He came and conquered – Nov. 2, 2018

The day after our mower quit, the hayman returned with his big tractor and 10′ mowing deck and made short work of the rest of the big south hay field.  The spring bales are still there, but he said his young helpers were going to come pick them up and cut up the downed tree and the dead standing tree, leaving us with part of it for our winter warmth and enjoyment.  His return allows us to delay the purchase of a new mower deck until spring, the old one to be sold off as parts and scrap.  There is probably a farmer out there with the equipment and skills to weld on some plates on the deck, rebuild the trailing wheel support, and put on a new blade.

Our county is noted for it’s rocks.  The joke around here is that the county’s main crop is rocks.  You can mow an area one year without an issue and the next year hit a rock where the soil settled or the frost pushed the rock up just enough to clip the blade.  It is hard on the blades and the play in the blade then hitting the deck housing is hard on the housing.  Brush hogs are workhorses, they take a beating keeping the Autumn Olive and blackberries from the edges of the fields and mowing tall weedy hay.  They aren’t neat finish mowers used on golf courses and large lawns.  Our mower is more than a decade old now and wasn’t a heavy duty one in the first place as our tractor is only 28 hp.

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The farm looks so neat right after the haying or fall mowing.  One benefit of our smaller tractor and smaller deck is that we can get much closer to the rock piles scattered throughout the farm, keeping the brambles from escaping out into the fields.  Since our deck is no wider that the tractor’s rear tires, if they clear without hitting rocks then the mower deck clears also.

In the couple of days since I was mowing, the woods turned autumn colors, almost overnight.

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The top picture was two days ago, the lower one a zoomed one of the same area.

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Two maples, one wild, one planted.  The wild one in back is huge and turns a beautiful shade of golden orange, the planted one a vivid yellow gold.  As you see, both have lost about half of their leaves already as have most of the other trees in the area.  The wind storms of the past few weeks have stripped many leaves before they turned colors.  Soon the woods will be bare and we can voyeuristically peek at the wildlife in the edges of the woods as they seek nourishment from the evergreen scrub, acorns and other wild nuts that have fallen.

The fields were done just in time for several cooler, rainy days.  We have yet to build a fire this year, but maybe we will this weekend.  Maybe the sack of frozen tomatoes will get cooked down into sauce and canned or frozen as sauce.  Maybe a good book, some knitting or spinning, and for sure, lessons for a new spinner.

Enjoy your weekend, whatever the weather.

Olio – Oct. 31, 2018

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

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

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

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In progress, but look at that sky.

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And some hints of color in the woods finally.

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Finished upper fields.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A week on the farm – Oct. 26, 2018

Today was to be the Spirit Trail event at Wilderness Road Regional Museum, a fund raiser for the education program there.  I was to be in the old kitchen serving hot cider and playing with kids as they made corn husk dolls or besoms.  The event has outdoor actors and a horse drawn wagon ride.  The weather had other ideas.  The day started at 43ºf and heavy rain.  Both have held all day and the event has been postponed until Tuesday afternoon and evening.  Some of the characters won’t be able to reschedule, but it will still be a fun event.

After two days of garden and fence work earlier in the week, followed by a couple hours wrestling the huge  Stihl line trimmer to beat back areas that have been neglected most of the summer, I was beat.  Yesterday, chest muscles and lower back revolted and said take a day off.

 

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Yesterday morning was spent knitting on an Asymmetrical scarf from some of my hand spun merino/bamboo, followed by a grocery run and dinner prep of a cold weather treat of Stout Beef stew.  While the stew simmered, enough energy was rallied to do a bit of mowing and bush-hogging.  Hubby had started at the top of the property and worked his way down to the house while I was fencing.

Last evening as we sat down to enjoy the stew, our hay man arrived and began bush-hogging the fields.  About a quarter was done before it got too dark and today too wet.  We will work areas that he can’t do with his 10′ machine and once done, the mowing will be done for the winter.

