Category Archives: Olio

Olio-December 2, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The winter is setting in.  After much very dry weather with burn bans and hardly a sprinkle, we had two days of fairly continuous rain, much needed, but none the less uncomfortable to have to be out in taking grands to their bus stops or preschools, running errands, etc.  It wasn’t a warm spring type rain, it was cold, blustery, and wet.  It is the rain that helped the Amherst County and Tennessee fire fighting effort.  Living in a rural area with tree covered mountains around us, we fear fire when it is dry.  In 1902, the community that provides our zip code was virtually destroyed by a sweeping wildfire that consumed all but a small handful of now historic buildings and homes.

The rain helped relieve some of the tension that the very dry period had caused, though the heavy downpours gouged out gullies in our unpaved state road again and swept the leaves that had filled the ditches into mounds in the road and along the sides of the narrow road.  After the first day of heavy rain, I stopped and hand cleared the leaves from the ditch just above the culvert that runs under our driveway so that the rain could flow freely through and down to the run off creek.  Our driveway is pocked with run off gouges that will fill back in as we drive it.

The chickens never have started laying again since their molt, so I am getting 1 green egg from the Americauna that didn’t molt about every couple of days.  The Buff Orpingtons will generally lay some during the cold weather, but they have not resumed. They enjoy the sunshine when it is out and forage through the lower garden that is theirs for the winter at least.

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Every time I have planned to plant garlic in the past few weeks, I have been distracted from the task by other chores or the weather.  This morning, I got my bi monthly newsletter from the host of my garden planner and it indicated that it was not too late.  After picking granddaughter up from preschool, I bundled in my barn coat, muck boots, a knit hat and toughed the cold blustery day to get the job done finally.  I knew that if I did not do it now, that there would be no homegrown garlic next summer and fall.  A 4 foot square cedar box was planted with about 90 cloves of garlic to provide the heads for next year.  There were two kinds saved for planting, Redneck Riviera and German Red.  Next year, I think I will also locate and plant a soft neck variety too.

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The first box of the new garden plan is planted and mulched.  My purchase plan of two boxes a month has been put on hold until after Christmas, but there is a stack of cardboard in the garage to use as mulch base between the boxes once they are purchased.  I still have plenty of spoiled hay to use on top of the cardboard once it is in place around the boxes.  I probably should place a layer below the second box in the above picture before the weeds decide to move in.

Once back in and thawed, I resumed plying the 4 ounces of Alpaca and Merino that I have been spinning for the past couple of days.  I had about an ounce on one bobbin and needed to finish spinning and plying it so that I have the bobbins free for this weekend.  It ended up a beautiful 250 yard skein that will be so warm and cozy as a cowl or hat with the 70% alpaca content.

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I will be spinning in the historic Smithfield Plantation House during their Holiday event this weekend.  Their theme this year is based on products that they produced such as hemp, honey, and fiber.  I am taking some washed unprocessed Dorset wool and hand carders, as well as some already processed Dorset wool roving to spin during the event on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  This is the last of the events at the site until it reopens in the spring.  I have enjoyed my afternoons volunteering there this late summer and fall.

Olio – November 20, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

I haven’t done an Olio post in a while and today I am scattered all over the place, so it seems appropriate.

Today is my step mom’s birthday.  It has always been difficult to think of this friend as a step mom, though she was married to my Dad for more than 27 years until his passing. I was 40 when they married, and she is only a year older than my hubby, so our relationship has always been as peers.  She made my Dad very happy for those years and for that I love her dearly.

This is the week of birthdays here.  First her, then me, then granddaughter, then an adult nephew, and finally daughter.  Granddaughter and her best friend are 1 day apart in age and today they will celebrate a joint birthday party at the roller skating rink.  Daughter is an amateur cake decorator par excellence and she always asks her kids and her husband what kind of cake they want and how they want it decorated.  Granddaughter has definitely become a Virginia farm girl, she wants a tractor in the snow with a pink and purple cow.  This is probably the most interesting idea that daughter has had to create, but when you are turning 5, you know what you want and nothing else will suffice.  The cake is strawberry, the decoration is “Otis” the tractor from the kids books with a pink and purple cow.  Now mind you, none of the cows around here are pink and purple, but she wants what she wants.

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The snow flurries of yesterday and last night left the first snow on the ground, just a dusting, but I’m not ready for snow yet.

