Last summer or fall, my eldest did two pages of calculations to determine about what it was costing me per bar to make my soaps. This came right after I did a craft event where I was one of about 5 or 6 people that had hand crafted soap, some selling for as little as $3 per bar. At that rate of sale, they are barely making back the materials cost. I do try to use as many organic ingredients as I can obtain and that increases my cost some, but I can’t sell my soap for $3 per bar and get paid anything for my time to make, package, pay booth fee, Virginia sales tax, and time spent at the event selling. A couple of weekends ago, I was at a re-enactment event and was told I could vend. There was another spinner/soap maker there that was local and not in Rev War costume and her soaps were $3.50 per bar. I didn’t check her knit hat prices. Neither of us sold anything that day.
Very low price handcrafted items devalues other craftsmen.
I know my hand spun, hand knit prices have been too low, so I did a bit of research to see what similar items are listed for on Etsy. I don’t know if they actually sell, but the prices for hats with bulky yarn are listed for nearly double my prices for items hand spun, hand knit with fingering to dk weight yarn. I decided to time myself spinning and then knitting a pair of fingerless mitts. It takes me almost 5 hours to spin, ply, and wash 4 ounces of wool roving, longer if I have to wash the fleece, dry it, comb or card it to use. It take me another 5 hours to knit a pair of fingerless mitts, probably a bit less to do a hat, again from fingering to dk weight yarn. I use about half a skein for the mitts, so 2.5 hours, plus 5 hours is 7 to 8 hours of my time. If I price them at a wage of $5 per hour, not counting the cost of the roving or fleece, no one will buy them.
A real craftsman can not compete with foreign sweatshop made prices.
Most of my hand knit items are from patterns that I developed, not patterns I have found online. That adds more hours to the project. It is difficult to compare apples to oranges, when another vendor is knitting or crocheting bulky acrylic yarn into hats and cowls while I am spinning wool to a fine yarn and knitting. I know I am worth the price that a hand crafted item should sell for, but my stock accumulates. Next weekend, I will participate in a first year Artisan event. The artists that have been featured are true artists, I hope it is a success for us all.
The first craft show is done. It wasn’t a bust, but not a great success either. There were many vendors with holiday decorations made with artificial flowers and purchased craft store doodads, a few nice country furniture makers, and too many vendors of body products. My spot, though on an inside aisle corner was toward the end of the path though, so many other soap makers had already tempted the buyers. My hand spun, hand knit wearables were out of the price market for most of the buyers. It was an experiment and probably won’t be repeated.
Additional hats and mitts are being knit to further supply the upcoming three weekend holiday markets.
Two new 3 step displays have been purchased for the soaps, lotion bars, and salves. They need to be stained and poly finished before next weekend.
Their footprint is about the same as the crates, but raises the product to a more visible position. As most of my soaps are vegan, I have purchased some organic soy wax and will make vegan lotion bars and salves as well and will have a vegan display and a soy free display. They will be raised above the table height enough that men’s grooming boxes and beard/body oils can be displayed below.
Each of my children were given a crewel work Christmas stocking that I made when they were infants and which they still use. Each grandchild has been given one, either quilted or knitted intarsia. Our 7th grandchild was born this past summer and she will get her stocking this year. It still needs to be lined and some add on ornamentation sewn on and each stocking has a tag sewn inside that is a cross stitched message that says “Made with love, Mom or Grandmom, year” that needs to be stitched and added.
The afternoon of the craft show, our eldest son arrived on a bus to continue working on rebuilding our deck and reinstalling the Direct TV dish. Toward the end of summer, he and his wife set in concrete, a metal post off the corner of the house for it to be mounted on, but it needed to set. In the meantime, they had a medical emergency now ok which delayed further work, but he came to get more done. His wife and son came Wednesday after work to celebrate Thanksgiving.
On one of our excursions out to get supplies for the deck and dish, we went to Rural King and they had chicks. We came home with the lumber and hardware, set up the big rubber brooder tub and heat table with plans to go back the next day to get the chicks. Instead, we had to go back out that afternoon as we realized that something had been left at one of the shops, so bedding, feed, and a new water base were purchased and a dozen two week old chicks were brought home for spring laying.
The Buff Orpington and Welsummers that are almost two have not resumed laying since they molted and we have not gotten a single egg in a month. Eggs had to be purchased for the family staying here and for Thanksgiving cooking. We got 3 each Welsummers, Mottled Javas, New Hampshires, and Olive Eggers. Being almost three weeks old now, they are feathering out and will soon try to fly out of the brooder. A screen is over the top and the heat lamp that had to be added with the heat table because of the cold in the garage will hopefully thwart that attempt. The hens will be moved to the cull coop as soon as the fence is fixed there and the coop will be scrubbed and sanitized so the chicks can be relocated out there when they are 6 or 7 weeks old.
