Category Archives: Olio

Olio – January 26, 2019

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

This past week has been bitter and sweet.  A  Redtailed Hawk discovered my pullet pen and early in the week, killed and took one of my Mottled Javas.  The pullets are about 11 or 12 weeks old now and have some size on them, but not enough to fight off a hawk.  Because of the cold, I left them cooped up the next day and spent an afternoon building a bird net cage using the 4 foot high fence and 7 foot poles, rope, and zip ties to secure it.  Last night when I went out to close up the coop for the night, the hawk was inside the net and a second Java was dead.  In the hawk’s panic to escape me, it flew through the net and out, leaving the pullet.  I considered going out today and getting a 10′ by 10′ dog run that is 6′ high that I could put a tarp or wire top on, but they are hard to come by this time of year and weigh almost 300 lbs.  A friend with a stock trailer and truck offered to help bring it here if I could find one.  Instead, some of the unused garden fencing was cut to 8′ long panels and secured across the top of the existing fence with a garden pole in the middle to help support it.  The panels were overlapped by about 8 inches and zipped tied together every foot.  When the last panel nearest the coop was ready to secure, it was tied to the previous panel then folded up to give me enough room to get to the pop door.  An arch of fencing was stapled to the side of the coop and the front of the coop and secured to the fence on the side and the last panel.  That gives me room to get in and around the coop, but will require crawling under the low part if necessary.  My hands and feet are frozen, but hopefully, the littles are safe from the hawk now.

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It isn’t pretty, but hopefully it will keep them safe.

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They were glad to be released to the sun.  Maybe this spring, a proper, secure run can be built.

The sweet side of the week involves crafting.  There is a project called Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em to support the conservation of threatened breeds of sheep.  Fiber raisers and fiber artists are encouraged to participate.  This week, I have ordered and received 4 packages of roving from different breeders, 4 ounces each of Jacob, Navajo Churro, Shetland, and Romeldale CVM, and arranged to get 4 ounces of Leicester Longwool from a breeder friend who is participating.

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Two of the breeders have provided extras, like samples of other sheep or a pen with their farm info on it.

Fiber has to be spun, photographed and submitted, yarn must be knitted, crocheted, or needle felted, photographed and submitted. It is a three year project and once you have 5 breeds done, you can submit for a prize.  After I finish spinning mine, I plan to knit a log cabin blanket with my 15 breeds.

Though I started collecting my breeds, I had some other spinning projects to finish before I could begin.  I had a 2 ounce braid I was spinning on drop spindles that I wanted to finish.  It was plyed and produced 166 yards of fingering weight yarn that is a very soft wool and silk.  There was some Alpaca and Merino that needed to be finished and I got it done as well.

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The week was also used to dye some fiber for sale in my shop.

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And finally beginning to spin one of conservation breeds, starting with the Jacob.

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The past week has been very cold and the forecast is for potential record breaking cold this week and possibly another light snow.  I need day that is mild and dry to finish trimming some of the fence edges.

Winter is not the time to take care of the outdoor tasks, but  they need to be done.  I’d rather be indoors, cooking and baking bread like I got to do yesterday before realizing that my pullet run was not as secure as I had hoped.  Tomorrow, I am fixing dinner for family and will make more bread for them to enjoy with dinner and take home for the week.

Olio – January 5, 2019

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

Wow, that is the first time I have had to write 2019!  The days whiz by and suddenly it is the next year.  As a child, the years went by so slowly, and now they fly by before I have adjusted to it being a new one.

For the first time in what seems forever, we have sunshine.  The morning began bleak, rainy, and very windy.  We braved mixed winter precipitation to go to town and get breakfast and see what vendors came out for the winter Farmers’ Market.  The January to April markets are informal, the vendors being allowed to park their trucks and vans in parking spaces that are closed off and occupied by other vendors during the high season markets.  The morning goal was some pork, eggs, and breads and all were obtained before heading to the grocer for the non local needs.

