Category Archives: Homesteading

There is no such thing as failure! 4/18/18

Failure is a learning event.  A reminder to pay more attention. A lesson.  One of yesterday’s batches of soap was started in the morning, then left abruptly to go to the bank, run errands, get lunch.  That shouldn’t have been a big deal as the lye water had not been added to the melted butters and oils and nothing had been stirred.  Cool oils and lye water work just fine.  But . . . in my haste and inattention, I left one of the oils (about 28% of the oil) out.  When I poured the lye water, mixed for the correct recipe into the oils and butters, it became thick very, very quickly.  So quickly that stirring the essential oils in was challenging.  I couldn’t figure out why, but poured it into the mold and cocooned it in a towel to saponify.  This morning the two molds made yesterday and the two from the day before were un-molded to cut into bars for curing and that batch when cut was hard , crumbly , and it burned my hands a bit while cutting it.  While tossing this around with a soap making friend this morning, I realized that I had left out the oil and thus my caustic batch of soap that can’t be used for personal use, but it can still be used.

I make my own laundry soap, a mixture of Washing Soda, Baking Soda, and my own grated soap, so a solution was handy, except that I just made a gallon of laundry soap, about 125 loads worth for two people washing only a couple loads a week.  Since I am about to set up shop at Heritage Day, I bought some pretty blue canning jars, grated up the soap, mixed up the batch and put it in the jars.

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Six 3+ lb jars of HE safe laundry soap that will do about 32 loads of clothes each.  Maybe it will sell.  I need to figure out what the market will handle as a price though.

Silence is Golden

It has been quiet around here.  It can’t decide whether it is spring with fruit trees, forsythia, and daffodils blooming, leaves developing on the lilac and some of the shrubs.  Or still winter in April with a recent foot of snow.

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The chickens are confused.  The weather warms and they start laying lots of eggs, then it gets cold and they use all their energy just staying warm.  The past couple of days have been mild and delightful, tomorrow, the high will be at 1 a.m. and fall all day to 29ºf by night and there are snow flurries in the forecast on Saturday and again on Monday.

I took advantage of the nice afternoon and evening to plant 66 garlic cloves and 100 onion sets and then to keep the Houdini chickens out of the newly planted beds and the just sprouting asparagus, three 25 foot rows of plastic chicken wire were purchased and staked around those boxed beds to try and keep them out so growth can occur undisturbed.  Even when the chickens are allowed to free range all 30 acres if they are a mind to, they tunnel under the vegetable garden fence to dig in the spoiled hay and the compost.  With four more  8′ X 4′ and 3 more 4′ X 4′ beds to plant, a better solution than the plastic chicken wire is needed to keep them out.  After not having much luck with root crops and me being the only one who likes dark leafy cooking greens, a change up in the garden is due.  Potatoes, greens, salad, radishes, carrots, and turnips are all readily available locally grown at the Farmers’ Market, so I’m not even going to mess with them this year.  Tomatoes and Jalapenos are always canned or frozen and used up by the time the next growing season comes around, so they will be grown.  Green beans and peas if I can keep the bunnies out of them this year will be grown.  A block of popcorn with some kind of pumpkin or winter squash interspersed will be there.  I have planted sweet potatoes for the past few years and then many don’t get used, so I doubt I’ll waste the space on them, but Kirby cucumbers will be added so I can make lots of pickles.  They disappeared quickly last year the the cucumbers were pricey at the market.

The raspberries never did get thinned or pruned last fall and other than trying to control their spread into the other beds, it is too late to do anything about them this year.  I would like to dig them all up and replant huge buried pots of them to control their spread.  I also want to add to the blueberry garden and look at other fairly small fruit options.

One cold March day I took a fruit tree pruning class and though I can recite the rules, having an idea of what the finished pruning should look like still eludes me, but I have taken a stab at working on our small orchard.  One of the Asian pears has gotten really tall and is thin and compact, not conducive to picking fruit and I have no idea how to deal with it.  The apple trees and the other Asian pear have a better shape and I think I have a handle on the peach trees.