 

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To go with this dusting, it is below freezing and the wind is howling through the hollow, making it even colder.  The wind is to continue until late tonight.

One of my purchases at the market yesterday was the last pound and a half of Priscilla.  Priscilla is a Leicester Longwool sheep that belongs to one of my friends and a fellow vendor at the market.  I bought 8 ounces of her fiber and loved spinning it.  It is the skein that I dyed with Annatto seed a while back.  That was my first experience dyeing fiber.  Later a friend taught me how to dye in a microwave and I started dyeing more.  Back to Priscilla, after the first 8 ounces was spun, I bought more.  That is when I found out that the fiber was Priscilla’s, though I have yet to meet her.  Over the summer and through yesterday, I think I have purchased more than 4 pounds.  Along the way, I decided that Priscilla was to become a Fair Isle yoked sweater for me and I dyed some more skeins and knit a hat to determine gauge.

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This hat kept my head warm yesterday standing in the chilly wind at the Holiday Market.

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This is the pound and a half that I bought yesterday.  Once the sweater is finished, I will knit a matching Fair Isle scarf to go with the hat and sweater and dream about what else I can knit with this wonderful fiber.

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This is the sweater yoke.  Only about an inch more and I divide for the sleeves and begin on the body.  This sweater will be only for the coldest days, skiing, playing in the snow, or standing out in cold wind at the markets, it is going to be heavy and warm.

Eldest son came this weekend for the first weekend of rifle season for deer.  He sat out for a while yesterday morning and could hear them in the woods, but no safe shot.  Last evening, he sat out from prior to dusk to full on dark.  The herd that has been coming into our hay field at dusk came out, but the rogue heifer that belongs to one of our neighbors (one that he can not capture,) chose dusk last night to visit again and stood right between son and the first two deer out.  Then the heifer galloped across the hay field and investigated right where son was laying in the edge of the woods.  The rest of the deer herd came out, but son was too distracted by the cow to focus on a safe shot.  He will try again when he returns with his family for Thanksgiving.

We were going to put the culls in freezer camp today, but he is suffering a migraine and it is just too cold and windy to want to work outside unnecessarily.  The 6 birds got a reprieve until midweek, though they took their food and water in the Chicken Palace as the wind has blown the protective netting down again.  He will be here for several days during the Thanksgiving weekend, and we will take care of them then, after the wind has died down and perhaps the daytime temperature rises above freezing.

The day draws to a close on this frigid mountain day.  Still loving life on our mountain farm.

 

Olio – October 24, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

It was a beautiful busy weekend, that spilled over to today.

Yesterday, the asparagus bed was trimmed, weeded, and heavily mulched for the winter.  A few peppers were picked, but there are many more soon to be ready.  Some of the tomato vines were pulled, but I ran out of steam before the job was done.

I gave up on trying to stop the randy cockerels from escaping, but made the hen’s pen more secure so that at least they can’t get in with them.  I don’t think letting them coop up with the hens for the next 3 weeks is a good idea, I’m afraid it would incite more fighting between them and maybe they would even attack the fairly docile cockerel that I put in with them.  So far the hens are not letting him anywhere near them.  The molting season is full on and the yard near their pen looks like I had a pillow fight with someone.  Because of the mature hens molting and the pullets not yet laying, I am only getting 1 egg a day.  Hopefully that will change soon and we will start getting more eggs with the holidays approaching and baking to be done.

It was a good weekend to start making soap again.  I have an order for a full mold of a scent I don’t put in my shop anymore, and I needed three others for the upcoming Holiday Markets.

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Two batches were made over the weekend, unmolded and cut yesterday.  Today I was going to make the other two and got one made, the kitchen a mess and realized that I don’t have enough of one of the essential oils to make the other batch.  Granddaughter is napping and I don’t want to get her up yet.  Grandson has to be picked up from the bus stop in a bit more than an hour.  Both of them need to be dressed and taken to Taekwondo by 5:15, so I guess I will buy the oil then and make the other batch tonight.

