Rainy Day Activity

Bertha has been providing us with rain all day long. Another front has stalled over our area and we are looking at 3 or 4 more days of rain on our saturated soil and full creeks. Another flash flood warning is in place. We are high above the creeks and sloped, but flat enough hopefully to not have mud slide activity, though there has been a lot of that including destroying a property and making a home uninhabitable in our tiny village.

With my spindle spinning, I am participating in a spin along using only the Jenkins spindles. Since I had filled them all a couple of days ago, I elected to report my results for the month and wait until June 1 to work with them again. I have a new to me spindle due in the mail tomorrow or Friday and received a gorgeous braid of wool a few days ago that I am anxious to begin spinning. To occupy my time, I have been using my wheel to try to make a bigger dent in the pound of gray Shetland that I have been spinning on spindles for two months. And knitting on the shawl that has been on the needles about that long. The first Shetland bobbin is nearly full and I will fill another before plying. The shawl was finished tonight, soaked and is pinned out to dry. I played a bit of yarn chicken with it and finished with only about a yard left, not enough for another row.

I have enough yarn spun to begin my sweater, but knitting a sweater when the weather is hot is not something I want to begin. With the current pandemic cancelling events daily, knitting more items for my shop seems futile, there won’t be craft shows and holiday markets this year. Most people don’t want to buy knitted or woven garments online without being able to handle them, try them on. I have a knitting request from a family member, but it will need to be superwash wool, which I haven’t purchased yet, and it is another sweater. Maybe I will just work on the Shetland, perhaps even one spindle that I can clear before the first of the month. We are going to be indoors for a couple more days, but I did get a bit of weeding done in the walled garden between rain showers today.

When the rain ends, I plan to make a compost bin to put in one corner of the garden. If I can make it sufficiently large, I will gather the composting material from where I moved the chicken run and use it as a base to finish composting along with kitchen scraps to have it ready to supplement beds as they get harvested and replanted. I really hope to fill the freezer and the canning shelves with homegrown produce for the winter season.

The Storm Has Ceased

After three days of relentless rain and wind from the northeast, it ended overnight. The temperature climbed all night instead of falling as it generally does at night and I awoke to thick as cream gravy fog. The weather and last few days of inactivity made me lazy enough to stay in bed much later than usual. I generally awaken when the sun lightens the sky outside the windows, but today I ignored it, turned over and dozed off and on for another hour.

The morning routine, everyone has one, after getting myself together is to let the pups out, prepare their breakfast, turn the kettle on to make tea or coffee, and either put granola and yogurt in a bowl for me, or toast a couple slices of homemade bread that get topped in various ways. If there is left over cornbread, it gets pan toasted in butter. As I sit at the table with my coffee or tea and breakfast of the day, I watch the birds. The Hummingbird feeder stays out and they are busy at it early, it is on the front of the house. The back has the Shepherd’s crook hangers and the three feeders that go there get brought in to the garage at night after they were taken down and damaged by something one night, shortly after we spotted the small bear in the hay field. The mixed flock of finches, chickadees, and titmice flit around it all day. Other visitors attend their needs. We have a Red bellied Woodpecker, a Hairy Woodpecker that are frequent visitors, Cardinals, a bully Mockingbird that chases everything else off, and this spring we have had Rose Breasted Grosbeaks, new to our feeders. First I would just see an occasional male, yesterday there were 3 males and 3 females. Lovely birds, I hope they stay. There are a few Eastern Bluebirds that pop by too, I think one has a nest in one of the boxes in the garden.

Hey hooman, it is your job to feed us, where are the feeders?

When I went out with the feeders and chicken scratch, the creeks were raging. The news said the New River crested over 20 feet overnight, flooding the low side of the river in Radford and probably other areas along it’s route. A road we take from Blacksburg home when we aren’t in a hurry runs along a low edge of the river and though we have never seen the water up to the road, it has flooded yards, the campground, and other low areas.

The topography of our farm is the highest elevation is at the entrance to our driveway. The house is about 80 feet lower. The west side of the farm has a creek that flows down to a sinkhole and drops through the ground at the base of a stone cliff. There is a second creek that is just a run off creek that will keep some water in it except in very dry weather, then it is totally dry. It flows the width of our property, across the road for about a quarter the width, then under the road in a culvert and angles along the top of the property until it is about 100 yards from the other creek and they converge in the sink hole. Down the west edge of our property and over on the adjacent farm is an old creek bed that dried when the sinkhole opened. When we have a lot of rain over several days, the drain hole in the bottom of the sink hole can’t cope and the flat bottom of the sink hole becomes a pond. If that pond gets high enough, the water runs down the old creek bed. Though the uncut hay was wet, after chores, I walked over to see the creeks from the top of the cliff.