The early spring brought a trip to a fiber retreat and my first and hopefully last encounter with bedbugs.  That put me on antihistamines and anti itch creams and salves for two weeks.  Shortly after my return, a new travel size spinning wheel entered my life.  It is a fun little wheel that fits in an extra large Land’s End canvas bag and only weighs 8 pounds.

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Spring has brought two opportunities to spin at Historic Smithfield Plantation in costume before the season officially opened, a 5K and a fun run one weekend in March and an Easter Egg Hunt this past Saturday.  Both of those events brought dozens of visitors into the Slave cabin/Summer kitchen where I spin, so it was fun and busy.  When a child shows interest in what I’m doing, I will ask them if they would like to try.  If the parent agrees, knowing that the child will have to sit on my lap or between my legs, they get to treadle the wheel while I draft the fiber and once they have helped spin a couple of feet, I double it back on itself to ply it and cut it off to give the child as a souvenir.  The parents are always thankful and a bit surprised that I not only let the child touch the wheel, but help.

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Away, back, away, and back again 3/2/2018

Finally settled back home from a couple of weeks of flurried activity, first with our cruise and as soon as the laundry was done and the dust settled, I was off to the winter version of the spinning retreat. We enjoyed a couple of weeks of very nice weather, enjoying the western Caribbean toward the end of their rainy season, so not too hot and only a few random showers. There were two nights of heavier rain, but it occurred after we had settled for the night. For the most part the seas were calm, though I tend to motion sickness and had one bad evening when I had failed to take Bonine in the morning, did a water excursion and back on the ship just as we were about to leave port. The ship store sold motion sick bands and a couple of Bonine and I was okay after a few hours. We had a great time on a much needed vacation.  And we returned to spring like weather at home.

The spinning retreat is an event that I look forward to, rejoining friends that I see infrequently, laughing, eating, spinning and knitting. The motel at Hawk’s Nest State Park lacks a restaurant at this time, but Tudor’s Biscuit World is just down the road and Pies and Pints Pizza is only a short drive away, so many of us go out for breakfast and lunch. Dinner started as happy hour and morphed over the years to a grand pot luck. This year the pot luck was so immense that one night we had 5 or 6 crockpot dishes, plus salads, crackers, cheese, dips, and desserts. Though I had not asked prior to the event to vend as I was unsure having been away, I took some soaps, salves, yarn, and knitwear and because there were few vendors, I did get to set up and was able to sell enough to pay for the weekend which is my goal.

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This retreat did take a negative twist though as I awoke each day with a few more itchy spots, unsure if I was reacting to their detergent or if I was being bitten. Sunday morning, I was pretty sure that they were bites, notified the office as I left, washed my bag and clothing in hot water as soon as I arrived home. By Monday, it was apparent, that I had had a bed bug encounter, something I have feared in hotels, but not expected there. I have always been over reactive to insect bites and have broad itchy bands surrounding the rows of bites, characteristic of bed bugs. Now a week out, I am still on antihistamines, anti itch creams, and trying not to scratch. I am hoping that I did not bring them home with me. My spinning, knitting, and vending items remained in the tiled conference room for the weekend, but traveled home in the back of my car with my suitcase, though in a plastic box crate and in trays strapped to the top of the crate.

The week remained delightfully spring like until last night. We have howling wind and woke to snow flurries. The upcoming forecast is more seasonal. We lost our power briefly last night and again this afternoon for a couple of hours. Fires have been lit in the wood stove and fireplace in case of another failure. It is supposed to go down into the twenties tonight and we want the house to stay warm.

I am continuing to knit on the new shawl that is a design on the fly that I will probably never write down.  The yarns are lovely though.  It is a mitered shawl of a Freia Ombre Shawl ball and a craveyarn Santa Fe solid.

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I am nearly to a point where I need to make sure I have a multiple of the number of stitches needed for the fancier lace that will be the bottom lace band.

Also on the needles are Log Cabin squares for a gift blanket in the works.