There are still two sections of fence to be taken down and one to erect when the weather improves this weekend or next week.  Most of the creeping charlie was covered with tarps, cardboard, and paper feed sacks to try to kill it off.

My favorite jam from this year’s prep was Asian Pear Orange Marmalade.  The recipe only made a few half pint jars and I knew it wouldn’t last the winter, even using it sparingly and interspersed with raspberry, wildberry, or grape ones I kept.  As pears are still available, a couple pounds of Bartletts were purchased and another batch this time Bartlett pear orange marmalade was made today for the shelf.  It again only made 5 half pints, but so delicious.

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The chicken molt seems to be ending, the coop and pen no longer look like daily pillow fights, but egg production hasn’t picked back up.  The daily count is zero to 3.

Now is time to sit back with the garden plan, the seed catalogs as they come in and plan next year.  It is also time to get more knitting and spinning done for Christmas gifts and for holiday craft shows.

 

It is gone – 10/23/2018

The garden is done.  We didn’t get the frost expected, nor the next night, but Sunday night, oh boy, it got cold.  We awoke yesterday to ground that looked like light snow and though it warmed into the upper 50’s later, it was cold in the early hours.  Sunday had been cold all day and very windy.  Today is the last warmer day expected for a bit, so it was a good day to pull the burned plants and toss them in the chicken pen or the compost pile.  Finish cutting down the asparagus ferns that never got finished before.  Dig the raspberries out and replant half a dozen of them in a controlled area.

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the asparagus bed cut down and weeded, still needs straw.

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This was the raspberry bed, only about 1/3 got covered with cardboard and brown paper feed bags before I ran out.  A tarp might be easier, I will measure and purchased one tomorrow.  The pretty green you see is the creeping charlie taking over.

The fencing job never got done either.  It is very difficult to do alone, but the garden needs some fence work, the chicken pens need to be reconfigured so that I can mow inside of them, when they are not housing birds, instead of just using the monster Stihl line trimmer to beat the tall weeds down.  The laying hen’s fence did get reconfigured  today and the piecemeal fence at the top of the garden that was deteriorating was pulled down.  Using a line to get my poles straight this time, several new T-posts were set.   One of them was necessary to change up the hen’s pen.  Though they usually free range, there are times when they need to be penned up.

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Their pen is now a big square abutted to the chick pen that currently has a broken coop and no chicks.  The cull coop stands alone and will have it’s own separate pen, but T posts must be set and a wooden post to hang a gate must be dug in.  Two gates will be purchased, one for the garden that currently has a piece of wire fencing staked over the gateway opening, and one for the cull pen when it gets remade.  The plan was to raise chicks over the winter so they would be laying by spring, but to get chicks from Rural King this time of year, you have to order 25 and that is more than twice the number needed.

Tonight, there is no fence at the top of the garden, but there is nothing in the garden but a few cabbages and lettuce plants as well as the raspberries and blueberry bushes.  Tomorrow is still sunny and more fence removal/moving needs to be done.  There are several sections of welded wire fence that are long enough to close in the top edge of the garden again without piecing it together and they need to be removed from chicken runs.  Another long section of the cheap garden fencing needs to come out from the between where the two old chicken runs were.  That  type will never be purchased again.  I am still torn about whether to shorten the garden or cover it with another tarp to kill the weeds and use it as a potato patch next year.  Even after killing it off, it may need to be a layered garden with lots of mulch or tilled.

The last garden task to put it to bed for winter is sowing some oats in some beds, planting next year’s garlic in one bed, and putting down some straw over the asparagus and garlic.  The weather is supposed to hold til Friday, perhaps it will all get done, except the gates.

