A week of randomness

     This week has been Camelot as far as the weather.  One freezing night, but not enough to hurt the garden, the flowering and newly leafed out trees.  All of the rain has been past sundown and by 8 o’clock the sun has reappeared.  It is indeed a congenial spot.

     The painting contractor has finally appeared to put the finishing touches on the basement, the ceiling has been painted with two coats, the can light assemblies assembled with lights, the fans and pool table lights rehung, the bar top given two coats so far of oil based clear finish.  Today on day two, they started the finishing of the log siding interior walls and repainted the inside of the exterior doors leading out of the walk out wall.  Reinstalled an outdoor drainspout that they did not install properly when they stained the exterior last summer and it blew down.  We are within a week of being able to mop the floor down there and move in the bedroom furniture, the couch and futon that will be in the rec room side, and hang the flat screen TV that will be down there.

     The puppies continue to try to establish dominance of each other.  Though Meeko is 10ish pounds lighter than Ranger, she will shoulder bump him out of the way to be the first dog out the door.  They had a vet visit on Tuesday for shots and it appears that Meeko has a heart murmur.  We are hoping she will outgrow it, as there is no way we would call in the health guarantee on her, requiring us to return her to Pennsylvania and to await another litter to be born whenever that would be.  We had them both micro chipped while we had them at the vets.  Both do well riding in the car, sometimes on top of each other, at other times at opposite ends of the back of the SUV.  We have had several leash training sessions on populated trails this week and Ranger seems to have finally caught on.  Meeko is still either resisting or pulling depending on the moment.  She is also fairly skittish and overreacts to the wind, a car noise, or a barking dog.  She does not want to meet new dogs that are larger than she.  We hope this is just a function of having been born and raised 14 weeks in the midst of an Amish community with no motor vehicular traffic, in a pen she shared only with her litter mates and alone for at least several days.

     After two years of mono filament around my garden it no longer keeps the deer out, they go right through it, so I tried stringing old VHS tape around the garden.  When strung firmly, it vibrates in the slightest breeze and allegedly scares the deer away.  During the day, it glitters like mirrors and that is supposed to keep the squirrels and crows out.  Almost as soon as I finished and came inside, the wind picked up strongly and the next morning, the tape was fluttering in long ribbons and tangled in every stake and weed in and around the garden.  I guess I am going to have to go with a couple of strands of solar powered electric wire, but I want to get a 3 foot wide weed free barrier around the beds before I do that so that I’m not having to weed eat under it.  I thought the garden was going to be easier this year, just weeding and planting, but I guess not.  I think I may rent a mini tiller to do the band, layer newspaper several layers thick and top with a hefty layer of straw or mulch then put the fence stakes right through that layer.

     Knitting and spinning have been a non priority since we added the second pup.  I continue to work on the same two projects that have been on the needles for 5 weeks.  Spinning has virtually ceased as it requires me to hold my left hand at head height and my shoulder is still bothering me if taxed at all inspite of the cortisone shot earlier this spring.  I guess it will never be right after 34 years.

     I have read several books in the past two months, the Hunger Games trilogy, the Girl with the Dragon tattoo trilogy, 11/22/63, and several others, but I can’t say I recommend any of them other than Sharyn McCrumb’s “The Ballad of Tom Dooly.”

Puppy Madness

Two pups rainy day
Terror chase in play
Around the dining room chairs.
Up the stairs,
Tumbles and growls,
Yips and scowls.
Ropes to tug
No, don’t chew on the rug.

This best describes the activity this morning.  Hope the rain stops so we can walk them outdoors for a while today.  Second day of wet, wind, hail, thunder, and lightening.


It is confirmed that being retired makes you impulsively a bit off center. Since we picked up Ranger, aka Pup 1, we have discussed that having a second dog to grow up with him was a good idea, but we have a July trip to Florida planned to visit daughter and family, taking grandson 1 with us and all going to Disney world.

Ranger has spent the past weeks riding around in the mountains with us in the car so that he continues to like the car rides and will go with us. Daughter has a vet friend with a new practice, hospital, and boarding facility and the plan is to board their golden and Ranger for the couple days we are in Disney. So far the plan is workable.

Last week, when Ranger had his play date, we realized that he is a rough and tumble player and that waiting until he is 6-7 month old to get another puppy
might not work, that he might totally intimidate a puppy. We discussed what kind of second dog we wanted, vacillating between another mastiff and a German Shepherd. I grew up with two shepherds and have a fondness for them. After checking with daughter to see if we could bring two young dogs with us and getting an affirmative, we started our search, looking at both mastiffs and shepherds. We found an Amish breeder in Lancaster, PA with two 14 week old female shepherds, AKC registered, for a very low price and gave them a call at their family owned hardware store, confirmed that they still had one of them and set off yesterday with Ranger, to check her out. Because she is two weeks older than he is, she is similar in size, though not as heavy and seems more agile, so we are hopeful that the adjustment to each other is quick.

We are now on our way back to SW Virginia with Meeko, a 14 week old female GSD and Ranger, the 12 week old male OEM in the back, her in a travel kennel until they are better acquainted and him loose in the back where he prefers to travel. He wanted to play when he was out of the kennel and the space is too limited and she was still a bit intimidated by the whole process.

The trip was interesting as Lancaster is still very Amish populated outside of town and we saw many open and closed horse drawn carts, a 6 draft horse team plowing, and lots of dairy farms.

Ill advised garden anxiety

     Well, phase 1 is planted and rained upon.  It is too early for this region to plant what I have done, but who could wait when the temperature have been in the 70’s nearly daily for the past couple of weeks and the forecasters are calling for more of the same for the next couple, the peach trees are blossoming, the berry bushes are leafing out.  I figure, the worst that can happen is that I lose some seed and have to start over in a few weeks and the best case is that we have lettuce, radishes, beet and turnip greens a few weeks earlier than usual.  The onions and shallots will be mature when they are mature and they generally go in the ground about now anyway.

