Tag Archives: Birthdays

Olio – November 20, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

I haven’t done an Olio post in a while and today I am scattered all over the place, so it seems appropriate.

Today is my step mom’s birthday.  It has always been difficult to think of this friend as a step mom, though she was married to my Dad for more than 27 years until his passing. I was 40 when they married, and she is only a year older than my hubby, so our relationship has always been as peers.  She made my Dad very happy for those years and for that I love her dearly.

This is the week of birthdays here.  First her, then me, then granddaughter, then an adult nephew, and finally daughter.  Granddaughter and her best friend are 1 day apart in age and today they will celebrate a joint birthday party at the roller skating rink.  Daughter is an amateur cake decorator par excellence and she always asks her kids and her husband what kind of cake they want and how they want it decorated.  Granddaughter has definitely become a Virginia farm girl, she wants a tractor in the snow with a pink and purple cow.  This is probably the most interesting idea that daughter has had to create, but when you are turning 5, you know what you want and nothing else will suffice.  The cake is strawberry, the decoration is “Otis” the tractor from the kids books with a pink and purple cow.  Now mind you, none of the cows around here are pink and purple, but she wants what she wants.


The snow flurries of yesterday and last night left the first snow on the ground, just a dusting, but I’m not ready for snow yet.



To go with this dusting, it is below freezing and the wind is howling through the hollow, making it even colder.  The wind is to continue until late tonight.

One of my purchases at the market yesterday was the last pound and a half of Priscilla.  Priscilla is a Leicester Longwool sheep that belongs to one of my friends and a fellow vendor at the market.  I bought 8 ounces of her fiber and loved spinning it.  It is the skein that I dyed with Annatto seed a while back.  That was my first experience dyeing fiber.  Later a friend taught me how to dye in a microwave and I started dyeing more.  Back to Priscilla, after the first 8 ounces was spun, I bought more.  That is when I found out that the fiber was Priscilla’s, though I have yet to meet her.  Over the summer and through yesterday, I think I have purchased more than 4 pounds.  Along the way, I decided that Priscilla was to become a Fair Isle yoked sweater for me and I dyed some more skeins and knit a hat to determine gauge.



This hat kept my head warm yesterday standing in the chilly wind at the Holiday Market.



This is the pound and a half that I bought yesterday.  Once the sweater is finished, I will knit a matching Fair Isle scarf to go with the hat and sweater and dream about what else I can knit with this wonderful fiber.



This is the sweater yoke.  Only about an inch more and I divide for the sleeves and begin on the body.  This sweater will be only for the coldest days, skiing, playing in the snow, or standing out in cold wind at the markets, it is going to be heavy and warm.

Eldest son came this weekend for the first weekend of rifle season for deer.  He sat out for a while yesterday morning and could hear them in the woods, but no safe shot.  Last evening, he sat out from prior to dusk to full on dark.  The herd that has been coming into our hay field at dusk came out, but the rogue heifer that belongs to one of our neighbors (one that he can not capture,) chose dusk last night to visit again and stood right between son and the first two deer out.  Then the heifer galloped across the hay field and investigated right where son was laying in the edge of the woods.  The rest of the deer herd came out, but son was too distracted by the cow to focus on a safe shot.  He will try again when he returns with his family for Thanksgiving.

We were going to put the culls in freezer camp today, but he is suffering a migraine and it is just too cold and windy to want to work outside unnecessarily.  The 6 birds got a reprieve until midweek, though they took their food and water in the Chicken Palace as the wind has blown the protective netting down again.  He will be here for several days during the Thanksgiving weekend, and we will take care of them then, after the wind has died down and perhaps the daytime temperature rises above freezing.

The day draws to a close on this frigid mountain day.  Still loving life on our mountain farm.


Olio, December 29, 2015

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.



Today this big guy turned 4 years old. He is such a gentle giant, great with the cats and  kids, but so slow to respond to commands. Takes a long time for the command to get from his brain to his backsides.

Yesterday the county came out and cleared all of the culvets on our road. We are thankful for this yet concerned that it may mean that the state has relinquished maintenance of our road as it is unpaved.

We are saturated from all the rain of late and after paying to have a vent stack repaired to stop a roof leak, we still have the leak. It has ruined a soffit in the basement and the bamboo floor under it. T is down there tearing out the drywall of the soffit and once we get the roof repaired, he will build a wood siding access panel to put up in it’s place. We used these panels in other areas of the log house to be able to more easily identify and repair issues. We hired a contractor to finish the basement a few years back and should have left access then.


Now to get the leak fixed and the floor dried out, then reconstruction can occur. The lessons we have learned from building this house are immense.

Of course I chose this morning to do a self clean on the oven, mostly because it is a warm day and the windows could be opened to air as it cleans. The rest of the crew have left to go get lunch, dog food and garbage bags, and to take the drywall to the dump. I stayed because of the oven still being on and the house is quiet, the sun has come out. I think I will take my lunch outside.

Today is also the day I have begun taking down and putting away the Christmas decorations. This means seasonal linens are being washed and folded and the sheets from the visiting families beds also laundered as they will return home this afternoon.

It has been wonderful having 2 of our children and their families here this week.

The Tail of November

November is a busy month for celebrations in our family.  One grandson’s birthday is early in November, then it is quiet for a couple of weeks, but then WOW!  Friday was my step mom’s birthday, yesterday was mine, Tuesday is N’s (the grand that lives with us), Thursday of course is Thanksgiving.  The 28th is a nephew’s birthday and the 29th is K’s (our daughter).  It doesn’t end there as one DIL is December 4, then it will quiet again until we celebrate Christmas.