“It would have been more comfortable… -10/19/2018

to remain silent.”  Anita Hill

But I won’t.  Some of you may not like this, but, it has become more and more difficult to be proud of America with our current President and his administration.  The President should be a leader, not a dictator, a bully, a narcissist, a buffoon.  I did not vote for him, and can not support him in any way when he makes fun of disabled people; when he mocks women about sexual assault; when he calls people that disagree with him or his policies derogatory names; when he praises political candidates for assault  against journalists ; when he belittles young voters for asking valid questions to which he disagrees.  He takes no responsibility for his actions, he is deceitful, and racists (or at least supports White Supremacy).

In my lifetime, it seemed that the country was headed in the right direction toward women’s rights; toward the rights of the LGBT community; toward immigration; toward race relations, but feel that since 2016 that we have returned to the 1950’s or earlier and that pains me.   As a survivor of a sexual assault more than 50 years ago in a time when you didn’t discuss it, didn’t tell, that we now have not one, but two Supreme Court Justices and a President who have been accused of sexual assault and the good old boys think that “Boy’s will be boys” or “Locker room talk” are adequate excuses for that behavior makes me cringe and want to cry.

As a former science teacher and a “tree hugger” who has always tried to do what is right for the environment, the climate change denying is troubling.  Living in a region of old coal mines and seeing the damage caused by mountain top removal, the poverty of those regions and knowing that coal mining is not the solution to our energy needs is troubling. Seeing that is still being mined transported through our county on it’s way to ports for export, not domestic use,  why would he support mining as an energy source and open more lands to oil drilling and fracking when there are other cleaner options that could be used.

Before you cast judgement on me, I am not a hard line liberal, but neither am I an ultra conservative.  I believe that race should not be an issue.  I believe that we should do everything we can, even if it requires regulation to protect our environment and our parks.  I believe that the government should not allow a private for profit industry to take our land away by eminent domain and shouldn’t despoil the planet for profit.  I believe that government and church are and should remain separate.  I believe that there is a place and time for private gun ownership, but not in the hands of our youth or our schools except by trained law enforcement officers.

And remember, if you aren’t Native American,  or descendant of a slave, your family too were immigrants, real people with real needs and often with families escaping intolerable conditions or seeking a better life, not all are criminals, in fact few are.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Summer is Gone – 10/17/2018

The thermometer on the front porch is sheltered under roof and protected from the wind.  The sensor indoors indicates it is 47ºf outside this morning, but tonight’s forecast is for our first frost.  A frost tonight would be right in the average.

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Yesterday’s high on the porch was 62, today’s is predicted to be about the same, but the nights are getting progressively colder until Monday night when they will warm slightly.  It is the season.  We will have some warmer days, some milder nights before true cold weather sets in, but it is time to pull out the heavier quilt and replace the summer quilt on the bed.  Last night my feet were cold.

A frost will mean the end of the garden.  This is always a time of mixed emotions, glad to be done with it for the year, sad that there won’t be more goodness from it.  It could be extended if I covered the peppers and lettuce tonight, but the tunnel that was purchased this summer to cover the fall veggies deteriorated very quickly.  The cabbages will be okay tonight.  The lettuce will be picked once my hands rewarm.  After feeding the chickens and setting them to roam for the day, two baskets were filled with jalapeños, seranos, and Anaheims.  The baskets would hold no more, though there are many peppers still on the plants, and my fingers were numb.

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All of the Anaheims were harvested, all of the red seranos and red jalapeños as a batch of homemade Sriracha sauce has been planned since they were planted last spring.  The large fat green jalapeños were picked to pickle another jar or two, maybe try Cowboy Candy with a jar or two.  Hubby would hate it and likely it wouldn’t appeal to me, but son the elder loves hot peppers and pickles and would probably like it.  It was cold harvesting them, colder than the thermometer registered, windy and damp.    Later more will be harvested, the rest still on the plants will go into the chicken run for them to peck, along with the tomato plants and the last of the bean plants after mature beans are picked to dry for next year’s seed.  The barriers will be relocated around the cabbages and the chickens will have the run of the garden for the winter, scratching for bugs, weed seed, and turning the soil as they dig.

