Sunday on the farm

My birdwatching friend identified the nest as a Carolina Wren. I’m not sure if she returned to the nest last night. When I went over to let the hens out this morning, feed them, and clean their coop, I didn’t see her, but her nest is at the other end of the garden from the coop area.

When I returned from that job, I grabbed my clippers and thick leather gloves to prune back an overgrown barberry bush before it leafs out. As I approached, I was scolded loudly by a bird I couldn’t see, and found this.

Ok, so not a stellar photo as I stuck one hand into the Barberry thorns to see if there were any eggs. It appears to be another Carolina Wren. Glad she chose a bush and not the ground or a shelf in the garage.

One of my first tasks each morning is feeding the sourdough starter. Today is day 5 of getting this one going and I could use it today, but there is still some bread in the freezer to use up first. Maybe I will start loaves tomorrow as it takes about 24 hours to go through the entire process. I quit making sourdough a while back because I was disturbed by the waste of discarding starter before feeding it and because I could buy sourdough bread locally at the Farmers’ Market and Natural food stores. Recently, I found an article that said the starter can be fed to chickens, which is a plus. When you make and feed the starter, you use equal amounts of flour and water. Every recipe I had ever found said to use 4 ounces or 125 grams of flour depending on whether they were measuring with cups or a scale. To do that you are tossing out about 1/2 cup of starter every time you feed it and it makes about 4 cups of starter which seemed too wasteful. You only use about 1 tablespoon of starter to get the leaven going. I found an article the other day that said to use only 25 grams of flour and water and feeding the chickens about 2 tablespoons of starter seems much less wasteful and it fits in a pint widemouth jar with lots of room to spare. Since two loaves of sourdough bread is plenty for a week for two of us, and since flour is hard to come by right now, this seemed ideal. I got the starter going with this plan.

This was before I fed it this morning and you can see there will be very little waste and the starter is strong and healthy. Tomorrow I will bake for the week. I still want to play with other uses for the sourdough such as pizza dough and focaccia bread. I need to get back in the routine of making the bread since going out to the Farmers’ Market to buy from the two bakers there is not in the cards right now.

Found this little butterfly stretching it’s wings in the sun on the deck. I couldn’t decide if it was damaged or still unfurling, but after a while, it flew away, so must have been unfurling.

The butterfly was followed by a Tufted titmouse sitting on my breakfast chair trying to crack open a sunflower seed.

So bear in the field yesterday, deer this morning, 2 Carolina Wren nests with eggs, and lots of colorful little songbirds enjoying the feeders. Love watching the wildlife on the farm.

These frothy white trees are blooming everywhere on our walk today. I thought they were wild cherries, but the bark doesn’t look right.

Her relative was mowing our grass again this morning. She stayed on her own farm. After the walk, some digging in the dirt was in order to weed the bed of iris, day lilies, and where the calendula was last year. Though I started calendula seed indoors, there are lots of volunteers in that spot already. And purple echinacea was started indoors too, there is room for them in the same bed.

A few days ago, I posted about the feeding station for the birds. This morning when I entered the kitchen and looked out, it wasn’t there. Upon closer examination, the pole was pulled over, the feeders emptied and some minor damage. It doesn’t look like the doings of a bear, but probably a raccoon climbed the pole and was too heavy toppling it. All the sunflower seed and the new suet cake were gone, the suet cage bent and the lid ripped off. The pole was stood back up and anchored with rocks as the fork like prongs that stabilize it in the soil are bent, the feeders cleaned up, repaired, and refilled. I guess one of my new evening duties is going to be to go out and gather the feeders and bring them in to the garage for the night from now on.

Yesterday afternoon, I did go out to work on the fencing and realized that it is too much for me to do by myself, so instead, I finished rebuilding the garden boxes. Several years ago, I purchased cedar raised bed boxes from Home Depot. The box assembly as a grooved post and the boards fit in the grooves. That assembly did not hold up well. I have been taking them apart, and using outdoor deck screws, fastening the boards to the outside of the post, making the boxes slightly smaller but sturdier. One box needs leveling before I can finish filling them with compost to planting. If I ever succeed in getting rid of the mint that I foolishly planted in one several years ago, there will be a blank spot in the garden as I removed that box to make mint removal easier. The box failed to contain the mints and mint is in the aisles and beginning to appear in adjacent boxes. Lesson learned.

The area to the right of the lowest box and barrels will be a corn patch. I rarely plant corn unless it is popcorn in a three sisters garden, but decided to try some sweet corn this year.

The peas are coming up nicely, I am happy to see. Still no sign of spinach and the flat started in the house several days ago is also not germinating, it might be a poor batch of seed.

With the warmth comes the Carpenter bees. I had left the traps up overwinter and dumped the contents early this week. They are already filling up. We don’t usually see them until mid May. This is indeed a weird year for the climate.

As the day cooled and the sun was low, I took my walk down our rural road. Nothing new to see, the calves were not where I could see them from the road, but I did find a branch with many shelf fungi on it.

Once dark has fallen, I retire to my easy chair and knit or spin. My current project is a lacy skinny scarf out of hand spun wool and silk for my daughter. It was in my lap along with my needle case and I realized that they nicely coordinated.

I am determined to get at least one run of fence between the chicken pen and the garden stable today so that I can let the hens clean up that side of the garden area. The forecast is for it to get into the 80’s today in March.

A Day of Retirement – 9/7/2019

I wonder how I managed when I worked outside of the home. I have been retired for almost a decade now and time to sit and not do anything but rest just doesn’t seem to be in my day. That may be because I generally can’t sit calmly and do nothing, I have to be reading, knitting, spinning, or up gardening, cooking, or cleaning the house or the laundry.

Hubby is a night owl that prefers to sleep later, I live by the sun, ready for bed by 9:30 p.m. and awake with first light. That morning time is used to do animal chores, garden, or sit and spin.

Once we are both about the house, the other household chores are tackled. With two large dogs, there is always vacuuming or mopping to be done. Most of the rugs in the house have been discarded over the years, except for the Oriental in the living room. The wood floors are easier to keep clean than rugs. The living room rug needs professional cleaning, but gets vacuumed several times a week until there are no dogs in the house.

Each day, we try to get in a brisk walk of more than 2 miles. Most of those walks are taken on an old paved rail grade that begins at the Blackburg library and ends in Christiansburg with a side leg that goes off of it at about the 3 mile mark in the opposite direction to an old farm that is now a park. Other days, we go to the local pond that has a graded soil and gravel path around it and is almost a mile, so we do it twice, with the path down to it and back, it gives us our two miles. On these walks, I often take seasonal photos. When I am solo, I wander the hills around our house or if visiting eldest son, try to walk their road or hike with the grandson.

Today the photos were mostly wild flowers, it seems that most of them are shades of purple, though I didn’t take the time to try to identify them.

And a barely flowing creek, another victim of our current drought.

Being retired does provide more freedom to attend events during the week, to grocery shop when needed, not just on weekends, and to help out with grandchildren.