Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sigh of relief – May 9, 2018

On Sunday, April 29th, our German Shepherd startled, broke her collar and bolted into the town neighborhood where our daughter and her family were doggie sitting for the weekend.  We arrived at her house to find her in tears, her husband out walking the streets, half their neighbors also looking.  We got there about 11 p.m., an hour and a half after she bolted and spent the next hour and a half driving through the neighborhood and adjacent neighborhoods calling to no avail.  Over the next 10 days, we walked and drove, searched and talked to people. There were several sightings, some of them good sightings, but by the time our daughter or we got there, there was no sign.  Shadow is a farm/country dog and has never allowed us to socialize her very well.  She likes other dogs, cats, and children, but is wary of adults until she gets to know them, is terrified of bicycles, skateboards, people with walking sticks or canes, and the vacuum cleaner.  Thunder doesn’t bother her, but other sudden noises do.  She was lost in a very high density area and totally out of her element.

We had contacted the Animal Control and Care Center, the Humane Society, every local vet, and handed out at least 100 flyers with her photo, description, and our phone numbers.  We posted it on Facebook, Reddit, and Craigslist.   Sunday she appeared in a cul de sac where friends of our daughter live, they saw her just as two dogs chased her away, down a gully and off toward a more densely populated area of town homes.  That was the last sighting until this morning.  She showed up down in a muddy gully behind some houses with steep back yards and almost came to the woman who spotted her.  She tracked down our phone number and called me after lunch and told us to go through her yard down to the gully.  We immediately got in the car and drove the 25 minutes over there and did go down into the wet overgrown area, calling quietly as we walked in opposite directions from the yard.  There were dog tracks and lots of deer tracks until I could go no further due to the undergrowth.  Discouraged, I returned to the back of the yard where we started, still softly calling her and she came bounding out of the undergrowth, through the mud and right up to me, as relieved as were we.  Generally she doesn’t like the chain collar put on but she stuck her head right in, jumping up on both of us, a very uncharacteristic behavior and coating us in muddy paw prints.

As we couldn’t get in to see the vet for a check for 2 1/2 hours, we brought her home, rinsed some of the mud off, pulled ticks, and tried to check her for other injury.  She has a slight skunk odor, not like she was sprayed, just like she had walked through areas where they had been.  She has a few minor abrasions and a small cut under one eye, a bit of a limp and lost almost 7 pounds (she only weighted 70 when she disappeared).  The vet couldn’t find anything significantly wrong, said the cut looks like it is going to heal untreated, but gave us Rimadyl to help her inflammation and leg tenderness.  We got her spring dose of Bravecto to rid her of any fleas and kill the ticks.  She ate heartily, has an unquenchable thirst and is stretched out on the floor at home with her giant fur brother, totally sacked out.

Since she broke her collar in the escape, we stopped before the vet visit and got her some new bling, a new collar for her tags and a new matching leash.  We will probably keep her on a leash when she goes out for a day or two until we are sure she knows she is home for good.  She seemed to perk up as we drove down our long gravel road and driveway.   She has mostly stopped trembling.  Maybe in a few days we can give her a doggie shampoo and get rid of the rest of the mud and the scent.

Thank goodness for the folks who shared on social networks, looked for her, called us with sightings, and shared their care and concern.  It helped when we were stressing over her being lost, hungry, and alone.

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Does Absence make the heart grow fonder? 2/18/18

The blog has been quiet.  We took a cruise with no kids, no responsibilities.  Our eldest Daughter in Law came to the farm to critter and house sit which left us with no worries. What a dear.

An early start at 4:52 a.m. 10 days ago, an almost missed flight due to delay of our first leg, a delayed (fortunately not lost) suitcase, a night in a hotel in Tampa, Florida, then off on the ship. Saturday afternoon to the following Saturday morning with 4 port stops in the western Caribbean with several excursions, swimming with the dolphins, riding horseback into the sea, touring ancient Mayan ruins.  We ate, we danced, we swam, we ate some more and celebrated our 40th Anniversary twice, once on our Anniversary, Valentine’s Day in the steak house on board, and the next night at the Chef’s Table event where we had our dessert plates especially decorated, our photo taken, and the biggest meal I have ever eaten.

The Chef’s Table includes a tour of the main galley with pre appetizers, yes, 4 of them followed by an 8 course meal.  I am not a big eater, I don’t really like most seafood, and am not an adventurous eater, but . . .  This event for 10 people is not inexpensive and they dedicate 4 chefs to preparing the special meal, so I ate all of the presentations, Salmon tartar, Crab stack, and Seabass included. Two soup presentations, one cold, one hot.  Duck, beef, and so much more.  It was enjoyable, but it one of those things that as the saying goes, “been there, done that, got the t-shirt (photo)” and would not do it again.