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The warmer weather and longer days have the hens producing generously again.  My egg buying friends were all grateful today when I was able to bring them the quantities they desire.  Each day gathering 8 to a dozen from the 16 hens.  I’m still unsure whether the two with the pale combs are laying, so I may be getting them from just 14 hens.

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The power has been restored and flickered off and back on again, so I should get our dinner going in case it goes out again.  Until next time.

And So We Endure Jan. 14, 2018

After the nearly 3 weeks of Arctic weather, we were due for a reprieve.  Daughter and family had moved  out nearly all of their furniture that had been moved in for their period of house sharing with us and our furniture that had been relocated to other parts of the house or stored returned.  Jim and I dismantled the bunk bed, storing the full size bottom bunk in the garage until they could pick it up yesterday and the twin size top bunk set up in a corner of the basement to provide another place to put family members if we have too many for the other beds.  The smaller south bedroom was scrubbed down, vacuumed, dusted, and the full size bed, tall chest, nightstand, and rocking chair returned to it.  New Navy blue curtains were hung, but once out of the package, I realized that they are not lined, so some lining fabric will be purchased and I will make the lining and sew it in.

Monday was supposed to be the first warmer day and the grand’s first day at their new school, but Ole Man Winter decided to play a trick and instead of a warmer dry day, we got an ice storm warning.  Schools closed throughout the region in anticipation and we ended up with the grands with us.  Grandson arrived in a too small knit hat that looked like a mouse had chewed it.  He helped me pick yarns and I told him I would trade him a new hat for the one he was wearing

Though initially we thought that it was unnecessary to close the schools, we did indeed get ice.   We got the grands home before it got too bad, but Monday night Jim went out to try to get the two male dogs back in and slipped, landing hard on his hip.  I didn’t hear him calling for help until he had crawled back to the front porch in pain.  As the night wore on, his more intense pain subsided, but he has continued to have a lot of soreness, not enough to keep us from our walks when weather permitted.  Tuesday the schools were to be delayed two hours to give the roads a chance to clear, but by 9 a.m., they again closed.  We were unsure we could get down our mountain road to get the grands, so SIL had to wait for the alternative care program to get straightened out and took the kids there, going in to work late.

The week did finally warm up and we enjoyed a few nice day, enough for the ice on the creeks and the blocks from the chicken watering pan to thaw.  Each day the pan was dumped and fresh water poured in and the yard and chicken run were littered with blocks the shape of the pan or the bucket.  Friday we got much needed rain, and mud.  The dogs come and go through the front door as the deck repair is still in progress out the back.  Late Friday, the rain turned to sleet then to snow and the temperature dropped.  It was 40ºf colder yesterday than Friday.  We got no more than a dusting as the snow blew horizontally until early afternoon when the wind died down, the clouds broke but the thermometer didn’t rise.  Our high yesterday was 21.  Last night to 10.

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The cold, blustery, snowy day encouraged me to continue putting the house together, the front bedroom received the same treatment that the other one got last weekend.  The walls swept down, windows and floor vacuumed and mopped or wiped down, fresh linen on the bed, the heavy quilt that has been stored for 3 years was returned to the bed and new insulated, room darkening curtains hung.

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Friday night when they came to pick up their dog and two housecats, he got his new hat, just in time for yesterday’s frigid weather.

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He had it on yesterday when they came to get the bed and a few more boxes.  I hope it keeps him warm as we endure another week of subfreezing days and bitter nights before the next break.  In the meantime, I am again accumulating blocks of ice from the water pans and buckets and though I thought I only got 1 egg yesterday, this morning when I let the hens out into the yard, I found 4 more, frozen and cracked in a corner of the coop, not in nesting boxes where they could be found.

The Empty Nest

When I moved to the mountains, leaving hubby to work on the coast for a couple more years, we still had one young adult at home and he and hubby shared space for those 3 years.  I was in an apartment for about 15 months, solo except for visits by hubby, son the younger,  or daughter, then moved into the house that we were building with son the elder, daughter in law, and grandson #1.  They shared the house for a couple of years then moved to town as hubby retired and moved to the mountains, leaving son the younger on his own, soon to become engaged and then married.  We had an empty nest for a few years, adding two dogs to the household.  Three years ago daughter and her two kids and their dog moved here while her husband stayed to sell their Florida house and find work here, he joined them in May of that year, bringing their two house cats.  The house has been full of life and energy for the past three years.  We have gotten the kids up  and ready school,  home from the afternoon bus and to Taekwondo a couple days a week for a couple of those years.