The chicks are 9 weeks old tomorrow, so we have at least 14 or 15 more weeks before we will start seeing eggs from them.  Their adult plumage is developing and though not a heritage flock, they will be pretty and there will be a variety of egg colors from green, dark brown, medium brown, and light tan.  They have figured out the big girl feeder and the big girl water dispenser and are not afraid of the pop door to the outside anymore.  The first day they stayed inside, the next day most were escorted out by me and that night 5 of them were found huddled in an empty feed bucket under the coop.  Now, all of them can find their way out and back inside at night, though they wait until it is nearly dead dark to go in.

The Christmas week brought much family time.  We had an Italian style meal on Christmas eve with daughter’s family at her home, awoke to the empty house on Christmas day.  We celebrated quietly, having Huevos Rancheros and sausages for hubby and exchanging our gifts.  Christmas Day, daughter’s family came here for a mid afternoon turkey and ham dinner.  The next day, eldest son and eldest grandson came to celebrate and work on the deck.

Wanting to expand my fiber tools, I had asked for a 5 foot tri-loom and easel which I gladly received.

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Once I figured out how to assemble it, You Tube was visited to watch weavers using one.  There are several methods.  The first one I tried was called continuous loop weaving. You never cut your yarn weaving across and up and down by weaving the strand with a hook.

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The first triangle is a generous shawl  made with two skeins of my hand spun yarn, a very smooth Corriedale and a very textured blend of Merino, Tencel, and Mohair locks plyed with Wooly Nylon, a stretchy thin thread.  It was challenging as the textured yarn wanted to grab the other yarn and itself.  Once it was off the loom, I decided to make one to wear when I am doing the living history events on cool days.   It is being done with cut strand method and weaves on the diagonal.

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While trying to get it done for an event tomorrow, I was also trying to get a pair of fingerless mitts finished as well as I will be selling knitted and woven goods at Old Christmas at Wilderness Road Regional Museum and demonstrating spinning tomorrow.

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They were finished except for weaving in the ends while being passenger to breakfast, Farmers’ Market, and the grocery.  There are less than 20 rows to go on the shawl, so hopefully it will be woven though not washed and blocked for tomorrow.  It is my hand spun Coopworth from Hearts of the Meadow Farm.

I must admit, that weaving up my hand spun uses it much more quickly than knitting up the same amount of yarn.

As for the week after Christmas, eldest son and grand worked together to put the Trex surface boards on the deck.

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We are excited to be able to safely go out the French Doors of the dining room and not have a one story fall.  The deck surface and stairs are done.  The surface is maintenance free.  Unfortunately, the rails did not arrive in time for installation then, but they have now arrived and are due to be delivered this week.  When he has time, eldest will return and put up the railings, balusters, and post caps.  When the pressure treated posts have dried, they will be painted to match the railing and will be the only part of the deck that will require maintenance of repainting periodically.

While we were sorting tools, putting away cords, he and I tackled phase one of a major garage cleaning and reorganization, labeling boxes that contain power tools, making a pile of tile and metal fittings, Trex scraps, and other items to keep.  Most of that was moved to the barn today.  More will be moved another day and once the deck is done, the garage sorted out the rest of the way, a barn organization is in order.  It has become a repository of building materials, building equipment, and miscellaneous other stuff.  Some of it needs to go home with it’s owner, some can be sold or given away, some just needs to be straightened up so we can find it when a job needs it.  Some of the tile that was moved can be used to replace the water damaged bamboo floor in front of the walkout basement door.  That is another task for another time.

Back to weaving or the shawl won’t be done.  I hope you had a great holiday season and have faced the new year with hope and strength.

Olio- Nov. 16, 2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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The ice storm came, half an inch of glassy coating on every surface, but we didn’t lose power.

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Followed last night by the first accumulation of snow, only a trace.  And wind, freeze your nose off cold.  The chickens think it must be my fault.  After not letting them out in the ice storm yesterday, the coop was opened this morning and the coop cleaned of “fowled” straw, new straw added.  They panicked around me as I did that and then hunkered down in the new straw rather than go out in the cold and snow.

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Last night’s break from craft show prep to work on finishing the Christmas stocking for our 7th grand child, born last summer.  Each grandchild has a personalized stocking made with love by me.  Most given for their first Christmas, but all having one.  Now they are all knitted, but our children’s are crewel work and one grandson’s is quilted, but all handmade by me.

