Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Asparagus Cut asparagus

The garlic is thriving.

Garlic

 

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.

Forsythia

 

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.

Lilac

 

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.

clouds

 

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.

Fog

 

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.

chicks

 

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)

shirt

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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Dragon1

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.

 

Olio – February 3, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

If Phil had come out today instead of yesterday, he would not have seen his shadow.  It is thick and gray.  It looks like it could snow, but there is none in the forecast.  Even the weekend storm threat has dissipated, so there should be no missed school next week.  It is cold, each day this week has been colder by 10 or more degrees than the day before.  It was near the upper 60’s on Tuesday and it won’t reach freezing today with a low in the shivering teens.  We have had wind this week too, though today is calm.  One day, the wind took out our power for nearly 7 hours before they found the tree on the line and did some major pruning about a mile down the road.

With the lengthening daylight hours, the hens are picking up egg production.  Yesterday there were 5 eggs out of the 7 hens.

eggs

It amuses me to see the variation on the size and color of the eggs from the Buffys.  The top two right and the bottom left are all Buff Orpington eggs.  The top left is the Americauna and the bottom right is the Americauna/Buff Orpington cross.  The seller of the Buff Orpington pullets that were to increase the flock must not really be interested in selling as they have not gotten back with me though they have email and phone number to arrange the sale and pick up.  Hopefully the girls will  be prolific this year and provide us with enough chicks to replenish the predator loss and still give us enough for the freezer.

The Fibonacci Infinity scarf is still growing.

scarf

There is a 13 row white repeat to go, then pick up the blue with the white and finally the blue with the merlot.  It is already as long as my legs and very heavy due to it being a tube.  It will definitely be a warm scarf.  The silk cowl at the top is growing, it is about 70% done, only getting attention when I am the car passenger instead of the driver.

The Leicester Longwood, a bit finer than the yarn for the scarf is on the wheel.  Hopefully, it will make a knitted fabric that is more sweater friendly after a swatch or two trying different needles.  This week, my Spanish Peacock drop spindle went to a new home as it caused too much strain and pain in my shoulders.  The proceeds from that sale bought a new supported spindle and bowl.  That is a learning process and some of the soft California Red roving is being used to learn. This still allows for portable spinning with less strain on the shoulders and elbows.

spindle

 

This is definitely a learning curve.  The spindle spins nicely, but my drafting of the fiber is still very inconsistent and trying to avoid the park and draft technique makes it more of a challenge.

Still loving life on our farm.

 

Six More Weeks

One of Jim’s favorite movies is Groundhog Day, fitting on February 2.

This morning on Gobbler’s Knob, Punxsutawney Phil  and his counterparts here abouts saw their shadows foretelling 6 more weeks of winter, but really, don’t we have 6 more weeks anyway. I don’t know about where you live, but our winter really begins in earnest in mid January most years and continues on until Mid to late March.  We are most likely to see snow and cold temperatures during that period.

I can’t complain about having a sunny day this time of year, even if it predicts 6 more weeks of winter.  As long as I awaken tomorrow and it is February 3, I can live with that.  Spring and summer will be along presently.

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Sissies

Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” ― Bette Davis

The housecleaning diet was imposed after Christmas and maybe some improvement was occurring, but oh that sour dough and homemade bagels from the Farmers Market, the mug of hot cocoa on a snowy day, maybe with a dash of Chambord, the local cheese and pizza, pasta…  It was difficult and sliding occurred, joints complained along with an increase of another symptom.

As the joints hurt, my mind wanders to my baby brother, 6 1/2 years my junior.  As a kid, he used to run into a room, launch into the air and skid across the carpet or floor on his knees.  Bet they pain him now.  Then as an adult, he had a slip on ice that resulted in neck surgery.  As we age, the old injuries, separated shoulder skiing, broken wrist roller blading with daughter return to haunt now with discomfort and stiffness.

The gluten must go.  The dairy is easier with alternative milk products for coffee (the current favorite is unsweetened Toasted Coconut/Almond milk), but oh the cheese, sob.  Hot cocoa can be made Mexican style with water, but it still has the sugar, not as much as commercial or even homemeade mixes, if you use real Mexican chocolate disks and grate them yourself, but still probably too much.  I have eliminated other sugar such as jam, honey, and sweets once the Christmas chocolate was gone.

chocolate

Perhaps the elimination process would be easier if only a category is eliminated at a time.  Peanuts were easy, just use Almond butter, eat whole almonds instead.  Peanuts are a huge trigger.  Wheat is next, a real tough one, but something must be done and it seems to be a major trigger as well.  Ibuprofen daily isn’t the solution.  Some of the damage is done and can’t be undone, but perhaps further damage can be slowed and some of the discomfort reduced.  Mountaingdad will never go for this type of cure, so I go it alone.  Lunch out is going to be a bear.

The snow is gone.  Now we wait for this weekend and the next round of winter liquid or solid as the case may be.