In November they bought a house about 18 miles from here in a different school district, but probably 30 minutes closer to work.  They continued to stay here while they got the house ready to move in and while they moved their household furniture and other accouterments from storage  and to allow the grands to finish at the school they started this year up to the Christmas break.

On Thursday, they spent the first night in their new home.  On Friday they got to go to see their new schools and grandson got to meet his teacher.  As their furniture has been removed from two bedrooms, ours has returned.  One room has been cleaned from top to bottom, the bed set up with a brand new mattress, the chest, night stand, rocking chair and lamp that have been stored or relocated for the three years , and that room has been sealed off from the cats.  Tomorrow new curtains will be purchased for that room as one of the Roman shades has been broken and the other two  shades are dirty and faded.

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The other bedroom needed new bed rails and though it has been put back together, their animals are still here until the end of this week to allow floor installers in their house without the dog and cats trying to escaping.  Once they are moved to their new house, that room will be wiped down from top to bottom and the decorations and heavy quilt returned to it.  It will get new curtains soon also as the decade old shades are dirty and faded.

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With them gone, the house looks and seems empty and quiet.  I miss them though we will still see them often, but the quiet is nice.  It is going to take some time to readjust to the empty nest.

Grandson #1 will be happy to have “his” bedroom back when he visits.  For the years he lived here and when he visited until they came, he slept in the south, smallest bedroom that the resident grands have been sharing.  While they have been here, he has slept on a futon in the basement during his visits.  Son the elder and his wife prefer the 4th bedroom in the basement as it is quieter and away from the animals that aggravate allergies.

With the basement, bathroom, two bedrooms, and kitchen cleaned up and reorganized, I need to tackle the loft and our bedroom.  Since hubby got me a nice Dyson vacuum for Christmas (yes, I asked for it), a thorough deep cleaning is in order.  Spring cleaning in the middle of winter.  Come spring, screens need to be repaired or replaced and windows cleaned, but that will wait for warmer weather.

 

 

Olio – January 3, 2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

The holidays are over, the decorations packed away, but the cold has really settled in.  Cold is relative.  There are parts of the world, even the USA that have the temperatures we are experiencing every winter and are prepared for it.  There are parts of the US that are used to very mild winters that are experiencing temperatures that we consider normal for this time of year, but they aren’t equipped for it.  It is cold here.  Our nights for the past couple of weeks have all been single digits.  The days in the teens, low 20’s if we are lucky.  But it has been dry.  There is some light snow expected tomorrow as another Arctic blast hits us, but no other real precipitation due as far as I can see in the forecast.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel though, if the forecast holds true, we will climb back up into the 30’s with mid 20’s at night in a few more days.

With the frigid weather, the dogs run out and back in.  The chickens have remained cooped some days and if it is sunny and calm, let out to free range on other days.  If it snows tomorrow, they won’t come out of their coop, no white stuff for them.  The shortened days and extreme cold have seriously curtailed egg laying.  Instead of 6 dozen or so a week, the 16 ten month old hens are providing less than half that a week.  The days are beginning to lengthen and the cold will abate, so hopefully they will begin to lay again soon.

We rarely go out for New Year’s Eve, but this fall, we saw a billboard for a New Year’s Eve event at Mountain Lake Lodge, the site of the filming of “Dirty Dancing.”  As soon as they were taking reservations, we booked one.  This lodge is 5 miles further up the road  our road descends from, an elevation change of about 2000 more feet and we were greeting with snow and frosted trees, a veritable winter wonderland, where though we are cold, we have no snow.