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Canning was supposed to be done except for enchilada sauce once the peppers are all dried, but the bag of cranberries at the grocer was huge.  I guess I could have used part and frozen part, but instead, 4 1/2 pints of cranberry orange relish were made and three of them canned this morning.  One left unsealed for Thanksgiving, the small one to be used for oatmeal.

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Eldest grandson likes Cranberry sauces and relishes, especially when I make them.  Perhaps he can take a jar home after Thanksgiving.

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My 200 pound goofy helper sunning his belly in his favorite spot, right behind where I was working.

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One of the 4 pumpkins spoiled, so the remaining three will be cooked this afternoon and the pulp frozen in 2 cup amounts for pies and breads for the upcoming holidays.  There is a tiny one in the fall table display, it may be cooked and replaced with one of the slightly larger ones so that a stuffed pumpkin can be enjoyed in the near future.  The chooks will get the spoiled one with the bad spots removed once they come out of hiding.

The header picture though several years old looks like it did yesterday after the ice and was coated white this morning.

Olio – Oct. 31, 2018

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

Last week as we sat down to dinner, the hayman came and began brush hogging the hay that was too weedy and frost burned to bother cutting for hay.  He has a much larger tractor and a 10 foot mower deck to our 5 foot deck.  Ours has seen better days, the post on the rear of the deck had become so distorted in shape, think hour glass that it had worn out the post for the trailing wheel, which was pretty worn out itself.  Our blacksmithy friend brought his tools over, cut the old post our and welded in a new one then we went and bought a new trailing wheel.  The first time the tractor was to be started, the battery was dead and the repair guy came up, diagnosed and replaced it, then when we set out for the first time  this past spring, the three point attachment to the mower sheared or lost a pin, resulting in another trip down the mountain to the Equipment Repair shop for a hand full of the pins.  Since the fields get hayed in the spring and since we bought a riding lawn mower for around the house, the brush hog sat on the back of the tractor most of the summer.  It was taken off to put the grading blade on the tractor for driveway repair, but was reattached to the tractor last week.  Hubby brush hogged the upper part of the property while I mowed the lawn and did some fencing.

The hayman left at dark and then it rained for three days and he hasn’t been back.  We have had a couple of beautiful brisk, sunny fall days, so this morning after chores and breakfast, I set out to finish the upper fields on our tractor.

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In progress, but look at that sky.

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And some hints of color in the woods finally.

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Finished upper fields.

After lunch, Hubby took off for what might be one of his last rides of the season on the BBH (Big Bad Harley) which he finds as his zen time and I took off on the tractor to the lower field for my zen time. Some of the spring hay is still sitting baled in that field which was to prove to be an obstacle course and after about 4 trips around the perimeter of the field, I realized that the mower wasn’t cutting.  It had sheared the pin that holds the PTO to the mower and turns the blade.  Down the mountain again to the Equipment Repair Shop for a new pin and back to use two huge wrenches to tighten the nut on once it was in place and back to the field.  About a quarter got finished before the weld on the new post or the post itself failed and the trailing wheel fell off.  No more mowing, maybe ever with this beat up old brush hog.  I guess the hayman is going to have to finish it this fall.

Last night was gorgeous and the rescheduled Spirits of the Wilderness Road event was held.  The spirits came out and portrayed their characters to visitors riding in a horse drawn carriage.  Initially I was collecting donations and helping in the colonial kitchen serving hot cider and helping guests make corn husk dolls and besums.  As it began to get dark, the spirit portraying Mary Draper Ingles got cold (she is a 90 year old spry gal) and was taken home, so I donned her role and did double duty for the last couple of hours.

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The percherons were a beautifully matched pair of males, Prince and Pete.  They aren’t related, but matched in size and color and worked well pulling the carriage.

With winter coming on and knowing that there will be days when the hens either can’t be let out because of extreme cold, or won’t come out because of snow, I tackled a project making a 5 gallon no waste feeder for inside their coop.

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It has taken them a few days to figure it out, but they can feed when they want and can’t toss it all over the floor of the coop.  Now I need to figure out how to keep liquid water in there in freezing weather, there is no electricity over there so I can’t put a heated bucket in the coop.

