Tag Archives: clean up

Way Over Due – 4/18/2019

It is definitely spring cleaning time.  With two big dogs in the house, the house closed up for winter, living on a gravel driveway off a gravel road,  and recovering from the concussion I got in our accident in February, the house was in sad need of a major overhaul.  I can vacuum and dust daily and still it accumulates way faster than I can keep up.  The HVAC guy came last week for the spring service and put a new filter in, but still it accumulates.  Starting this morning in our bathroom, it got a deep clean.  The later morning and afternoon were dedicated to deep cleaning the loft and our bedroom.

The loft is our computer, TV, and my crafting area.  I recently decided that I had accumulated too many spinning wheels, and a few other crafty things that are just gathering dust.  Three wheels and some other items were listed for sale on various sites.  I want to keep my Great Wheel and one wheel that can be used at home and at historical demonstrations and have room to set my triloom up so I can use it.  The first order of business was to get 4 more cube bins for the cube storage unit.  Everything was removed from it and from the bookcase and also from a smaller folding bookcase in our bedroom.  They were wiped down with a damp rag and organization was accomplished.  The cube unit with it’s bins now holds all of my handspun yarn that isn’t for sale, the small amount of mill spun yarn that I am keeping, including a bit from a fiber and yarn dyer friend that recently passed away.  The remaining 4 bins have roving and clean fleece that are awaiting spinning.

The smaller shallow bookcase actually has the books for knitting, spinning, basket making, and Zentangle.  It is a very shallow bookcase, but it also holds a few small shipping boxes for my shop, the Shop files, and a couple of baskets that are currently not needed.

The larger bookcase has a bin of tools for making labels for the shop, one of knitting  tools and stitch marker making supplies, one of my wool samples for camps and classes to show the different breeds, and one for bags, paint for signs, and brushes.

The top of the two bigger units hold my lazy kate, skein winder, and ball winder.

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Everything has a place, it’s very own place, and I can find it.

I only have two baskets by my chair at this point, one for spinning tools and current spinning fiber and one for my Hap Shawl that I am knitting from the Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em skeins that I spun.

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Everything got a good dusting including all the other furniture upstairs.  Vacuuming with the big Dyson and in tight spots with the hand held Shark.  One of the big dogs is an English Mastiff.   They are prone to drool and shake their head, so slime gets in places like walls.  The hall and stairwell walls got a thorough scrubbing as well.

My sewing area in the bedroom still needs a bit of work, but I am in the midst of a project there, so it will get done soon.

If the wheels sell, I will have room for my loom to be set up, a project using some of the Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em yarns that were too bulky or too fuzzy for the shawl is developing.    Some of it will have to be dyed and some Merino top also needs to be dyed before my next vending event in May.

At last weekend’s event, a friend who with her husband are suttlers at Rev. War events suggested she could sell some of my soaps and salves.  A display box was set up that they can drop into one of their totes and will be delivered to her in a couple of weeks.  That got me organizing my products for upcoming shows and events and I took the time to update my Etsy Shop and do inventory.  Those records are now accurate.  It has been a busy couple of days.  The main floor of the house still needs a thorough cleaning and we have a couple of rainy, windy days coming up, so it will probably get done.

An Afternoon in the Garden

We survived the two frost threats so the peppers are continuing to grow.  The end of the garden that never got worked this past year was finally given back to the chickens.  It took all summer, but I realized that having doubled the garden the year before was a mistake.  Without regular help on the garden, it was just too large for me to manage.  I have always done better with a garden in 4 foot squares with heavily mulched paths between them.  Having the asparagus bed in the newer part of the garden and having moved the raspberries up to that end as well, it seemed the best idea to use that for the garden from now on.  It is closest to the chicken coop and it’s source of spoiled straw for the compost, putting the compost pile where the horseradish had been planted.

To make sure that this would be enough garden for me, I used an online tool to plan a garden using a series of 4 foot square beds.  The asparagus bed is larger than that and the frame will have to be built to surround them.  The raspberries won’t be boxed.  The compost was moved from next to the chicken coop, the old compost bed will become the area for next  year’s corn patch.