For a while, I have been watching the not quite 5 year old granddaughter ride down our dirt and gravel driveway and across the sloping yard on her balance bike.  Daughter and I had discussed that she was about ready to learn to ride a real bike without training wheels.  I am not a fan of training wheels.  I feel that once a kid has a comfort level with the balance, either on a balance bike or on a real bike on a gentle grassy slope, that they are ready to start pedaling.  She was taken to the elementary school where I taught her cousin to ride a few summers ago, and wasn’t there long before her Mom sent us a video of her riding on her own.  She still needed someone to help her start. Today, she asked me to take her riding again, so we went to the old high school track that is available for the public to walk or run on and she rode great loops around the track, into a head wind and then while I was approaching to help her start off, she did it by herself.  She was so proud of herself.

I have continued to work on the Christmas stocking for the newest granddaughter.  The chart that is used for the design is very poorly labeled and it violates every rule of knitting color work by spanning 10 or 12 stitches in a color change.  I have cut short lengths and wound many bobbins to avoid it, but as it is going to be lined in the end, there are some places where I just spanned too many stitches and did the color change.

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When doing a chart, each little box either has a symbol or lacks a symbol and there is a key to let you know what color, the symbol represents.  This one has a key, but the key does not match the colors in the photo (the yarn does), so it has been a challenge of flipping to the photograph to see what color the symbol is supposed to be.  To make matters worse, two symbols represent two different colors depending on where in the chart you are.  As it is, I am going to have to double knit a small section to “repair” a mixed up color from the chart.  The right photo is of the back of the stocking with all of the little bobbins and balls that I have to keep untangling.  I have reached a point where I am only using 4 colors now and soon only three, then to join in the round and knit the heel and toe.  Each stocking that I have made is lined.  For my children I did stockings that were crewel work, each grandchild has either a quilted or knitted one.  After they are finished and lined, I add a little cross stitched tag inside near the top that says, Made with love, (name they call me) and the year it was made.  I hope they treasure them as much as I enjoyed making them.

 

Olio – April, 21, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

After a lot of cold and wet, we are now warm, dry, and windy.  The burn pile sits unburned.  There are or have been many brush fires in Virginia this spring and I sure don’t want to contribute to this.  Though the pile is in the middle of a grassy area, an errant wind borne spark could be disastrous, so the pile sits for longer.

Yesterday, after taking granddaughter to preschool, I left the car in the lot, met a friend who took her grandson to a preschool a block away, and we walked through town to a local coffee shop, enjoyed a beverage and each other’s company and then walked back to my car to retrieve eggs and some soap making supplied that I had bought to share with her, she was my soap making instructor.  From there to her car, to drop off the items and pick up a book she needed to return to the library, I needed to check out a book I had on reserve and we walked on to the library.  It was a pleasant morning out.

Today I had an appointment to get the oil changed and a state inspection on my 11 year old car.  I had hoped to get in, have it done in an hour or so and leave.  I did have a problem for them to diagnose, as after they replaced my airbag in a recall, the SRS light on the dash lit intermittently and recently, on more than off, which means that the airbag system is disabled.  Well, that little glitch meant that the car would not pass inspection as they do not carry the seat belt part that controls that in stock and had to order it.  Then they informed me that the ball joints needed to be replaced and the car realigned.  I left knowing that I can’t drive my car except when absolutely necessary until the part comes in (at least it is a warranty job) and that they want more than a grand to repair the other.  Thus my dilemma.  The car is 11 years old, has 185000+ miles on it.  It has been a great car.  The cost of the repair is less by far than going in debt for a new car and it will pass inspection this time once the SRS situation is fixed.  I fear that this is the beginning of other big repairs.  I will look into possibly having it repaired at an independent mechanic instead of the dealer, maybe it won’t cost quite as much or continue to drive it until later in the year and decide what to do then.

I have been spinning a lot the past few days.  The Merino that I bought and blended at the spinning retreat was finished, way over 400 yards of soft deep eggplant color with hints of twilight blue and gray.

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When I finished that one, I spun the other fiber that I purchased and blended at the retreat, an Olive and Teal blend of Jacob, Mystery Ram, and Alpaca.  It is over 114 yards of yarn that will probably be used to make a hat if the yarn itself doesn’t sell on my etsy shop.

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Both of these are available at CabinCrafted on Etsy.

After a couple of years of reading primarily ebooks, I have returned to the good old fashioned bound book.  Having recently read Solitude Creek by Jeffrey Deaver and The Memory Man by David Baldacci, I heard a review and author interview on The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida.  On a recent trip to the library, seeking that and two other books, all unsuccessful, I did reserve the last and am currently enjoying this author’s style and the story.  It is especially intriguing as she spoke in the interview about the beginning of the book being based on a real life event to her.

