An ark, an ark, my knits for an ark

Whew, we went from 12 degrees f a few mornings ago to 40 and torrential rain. It was low teens 3 nights in a row (no frozen pipes thank goodness) and the days weren’t even reaching freezing then it changed as Virginia will at any season. There was a winter storm warning last night causing schools to delay or close for no reason as it never was cold, and it rained. The wind blew and it rained some more. Still is raining hard. Without an attic to buffer sound, we hear it when it rains hard. Not the pinging on a metal roof like in the barn, but it is still a metal roof with insulation.

When we went to dinner and then to daughter’s house for grandson’s birthday dinner on Sunday, we discussed having another mother/daughter movie date, taking her kids this time, to see Call of the Wild when it comes out the end of February. We had both watched the trailers and wanted to see it. It has been many decades since I had read it, and in our home library is a leather bound copy of Jack London books, so as soon as I finished the ebook I had out from the library, I started reading it. I’m not sure how true to the book the movie will be, but I am looking forward to it.

Today’s rain allowed me to finish it.

The Toolbox Cowl is progressing. I sat in a waiting room again yesterday and knit. Work has been done on it at night. I’m on the last stockinette section, the second to last skein. There will be one more Diamond tweed section with this skein and the final skein and the last Garter Rib section. I’m not sure I should have used the more brightly colored variegated one, but I think I like it anyway.

With lots of Corriedale, Merino, silk, and bamboo in the skeins, it is soft. It shouldn’t take me too much more time to complete. I read the Yarn Harlot’s blog and she posts finishing mitten and cowls in a day. Wow, she must be a speed knitter.

Tomorrow is going to be chilly and party sunny, maybe I can finally get the coop cleaned out. Today a bale of pine chips was purchased because straw seems to be scarce. The old straw is going in the run, the rain has made the area just inside the gate a hazard to my health and safety. There really isn’t a level spot on our property, but I’m not sure I picked the right spot to put that coop when we got it. With the bare scratched earth and a couple inches of rain or a coat of ice, I can slide forever. Perhaps I should put some rough pavers from the gate to the pop door.

And You Thought Garden Posts Were Done for the Year – Nov. 10, 2019

The last few nights have been very cold for this time of year. A couple hovering around 20 f but today the day time temperature is above 60 f, the sky clear and very little wind. With one more day similar to this due tomorrow, it seemed like a good time to prep the garden for winter and to get the perennial onions and garlic planted.

The bed that was designated for it is a 4′ x 4′ raised bed that had sunflowers and cucumbers in it this past summer. It was cleared of stalks and a few weeds. Each time I put straw or woodchips in the chicken run, they scratch them into wonderful compost mixed with their droppings and some of it gets kicked out the low end of the pen. I was able to gather a full wheelbarrow full of this rich compost to add to the bed.

The alliums were planted, a thick layer of hay spread over the top and mesh fencing laid over the top to hold the hay in place in the wind and to keep the chickens from digging that bed up when I let them scratch in the garden during the winter.

While I was in the garden, I pulled the Creeping Charlie from the Blueberry bed, removed the deteriorated tarp from over the mint bed, grabbed armloads of mint, dead pepper plants, and weeds to throw to the chickens. Cardboard was placed over the mint bed. I am going to add another layer to it when I can get some, place heavy rocks to hold it down and put hay over it too. Maybe I can regain control of that bed.

Each morning, I go to the coop to let the hens out. They get free range time for several hours until the dogs need to go out again. Once I release them from the coop, I look in to see the cleanliness of the coop, to check to see if their water is frozen, and make sure their 5 gallon feeder still has feed. They have been only providing 1 or 2 eggs each day now for a couple of weeks, or so I thought. When I looked in the coop this morning, I saw an egg in the back corner opposite the nesting boxes so I climbed up in the coop to get it. Tucked in a neat nest there were 11 eggs. Sneaky birds. And I actually bought eggs yesterday at the Farmers Market.

