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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.

Olio- 4/24/2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

 

 

The heading shows the story of the past 5 days, thick clouds, rain often torrential, many inches of it in the past few days.  Our creek is over it’s banks at the top of the farm and the one that tumbles into the sink hole has flooded the sink hole plain that can’t filter it down deeper into the earth than more is added.  It has overflowed down the old creek bed.

On Saturday, I drove to Front Royal area to help out.  Eldest was going to take advantage of the no motorized vehicles on the Skyline Drive to ride the 35 miles on his bike, but after a day in the cold rain at the Washington March for Science, he awoke Sunday with heavy congestion in his chest and decided he couldn’t make the ride after all.  I ended up driving back home Sunday afternoon.

The asparagus are sprouting and so far I haven’t gotten tired of them.

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The garlic is thriving.

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But if you look beyond the boxes, the weeds are thriving as well.  That areas is about to be smothered and the pumpkins allowed to sprawl over the area.  In the fall, the ground cover will be planted and again in the spring.

The veggie and herb starts are doing ok on the back deck, but I keep having to go out and drain the water from the trays to keep them from drowning.  The weather is forecast to improve later tomorrow.  The second planting of peas, the seeding of radishes, turnips, and the chard starts seem to have survived the cool, wet days.

The ticks are out in full force already, having gotten my first bite of the season.  I guess I am going to have to pull out the repellent.  I have mowed around the house with the mower twice, very thick and tall grass.  The brush hog needs to be put back on the tractor so that the orchard and septic field can be mowed as well.  Most of the farm will wait until late May or early June to be hayed.

In mid June, I am going to go on a backpacking trip with eldest son and his family.  I have 8 weeks to get in shape and try to strengthen my knees.

The teenage chicks were left cooped up Saturday and Sunday during the worst of the rain, today all of the adult birds and chicks were left to choose whether to go out and mostly stayed in their coops.  The few chicklets that were out in the evening were easy to pick up and put in their coop.

Resilience

The mid March deep freeze has given way to a return of springlike weather.  Most days don’t even require a jacket and evenings only a light one or a sweatshirt.  Most of the daffodils that laid face down during the frigid days and nights have risen back up to the sun, the tulips buds are showing the beginning of color, about to split open into vivid shows.  All of the flowering almonds and pears burned, but the Japanese cherries are bursting with halos of light pink blooms. The forsythias at the school bus stop that were browned, found a few more buds and have a smattering of yellow showing.

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Though we are less than a half mile from the bus stop, we reside in a hollow that everything blooms slightly later.  Our forsythia had not started to bloom before the freeze and is now beginning to burst forth with color, just as the lilac buds are forming adjacent to them.

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Soon,  the bank by our car park will be riotous with color and fragrance.

With the return of the springlike temperatures have come the waves of rain and thunderstorms.  A day of calm sun followed by a day of rain and sometimes wind. Yesterday was near 80ºf and bright sun, today it will be in the upper 60’s or low 70’s but thick and gray.

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Between the time of this photo having just gotten back from the bus stop, and the time granddaughter and I left for preschool, the fog rolled in.

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The 3 flags almost hidden by the fog, mark three of the tiny firs that we planted last weekend.  The every other day rain has been helpful in keeping them watered.  When we have a streak of dry weather, the tractor bucket will be filled with water and driven up the row while a garden bucket is used to pour a gallon or so on each little tree every couple of days.  We are toying with buying some of the 24″ mulch rings to put around them to help keep the grass and weeds down and away from the trunks and to help preserve the moisture around them.  The tiny trees are much too small to use the self watering sacs that can be used on a larger sapling, though the red maple may be large enough for one of them.

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The chicks are now 2 1/2-3 weeks old and no longer the cute little fuzz balls they were.  They look like little dinosaurs and sound much like them too, no longer peeping, but squawking.  They can easily fly out of the big water trough that is their brooder, kept inside only by the window screen laid on top.  All have wing and tail feathers and were going through the quart size water and feeder in less than a day, so yesterday they graduated to a 7 lb feeder with a lid on top so they can’t accidentally fall inside and get trapped, soiling the food for the rest and they got a 5 quart water dispenser as there is no fear of one drowning in the edge where they drink.  They desperately need to be moved to the garage and thoroughly cleaned but the tub is too heavy for one person to carry and it is raining.  Maybe tomorrow when the sun is out, it can be dragged up the hill to the garage side of the house and moved into the garage.  With the coldest night expected in the mid 40’s with two mother tables in the bin and with feathers coming in, they should be fine.  Having them in the basement is a dirty, smelly idea, but was necessary with the nights in the teens.  If they were outside with a hen, she would have them out and running around, scratching and dust bathing by now regardless of the temperature.

As we approach Earth Day and with the emphasis by our current governing body to undo all of the regulations that have been put in place to protect our planet and environment, and as a former science teacher and still a proponent for science research and development, I have purchased another t shirt to wear during the auxiliary March for Science on the campus of the local University in town.  Now, I’m not sure which of my two I will wear that day, but they are going to be worn before and after as well.  We can’t be silent.  Science and our environment are too important to hide our heads in the sand and ignore what is going on.  Undoing regulations and removing the budgets to allow science research  is NOT going to make America better! (mini rant over)

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Nice days

The beautiful weather has encouraged outdoor time. The peach tree that needed pruning was done.

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mess

But what a mess is there to clean up now.  This tree won’t produce this year, but when it does next year, we will be able to reach the fruit.

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The help

 

The help wasn’t too helpful, though they did seem to enjoy the supervised free range time, foraging for bugs and seeds around the outside of the gardens and under where branches were falling.

Yesterday again dawned a near summer day, laundry was started with the idea of hanging it out on the drying rack, but hubby suggested a day trip to recalculate the mileage on a circuit that he had submitted as a potential ride for the regional Harley Davidson rally in June.  He also wanted to check for restaurants at the near halfway point that would accommodate parking a dozen motorcycles and seating their riders plus some passengers.  Though the day was nice enough for a ride, this passenger is only in a closed vehicle on 4 wheels, so the day trip was taken in the car. Restaurants other than fast food were hard to come by, a local pizza place, a Mexican place, and a Chinese place.  The Mexican was a possibility, the Chinese place didn’t look like it could handle that many folks.  We tried the pizza place and ate their pizza and salad bar buffet.  It wasn’t great by any means and costs about $8 each, so for what we ate, was fairly expensive. The halfway point town is an example of how humanity can take a beautiful spot and make it ugly.  Generally, the old downtown areas of the small towns are nice, not so this one.  The focus of the ride is a road of steep switchbacks called the Back of the Dragon and even with the bare trees, or maybe because of them, the views were stunning, watching the ridge undulate ahead and behind us and looking down into the valley farms.  Though this is only 80 road miles from us, much closer as the crow flies, the contouring of the slopes is much different than here.  Perhaps due to heavier glacial activity?

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Needless to say, the laundry ended up in the dryer, but did get done before the sheets and quilt were needed last night.  The daytime temperatures have been in the upper 60’s, yesterday in the 70’s, but it is clear and cooling back to the 30’s at night.  Today is another beautiful day, the peach tree mess is still calling for attention.  The lopers and saw will be hauled back out and the branches cut into woodstove lengths to use for kindling next winter.