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I will likely seek out her other books to read as well.

On my local walks, which due to Spring Gobbler hunting season have been confined mostly to the road, I have seen many spring flowers, some burned by the last late frost. These walks are now being logged by a community walking group of individuals who are adding their miles together each week and tracking a walk across the country and back from our town to other towns and cities of the same name through out the country and even abroad.  Such fun to be part of this event.

 

 

Olio – 3-28-16

It is really trying to be spring time.  We are having more warm days and mild nights as not, but the threat of frost is not passed, nor will it for a few more weeks.  The tiny tomato plants have secondary leaves and the two of the four types of peppers are thriving.  They spend as much of each sunny day outdoors as they can, often tucked in a sheltered area as the spring wind is strong in this hollow.  The remaining two flats of still ungerminated peppers have been left indoors under cover and soon flats of basil and fennel will be added to that tray.  We can start putting these plants in the ground in another month.

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There are 4 comfrey seedlings, so I should have plenty of comfrey leaves to dry for salves, to feed to the chickens, and to use as mulch on the beds.  I love their huge shading leaves and purple flowers.

I have continued spinning on the Merino batts I blended at Hawk’s Nest and have produced several hundred yards of a beautiful royal purple yarn with gray and blue highlights.  It has spun and plied to a very soft fingering weight yarn.

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Skein winding off the bobbin.
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The first skein plied, but not yet soaked and hung to set.

On my drop spindle, I have created and plied a skein of the Romney that I received as my March Tailfeather’s Club installment.  It is beautiful too, but is going much slower than what I am creating on the wheel.

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It is light fingering weight.

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Wild yeast sourdough starter

The wild yeast sourdough starter was a tough start.  After about 5 days, I saw no activity, so I discarded most of it and fed it again.  Still not too much activity was observed, but daily stirring disbursed the odor that it was beginning to ferment.  Saturday, I again discarded most of it and fed it again and it bubbled happily yesterday.  It has a delightful fruity odor and nice development.  Today I fed it again and tonight, I will make the ferment and soak the flour for tomorrow’s bread making.  I am excited that I have developed a nice wild starter from just flour and water, some patience and a good daily stirring. Tomorrow, we will have sourdough bread of just flour, water, and salt.

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Our house was built with three dormers on the front.

Two of those dormers are in the living room and high up in the heavy timber roof line. They face north and are magnets for wasps and stinkbugs to gather during the daylight hours.  After a few days, the wasps will move down to the south windows and doors on the ground level and can be swatted and removed from the house, but yesterday, I realized that there were not one or two, but a dozen or more in those windows.  I hauled the 8′ ladder in, climbed to the step below the top and swatted wasps in both sets of windows.  I had hardly put the ladder away until I spotted another.  I must figure out where they are getting in.

 

Olio – March 22, 2016

Olio – a miscellaneous collection of things.

Spring came in cold and wet, but no snow accumulation, thank goodness.  The last two nights predicted to go into the upper 20’s f didn’t, so no damage to the herbs on the deck.  The planted part of the garden is showing life, peas and radishes are up, the garlic is standing tall.  I’m still not seeing any asparagus in my second year bed, but neither is my friend in hers, so maybe it is still a mite early.  At Farmers Market on Saturday, I purchased 8 cabbage starts, already hardened off and they need to go into the ground, perhaps this afternoon.  More comfrey has sprouted, also more peppers, but two varieties are not showing yet.  Today, I dug a spadeful of the old comfrey plant and moved it beside the garden.  I hope it will take root there and spread.  It is another plant that likes wet feet and I am thinking about moving some up to the creekside with the daylilies that are there.

This is the first week of daughter’s new HR job and both of her kids decided that this is the week to test Mommom’s ability to deal with little ones not feeling well.  N wasn’t feeling well on Sunday, but seemed ok yesterday.  She had a dentist appointment for a cleaning and was quite a trooper, though Mommom was rattled as in the excitement of the new job, the trip away for the Taekwondo tournament, and N not feeling well, the insurance card and already filled out paper work was forgotten.  I had to text daughter and SIL for the information, but for some reason, daughter’s return texts were not getting through but with SIL’s help through text messages, we muddled through. Maybe the paperwork wasn’t all filled out the way daughter would, but it got done.  We had left the dentist, gone another town east for lunch and got a call from A’s school that he was in the nurse’s office and would I please come get him.  Back across to him and he was brought him home to rest and drink lots of water for his headache.  He lets himself get dehydrated and gets a headache on occasion.