This fall’s hay never got cut due to the rain.  The hay man said he would brush hog it with his 10′ mower and larger tractor.  Though he can’t go everywhere that our smaller tractor and 5′ mower can go, it will save a couple dozen hours of mowing for us.  The driveway needs to be regraded, again after all the rain, then the brush hog put back on the tractor so that the parts he can’t get, can be mowed before winter.  The brush hog will then be stored, the blade reattached to the tractor to plow us out if we have deep snow.

The neighbor’s cows have serenaded us for the past couple of days.  She may have separated out the young ones to wean before market time, but they are calling back and forth.  That is one of the pleasures of living out away from towns, hearing the cows, turkeys, screech owls, watching the deer and the occasional bear or fox.  The coywolf/coydog howls are interesting, but unwanted.  There are too many with no real predators and they are predators of chickens, calves, fawns, barn cats.

The days are shortening, the nights are chilling.  Soon it will be time for fires in the fireplace and woodstove to take the chill off and for the ambiance of sitting mesmerized by the flickering flames and close enough for the warmth.  Sitting with a good book or knitting, a cup of hot tea, and a warm sweater.  The season of more leisure.

Peace and calm until next time.

Olio – 10/16/2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

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

my sweater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace and calm until next time.

 

Changes noted – 10/7/2018

As we were doing our weekly grocery run for those items that can’t be purchased at the Farmers’ Market or grown at home a trend was noticed, not for the first time.  After picking up a couple of items that were lighter than they used to be, I noticed this.  Rather than keeping food products the size they used to be and raising the price as needed to keep the business afloat, they decrease the package size and keep the price at the old level, or only slightly more expensive.

You used to buy a pound of coffee but now the packages are 8 or 12 ounces, sugar for making jams used to come in 5 pound sacks, now they are 3 or 4.  We buy an inexpensive cat food to supplement the diet of our barn cat and you could buy it in a 4 pound jug that could be refilled with bags until the jug dried out to the point of having to be recycled.  Then I noticed that the bags no longer filled the jug and when I needed to replace the jug, they were no longer available.  The kibble is now in a 3 pound bag for the price the 4 pounder used to cost.  These are just a few of the items, look at jars of nut spreads and mayo, most are fewer ounces than just a few years ago.  Some of these items are available in bulk at the natural food store, so the price is reflected by the ounce and you buy what you need, but it has made me notice when the foods are prepackaged, even items we don’t purchase.

Our grocery budget reflects this as the items must be replenished more often, so there isn’t a saving and the illusion that prices haven’t gone up is purely that, an illusion.

Time was spent in the garden a couple days ago, the corn is down and tossed to the chickens to peck for bugs and ears too small to harvest.  Much weeding was done, but the Creeping Charlie is taking over and must be eradicated somehow.  The asparagus ferns were attacked with hedge clippers that didn’t begin to cut through them, so a stalk at a time being cut with a small cross blade clipper.  They are only about 1/3 down and the pile of dried ferns is huge.  They have to be dragged over to the burn pile and not composted because of the threat of asparagus beetles.  Some people burn them in place, but my asparagus are in a wooden box, so no fires in my garden, plus it is only feet from my main chicken coop.

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More walks this week, one along an old now paved rail grade.  I love the cut through the hillside, it is always cool and damp no matter how hot the afternoon temperatures.

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Sumac and wild asters lining the trail.

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And another evening harvest and canning session.

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The beans harvested that night for dinner were tough and tasteless, that season is done.  The tomatoes are ending, but the peppers continue to overwhelm.  The rest will be left on the plants to ripen to red for drying and fermented hot sauces.

The chicken molt has taken its toll on the egg business, In 3 days there have only been 5 eggs from 15 hens.  There are no pullets ready to replace them as the schedule didn’t allow for raising day old chicks for 5 weeks this summer.  The old girls will be replaced before next summer and will be culled  before next molt season.  Usually at least part of the flock is replaced each year so some hens continue to lay, but the entire flock were raised at the same time and are 2 1/2 years old.  Laying will probably be scarce after the molt due to age and cold weather coming on.  This may be a winter with no hens.  Rural King can order me chicks now and they could be ready to lay by spring.  Something to consider.