Garden plan

The new garden will be 30 by 30 feet instead of 30 by 60+ feet, the blueberries are still at the far end of the larger garden and will have to be boxed off from the chickens or moved.  If I box them off, the area I designated in the new garden will be set aside for flowers and herbs.   I will plant only 8 tomatoes next year and get them well supported early, about the same amount of peppers as this year.  There will be two squares for peas, two for green beans and being in boxed beds, I can keep the bunnies out. Boxes for garlic, onions, tomatillos, sweet potatoes, and a shared box for turnips, chard, and cabbage will be in place.   White potatoes will be planted in two half wine barrels that are located within the garden but sat idle this year.  Today, I bought the first two cedar boxes, moved fencing to keep the chickens out of the garden area, pulled most of the tomato vines, and started laying cardboard to keep the weeds out of the edge and down between the boxes.  Grandson collected a bucket full of the last of the tomatoes, mostly green.  Tomorrow, I will finish pulling the vines, rake up dropped tomatoes, built the box for the asparagus, set up the two new boxes, preparing one of them to receive the garlic in a couple more weeks.  If I buy 2 boxes a month through the fall and winter, I will have enough set up in the spring for planting.

The chickens weren’t supposed to be able to get in the enlarged part yet, but they found their way through the temporary barrier and started enjoying the weeds, bugs, and fallen tomatillos. They will have about 900 square feet of new run, but it won’t be protected from the hawk.  They will have quick access back to their protected area.

The compost pile is huge with the asparagus ferns, the tomato vines, and piles of weeds that are being pulled to clean up the  garden for winter.  The coop needs to be cleaned out before cold weather and that will be added to the pile to break down into good compost for the gardens.   I will have to take the weed wacker in to the lower area and knock down some of the tall weeds in there, but they will be left to lay to break down, provide forage for the chickens and attract bugs for them as well.

Tomorrow and Sunday are supposed to be beautiful days, I’m hoping to have everything ready for winter, except pulling the peppers which will be allowed to continue to grow until first frost.

I’m hoping that this plan, the boxes and smaller footprint will allow me to enjoy the garden more next year, get enough produce to fill our freezer and canning jars.  Giving the run back to the chickens will allow me a slightly larger flock.  The coop can hold a dozen to 14 birds and I only have 8.  Before chick season next spring, the fencing around the brooder coop needs to be replaced with taller, small mesh fencing to keep mature birds from flying out and chicks from getting away from the momma hen through the fence holes.  For now, it is clean up and then settle in for the planning season, looking for the seed I want to plant, the flowers I want to grow in the newly designed garden next year.

Why?

Our Saturday morning routine is for Jim and me to breakfast out followed by the Farmers’ Market for the weekly meat, some sourdough bread, and whatever produce is seasonally available until our garden is producing.  We are starting to see some greens and got a big bag of fresh spinach and a large bunch of scallions.  Some brats, a pork Boston butt, a bit of beef to go with the chickens we froze in the fall and we are set for the week.

Lately, we have noticed a lot of litter, not just on our road, but on the main road between Blacksburg and home.  A couple of weeks ago, Jim decided to clean up our road and did a small portion of the road down the mountain.  Today, the litter got to us and after we unloaded the market goodies, we donned gloves, grabbed a box garbage bags and headed back out.  We parked on a wide grassy area in a curve where our car could be seen from both directions and set to work.  Jim worked down one side, I worked down the other.

In 1/4 mile, we collected 8 bags of beer bottles and cans, soda bottles, drink cups, hard liquor bottles, food wrappers, plastic bags, fast food trash, styrofoam containers, and cigarette packs.

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We had a few drivers wave at us and one stop to make sure our car had not broken down, but no offers of help.

I hate that it all went in the landfill, but we weren’t about to sort through the bags to filter out the plastic bags and styrofoam to recycle it.  When we got to the convenience center, we saw about a dozen more bright orange bags that are given out by the road crews to people that want to clean up litter that had also been brought down.