This morning, he was put on the bus to school, N was dressed for preschool and we went to town to get a breakfast treat first.  She seemed fine and chipper until she sat town with food in front of her.  She is back home, did not go to preschool today, is carrying around a bucket when she is awake and felt too bad to bother getting up in bed for her nap.

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Hopefully, when she awakes, she will be able to keep something down.

On Thursday evening, I will be having two friends over for soap making lessons.  Though I am still working through a big tub of Palm Oil, I have wanted to phase that oil out of my soap making for ethical reasons.  Palm oil is obtained by slash and burn of rain forests, then planted in the trees for palm oil and once they are of sufficient size, the entire tree is cut.  The laborers for this industry are very poorly paid.  Though coconut oil has some issues too, in that harvesting the coconuts is dangerous, they don’t cut down the whole tree and there are fair trade versions of the product available.  To begin to play with the idea of palm oil free soap that is still vegan, not containing lard or tallow, I put together a recipe yesterday, scented it with lemongrass and sweet orange essential oils to see what I would get.  That recipe made a mold full, plus 5 silicone muffin tins full.  It was unmolded and cut a few minutes ago to begin curing for my use or maybe to go in my etsy shop.  It smells delightful and the scraps made a nice lather.  If it cures hard, I will begin the switch to the palm oil free soaps.

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Slow roasting pork is in the oven.  Preparing sides and cornbread will follow later to nourish the working family, kids and us.

Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful so another gardening day will be in order, hopefully everyone will be healthy by then.

Olio – March 15, 2016

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

Yesterday did end up a dirt play day after all.  Between the heavy rain of Sunday night and the heavier rain and thunder storms of Monday afternoon and night, we had beautiful clear skies and delightful spring temperatures.  On our way home from errands in town, we drove past our driveway, along the top of our property to go down and see if there were any more new calves on the next farm.  We saw no calves, not even any of her cows, they must have been over one of the hills we can’t see from the road, but I spotted large patches of ditch lilies (the tall orange day lilies) up and thriving by the run off creek along the top of our property.  After we bought the land, before we started building, we would come up on weekends every few weeks and clean up trash and plant trees in the rocky area that we would never be able to graze animals or hay.  Along the creek, we planted River birch trees, they like the damp of the creek and along the creek edges, I put in 3 or 4 small clumps of lilies that I had brought up from my Dad’s garden.  Last summer, I wanted to dig some of them to put in the bed that has other day lilies in it down at the house, but the weeds and blackberries had gotten too big for me to want to walk into that area.  The weeds haven’t grown up yet, so with bucket and shovel, I went up and dug a good sized clump.

After walking them back down the drive to the house, I debated where to plant them.  I have had bronze fennel beside the side garage door on the east side of the house and on the other side of the door, is a bed with Dutch iris, day lilies, and lavender.  The chick weed has begun and is growing and spreading like wild fire in that bed.  I decided to make a little tribute garden to the man who loved his gardens and flowers.  The bronze fennel was dug up, a trench dug from the stoop to the south wall of the garage, a good layer of compost dug in and the shovel full of day lilies planted there, the bed edged with stone from our property and mulched down heavily with spoiled and rotting hay.

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Since that looked so good and the soil was damp enough to make weeding not too onerous, I tackled the other side, finding the sprouting iris and day lilies and weeding around them, taking buckets of weeds and grubs to the chickens.  A thick layer of newspaper was laid down around each plant and a hefty coat of hay added.

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I still have about 3 feet of that bed to do, but I am waiting to see if the perennial sunflower is going to come up. It started raining before I could finish even the part I started, but it will also have a trench dug and stone edge put in place.  We aren’t wanting for stone of this property.  All of the foundation and chimney stone came off our land.

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While pulling back the chickweed, this little lizard climbed the stone and tried to hide. I love finding the lizard’s and toads that eat the insects and show that the gardens are healthy and unsprayed. It will be happy with the thick layer of spoiled hay that replaced the chickweed.