Yesterday, being Saturday, is also Farmers’ Market Day and the last Saturday that many of the vendors will brave the weather until spring.  Knowing that most of what we need for our Thursday feast is already in the house, but also knowing that we are going to have a house full for 5 days, some breakfast sausage, a green leafy veggie, perhaps some other meat and a few apples were on my list.  J and I left to have breakfast and do the market.  He usually sits in the sun on a bench while I visit and shop, but it was too cold yesterday.  Because yesterday was also the last home game of the season and the last home game for the retiring coach, we knew town would be crazy with out of town football fans.  J found a parking spot, not exactly a legal spot, so he sat in the car, prepared to move it if necessary.  The provisions were obtained and we came home to see if the rest of the household members were going to go with us the hour over to the farm where our Thanksgiving and Christmas pasture raised turkeys were to be picked up.

Turkey pick up is from 2 to 5.  They are fresh turkeys, very, very fresh turkeys.  Off we went with coolers in the back of the car, all 6 of us loaded in to get our birds.  Two birds totaling 36 pounds, one to cook Thursday, one put in the freezer for a month.  As the farm is in Floyd County, we ventured on to the town of Floyd and had wood fired pizza, flatbread and German style pretzels to celebrate my birthday, too late to be lunch, too early to be dinner, but delicious all the same.

Once home again, K and A made fudge brownies, my “cake” choice to end the day of celebration.

Mountaingdad purchased me a hand mill as a gift.  I have been making my own chicken feed mix for a while and T, eldest son, told me I should be grinding or at least cracking the grains for better nutritional absorption by the birds.  I had been using cracked corn, but the oats, sunflower seed, flax and split peas or lentils were whole.  Knowing that whole corn would keep better, I had to switched to it with the last purchase.


The mill set up and being used to grind the whole corn, oats, Black oil sunflower seed, flax seed (they just seem to pass right through) and split peas.  Once ground, it gets a tablespoon of oil to help hold the kelp granules, a few tablespoons of crushed eggshell for calcium and a half cup of freeze dried meal worms.  The girls love it. They still have the run of the garden for the winter, but finding anything green now is getting more and more scarce.  The neighbor dog that was killing the chickens is no longer there, so maybe the hens and Cogburn can have some free range time in the yard and fields as long as we are home and our dogs are inside.

My celebration is past, now on to the other three that we will have this week.  Hope you have a wonderful and thankful week.

Olio – June 10, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Nine years ago today, we received a call from Asheville, NC, a tired, satisfied and obviously in love voice announced that we had our first grandchild, a boy.  It hardly seems possible that he is now 9 years old.  The young man that I visit several times a year to provide day care for when his Mom’s and Dad’s school/work schedules require someone else to step in.  He will be spending 7 weeks with us this summer, in the house where he spent his first few years as they moved here when he was only 9 weeks old to supervise and do all of the stone masonry and finish carpentry in our home and then we all moved into it together for several year.


Taking a break at the zoo in April.  Happy Birthday, Loakum.

It seems that the teenage pullets think I am the Pied Piper.  Each morning after I open their coop and let them loose in the pen with fresh food and water, at least half of them then follow me back down the run to the gate.  I don’t know if they think there will be a special treat for them if they do or if I’m just Mama as they came to me as tiny chicks and were raised in a brooder in my care until old enough for the coop.


The garden is starting to brim full of good things to eat and other things to dream about.

20140610_093154[1] 20140610_093319[1] 20140610_093313[1] 20140610_093142[1]

Chard and kale, peas with plumping pods, bushes of raspberries and blueberries slowly ripening in the sun.  Peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash and sweet potatoes getting larger with each rain storm and sunny day.  Garlic almost ready to harvest and cure.

Yesterday was a busy afternoon.  After having a skin cancer removed a few years ago, I make an annual visit to the dermatologist for a full body check, that visit was in February, but a few spots appeared that caused me some concern, so a return visit started the afternoon.  Everything is fine.  Once home, Jim and I finally tackled the cleanup of the burn pile from a few weeks ago.  We were concerned that it would start filling with weeds, making the task more onerous than it already was.  Upon burning the wood that was there, we discovered a significant pile of large rocks.  I remember than eldest son had discussed putting the chicken coop there when the garden was much larger than it is now and he hauled that rock in his pick up truck from remnants of building the retaining wall, to use as a foundation for the coop.  With much grunting and groaning, the use of the tractor bucket, we moved the largest flattest of those stone to the culvert on one side of the driveway.


Where it will be turned into a guardian/warning wall like this one on the other side of the driveway.


These are to warn folks that there are car and tractor eating holes on either side of the drive that feed and drain the large culvert under the driveway and prevent it from washing down into our garage.


Once the rocks were removed, several tractor buckets of charcoal, nails and screws that had been in the wood, and rocks too small for the wall were scooped up and dumped where unsuspecting tractor or truck tires haying or hauling hay won’t meet with a flat.  The area was then leveled as well as it could with the edge of the tractor bucket and the surviving rake.  Once eldest and family settle into their own house after degrees are complete, I guess I will have to buy myself a new rake as the surviving one is his that I am storing.  Mine did not survive the burn pile control as it proved to have a plastic fitting.


On each pass from the burn pile to the culvert, I mowed a swipe through the orchard and back on the return trip.  Once the burn pile cleanup was complete, I just had to finish the job I had started and mowed the yard and orchard as close as I could with the tractor.  After a quick late dinner from the grill and a salad, the lawn mower was hauled out and the finish work around the fruit trees, chicken pen, garden and close to the house was done, just as the sky was darkening with the chickens settling in for the night.  With them closed up for the night, personal cleanup of bodies and laundry and a rest were in order.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.