I don’t understand the mindset of people who think that throwing their trash out the window is okay.  I hate to think what our beautiful country road, that leads up to a historic lodge and is traveled by many visitors daily, would look like if good citizens didn’t clean up for the thoughtless.  It disturbs me more that half a bag of that litter was on 2/10s of a mile of our dead end road that is traveled only by residents and delivery people.

Virginia, it is time to return to bottle deposits and for our country to take a stand against plastic bags and styrofoam.  That might not eliminate the problem, but might help reduce it.  I wish that we could clean up all the way to Blacksburg, but we will instead tackle a section of our mountain road at a time, until it is cleaned up.  I guess we should look for the source of the orange bags.  They can be left tied on the side of the road and the local refuse collectors pick them up on their route.

Olio, December 29, 2015

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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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.

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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.

Morning Madness

Yesterday was spent waiting for Nature’s Yarns in Fairfax to open so that I could use my birthday discount to get some needles that I wanted, now that I have become a convert to DPN’s for socks, hats, sleeves, and other small rounds.  Their winter hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., so I had to wait before my drive back home.  That followed by the 5ish hour drive back to SW Virginia, then dinner prep and I was ready for bed before the grands last night.  I think I managed to stay awake until maybe 9 p.m.

This morning, refreshed from a night in my own bed and a shower to wake up, I tackled part of today’s chores.  K’s freezer is plugged in beside our freezer in the basement and it became the repository for most of the meat this weekend.  Now that it is all solidly frozen, I tackled both freezers to sort into boxes and baskets so that you can actually find a package of stew meat, a roast, a half or whole chicken or some parts, a package of fruit or vegetables to not have to dig for them.

SIL loves granola and it is cheaper for me to make it, than to buy it.  I make a batch, each time the half gallon jar appears empty on the counter.  It appeared on Friday, but with the Holiday Market on Saturday, the chickens on Sunday, travel yesterday, the jar got washed and dried and sat empty until this morning.

As I was measuring out the ingredients this morning, I was curious about the calorie content of the granola.  I know that it is not a low calorie food, and I make it partly because of cost and partly to control what goes into it.  This morning, I made it with honey, sometimes with maple syrup.
Cabin Crafted Granola
5 c rolled oats (1560 cal.)         1/3 c coconut oil melted (636 cal.)
½ c wheat germ (149 cal.)        1/3 c raw honey (344 cal.)
1 c chopped pecans (832 cal.)   1 tsp ground nutmeg or cinnamon
Dash of salt                             1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 c raisens(419 cal.)

Mix all ingredients except raisens in a large bowl. Spread in a lightly oiled baking
pan. Place in preheated 325°f oven. Toast for 30 minutes, stirring every 10.
Remove from oven, stir in the raisens and cool. Makes about 8 cups of cereal.
Total estimated calories – 3940 or 492.5 per cup
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Wow, was I surprised. I rarely eat more than a tablespoon full sprinkled over ice cream or yogurt. Guess it is a good thing.

I still need to go out and clean out the cull coop.  Collect and scrub their water and food containers and sanitize them until they are needed again.  The hen flock was still very fearful of me this morning as their pen is adjacent to the meaties pen and they watched me go in and come out, carrying an often squawking young hen on Sunday.  They will calm down as I continue to feed them and provide them with treats this week.  I wish they would finish their molt and start laying again.  I only get an average of 1 egg a day right now from the 9 of them.

Still loving life on our mountain farm.

Earth Day

Litter

Mother Earth should be treated more kindly, not just on Earth Day, but everyday.  We try to do our part, recycling (even in our rural area), composting either in the compost piles or through the help of the chickens, keeping our property and the road front clear of litter, combining errands to reduce the carbon footprint by driving less.  Planting trees in the non pasture parts of the farm.