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The event included a stellar buffet dinner, a room for the night, a grand party with live band, favors, and champagne toast, and topped off with breakfast on New Year’s Day.  We met some wonderful folks, enjoyed their company, danced and partied, then walked upstairs to our lovely room for the night.  Such a great event we will probably repeat it next year.

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We got home on New Year’s Day to discover that the dripping faucet in the utility room had been turned off and the hot water line frozen.  We have kept the cold dripping, the heat turned up in there and a hot fire burning in the wood stove in the basement near where the pipe enters the utility room slab.  After three days of this treatment, the pipe finally thawed this afternoon and now both hot and cold are running at a slow trickle to prevent a recurrence.  The washing machine drain is still frozen though the sink drain is not.

I was knitting a Hitchhiker scarf and hoping to wear it last weekend as my last project for 2017, but ended up taking it with me with only 8 rows to complete.  Sitting in the tavern before dinner in front of a fire with a glass of wine, I saw an error a few rows back and had to rip those rows out to fix it.  It ended up being my first finished project of 2018.

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Knit with Freia Fibers Shawl ball

To get out of chronological order here, the past couple of weeks have been busy.  Daughter’s family has been moving into their new house a trunk full or our 5 X 8′ open trailer full at a time.  They have cleared the storage units that have held most of their belonging for the past three years that they shared our home with us, have moved toys, books, games, and shelving that held some of that in our rec room, and this past weekend, their master bedroom returning our furniture that they have stored.  They are still staying here until some flooring is laid, then they will move the kids dressers and part of the bunk bed and a few more smaller items and their pets.  The house is going to seem so empty after having the kids here.  They are close enough for us to still help out when needed, but in a different school district and closer to work.

The month of December had us on the road a lot.  We went to the coast to visit son the younger and his family one weekend, home the next for the second Holiday Market, then north to son the elder and his family, returning home on Christmas eve.  Son in law is from an Italian family and their tradition is pasta and antipasto on the eve and we arrived home to a delicious meal.  Christmas Day after gift exchange with daughter’s family and watching the children with all of their new things, I prepared a turkey and ham meal with all the trimmings.

The week after Christmas, our local yarn store closed for a week to relocate much closer to where I live and our spinning group that usually meets there on that Thursday of each month chipped in with other volunteers to help them with packing and actually moving so that they didn’t have to rent a truck.  A friend volunteered her pickup, I volunteered our larger SUV and the trailer and with a couple of other vehicles and two days, all of the fabric, yarn, and fixtures were moved in sub freezing temperatures.  They reopen on Friday and I am excited to see how all of the stuff we helped move will be displayed and so that I can purchase another Freia Fiber Shawl ball in another color way for my cruise knitting.  Our cruise is only a bit more than a month off.

I hope my readers have a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Olio – Nov. 24, 2017

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

The blog has been quiet of late, but not for a lack of activity.  Jim and I continue to strive for a daily walk, though the past few days because of extra folk in the household, prep for Thanksgiving, child keeping for daughter and SIL to get their house painted inside before they move their furniture in, my walks have either been missed or have happened on our mountain road with visiting son, DIL, and eldest grandson.  Last evening, we walked our road so that I could show them the fossil.

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Grandson had been shown it before, but couldn’t find it again to show his parents.  It stays hidden and you have to know where to look to uncover it.

Today is  resident granddaughter’s  sixth birthday.  She was born on Thanksgiving and celebrated on Thanksgiving last year but won’t hit the holiday again for a few years.

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Her Dad is not a fan of spiders so her wicked sense of humor requested a chocolate cake with a spider web and spider on top. Above is daughter, our resident cake decorator, molding a purple spider from Rice Krispy treat mix to go on the cake that will be revealed tonight.

Yesterday’s feast was a treat.  We worked together to pull it off, with DIL helping with side dishes,  son’s assist to spatchcock the 19.5 lb turkey.  He also is in charge of rubbing the herb butter I made under the skin and lifting the monster onto and off of the baking rack and carving it.  This process produces the juiciest, tastiest poultry in such a short time.  It only took 90 minutes cooking time with this method.