We got in very late last night after many hours of sitting, first to debark, then to catch the first flight leg and more sitting to wait for the second flight leg.  It was 14 hours from leaving the ship to home with the two flights only consuming about 2 1/4 hours of the time.

It is good to be home, returning to a spring like week with some rain.  We will enjoy it knowing that there will be another winter blast before true spring arrives.

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Cruise laundry is done and put away.  House is vacuumed and dusted, and I enjoyed preparing a dinner meal for the three of us, not trying to select something from a buffet or off a menu.  It is good being back on our mountain.  Maybe in a few days, I will quit rocking on the always moving deck, the vertigo like unsteadiness will pass .

Olio December 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The second Holiday Market was yesterday.  It was biting cold when I got there to set up and it was noon before the sun came around enough to provide some warmth, never enough to remove my parka and hat, but I did finally remove my gloves.  It was a great market and I did very well.  It is the last event of the year for me.  The market manager told me that I should bring my spinning wheel and sit and spin.  It was too cold yesterday for me to even drop spindle until it warmed some.  When someone shows interest in the knitwear or yarn, I always let them know that it is hand spun and the knitwear, hand knit by me.  Two ladies were looking at the hats, sweater, and mitts when I told them that.  One of the ladies turned to me and said “What do you mean hand spun?”  Her companion said before I could answer, that it was spun on a spinning wheel.  Lady #1’s eyes got big and she said to me, “You make the yarn and then make the hats?”  She just couldn’t wrap her head around that idea even though I was standing behind my booth with a spinning drop spindle at the time and had knitting on the table.

The cold and wind when I had been fighting a cold for a couple days, left me totally voiceless today.   The week has been very cold and several days of  light snow.

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The grands missed one day of school and had a 2 hour delay the following day because of the extreme cold.  We drove across the state last weekend in the snow, but fortunately the roads were in decent shape.  We delivered Christmas gifts to our youngest and his family and enjoyed a few hours of visit and a meal out.

When we got home last weekend, we went to one of the cut your own Christmas tree farms and got our tree for the year.  It was put up in the stand and has been watered daily.  I put the lights on it and we were waiting for the grands to be able to help us decorate it, but between school, their activities, preparing for and moving stuff from storage to their new house, it hadn’t happened.  Since I am voiceless and a bit under the weather today, I built a fire, put on carols, and Jim and I put most of the ornaments on the tree, leaving a few for the kids to hang this evening.

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That finishes the decorating for this year, now we sit back and enjoy it for a couple of weeks.  Midweek, we made the Christmas dinner purchases as we will travel to visit eldest son and his family next weekend, coming home on Christmas eve.

There has been quite a bit of knitting going on with 3 little girl hats hand knit from my hand spun yarns. IMG_20171212_150448IMG_20171208_111447

 

I failed to photograph the third one, it was all pink.

Now I am working on a project for me, a Hitchhiker scarf, knit in a gradient merino commercial yarn that started with a soft salmon and has turned into a red, though several shades of reds to maroon.

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I tend to knit blues and teals for myself, so it is fun using something brighter.

The cold and snow have the chooks on strike.  Yesterday, there were only 2 eggs from 16 hens.  One of the hens doesn’t seem to be a layer.  Her body shape is more like a guinea hen, her neck longer and thin, and her comb and waddle pale.  She otherwise seems healthy enough as far as activity.  I haven’t seen any sign of parasite activity.  And unlike her Welsummer sisters, she can’t fly over the fence.  She may have to be culled from the coop.  There are too many hens for my coop right now and the coop is requiring frequent cleaning when most winters I can just use the deep litter method of keeping them clean and warm.

Hoping you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

 

OLIO – November 12, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

This hasn’t been a particularly busy week, 2 days home with a sick almost 6 year old, daily walks the other days, fairly consistently getting the 10,000 suggested steps each day and our speed up, walking 3.7-4 miles per hour, not bad for two oldies but goodies.

Car time was spent finishing up another pair of fingerless mitts for the Holiday Markets and the shop.

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Hand spun Coopworth by me and the green is part mohair from a friend’s goats, blended commercially with merino maybe and dyed by the friend.

A few nights ago, we were threatened with our first hard freeze, we have had several light frosts, so a harvest of mint, oregano, flat leaf parsley, and lemon balm were made to dry for teas and culinary uses this winter.  They are scattered around on trays on the hutch top and shelf to dry.