Many rural folk have a different mindset about trash, I have blogged about this before (http://wp.me/p3JVVn-l3), but in addition to keeping junk and making trash piles, there is the roadside litter; empty soda and alcohol cups, bottles, and cans, fast food containers, cigarette packages (there are a lot of irresponsible smokers in this county).  Periodically, someone will take it upon themselves either out of civic duty or court imposed community service to walk down the beautiful mountain road and collect bag after orange bag of litter and leave them for the county services to collect.  When we lived in the city, we would see some of this too, along with the ashtray dumps in the street gutters where all of that nastiness washed down into the storm drains and eventually into the river and ocean.  Before retirement, we lived in a coastal city and often took our kayaks into one of the hundreds of canals, creeks, rivers and bays available.  After the first trip or two, we began to each carry a large garbage bag in our kayak and would collect as much as we could on a trip.  I guess this shows that it isn’t just rural folk, they just have city ordinances that prevent the larger collection of yard junk.

How difficult is it to keep a litter bag in your car?  To hold on to the fast food bag until you reach a trash receptacle.  To think before  you throw your butt or ashtray full of butts out the window.  Recycling and anti litter are taught in schools as soon as children begin school.  This is the responsibility of all of us.  Do your part, be responsible.  Don’t just celebrate Earth Day by planting a tree, make it an everyday commitment.

 

The Dump

We live a rural life in our retirement, in a county that has only about 15000 residents.  Since we bought our property, several suburban changes have been made along the main Route that bisects the county, installing town water instead of wells to most of the residents along that route.  To dispose of your garbage, if you live on a main paved secondary road, there is garbage pick up once a week.  If you live off of the main route or the paved secondary roads, you still have well water and you pay a mandatory monthly fee for the privilege of taking your garbage to one of 4 collection sites in the county.  We fall in the later category.

This is a fairly recent development, within the last decade or two and before that, the rural method was to have a garbage pile on your property or find a place that no one would complain and dump it.  Taking your garbage to the collection center is a hard pill for some of the folks up here to swallow and many have the mindset to never throw away anything and to take anything that is free, because maybe someday you will find a use for it.  As a result there are properties that regardless of how close their neighbor is, have junked cars, dead tractors, collections of plastic yard toys and yard ornaments, piles of half rotted lumber, barrels and buckets of who knows what, old tubs or toilets, you name it and it is in their yard, creating an eyesore.  Don’t get me wrong, that is not the norm.  You see many neat well kept farms as well.

Another facet of cattle raising land is the use of old tires to hold down tarps over silage or to line the edge of a difficult to fence area as the cows won’t step inside or over them.

Our 30 acres was used to graze cattle, then miniature horses prior to our purchase.  The land had been rented out to various farmers over the years.  And our land has a natural sinkhole with a creek running down into it and then disappearing into the a cave.  Two edges of the largest hayfield had well over a hundred tires placed in an alternating double row, just in the edge of the woodlot.  The sink hole was a repository of many years of dumping, right off the edge of the cliff, so that the junk fell near and into the creek.   This wasn’t just cans and bottles, but an old wringer washer, part of a car, an old stove, a water heater, rolls of rusted fencing and more tires.  This bothered us, a lot, and every weekend that we could visit our land before construction, we came armed with boxes of huge garbage bags, work gloves and boots and we loaded and hauled sacks and sacks of glass and plastic out of the pile.

Once we brought our trailer up to store, we started collecting the tires and had to pay to drop them off, not at the nearest collection center, but the central one in the county.  Each tire costing us $1.50 to leave it.

Two summer’s ago, a neighbor, Jim and I with our tractor and the neighbor’s long steel cable, spent a couple of day hauling the big junk out of the sinkhole and piling it up in the edge of the closest field where one of the local men came and loaded all of the metal onto his truck to take to the metal reclaiming site for whatever money he could get for it.

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We thought when that was hauled away that we were done with the worst of it and had done a part to help clean up the environment and local groundwater.

When the leaves fell this fall, we noticed another tire in the edge of the woods, then another, and another.  Now that the snow has melted and before we get any more rain or snow, we hooked up the trailer, put on our work clothes and dragged 15 more tires out of the edge of the woods.  We are afraid to say that we have finally gotten them all, because that might jinx us and we will find more.  For now, the sinkhole, the barn, and the edge of the woods look better.  We will never get all of the old rusted cans and broken glass from the edge of the sinkhole, but hopefully, each year, Mother Nature is dumping a new load of leaves to compost over them and they are settling into the earth.

Life is good on our mountain farm.