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to a T-shirt that amused me.  I showed it to Mountaingdad and asked if he would wear it and he said yes.  It came today…

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I’m glad he has a sense of humor, he didn’t even give me a hard time when I had him put it on and model.

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The chickens relished the buckets of goodies that I gave them yesterday and so far, they haven’t flown over the low fence around the bed in the middle of the garden.  It amuses me that all 8 of the hens will take turns using the same nesting box in the coop.  There are 6 nesting boxes and it is rare to find eggs in any except the right hand most box, sometimes just outside of it.

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This may be a problem when one or more gets broody, as they will lay eggs in the broody hen’s nest.  Last year, I marked the eggs under the broody hen and checked every couple of days to remove any not marked ones.  This year, we hope to have a brooder coop to separate them.  When one goes broody, she will be moved to the brooder coop and over a couple of days, given a dozen eggs to hatch.  The brooder coop will have a floor this year, so hopefully, the chicks will survive whatever predator was getting under it last year and doing the damage.  I don’t want to lose 50 chicks again this year, I would rather increase my flock and have some for the freezer instead.

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About 20 years ago, my Dad made himself a little wooden wheelbarrow to fill with potted flowers in his garden. I commented on it and a couple years later, he gifted me with one he had made just for me. That little barrow has lived at 3 houses, the one we raised our children in, the one year rental after we sold our house and started this one, and here. One of the handles was broken in the move and I  did a makeshift repair on it. A year or so ago, the broomstick axle broke and the little barrow sat forlorn and damaged by the garden. Today, I am going to refurbish it and it will have a place in the breezeway perennial garden filled with shade loving flowers this summer.

I plan to enjoy every rain free daylight hour for the next few days. Monday we are going to see another stint of winter, snow flurries and freezing nights and all. Soon it will really be spring and the Camelot like days of warmth, the evening rain showers will return.

 

Olio – March 5, 2016

Olio – a miscellaneous collection of things.

This is a weekend of family.  Eldest son and eldest grandson rode the late bus in last night, arriving in the wee hours.  We started slow this morning with a good breakfast of our eggs, bacon, tortillas and homemade banana walnut bread.  We followed with some family visiting and catching up while daughter, SIL, and the other two grands went to their last swimming lesson of the current sessions.  After a brief trip for books and gravel, we tackled the basement soffit reconstruction.  Due to the leak we were experiencing last fall and winter, the soffit that was sheathed with drywall was blistered and crumbling and eldest son ripped it down to the framing at Christmas to help us diagnose where the leak was originating.  We had had a roof repair made that had not cured the problem prior to that.   Seeing where the water was coming from allowed the leak to be actually fixed and we left the soffit open until we were sure that we no longer had a problem.

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They came this weekend to not just visit, but rebuilt, this time using beadboard paneling and pine trim that can be unscrewed and taken down in the event of a future need to access the plumbing, electrical, and heating ductwork that all converges in that area of the basement.  Mountaingdad and I had made a run to Lowes on Friday to purchase most of the necessary wood and screws to make it happen.  Some ripping with the circular saw, cutting with the jigsaw, fitting and screwing in place and we now have this much done.

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Tonight, after a homemade Mexican food feast, he and I returned to Lowes to get more trim pieces that we realized we would need.

Earlier this afternoon, I told son that both of the surviving chicks from last summer had developed into beautiful young roosters, however, with only 8 hens, we didn’t need two randy young males spewing testosterone in the flock.  I thought we could wait until problems began to deal with it, however, when I went out to lock them up at dusk, the boys were cock fighting and once in the coop, attacked a hen, so I captured the first one I could grab and he is now in the freezer, to become soup at some time in the future.  My flock is down to 9, but the hens and the Foghorn Leghorn will be happier.  Hopefully, we will be able to successfully raise some chicks this summer and we will increase the flock to 12 or 14 hens and Foghorn Leghorn.

Since my return from the spinning retreat, I have been having a fairly significant arthritis flare.  My right basal joint has been a problem for several years, as has a shoulder injured 38 years ago.  The basal joint treated with injections, surgery and finally just splinting when it is too aggravated. Today, while I was holding the beadboard sheets for son to cut, I noticed that my finger joints were beginning to swell.  I guess that was inevitable.  Some recent research on foods that trigger inflammation and foods that help calm it has caused me to alter my diet in the past couple of months.  Though I have enjoyed some other benefits from the diet change, it hasn’t really helped the joint pains if I overdue as I am prone to do.  Perhaps it is also a result of the fickle weather we have been experiencing with days of the 70’s followed by days in the low 30’s, rain, then sun, then snow.  This is springtime in Virginia and if you don’t like the weather, wait for 24 hours, it will change.

