Rain and chill

The porch thermometer showed 47 f (8.33 c) when I got up this morning. In the damp, it felt colder. It is down to 40 f (4.44 c) by late afternoon. It was 85 f (29.44) on Sunday, quite a difference. And it rained all day long. As I was putting the finishing touches on dinner, there were snowflakes mixed in with the rain. It isn’t supposed to freeze tonight so I am not bringing in any plants.

When I was a kid, on cold, usually snowy days, Mom would make vegetable beef soup. I remember lots of cans being opened, but it was comfort food on a cold day. This morning called for hot soup tonight. As I have become the master of extending a small amount of meat to multiple meals, I pulled about a half pound of stew beef from the freezer, thawed and seared it in hot oil, threw in a handful of chopped onion, celery that I had chopped and frozen, some fresh parsley that I had frozen, a pint of homemade broth, water, and a boullion cube and set it to simmer around noon. At the same time, I mixed up the dough for another artisan loaf, this one full of rosemary and left it to rise. As the afternoon when on, checks on the simmering stock and beef and how the bread was rising were made. Mid afternoon, a couple handfuls of Pequino beans (a small red heritage bean) were tossed in to cook and finally chopped potatoes, carrots, some frozen corn, peas, and green beans added and allowed to simmer for another hour. During that hour, the pizza stone was preheated as the oven heated to 550 f and the bread folded a few times and allowed a second rise and bake. The aromas in the house were delightful.

A hearty, belly warming meal with half a loaf of bread and 2 quarts of soup left for lunches in the coming days. It looks like we are going to go through slightly more than two loaves a week plus some buns while we stay at home. I hope the flour holds out.

The day between food prep was spent spinning on three of the Turkish spindles. A different fiber on each.

When I went to the fiber retreat in late February, I got two skeins of lovely yarn from the hostess. It is a blend of her goats’ mohair and wool. Last night I started a curved asymmetrical shawl and though I went up a needle size from the recommended, it still feels like too dense a fabric for my taste. I am debating continuing or ripping it out and finding a different pattern for the yarn.

It is very soft, so I may just keep going. Tomorrow is a repeat of today as far as weather, then it starts another warm up and a few dry days so maybe more of the garden will get prepped for planting in a month of so.

Daughter brought over the belt for the broken riding mower and some chicken and household supplies she had picked up for us. We stood across the garage and talked for a little while and it was so hard not to go give her a huge hug. She is working from home and her kids are at home due to closed schools, but their Dad is still going on site to work and comes to see the kids, so being around them is not possible for now. Tomorrow, I will put on gloves, sanitize what needs to come inside, put the chicken feed in lidded buckets and go through the strip and wash routine again so that neither of us get sick. Nothing she brought is perishable.

Another beautiful spring day on the farm.

The first thing I do each morning, is look out the windows of our bedroom and see if we have clouds, fog, or rain. Next I check the weather app to see how warm it will be to determine how many layers need to be donned. This morning is was bright and sunny and the weather app said mid 70’s before the day is done. The porch thermometer read 51 so the short sleeved wool tee was topped with my wool hoodie until it warmed some. Once coffee was made and dogs fed, I stepped out to let the chickens out and give them some scratch. It was almost too warm for the hoodie already and the walk over to the coop reminded me that the grape vine needed to be trellised before it leafed out.

Before attacking the grape vine, I carried a dozen eggs up to my neighbor’s porch for him to enjoy. That half mile walk revealed that with the sun and no wind, the hoodie was too much clothing. It was exchanged for a cotton sun shirt to protect my arms from the vines and the sun and donned a large brimmed straw sun hat, grabbed my car keys and the post pounder. Because of all the rain lately, the T posts that weren’t being used but were still pounded in where an old fence had been were wiggled free and repositioned in line with the grape vine about 7 or 8 feet out from the trunk. I knew that there was a good amount of high tensile wire at the very back of the hay field, it was found by the brush hog the first time we mowed that field and it got tangled in the blade, so I drove the car down, yanked it from the brush and loaded it back to the house. This was my first experience with high tensile wire except to get it out of the brush hog. I had no idea how tough it is to work with, but with two pair of large pliers and a wire cutter, I managed to run two strands between the poles. That was a tough job and they aren’t as tight as I wanted, but the best I could do with the equipment I had.

The grape vine was seriously pruned. There may be no grapes this year, but next year when it does produce again, the grapes will be strung out along the wire for good air flow and ease of harvest, not in the tall grass and tangle of vines like last year. The best canes were stretched out along the two strands and anchored with tomato plant clips until they wind themselves on the wire.

The vine trimmings will be soaked for an hour and made into a grape vine wreath, you can never have too many of them.

The smiling panseys and the coral bells are loving the warm sunshine on the back deck steps.

With the ground still soft, I think the afternoon will be spend moving fence posts for the garden and chicken run. It will get me out of the noise of the exhaust vents and smell of the self cleaning oven. Windows are open and fans are blowing. It needed to be done before I made bread again and it is a nice day.

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.