Part of this week was spent on Cabin Crafted business as there are a few Saturdays coming up where I will be set up vending.

Tomorrow was going to be spent finishing the mowing as it is the last decent day for a while, but with the mower down, the fencing will probably get done instead and the garlic planted if I can find enough sound cloves from this year’s crop to plant.  This crop seems to have been hit hard with the little worm that bores in and desiccates the cloves, each bulb in storage is at least half damaged.  Perhaps I should skip planting garlic and onions for a year and see if I can get that problem under control.

 

Olio – 10/16/2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Time goes on, the summer and garden fading rapidly with seasonable though still damp days and chilly nights.  Sweater weather, just in time to wear the newly finished sweater of yarn spun by me and then knitted by me.

my sweater

It now sports deer antler buttons made by one of my daughters in law and the sleeves were lengthened from the 3/4 length they were when this was taken to wrist length.  A nice addition to the sweater wardrobe of hand knits.

The past weekend was one of my favorites, a group of folks, men and women, have a fiber retreat in Tennessee.  The trip there was dicey as the remnants of Hurricane Michael made their way here the morning I was to leave and the first couple of hours of westward travel on the interstate were in heavy rain and the always present semi trucks spraying the water back up as fast as it fell.  The retreat is at a state park with delightful cabins in the woods and a conference center that accommodates the 30 or so participants who come to knit, crochet, spin, and other crafts such as spoon carving, needle felting.  I attend as a participant and a vendor, selling soaps, salves, yarn, buttons, and knitted items.

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There are classes, Brioche knitting, and yoga for the hands then later for the neck and back.  It felt so good after those classes I wanted to adopt the instructor and bring her home with me.

One optional activity was making  a My Word token.  Cards are used to ask questions to help you select your word.  My choice was a reminder to myself, the word CALM.  To look at when I am stressed, to remind me to take a deep breath, possibly practice some of the yoga.

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Once home after the long weekend, relaxed and calmed, the car unloaded, the accounting done, some inventory taken, prices adjusted prior to the next event in a month, I reorganized my spinning wheels so they can be used, not just admired.

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This is big sis and little sis, the two quill wheels.  One a large walking wheel, the other a smaller sitting hand operated quill wheel.  The little Spinolution Pollywog, Miss Polly, sits by my chair with the box loom nearby for my daily craft release.

As fingerless mitts and hats were sold, knitting of more for the fall markets is underway.

One of the items I have wanted for the house is a moveable kitchen island.  There really isn’t room for a large one, but yesterday, the one below popped up on my Facebook marketplace and the price was too good to pass up.  We drove an hour to see it and because the folks are downsizing and knew how far we drove, they knocked the price down even further.  The cabinet came home, fits nicely behind the couch, will provide more cabinet storage for counter top appliances not used daily, and a serving area for holiday meals.

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It is a little low to work on but counter space isn’t a problem if I move some of the counter top appliances, and it can be used for cooling bread or canned jars to keep them out of the way.

The chickens are in hard molt, eggs are scarce, but feathers are not.  There is some new feather growth being seen.  If they don’t all freeze this weekend, they should begin to fill out again soon and some egg production return.  It is about time to get new chicks for the spring egg laying and retire these girls.

Peace and calm until next time.

 

Olio: 10/5/2018

Olio: a miscellaneaous collection of things

Yes the blog has been quiet.  It seemed that every post was another harvest, another canning session, and some stress thrown in for good measure.

The stress from several fronts, a family illness that hopefully is on the healing end and will put about 6 weeks of stress and discomfort to one branch of our children’s family behind them.  Stress over the political climate, an immature, ignorant bully for president, a Congress of Good Ole Boys that think “Boys will be boys.” is an adequate excuse to dismiss sexual assault claims, and those claims bringing down on me 53 years of repressed memories of my own sexual assault in high school.  I finally have blocked, unfollowed, unfriended many on Facebook and am almost to the point of leaving it entirely.  If you are a reader of my blog on Facebook, you might want to start following it from the link on the side of the blog as it may soon disappear from that source.