Flexibility

The best made plans sometimes go astray.  We had planned a week long trip to Colorado in early February to stay with cousins and ski.  Bought the airfare in October, reserved ski rentals, then a medical issue arose and the trip had to be cancelled.  The cancellation of the ski rentals was easy.  The airfare, not so much.  We had paid extra for the insurance that assured us that in case of a medical issue, the airfare would be refunded, after all, we are senior citizens. NOT! It can be refunded if the medical issue precludes travel at all, certified by the doctor, not just if the reason for the trip has been forbidden by the doctor.  We now have airfare for 2 that must be used before a year from the date of the original ticket purchase.

Okay, so we start looking for other options.  One option requires us to have current passports.  Ours are expired.  We were going off to get our photos retaken in a few days, the paperwork was all filled out, and the entire senior staff of the State Department walked out.  Guess that will delay things there for a while.

My spinning group meets on Thursdays.  Getting there was already a bit of a challenge for me because we pick up granddaughter at preschool at 12:15-12:30 window, she must be fed, and there is no way to get home and back to town again in time which means taking two cars to town, but one of the cars has been acting up of late.  Sometimes it just won’t start, not a grind, click, anything.  The dash lights come on, the radio works, the battery indicator is strong, it just won’t start, but not consistently and the dealer can’t duplicate it to repair so we have been hesitant to drive it much.  We were going to today anyway so I could go spin and socialize, but then we got a call that grandson had to be picked up at school and granddaughter is supposed to be napping.  Another plan foiled.

Instead, of socializing with the other spinners, I am sitting home spinning my Leicester Longwood and knitting a cowl from the silk that I spun a couple of weeks ago.  I just couldn’t put it in my shop, it called to me to make something luxurious just for me.

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Sometimes, we just have to be flexible.

Respect our Mother

“Only when the last tree has died,? the last river been poisoned,? and the last fish been caught? will we realize we cannot eat money.” —Cree Proverb

I tend to shy away from politics on my blog.  I have left social media at least for a while due to the same, but my heart hurts right now.  How many Deep Water Horizons,  how many people are going to lose their water due to contamination caused by fracking, how many pipeline accidents causing loss of life and property, how many valleys and streams must be ruined with mountain top removal for coal extraction,  how many coastal towns will be flooded and animal species become extinct due to polar ice melt/global warming will it take before we learn.  It hurts my heart that land will be taken and ruined from people by imminent domain to allow such projects.  It hurts my heart that the National Parks that we have come to love through decades of hard work and protection may be lost to or despoiled by logging and drilling.  All at the whim of the pen of a wealthy man and his party with an agenda that is not in the best interest of the people and certainly not the environment.  Is this desecration something we can live with for the increased wealth of a few?

pipeline mountain top removal

 

Tools of the Trade

In addition to keeping the household of 4 adults, 2 children, 3 big dogs, 3 cats running, raising chickens for our  eggs and some meat, making soap, balms, salves, and beard products for my online shop and craft shows, I love fiber arts.  I sew, knit, crochet, and spin fiber into yarn for my own use and for sale in the shop and shows.

A couple of years ago, we were flying on a vacation, I took knitting with me to help occupy the time and keep me settled on the plane (I’m not a huge fan of flying).  The project that I took was  socks for one of the grandson’s for Christmas, Batman socks.  I had black and gold yarns and I wanted to put the Batman emblem on the cuff of each sock.  I rummaged through my bag and could not find a piece of graph paper though I usually carried a small graph paper notebook and ended up drawing a grid on the back of a receipt and graphing out the emblem.  Several days into the vacation, we were shopping in one of the native markets and I spotted a small woven fabric covered notebook cover with a graph paper pad in it.  It was inexpensive and I purchased one.  The pad got used up over time and I discovered that it was a non standard size and unavailable in the USA or on any online store I could scare up.  It was larger than the pocket Moleskine or Fieldnotes books, smaller than the medium Moleskine variety and it had to be side bound with staples, not a spiral.  The cover sat idle and empty, but I liked it.  Recently, it occurred to me that I could use the woven part of the cover and repurpose it with some added fabric to make it fit a standard size. My very talented and crafty sister in law was called on with several questions, many ideas, and finally, bravely, I cut the notebook cover in half, removed the binding, made a new liner, spine, and binding that enlarged it enough to handle a standard notebook.

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This required setting up the sewing machine and pulling out the sewing box. They are in the dormer in our bedroom where I have a handmade walnut table, pottery lamp, and shelving to store my yarn and fabric.

Compared to many of my friends in the fiber arts, I am a lightweight. Most of them have multiple wheels, looms, sewing machines. I do have two wheels or I will once the antique one has all of its parts back. But the rest of my equipment will fit into a tote bag.

wheel

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The Louët has a built in Lazy Kate for plying, but I don’t like it, so I use the one my son made me for Christmas.

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A swift and two different sized Niddy Noddys for winding yarn into skeins from a bobbin.

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And two different sized Lucets for making cord.

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An assortment of various drop spindles for portable spinning.

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Hand carders for combing unprocessed clean wool.

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A backstrap loom, that I need an instructor to teach me to set it up for weaving.

With one set of interchangeable knitting needles, one set of double pointed knitting needles in various sizes, a few fixed circular knitting needles, and several crochet hooks, I have all I need for spinning, sewing, knitting or crocheting.

It will all fit nicely in a beautiful hand made tote from a friend.

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Though I don’t carry it all with me, I could.