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We don’t put the whole bird on the table to carve so it’s unconventional appearance is okay.  The aromatic vegetables under the turkey are pureed and added to the backbone, neck, giblets, and carcass to cook down for broth.  We ended up last night putting 2 1/2+ gallons of broth in jars for future gravies, cooking rice, potatoes, or beans.

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I survived turning 70 this past week.  It was a busy day of cleaning, food purchase for the feast and to feed the 9 people currently staying here, but ended with Jim taking me for a delightful meal at a local upscale restaurant.

This morning, eldest grandson (12), resident grandson (10), and the birthday girl, helped me stack the load of firewood that was delivered earlier this week.  This required removing the old wood from the makeshift rack first, driving a couple new T posts, scrounging for a few more old cedar posts to use as the base, and stacking high enough to have room, low enough to not topple over. The old wood then piled back on top to be burned first.

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It is two rows thick at one end and the chick raising water trough is full of old wood, set on it’s side behind the stacks as additional storage.

Today, being Black Friday, I won’t venture from the house.  I don’t like to shop when it is quiet, I sure don’t want to be out in the chaos that even our smaller towns seem to have.  I will support some of our local businesses later, and will purchase some gifts online next week.

I hope my readers, had quality time with family or friends yesterday or will be able to this weekend.  I am thankful for the time with my husband, children that could come and their families.  Hopefully, we will soon get to visit the one that could not come.

Goodnight garden – 11/2/2017

Today seems like a spring day, blue skies, 68ºf, sunshine.  With the several mornings of frost on the grass and the windshield when taking the grands to the bus stop and then below freezing temps and snow flurries all day Sunday, I knew the garden was done.  Since the day is gorgeous and Jim is off enjoying it on the Harley, grands in school, daughter and SIL at work, it seemed like a good day to put the garden to bed for the winter.

Boy was I surprised when I got out there. The pepper bed which happened to be right behind a big round hay bale that I rolled in before finishing the fence last spring though slightly frost bitten was still hearty plants loaded with peppers.

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An 8 quart bucket was filled and those peppers will be chopped and frozen for winter use.  The plants were then pulled and tossed in the chicken run for them to pick at the leaves and remaining peppers that were too small to bother picking.

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The Echinacea  is still blooming, it was tucked down beside the rotting bale of hay.

The herb bed is still thriving too with several mints, rosemary, hyssop, and oregano.

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And lots of swiss chard.  We have a few mild days and a bit of rain expected, but before the next cold night, the mint and oregano will be cut to dry and a sprig of rosemary cut to root for the kitchen window garden of the winter.  I think the herb bed is going to be covered with a row cover to try to save the rosemary for the spring.

The Tithonia was mostly bloomed out and the plants dry so it was pulled and tossed in the chicken pen for them to get the remaining seed from the seed heads.  It will be planted again next year, but it with the sunflowers are going to be on an edge of the garden, not in the middle.  The asparagus ferns were dry so they too were cut back to a couple inches and then all of the beds that had been cleaned out, the tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, sweet potatoes, garlic, and onion beds were all heavily layered in old hay with the garden stakes laid on top to help hold it down from the winter wind and the chickens that get in the garden.

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The big roll of hay, with much effort was moved from in front of the gate where it had protected the peppers.  Much of it used on the beds.  The remainer will mulch the large area where the corn was grown, and around the raspberries. They  still need to be cut back and thinned, but their leaves are gone so it shouldn’t be too difficult a job.  The containment rings are going to be set around clumps of them and cardboard heavily mulched will be placed around the rings and over to the edges of the garden boxes.

Though I love my home grown garlic, I think I am going to skip a year and see if I can break the cycle of the nematodes that damage about a third of the harvest each year.

The second fence around the garden that would make a 3-4 foot wide chicken run all the way around the garden never was completed last spring.  I have the posts, but need to replace a section of fencing on the north side of the garden, move a comfrey plant, and set the new fencing.  This will also necessitate two new gates and one of them will need a substantial gate post set.