Tomorrow afternoon, I will drive son and grandson home, spend the night with them and then take them to the Metro station early Monday for them to go away as a family for a few days and I will return home.  Our week is supposed to be more springlike, maybe if it stays dry, some garden cleanup can begin.  The garlic is up several inches and will have to now be protected from the chickens, the blueberries never got a good weeding in the fall, but I have been stockpiling newspaper and bought a hay fork, so I will layer newspaper and cardboard around the bushes and pile on some spoiled hay for mulch.  I’m looking forward to playing in the dirt again.

Hopefully, the snow we had Thursday night was the last measurable snowfall of the season with more warm days to come.  Another couple of weeks and the turnips, onion sets, and peas can be planted.  I’m trying to figure out a way to allow the chickens to continue to wander the aisles of the garden and among the blueberry and raspberry bushes to help keep the weeds down this year and to allow them to feast on the unwanted bugs.  I can’t fence each row, some crops are too tall to row cover, but I will figure it out.

Olio – February 20, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

On this day 29 years ago, my youngest was born.  He was 11 days late, I thought he would never enter this world, and when he did decide to come, he was presented sunnyside up, with a huge head, and weighing in at a whopping 11+ pounds.  We didn’t have to have a C section, but almost.  We are extremely proud of him as he became an EMT at 18 and has volunteered with it ever since.  He moved on to earn his Paramedic certification with Advanced Life Support and has worked in that field most of his adult life.  He recently has started his own transport company and is awaiting the final inspections to start moving with his two ambulances at the ready.  Happy birthday, son.

The snow from last week finally is gone except for a few sheltered places in the woods and on the north side of the house and barn.  There is a coastal storm that is threatening us next week, hopefully not to interfere with my friend’s and my drive to the spinning retreat on Thursday.  The forcasters can’t decide if it is going to be snow, ice, or rain, we are hoping it is only rain or if the snow or ice is on the earlier end, coming on Tuesday.

I am packed for the retreat and ready to go as compactly as I can be.  Since, I am only taking soaps, lotion bars and salves, I have packed it all into one large wicker lidded basket, instead of the usual 5 or 6 wooden crates when I also have yarn and knit wear. This retreat is for fiber folks, they make their own yarn and knit wear.

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The only items that didn’t fit were my cash box and my business cards.

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They will fit into the red and blue plaid bag on the floor.  The group has a nightly happy hour, and the bag will also carry the snacks and snack dishes for the items I will be contributing.  We do a gift raffle and as a vendor, I must supply one gift of $20 value or more and will as a participant, provide a second.  They will go into that bag as well.  That leaves only my clothes, spinning wheel and fiber to put together.  That won’t be done until Wednesday night, unless we are going to get snow and ice, requiring my car to be put at the top of the driveway or even up at the paved road, in which case I will pack it all before moving the car.

Today was a beautiful spring like day.  The melting snow finally allowed the Buffys to venture over into the garden area to scratch and search for goodies.  With the longer days, I am generally getting 3 to 5 eggs a day.  Interestingly, the two Americauna have produced more than half of the eggs produced in the past three days.  This puts the 6 Buffys to shame.

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One of the Americauna’s eggs are blue, the other more olive.  The Buffys eggs vary from pink to darker brown and from tiny like the top right to giant like the bottom right.  It is nice to have fresh eggs for breakfast and for baking with the bonus of having enough to share with some of my friends.  The girls will be cared for in my absence by Mountaingdad and daughter.

The house is quiet tonight.  Daughter and family went out to dinner and to a movie for the kids.  It is strange to cook just for two after 13 months of having a house full.  As I was food shopping today, I found a grass finished New York strip steak, so Mountaingdad got a treat tonight.  Risotto and sugar snap peas rounded it out and provided my dinner along with a glass of the Merlot that my brother made last summer.