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A couple of sprigs of rosemary were brought in and put in the rooter ball in the kitchen window to root before potting.  The intent was to put row cover over the plant in the garden and over the rainbow chard, but intent and action didn’t meet.

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I probably should have.  If it perks back up, I will harvest a fair amount of it and freeze it then cover the plants and see if there will still be fresh greens for a bit longer.  It looked even worse this morning when I went out to feed and water the chickens.

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It has been cold enough the past few mornings to warrant the big ugly pink hooded barn coat and gloves.  It is ugly, but it is warm and there are two pair of gloves, depending on the chore and temperature, a pair of leather rough out work gloves and a pair of thick insulated Columbia fleece gloves that used to go winter camping with me.  With the sharp drop in temperature the other night came very strong wind.  It flipped our gas grill over two half barrels of herbs in the yard, tipping them over as well.  Other than a dent, it seems undamaged, but it will be moved well away from the house before it is lit to be sure.

Recently a friend, who is also a blog friend, posted a finished beautiful shawlette/scarf called Hitchhiker.  Years ago I knit one and the grandkids said it looked like a Dragon’s tail.  Though I was pleased with the knit and the shape, I didn’t like the color that I had chosen for the yarn and it sold in a prior Holiday Market.  I commented on her blog post and she encouraged me to knit another.  It seemed like a good project to take when we travel in February as it is one that can be picked up, put down, fairly easily memorized so good for airports and planes.  I started looking for yarn and couldn’t find anything that struck my fancy.  I had been spinning a lovely colorful Merino on the Spanish Peacock drop spindles, but feared it would look muddy plyed on itself.  If Navajo plyed, it wouldn’t give me enough yardage for the pattern and would be a bit heavier yarn than desired.  I realized that the Hearts of the Meadow Farm Coopworth that I am spinning for a sweater was a great color match, so a bobbin of it was spun fine and the spindle singles was plyed with the bobbin singles to produce a 155 yard skein.

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I like it, just 350 more yards of it need to be made to complete the project.  That will be my spinning project for a bit, except for Thursday when I am at Smithfield House in costume for a large Homeschool group.  I will resume spinning the oatmeal colored Coopworth that day.

Knitting, I am working on a Wonderful Wallaby, a hooded, pocketed sweatshirt style sweater for daughter.  I have made many of them for grandkids, this is the first adult sized one.  The body is done up to where the sleeves must be attached so the sleeves were begun last night as they are knit separately and then knit onto the sweater.

In spite of the very cold morning yesterday, we bundled up and ventured out to breakfast and the Farmers’ Market.  There are still many vendors there with produce, a few with meat, a couple with coffee, candles, artisan breads, and other goodies.  We came home with some produce, sausage as the house will be brimming at Thanksgiving, a loaf of bread, and a small bouquet of flowers for the table.

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While there, I met up with the Market Manager, and Ian told me that our Holiday Market conflicts with a 12:30 home football game at the University, the last home game of the season.  Typically, home game days are not good market days as the parking around town all gets taken up by game goers, several of the larger lots that are on campus become tailgate sites, including the one across from the market where we typically park our cars and trucks, it will be closed to our use.  Jim may have to deliver and pick me up and I shouldn’t expect this market to be a good one.  December should be better.  I almost didn’t do the November market to do one at our local elementary/middle school.  Maybe that is what I should have done, but what is done is done.

After the market and the grocer and all was put away at home, we ventured to the local trail around the big pond to do our walk and it was still only in the low 30’s.  It was brisk and made us move quickly to keep warm,  Today is supposed to be a bit milder, up into the mid 40’s.

Another week on the farm, the mountain looking like winter, the leaves down, the trees barren, the little flock of finches, Tufted Titmice, and Chickadees frequenting the feeders, the chickens cleaning up what they spill and “weeding” my flower beds with their scratching.  I love life here, even in winter.  Must get some firewood though.

Easy Schedules – 9/21/2017

Each day that it isn’t raining, we venture out to one of the local trails to walk.  We are trying to build our stamina, reduce our weight, and improve our fitness between appointments still trying to figure out why hubby is having some medical issues, including fatigue.  Most days we walk on the Huckleberry Trail, an asphalted walking and biking trail on an old railroad grade.  It is a bit more than 7 miles long between Blacksburg and Christiansburg.  There are several places to enter the trail and we pick different ones, walking  about 2 1/2 to a bit more than 3 miles, sometimes briskly, sometimes with less vigor if one or the other of us is not up to speed, so to speak.