Fall is in the air and with it comes Fiber Festivals and retreats.  Last weekend we traveled north in the state to spend a couple of days with eldest son and family and attend the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival.  Part of the reason for this trip was to pick up an antique sitting quill wheel that I bought from a friend of a friend sight unseen and the friend railroaded it from it’s original home, to her home, to the festival for me to pick up.  She is a lovely little old wheel with some remade parts but she spins beautifully.  The wood is stained but otherwise unfinished and dry.  Regular treatments of Howard’s Feed and Wax are happening and will continue.  This little wheel will be the one that goes with me for living history events.  The legs are hand hewn with a draw knife at the top to fit into the mounting holes.  The axle is wood and the parts pegged together with wooden pins rather than nails.  The only metal are the tacks holding the wheel spindles in place and the quill.

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The weekend before last, was an opportunity to be part of a Revolutionary War encampment as a spinner at the Fincastle 50th anniversary Festival.  These events draw plenty of interest as people walk through the encampment to see how they are set up, to view the period clothing, the period crafts and old weaponry.  At 10, 12, and 2 p.m. the old cannon was primed and fired which in itself is quite a display.  I often have children sit in my lap and “help” me spin, lots of pictures being taken by parents, and the child getting to go home with a necklace or bracelet of yarn they spun.

Though fall is beginning to show some colors, we are still experiencing above average temperatures for the time of year.  If it didn’t rain a drop in October, we would still be well above the average rainfall for the year, but rain is still forecast today and tomorrow and later next week as well.  When it isn’t too hot or too wet we are getting out to walk and a walk in the woods was enjoyed a couple of days ago.

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For the past month or so we have had a huge garden spider that took up residence first on the shelter over the heat pump then as Hurricane Florence remnants blew through, she relocated to block the basement door with her huge web and web writing.

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Their black and yellow bodies and the web writing fascinate me, as long as they stay outside.

The waning daylight has brought on molt with the hens and their run, coop, and the yard look as though a chicken exploded or they are having pillow fights.  A motley looking crew they are and egg production is down to less than 4 a day from the remaining 15 hens.  One laid down in the driveway a few days ago and didn’t get back up.  None of them appeared ill, and there was no physical damage that showed an attack.  It happens.

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Their molt also produces some strange eggs when they do lay.  One this week looked more like a football than an egg.

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The cooler evenings and earlier setting sun have produced some beautiful sunsets lately, this one was captured last night.

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Yard work continues as it is still warm and wet.  The garden is beginning to shut down, the corn is done and needs to be pulled or cut down, the asparagus tops have browned and need to be cut and burned, the cucumbers are gone.  We are still getting some late tomatoes that had a burst of regrowth after the blister beetle blight.  The peppers are over whelming me and with no extra refrigerator in the basement anymore, I am going to have to water bath can the rest of the peppers as there is no more room for cold storing them.  The second crop of green beans and the lettuce are producing and soon there will be some broccoli and cabbages.  After the first frost, the garlic will be planted for next year.  The Creeping Charlie is trying to take over and I am at a loss as how to rid it, pulling and weed whacking don’t make a dent.  The raspberries still have not been pruned and thinned and they are over run with Creeping Charlie.  At this point I may just dig them up, relocate the bed and try to smother the insidious weed with a tarp to try to reclaim that area.

As I have become less active on Facebook, I have taken to Instagram, there I don’t have to see the political climate and can enjoy the pictures of those I follow.  I am spn_knt there, but I have to approve you if you request to follow me, I don’t allow commercial followers.

Until I decide to blog again, enjoy the fall colors, be safe, and try to enjoy life.

Olio – 7/21/18

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Mid week, we walked down the west side of the property along the fence line of our south west neighbor then across to the south east neighbor’s property to see what was going on with the fracked gas pipeline that is being put in between us and the house south of us. This photo is a shot of all of those properties from satellite showing the 125 foot wide scar that is being dug across our beautiful county.

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The tan square in the center of the picture  with the “tail” reaching up is our farm, our house is above the green fence line through the middle.  The jagged tan line near the bottom is the pipeline track. Thursday, they began burning the piles of tree parts that weren’t logs to carryout and sell.  There were at least two directly behind our farm.