At the Christmas party for my spinning group, I scored 12 ounces of California red wool. I started spinning it recently and have fallen in love with the fiber.  It is a natural white color and spins like a dream.  I have one bobbin full and it looks like it is going to fill 4 bobbins once done.  Once I see how many yards it is once spun, I will decide what it will become.  I definitely won’t sell this yarn.

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Our local Barnes and Noble sells Harney and Son teas.  A year or so ago, I went on their website to buy one of my favorites, Autumn Cranberry as a bulk loose tea and received a travel sample of Valentine Blend, a chocolate with rose bud black tea.  I savored that delicious, fragrant tea, hoping that it would be carried by Barnes and Noble around Valentine’s day.  They did not get it in, so again I visited the website and today, my 4 ounce tin and one pound bag arrived, just in time to tuck some into my luggage to go with me to the retreat.

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We are hoping that this week’s weather does not produce more school outage.  Grandson has only been in school a few days in the past two weeks due to snow, ice or extreme cold.

Tomorrow, I hope to enjoy the warm day to finally weed the asparagus bed before the new shoots begin to emerge.

Olio – February 11, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The snow finally stopped during the night without any more accumulation.  Three days of snow showers and only a couple of inches accumulated.  Then the bottom fell out of the thermometer and we awoke to a very cold, windy 10ºf with negative wind chills.  This was the warmest morning we will see until sometime next week.  The sun is bright and the snow is melting off, even though it is only in the low 20’s outside.  When I opened the coop this morning, hoping to entice the birds outside after three days, they wanted no part of the idea.  Their food and water were outside, they were inside.  After delivering Grandson A to his two hour late bus, I conceded to putting their food and water back inside, but leaving the pop door open, hoping that they would finally venture outside.  When I was doing this, I notice that one of the hens had a bloody head and was still bleeding.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on and had no way to treat her at the time.

We took Granddaughter N to her favorite lunch place and on to Tractor Supply so that I could purchase some Blue Kote, hoping to catch the hen, evaluate and treat her problem.  She is one of my smaller Buff Orpingtons and I feared she was being pecked in the confined coop.  Of course, when we got home, the birds were all out of the coop and scratching in the garden, having made a path through the snow to the bare spots.  Entering the garden, they all moved back to the run and about 2/3 of them reentered the coop, allowing me to shut them in and catch the injured hen.  It looks like maybe she had some frostbite on her comb that got pecked or knocked and no serious injury.  She was cuddled, wrapped in a towel and cleaned up with a soft warm wet rag, dried off, her comb and the top of her head treated with Blue Kote and she was re-released into the run and soon joined by the other birds.  I will just have to keep an eye on her for a while.

The daily egg production is averaging 3 now with an occasional day with 4.  With 8 hens, that isn’t bad.  I don’t know if the next few very cold days and 3 more days of expected snow in the next 5 will affect that production or not.  I guess time will tell.  One of the young roos must go.  I have put an ad for him on one of the Farm Animal Groups in Facebook.  If there are no takers, he will likely become soup at some point.  I just don’t have enough hens to warrant two cocky fellows in the coop.

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My handspun sweater body is now 18 inches long from the shoulder.  The pattern calls for 40 more rows, but my torso is long, so I will wait to judge the length as I get closer to the last few rows and add more if necessary.  The sock has not received much attention of late as I have been doing most of the driving and less of the riding except after dark and I don’t play with sharp metal sticks with tiny stitches in the dark.

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I found out last night that I will be a vendor at this month’s spinning retreat, so last night the newest batches of soap were banded.

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The soaps were reorganized into unscented and scented boxes as I am only allowed to bring the unscented ones into the conference room, the rest will be in my room for interested parties.  The lotion bar tins and salve tins and jars were reorganized, the cute little blackboard identification tags were sorted, some reworked, so that I will take a supply of product and still have room for my spinning wheel, fiber, knitting, suitcase, a cooler and space for my roommate’s items she will also vend, her wheel, fiber, suitcase and other miscellany.  I am ready for a few days of fun with this adult group.  I am hopeful to sell enough of my goods to pay for the weekend, at least strongly supplement it and leave me a little to buy from other vendors.  I haven’t been to the Knit night group in months with the various activities involving the family at night and haven’t been to the Spinning Group since just before Christmas.  Knitting, spinning and reading are my escape from the daily routine and they should be a priority for me to take care of me but as a wife, parent, and grandparent, that is often not the case.