Usually the creek runs clear even in heavy rain, but they recently logged up the mountain from us and I suspect that contributed to the mud.

Walking through the tall wet hay soaked me to above the knees.

Pants went straight in the dryer when I came back inside. The wood ferns are unfurled, the blackberries are full of blossoms, so there should be lots of berries to pick this summer. I can’t get to most of the berries until after the hay is cut.

After the sun comes out and dries things off a bit, there is some weeding to do in the garden. The beans are beginning to sprout, more potato sprouts are up, but lots of little weeds between them. The tomatoes and peppers survived the torrents. I still don’t see corn, sunflowers, or cucumbers. The herbs and pumpkins started indoors are sprouted and they were put out on the deck this morning to get some sunshine. While the ground is soft, it will be a good time to dig the catmint under the fence edge and also a clump of thick tall grass that has entangled the bottom of the fence so I can’t weed whack it. Last week when I did the major mowing and weed whacking, I came right in after, tossed all of my clothing in the wash, showered, and I still got poison ivy on my jaw line and the back of one of my fingers. I wasn’t allergic to it when I was younger, but wow, now I am.

Last night, not wanting to spin or knit on the shawl, I decided the rainbow yarn was going to become a skinny rainbow scarf. It has a plan and a possible recipient. We will see.

Chickens make great compost

Yesterday morning, we had two neighbors visit and help with the grass mowing since the belt for the riding mower still hasn’t come in.

Meet Jumper Jr. and her sister “Bad” Penny. They belong to the neighbor to the west and find our spring grass greener than their own every year. The neighbor is a female farmer and she spends too much of her time in the spring trying to outsmart these two with new strands of barbed wire, new posts, new fencing, but Jumper Jr. like her Mom would, will go over the fence. When she makes a hole, she sometimes bring along other visitors.

After preparing and eating lunch, I donned sunscreen, a wide brimmed hat securely tied down, and a long sleeved shirt, gathered some weeding tools and headed out to the garden. It was very, very windy, I think it tried to rip my head off a few times when it grabbed at the hat.

Three of the rebuilt boxes had not been weeded when the boxes were set, so my project was to get the weeds out from inside the boxes and from the paths between boxes. Also it was time to remove the hay from the asparagus bed and in doing so, I broke off the very first spear, white from being covered and about 3 inches long. Not to waste fresh food, it was wiped clean and eaten right in the garden. I didn’t see any more new spears, but the hay is off and they will start emerging now. They are such a delight each spring.

The boxes were cleared, the weeds piled in a tub to dump in the chicken run for them to dig through, eat the leaves, and make more compost. Because of the slope of their run, I try to keep a layer of spoiled hay on the ground, also when I clean the coop, the dirty straw or pine chips go in the run, and all kitchen scraps go to the chickens. They dig through all of that matter, adding chicken fertilizer to it and kicking a good amount of thoroughly broken down material through the fence at the down hill end of the run. This was raked and shoveled into the garden cart and wheeled around the garden. Each of the three boxes weeded today received an entire cart full of rich compost and a few fat earthworms that had taken up residence in it.

Those boxes will be easy to keep weeded now until time to plant beans, cucumbers, and the tomato and pepper starts. There is still a 4 X 8 foot bed that hasn’t been weeded and a new 4 X 4 foot box that needs a load of compost. The corn bed needs to be weeded and the hills dug, but it is still 4 or 5 weeks before it can be planted. See the mint on the center right. I think I am going to sacrifice a dark tarp and hold it down with heavy rocks on the edges, just leave it in place for a year. The sun will kill the mint off. While adding a bit of compost to the raspberry barrels, I spotted a Preying Mantis nest, YAY! It is inside the garden and will hatch in late April or May. Helping keep the pests at bay.

Today and tomorrow are rainy, so no garden work for a couple of days. Today’s high is 40 degrees (f) colder than it was three days ago. Ah, spring fickleness.

Yesterday before gardening, I finished the second skinny scarf for daughter’s wardrobe accent. I love knitting and weaving for family rather than taking the time and effort to spin yarn, knit or weave and then put it in my shop for less than it is worth in time and skill. These two days will be for spinning and knitting.

Oh, and that gorgeous handstitched (not machine stitched) quilt, I won on a $.50 ticket to a raffle about 15 years ago. It is a treasure.