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The past couple of weeks have been hot and arid and very busy, some deck deconstruction in preparation to rebuild a smaller deck that is made of ground contact pressure treated wood and Trex boards, hoping to make it more permanent, though less green than the original version.  The deconstruction is creating a pile of rotting wood, some still containing nails, screws, and bent brackets.  Not wanting to burn this wood on the ground where we might drive the riding mower or tractor, or even an occasional car and pick up a tire popper, we picked up a large metal barrel, but it still had a sealed top with a bung hole for pouring.  To make it a burn barrel, the top had to be removed.  Our schedule had us leaving early Friday morning to drive across the state to meet our newest granddaughter and eldest son arriving late Friday night to work on the deck today, so he needed the burn barrel.  Thursday evening, we stopped and bought a cold chisel and came home and attacked the top, Jim and I taking turns banging with a 22 ounce hammer until our arm was tired.

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An hour of hard work and we got the top off

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Another 15 minutes, a ground out drill bit, a little more cutting with the cold chisel and we had 4 vents around the bottom.

The negative was that the barrel had contained some sort of urethane and the first burn in it produced a very irritating smoke for son and grandson.  After a burn or two in it, he says the smoke is just construction smoke.

We did take off early for a drive that should have been just a tad more than 5 hours, took 7 due to construction in the Williamsburg area and the standard gridlock at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.

I was shotgun for most of the trip and spent the time knitting on the sleeves of the sweater than I spun the yarn for and want desperately to get it ready for the Agricultural Fair in August.

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Between the trip down and the 7 hour drive back today in pouring rain, the sleeves are almost finished.  Maybe tonight I will finish them and return to the body.

Yesterday we had a delightful afternoon and evening with our youngest son and his family.  We played in a park, had a seafood dinner, took a drive over to a new outlet mall, and got lots of kid and baby snuggle time.

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This morning was pouring rain, we stopped for bagels, cream cheese, and OJ and headed over to their house for a couple more hours of family time, more hugs and snuggles before our trek home in the pouring rain.

Prior to our trip, I discovered that the garden has Blister beetles devouring the foliage on my tomato plants.  I did some handpicking, sprinkled diatomaceous earth around the plants.  This week I will have to be diligent in the battle to save my plants.

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I am getting enough tomatoes to begin to freeze them to peel later and begin to make salsas and sauces for the winter.

Olio – 6/6/2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The past two mornings have been spent in the garden, trying to catch up and get ahead of the weeds.  It appears that most of the “weeds’ are actually the hay sprouting, but I don’t want my garden to be a hayfield.  This is also Lambs Quarters season and though I know that it can be eaten when young, most has gotten too big and too stringy to be palatable, but still small enough to make pulling it fairly easy.  Another garden weedy problem is a mint family weed, square stem, grows erect initially with a lavendery pink flower, and then the oxalis and wild geranium.  The line trimmer cleared up around the fence edge and the taller bloom in the old compost area that is being over run by horseradish, then hand weeding of all but two beds has been accomplished.  I planted some cucumber starts from the house to fill in what didn’t germinate in the garden bed, erected a trellis for the cukes.  Planted the sweet potato slips and a row of sunflowers. The pumpkins only had about 50% germination so another sowing of them will be made later today and another row of sunflower seeds.

The chickens were providing up to 15 eggs a day for a while, but have dropped back to 8 to 10 and one Welsummer is broody, but there is no rooster in with them so she is just shooed off the nest, eggs under her collected multiple times a day.  If she doesn’t get over it soon, I will isolate her from the coop during the daytime hours for a few days and see if it will break the cycle, nothing else has worked. I am always amused at the cacophony they make when a hen lays her daily egg, wondering if it is an expression of relief or a proud announcement to the flock. Each time I fill their calcium supplement feeder, they manage to dump it with in hours.  As I was mixing up their feed today, I decided that maybe their protein level was too low, so reformulated my mix to up it by a couple percentage points. Nothing better than a child size shovel to stir the mix.