Having an extra dozen around with Thanksgiving coming is a good thing. Eldest son and family will be here for a couple of days so breakfast will be needed for 4, hubby doesn’t usually get up for it. Pumpkins pies will need to be made, so more eggs will be used than the usual amount. I cook an egg for the dogs each morning and sometimes one for me for breakfast or dinner. Now that I know they are being sneaky, I checked the coop while out in the garden and sure enough, there were two more in that corner, plus one in the nesting boxes. I guess I am going to have to check daily.

If tomorrow proves to be another good day as forcast, after I go for my hearing aid fitting tomorrow morning, I will weed a couple more beds, cut back the asparagus tops and get hay on that bed as well. It is fenced off so the hens can’t get in it. Then the hens will be given time in the garden to scratch for bugs and seeds to help keep the weeds down in the spring. I still want to get help to redo the fencing and posts, but the garden is getting bedded down for winter.

Jack Frost’s visit – 10/25/2019

Jack Frost made his arrival 14 days after the average frost date for our area in the mountains. And he returned the next night too. Though neither frost was a “killing” frost, it did burn the leaves on the pumpkin vines, revealing the 4 dozen fruits hidden in their midst. Most are still green, but Google says they can be set on a sunny patio and will ripen. There are no more frost dates in the forecast for about 10 days (of course that can change in a blink), so they will sit and cure or ripen until it looks like the weather requires they be brought in to the root cellar.

These are Seminole pumpkins. They remain small and turn tan when ripe. Being a moschata variety, they are resistant to vine borers. I feared there wouldn’t be any as the vines took so long to take hold and grow, but in spite of the frost, there are still a few flowers blooming.

The frost wasn’t enough to totally kill off the remaining peppers, but to make sure they weren’t wasted, the last of them were picked, along with a handful of sheltered Calendula flowers.

The Calendula still has many buds and because of it’s sheltered position along a south facing stone wall, I may be able to continue harvesting them to dry for salves for another month or so. The peppers were all cut in half lengthwise and for the next couple of days, the house will be piquant with the scent of capsaicin as the oven is used as a dehydrator to reduce the moisture in them for storage.

My longterm to do list includes an arbor for the grape vine and a solar dehydrator. Short term, I need to clean up the mess that was my garden this summer. A few handfuls of weeds and spent beans were tossed to the chickens to pick through.

The asparagus tops need to be cut back and their bed mulched with hay. The spent sunflowers need to be cut or pulled and the bed nearest the compost turned and fed with shovels of compost in preparation for the garlic and onions in about a month. The beds that had the tomatoes and the overgrown mint bed are full of mint and weeds and need serious clean up and mulching. The bed that was peas last spring, that I planted oats, field peas, and vetch in as cover crop and then the chickens scratched up has a few of the cover crop plants in it, but is mostly weeds, so it too needs to be pulled up and covered with hay. I tried to control the mint with a tarp which failed miserably. Maybe the weed wacker will bring it down and I can cover it with a thick layer of newspaper and cardboard, a thicker layer of hay and let it sit dormant for a year. The mint that has escaped the bed is growing over the top of cardboard in the aisles and is fairly easy to pull up.

Each year in April, the University has a Saturday where you can sign up to have students come help you with projects. I am going to try to catch that date and see if some students can help me rebuild my boxes and reset my fence so that it doesn’t look like a drunk erected it. If I can get the posts set where I want them prior to the student’s arrival, perhaps we can get a tight run of 4 foot welded wire around the garden, the gate hanging hardware put in the wooden post that has the solar charger on it, and the gate moved. Both of my solar chargers need new batteries, perhaps that can get done this winter so it will fully charge and once the fence is repaired, new electric can be strung along the top to discourage the deer. There is a lot to be done, but the weather is cool now and not so onerous to be outside working. A couple hours a day over a few days should get the garden put to bed for the winter.