiting the arrival of a purchase of mill spun alpaca, silk, wool blend yarn from another friend. The mill spun will be the warp for a scarf or wrap and the CVM the weft. I also spun 3 ounces of Coopworth from another friend, Debbie (Hearts of the Meadow Farm) and got 112.5 yards of worsted weight from it. I have ordered another 8 ounces of Coopworth that may be from the same lot, or will at least coordinate with it and it will become another scarf or wrap. I am going to try to spin some of it tight enough and fine enough to be the warp.

Today after a frustrating attempt to order a rigid heddle book online using a gift card, we went to Barnes and Noble and ordered it there. I hope to learn some new techniques and patterns to work into my weaving. With the 8 ounces of Coopworth to match the maroon above, I ordered another 8 ounces of this

It doesn’t really have a plan, but I have a 4.8 oz braid of BFL and Tussah Silk that might go well with it. I’ll have to wait to see how they spin before I decide.