There are a few other places to walk as well, and today we took a different path, a path mostly in the shade along the river.

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Flowers, fungi, the calming sound of the water.  Yesterday we pushed too hard and today we took it easy.

The fall is coming on, the leaves beginning to change, the flowers inviting the last butterflies of the season.

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And producing beautiful sunsets.

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We have had first my car in the shop this week, and now Jim’s, but tomorrow we will leave the house chores and animal duties to the kids and take a weekend away since our cruise fell apart.  This weekend is the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival and I have wanted to visit it for years, but it conflicts with one of the fiber retreats that I generally attend.  It was not on my schedule this year, again because we were supposed to have just gotten home from our cruise, instead I will finally get to go to the festival.

 

 

 

Do We Mean So Little – 9/13/2017

Today’s post was going to be about the day’s efforts to resupply the shop with soaps, salves, and balms for the upcoming events, however, in the middle of my efforts, the house shook and rattled. We had just experienced a 3.2 magnitude earthquake.  Our house is a strong log home and nothing broke that we can determine, but the fault line that broke and shook happens to lie right in the path of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 42″ line that will carry fracked gas across our region if it is approved.

What catastrophe would occur if they put that line through and we had an earthquake on that fault again?  Maybe bigger than 3.2 magnitude.  That pipeline if ruptured would produce devastation.  It’s proposed route runs right behind our grandchildren’s school, through a major karst area of caves, sinkholes, and limestone full of the water table from which we draw our well.  It is proposed to pass through the historic village that gives us our zipcode, a village of old farmhouses, churches, and historical covered bridges.

I guess we are expendable.  Our lives worth less than the money that will line the pockets of a few wealthy investors that are using their wealth to push this project through, threatening imminent domain seizure of private property for private, not public gain; threatening endangered animals, our water supply, the beauty of this scenic county that has 35 miles of the New River flowing through it and many miles of the Appalachian trail, several historic towns, and farms that will be divided and despoiled if the pipeline is approved.

The scientists have spoken on our behalf, the historians have produced documents, the biologists, naturalists, and outdoorsmen have all come forward, but nobody that has any pull has backed off. I hate that our lives and livelihoods have such little importance to those in power.

What a day! 6-12-2017

Typically the rising sun and lighting morning sky is my wake up call.  Laziness until absolutely necessary is the routine, but while helping out at eldest son’s, my bed is a cot and though it is comfortable enough for sleep, it isn’t conducive to lounging about so the morning began around 6 when they got up to go to work.  Having been away for a few days with no rain while they were gone, the plants and seedlings on the porch needed watering and the vegetable garden was dry.  The porch plants were an easy fix.  After they were done, a leisurely bowl of cereal, fruit, and yogurt and a cup of coffee were enjoyed sitting on the porch by the creek, listening to the burble of the water against the rocks while the young one slept in having arrived home very late last night from his birthday celebration with his other grandparents many hours from here.

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An attempt was made to do the garden, but a shoe packing failure meant that I spun barefoot yesterday and couldn’t get in the creek to get water today, not wanting to wade in my Birkenstocks or hiking shoes.  Daughter in law’s boots are too large for me, so I waited.  The young one finally got up and a trip the 15 miles or so into town to fill up my car with gas, get a few groceries, especially dairy and meat, and to seek a pair of sandals that could get wet, were comfortable, and not expensive was planned.

We got across the bridge and almost to the shoe shop when braking, my car made a metal on metal grinding noise.  Knowing this wasn’t normal and certainly not good, we headed back toward home, but stopped to call son for a mechanic reference in the town.  Fortunately, the indy shop was able to take my car right in, assist me to get a rental car from across town so that we could get the groceries home and not have to figure out how to spend several hours in the 90º heat, and diagnose the problem as a rear brake issue on the back right side.  The groceries made it home, the water sandals allowed me to step into the edge of the creek to reach a spot deep enough to fill a 5 gallon bucket and the garden got watered after a dozen or so trips from the creek to the garden.  By then I was wilted and ready for a meltdown.

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There is a big rock in the middle of the creek and there I sat in the shade with my feet in the cool water until a big crawfish decided my toes looked delicious.  A cool shower to wash off the mud and sweat and a couple of bottles of water refreshed me.

The shop got my car fixed in under 4 hours without putting us in bankruptcy, the rental car was returned and the young one and I returned home. That was the shortest car rental I have ever done, but the cab fare here and back would have been more than the rental and they picked me up at the shop and returned me to the shop when my car was ready.