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As the weather is hot and I don’t like sitting with a heavy sweater in my lap, I am not knitting too much on it, but continue to spin the fiber for it as I realized I didn’t have enough yarn to finish it.  IMG_20180606_095758

And I recently finished this luscious 340 yards of Merino, Yak, and Silk.

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I have almost 2 more ounces of the Merino Yak spun and am spinning the remaining 2 ounces of Merino, Yak, Silk with my newest spindle, a gorgeous Golding limited edition.

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Once done, they will also be plied for hopefully another 300 plus yards, enough to make something soft and beautiful.

It is the beginning of daylily season.  I love when the gardens are filled with their blooms.

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Still loving our life on our mountain farm.

 

 

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 – 11/6/2017

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

It is truly autumn here, near 70ºf one day and 40’s to 50’s the next.  Sunshine and gloom, but more gloom than sunshine of late.

With the last of the harvest from the garden (still some chard and herbs), it was mulched down last week.  The 8 quart bucket of the last of the peppers brought in though I kept forgetting to buy ziplock freezer bags.  I avoid the use of plastic for the environment, but some things that go in the freezer don’t have another good option.  Son in law picked up a box for me yesterday and last night after dinner, daughter packaged and labelled while I chopped.  I didn’t specify how to label them and she tends to be a creative sort when not given specific direction.

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There are some interestingly labelled chickens in the freezer for the same reason.  It makes me smile each time I pull out one of the packages.

The shorter days have slowed egg production from about a dozen a day down to about 8 a day.  It amazes me that with 30 acres to prowl, that those 16 birds can foul their coop so thoroughly as quickly as they do.  This morning, I could smell ammonia again, so I opened the pop door, the coop door, and all three windows fully to hopefully dry some of the straw, but hardly got back in the house when thick gloom formed again.  A weather app check said rain was due before 10 a.m.  With the garden dormant and a winter to break down the hot fertilizer, I forked the fouled straw out of the coop and onto the dormant beds and spread new straw in the coop, closed the main door and lowered the windows to a ventilating crack.  Back in the house, only 8:30 and the rain has already begun.

I hope the rain will stop by early afternoon.  Jim and I have been working together for the past 8 weeks to improve our health.  This has included behaving better at meals and eliminating most snacks, altering the types of snacks we do eat, and walking daily.  We started with a bit over 2 miles at a pace the hare would laugh at, but yesterday we did 3 miles at 15.05 minutes/mile.  He is willing to go to the gym and walk the treadmill, I am not, plus we don’t encourage each other doing it that way.  I walk faster when I am with him and I think he does also, so I don’t like rainy days that interfere.  When it gets cold, he will go to the gym, I will layer up and continue to walk outdoors if it isn’t raining.  So far, though I don’t see much weight change, I have dropped a size in my jeans and had to purchase a couple of new pair yesterday as I was constantly pulling the old ones up.

The first Holiday Market is coming up and I am spending car time and evenings, knitting hats and fingerless mitts with small skeins of hand spun yarns.

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If the day is cool or windy, hopefully they will sell.  Each new item also goes into my online shop with the link on the side of the blog.

Lately, I have been missing my Dad.  It is approaching two years since he took sick and passed.  On Halloween, while looking for a photo of my daughter doing professional grade Darth Maul makeup on her little brother to show her son who she was doing as the Joker from Batman, I stumbled on this photo from many (maybe a dozen) years ago at a holiday meal at his home.  This is my sister and me with Dad with a silly smirk that I saw so often.  I’m not sure why my little brother wasn’t in the picture as well.

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I had much shorter and much darker hair back then.  This morning, while sitting and eating my breakfast, I was watching the birds on the feeders.  Please excuse the dirty window, I can’t go safely out on the deck to clean it.

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He always had feeders full for the birds and squirrels and most of the ones I can name when they visit are because of his lessons.

One of the things I really miss is our weekly call that always had a discussion of what we were currently reading and his recommendations of many excellent books I have read over the years because of him.  I did have a nice long conversation with my step mom yesterday though.

I think I will end with a picture of the best buds.

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They had been wrestling over a ball and she putting her whole head in his mouth, but then they they just collapsed into a puppy pile to snuggle.