The rest of the putting to bed activity will have to wait for tomorrow or this weekend.  Two or three hours of pulling plants and weeds is enough for one day.  The pigweed, smartweed, horsenettle, and some tall mint family weed in spite of the earlier weedings required a fair amount of today’s energy.IMG_20171102_131657

These girls weren’t much help.

The header was yesterday’s morning sky while waiting at the bus stop.  With daylight savings time starting this weekend, it will be light at the bus stop next week, but dark so much earlier in the evenings.  I don’t think daylight savings time is a good thing.

Off to pick up the grands from the bus.  Until next time.

Brrrr – 10/25/2017

We have had three light frost nights, ice on the car windows when taking the grands to their bus, but so far, the remaining garden is hanging in.  That may end tonight.  We had an overcast day that never got above 45ºf and tonight it is supposed to get to freezing.  I may be picking small jalapenos in the morning and  quickly chopping the for the freezer.

Each night there are two or three young hens that have escaped from their late afternoon confinement in the run and gotten in the garden.  As night falls, they have to be wrangled out of the garden and carried to the coop.  Most are “squatters” that go into a submissive squat and are easy to pick up and relocate.  One Welsummer is a runner and though she is distraught that she can’t get to the coop (she can get out of the pen but not back in), she runs.  Once caught, she is calm as she is carried to the coop.  Tonight I was later being able to get to them and it was full on dark.  The runner and the  Buffy escapee were perched on the fence in the dark.  The other side of that same fence is their run and the open pop door.  Stupid birds.

I was late because tonight was another opportunity to volunteer for Smithfield House, but not at Smithfield House.  The Director and I dressed in costume and worked an Outreach event on the university campus.  It was an outdoor event and chilly.  We did get a bit of interest in volunteerism and internships, were fed huge bratwursts and fresh pressed apple cider.  I am still trying to thaw out.  I spun, she recruited.

Friday night, Jim and I will participate in another Smithfield event, the Spirit Hayride, but as participants, not volunteers.

The Spinzilla results were released and our team was about halfway down the list of winners.  For our team, I spun the most and our sponsor, Strauch  Fiber Equipment Co. generously offered an incentive prize of one of their awesome ball winders.

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I have wanted to purchase one for quite a while was was excited to be the winner.

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To test it out, I spun a bobbin of Hearts of the Meadow Farm’s Coopworth and wound it into a center pull ball and plyed it back onto the bobbin.  The ball winder is so smooth and quiet. Thank you Strauch Fiber Equipment Co.

Damage wasn’t too bad – October 18, 2017

In spite of feeling increasingly poorly as the day went on yesterday, the garden was assessed.  The tomatoes are done and were pulled and dropped in the chicken pen.  The pepper plants looked a bit sad, but the leaves did not burn in the frost and the peppers were unharmed.  An hour of so was spent  pulling corn stalks and weeds and dropping them into the chicken run.  The sweet potatoes were dug and brought in to cure.

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A 22 quart bucket full of Beauregard and Blue sweet potatoes.

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Laid out to cure on the hardware cloth shelf with the onions and garlic in the root cellar.

The sweet potatoes were grown this year in a raised bed that was deep with good soil.  Each vine had at least 4 good sized potatoes growing down into the soft soil, making a good crop fairly straight and nicely shaped.  There will be roasted winter vegetables and sweet potato fries, candied yams for hubby for Thanksgiving, and perhaps a simple baked one now and then.

If we can get the Xterra repaired, a friend has offered a trailer load of sheep manure that will be dug in before the beds are covered with spoiled hay to overwinter.  I need to figure out how to eliminate the nematode that damages the garlic and onions before I plant them again.

The asparagus bed needs to have the ferns cut back and mulched for winter and the raspberry bed needs a lot of fall work, there are too many volunteers and a tall woody mint family weed has infiltrated the bed.  I am thinking of sinking rings of culvert deep into the soil and planting the raspberries within the rings to try to regain control and make the harvest of berries easier.

When we were working on the deck on Sunday, we stirred up this guy.

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He wasn’t happy that his abode was disturbed.  I hope he found another place to settle before Monday and last night’s frosts.