     About 1/3 of the patch is cleaned up and planted.  The rest is a work in progress, to get ready for the potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, squash and greens that are thriving under the grow light in the kitchen.

     Our contractor neighbor that repaired our driveway and did the grading around the house came by Saturday to see if I needed a garden plowed.  He didn’t even notice it last year when he was working here.  Though I didn’t  need his help on the garden, I did still have a very rough patch of turf below the garden that was very hard to mow and he came back with his tractor and plow and started breaking it up to disk later, making it smooth enough to mow later this season.  In exchange for this labor, we are going to let him mow the fields for hay this year, we have brush hogged it for a couple of years to try to make the fields healthier.  This will reduce our labor this year as a benefit to us, we will only have to mow the areas around the house and garden instead of all 30 acres.   This is a win win.  Maybe next year we will have livestock and will need the hay, but not this year.  This year we will start with chickens and see how that goes.

Play dates revisited

It has been a couple of decades since we took our children on play dates and today we found ourselves revisiting this idea with the puppy.  It turns out that a friend has just gotten a new Anatolian Shepherd puppy born the same date as Ranger.  She was looking for some socialization time for her pup and we have been seeking the same.  Though we both live in Southwest Virginia, we live about 75 minutes apart, so we met on the Blue Ridge parkway at a picnic area that had no visitors and turned the two pups loose.  It took about 5 minutes of circling and sniffing before they were chasing, tumbling, nipping and digging.

The adults sat, talking and laughing at the pups antics.  I think the hour and a half was well spent for both puppies and ours slept all the way home, totally worn out.  He normally plays this time of the night and he is still sacked out.

Happy Dance

Spring is here, happy dance, happy dance.  The weather is unbelieveable for mid March, it is expected to reach the upper 70’s today, the birds are returning to the area and treating us to their song.  In town, the tulips, jonquils, and forsythia are all in bloom.  Up here on the mountain, the buds are swelling, the grass is greening.

The sprout light finally arrived yesterday and the kale, cabbage, and chard seeds were replanted on the heat mat, under the light.  The peppers and tomatoes that were up, perked up toward the light source.

Later today, I will plant 3 beds of peas for shoots and peas.  There is no finer vegetable than peas fresh from the garden before they get starchy.  Shortly, it will be time to plant lettuce, radishes, turnips, and onions.  I see fresh veggies in our future.

It has taken us 6 years, but we finally feel like we have a finished home, yard, and garden.  There is still some landscaping and fencing to be done, but spring brings the weather to accomplish some of these tasks.

I’ve even moved some of the heartier potted herbs out to the deck.

Still recovering

Well, the weekend has rolled around again and I have nothing to show for the week. I guess that is what happens when you slug around or doze in the recliner trying to feel better.  The antibiotics are helping, but I still have difficulty breathing if I exert myself.

It is a gorgeous day outside, sunny, mid 50’s, relatively calm winds today, so we ventured in to the farmer’s market with the pup for some socialization with the herd of kids running around, the other pups visiting with their owners and scored some turnips, spinach, cheese, and 2 bars of soap.  Not a bad beginning to the morning.  Feeling pretty good, we continued this adventure with pup for a very short walk on the Huckleberry trail, working on come and sit with lots of treats.

Returning home, Jim volunteered to help me get the 2 Asian pears and 2 dwarf blueberries in the ground before they came out of dormancy in the garage, or died from neglect.  This almost proved too much for my healing system and I am now back in the recliner, trying not to have to take a dose of the codeine cough syrup which I think helps only by knocking me out.  Being in the garden makes me want to be in the garden more.  I see the weeds are beginning and know that if I don’t do something about them soon, the task will be much more daunting in a couple more weeks and out of control in a month.  I failed to get a winter cover crop down in the fall as that was just as hubby broke his humerus and could do almost nothing for himself.

My plant light still has not arrived and the cute little sprouts on Wednesday are now 4 inch long leggy seedling that will not survive, so I guess all of the starts will have to be restarted.
I am going to wait for the light to be in hand before I do this to guarantee this won’t repeat itself.  Unfortunately, the tomatoes that sprouted were a variety that I only had 6 seeds, since tomatoes are pretty forgiving, I may just plant them in deeper pots under the light and see if they strengthen up.

Update on Spring

So the snow came and went and the temperatures are near 60 today.  The daffodils even on the road up the mountain are in bloom, the forsythia in town  is blooming.  My forsythia is budded out but not blooming, the iris are sprouting as are the daylilies.  The fall planted garlic is up and strong.  I have seen snow much later in the year than this and our average last frost date in during the first week of May.

There is so much temptation to start planting, but I know from experience that it would be a grand mistake.  I do have 2 Asian pear trees and 2 Dwarf blueberries that arrived this week dormant and do need to be planted very soon.  First I must get rid of the creeping crude/plague.   Yesterday on day 7 of this malady, I finally called the doctor, I tend to just try to fight these things off myself, usually successfully, but I felt I was losing the battle.  My visit was scheduled this morning and I received the diagnosis of definite bronchitis, possibly early pneumonia and left with two prescriptions to aid my body in healing.  The doc said that he has seen more cases of pneumonia from this winter’s bug than in any other year he has been in practice and that it seems to linger.  Thanks Doc, I needed that news.

The seeds I planted on Sunday are beginning to sprout.  There are mini cabbage, kale, and chard sproutlets and at least one of the tomato varieties is up.  Yesterday I received notice that the sprout lamp had shipped, so it should get here in time to strengthen the sprouts and keep them from getting to leggy.

Spring really is coming and with it, a whole new garden season.

Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family