Olio: 10/5/2018

Olio: a miscellaneaous collection of things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the Harvest – 8/30/2018

With the trip behind us, it was time to return to the putting by for winter, a routine that generally is done a bit at a time all summer.  The berries were early and dozens of jars of jam were made and stored.  The tomatoes are not as prolific as in years past and with the blister beetle damage and something that takes a bite out of every one that turns red on the vine, I started picking them pink, ripening them in a window sill, and popping them in a huge bag in the freezer when they were ripe.  Once home, the apples and Asian Pears were ripe and beginning to drop, so they were harvested.  Also before leaving, a bag of Muscadine grapes were harvested and popped into the freezer for later.

The young apple trees that we bought about 5 or 6 years ago do not produce good fruit.  The fruits are small and gnarly, but have good flavor.  Some years I make applesauce from them, but it looked to be too much effort this year with the misshapen damaged little fruits and I wasn’t sure what would become of them, when Wilderness Road Regional Museum posted that their press was up and running and cider was being made for their Harvest Festival.  There weren’t enough apples to get much cider, but the Asian Pears were better formed in spite of some stink bug damage and they also were picked.  There were about 8 gallons of fruit in two buckets and Tuesday afternoon, off we went to press most of it.

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The two buckets produced a bucket full of dry pulp for the chickens and a gallon of rich cider for us.  A quart was stored in the refrigerator to enjoy now and the remaining 3 quarts were put into wide mouth pint jars and frozen for later.

Yesterday, the remaining Asian Pears were sitting on the counter and half were peeled and cooked down with a chopped orange and some sugar to make a few half pints of Pear Marmalade.

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Last night, the grapes were removed from the freezer and pulled from their stems to sit over night in a covered pot.  First thing this morning, a cup or so of water was added and they were simmered soft and run through the food mill to remove skins and seeds, then through a tight mesh bag to remove the pulp that remained.  There wasn’t enough juice to make a batch of jelly, so a couple of cups of unsweetened Concord grape/cranberry juice was added and a few half pints of very grapey jelly were made and canned.

Following that, the last few Asian Pears were peeled, cored, and chopped along with the pulp of a fresh lemon, some sugar, and pectin and a few pints of Asian Pear jam added as well.

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That left the tomatoes.  The bags of frozen tomatoes were dumped in the sink to begin to thaw so that the core could be removed and the skins slipped off.

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A pot full of basic tomato sauce was simmering on the stove to be turned into a  sauce that can be seasoned with Mediterranean herbs and spices for pasta or spiked with hot peppers for chili when the weather chills.  Once it  thickened enough, it was ladled into jars and canned for the panty shelves.

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The first six pints of 11 jarred.

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Though only 10 will make it to the pantry.  A blow out.  That hasn’t happened in a long while, but is a hazard of canning.

 

The tomato plants are recovering from the blister beetle damage and hopefully, we will get enough additional tomatoes for at least one more batch of the sauce.  We go through many jars of pasta sauce and chili tomatoes each winter and purchasing them at the grocer does not appeal to me.  I prefer knowing what goes into my food without the unidentified “spices” and preservatives that the labels always describe.

Now we await the onslaught of hot peppers for pickling and fermented sauces, the cabbages to mature for cold storage and another batch of sauerkraut, and hopefully more tomatoes as 11 pints will not get us through the winter.  There is still one pumpkins maturing in the garden and a few tiny ones that may never reach a usable size, but if not, they will be split and tossed to the chickens.

I am beginning to see more feathers in the coop and run, molting season is arriving and that means fewer or no eggs for a month or so.  Perhaps I should freeze more so there are some for baking during the non productive period.

 

 

Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family