It has finally cooled down to a reasonable temperature.  Dinner is prepared and awaiting the arrival of son and daughter in law and we will eat.

I am glad my car is back, she is 13 years old this month and has over 200,000 miles on her.  I hope to keep her on the road for much longer.

Meet the New Addition -6/7/2017

Tracking showed the new wheel at our local post office this morning.  When travelling back home from the morning grand kids deliveries, they were still loading their vehicles at the post office and in I popped to save Ian a trip down our long gravel drive.  Really, the goal was to unpack and begin to stain her.

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Safely tucked behind the driver’s seat for the way home.

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The package was opened, counted, spread out on old feed sacks and paper.  The oil and stain mix was made, gloves on, and staining commenced.  This shows the wheel unstained next to the already stained pieces.

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One coat down and drying, but I think it needs a darker tint, so after grands are turned over to one of their parents, a trip to Lowe’s is in order to pick up something a bit darker to tint the mix.  This is Red Chestnut and Colonial Maple mixed with Tung Oil and Turpentine. The current color appeals to me, but if the wheel is going to go with me to Smithfield House, it needs to be a bit more brown and darker. The dilemma  for this afternoon.  Maybe the spinner friends on Facebook can weigh in.

Tomorrow it will be coated again and allowed to dry then the assembly process kicks in and a good coat of Beeswax polish applied.

5/20/2017 Community Fun

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Today was a good day.  The Newport Community Center held an Open House to show off the community and some of the activities that go on at the center.  The 4H barn on the property had pony rides and a baby farm animal petting zoo.  The volunteer rescue squad is right next door and they had one of their trucks on display.  There was softball, a stone carver, a basket weaver, my friend Josh, the neighborhood blacksmith shown above with some of his awesome hooks that he was making.  There was barbequed pork from the smoker/grill, all the trimmings.  The LoCo arts room hosted an anti pipeline banner painting event.  An art sale, a silent auction, used book sale.  The Quilter’s Guild had their gorgeous quilts hanging around the perimeter of the big cafeteria room.  Another friend, David and I had a display of plant and animal fibers, hand spun yarn and handspun handknit clothing items while we demonstrated spinning and answered questions from adults and kids.  My almost 200 year old wheel sat on the table top and was brought down for a few minutes of spinning on it as well.  During most of the event there was live music from families singing to a young man with outstanding guitar skills.

There were many folks from the community that participated and I think everyone had a good time.

4/26/2017

The nice weather returned today.  The expected 73ºf clear day ended up an 87ºf clear day.  After the preschool pickup run and a stop at Lowe’s to pick up 2 large pots and 3 sacks of organic composted soil, the brush hog was reattached to the tractor.  That isn’t a tough job if the tractor and brush hog are on level surface, if you can guide the tractor backward to align the 3 point attachment and PTO.  It was removed in the lower bay of the barn which is not level, so reattaching it was a job.  If you are strong, you can shift the back of the brush hog to do realignment.  I am not strong and I am a 69 year old woman, so it is all that I can do to jiggle the hog into position.  It took over an hour of sweat, a few unkind words, some tractor shifting but it is on the tractor.  The area around the house was mowed, the orchard was mowed, the septic field was mowed, and mostly around the tiny trees and the larger pines and firs through which they were interspersed, but the tractor needs fuel, so that task ended for today.

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There is thick long grass beyond that will be hay in a month or 6 weeks.

Once done with that, the two huge pots were placed, filled with good soil and the hops and some summer bulbs were planted in them.  This is an attempt to clean up around the deck and beautify it for spring and summer meals.

After dinner prep and clean up, the three half barrels were planted with the potatoes that finally arrived during the heavy rain.

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The chicklets aren’t so small anymore.  They are escape artists, but they are large enough to not be getting through the fence holes, so I’m not sure how they are escaping.

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The 4 Welsummer chicks are turning into beautiful young pullets.

We have a couple more good days and over the past two days, a good supply of cardboard has been obtained, so hopefully the areas of the garden that need to be smothered can be covered and the remaining aisles also.  The three sisters bed needs to be worked.  Normally we don’t put tomatoes and peppers in the ground until Mother’s Day, but the extended forecast shows warm days and mild nights, so they might also get planted along with the kale starts that were purchased at the Farmers’ Market on Saturday.

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The dogwood blossoms in the hedgerows and along the edges of the fields are spectacular this year.  My evening walk along the path that I mowed  today was lined with the beautiful white blooms.  The walk is a huge squared off figure 8 around the two fields in the header between where the photo was taken and the house in the center.  It always amazes me when I get back there to realize how large those two fields are.