Thanksgiving dinner was celebrated with two of our children and their families. The almost 17 pound local turkey was spatchcocked by eldest son, the sides assembled and a delicious, hearty, mostly local meal was group prepared and enjoyed by all. The left over turkey enjoyed again for lunch yesterday, and gallons of turkey broth made and frozen for cooking over the next few weeks. Eldest son went home with some.
Today is our local granddaughter’s 7th birthday and we will be celebrating her birthday and her Mom’s tonight as her Mom will be away for hers. That will end the November birthday’s for our family. Jim took me to my favorite local restaurant for my birthday last week and I had an awesome risotto with pumpkin, mushrooms, cranberries, and pecans.
During evening hours after a day’s work and knitting have worn me out, caused joint pain, or just stress from the day, I have turned to the calming, meditative art of Zentangle. The two tiles below are the efforts of the past week, never spending more than about 20 minutes a day of refocus and calming.
The day dawned very, very cold for this time of year. According to our local weather blogger, the last time it was this cold this early was 1995 and a couple of weeks later they had a record snowfall. I hope we aren’t headed for a repeat of that.
More work has been put into the Asymmetrical Scarf of hand spun Merino and bamboo, the ball of yarn is getting thinner and the scarf is getting longer. Hopefully it will be done by Saturday for the first craft show.
I love the colors and realized that it blends with the project bag that is containing it.
The afternoon was spent with more kitchen chemistry. The lotion bars that were molded yesterday weren’t firm enough and there was no more beeswax in the house. A quick trip out to resupply it and get two essential oils. Since the metal measure that was the top of the double boiler had another batch to be poured, beeswax was added to it and remelted, the soft bars that I froze overnight so they could be removed from the silicon molds were dumped on a labelled sheet so I wouldn’t mix the scents, the molds washed and refilled with a Man bar scent and some unscented ones and while they were setting up, one of the scents from yesterday was remelted and more wax added. This process was repeated until all had been remade with a more solid mixture.
While they were setting up, one of yesterday’s soap molds was sliced into bars to cure. The other mold wasn’t quite ready yet. A third batch was measured out and made, Moroccan Red Clay and Cocoa soap. I am anxious to see how this one unmolds as it was divided in half. One half getting the red clay, the other half getting the dark cocoa, they were then poured in two layers and swirled. This was a new technique for me.
Once the soap was wrapped in a towel to set up overnight, the lotion bars were tinned up, labelled, and sealed with shrink bands.
The big crate has 8 sections and seven of them have different scents of lotion bars leaving a jumble of salves in the front and a need for a way to display them. There was a smaller deeper box that looked promising if altered. The top part was sawed off and the slats broken apart, the two long ones cut to the length of the two shorter ones and the parts painted with the Melted Chocolate color paint that has been used on the other crates and frames.
It is about half the size and once all the parts are dry, the slats will be glued in to provide spacers for the smaller tins of salves. A bit of table arranging will be necessary to make it all fit, but it will work.
The kitchen chemistry for the day ended with the magic of making pizza dough and a homemade pizza with the fresh mozzarella purchased at the Farmers Market yesterday. A jar of the pizza sauce I canned, a Farmers Market red onion and Italian Sausage, some mushrooms, and pepperoni from the grocer and again we enjoyed great pizza. The chickens will enjoy the crust bits and the whey from the cheese tomorrow.
Change is in the wind and boy oh boy has there been some of that recently. Unfortunately, it has taken out the power several times for anywhere from a few minutes to 9 hours and the start and failure have taken a toll on our appliances. The 11 year old appliances are not as sturdy as they were new and the microwave with stove vent failed. It has been ordered and will be installed soon. The most used burner on the stove top failed once and elder son shifted the back small one forward then replaced the back one when the one we ordered came in. The front one has failed again (it is actually an original as we moved it) and another replacement has been ordered. The big scary one though is the refrigerator. Each time the power goes out for more than a blink, it doesn’t come back on. At first it was just a few minutes, then a couple hours, now it is staying out for more than half a day. The contents get shuttled to the old basement fridge and I even called for repair once, but it came back on before they could come and unlike a car, it can’t be diagnosed if it is working.
But that is not where this post is going. The Cabin Crafted Soap and Yarn shop has been seriously short on product since the Holiday Markets in November and December, followed by a vending weekend at a Spinning Retreat and no real effort had been made to alleviate that situation. Spring and summer give me plenty of opportunities to spin at Historic Smithfield Plantation but vending opportunities are few. Spinning as a demonstrator at our Community Open House has been scheduled in May, but that is not a vending opportunity, though sometimes a skein or two of yarn is purchased. A couple of days ago, a young intern from Smithfield who is a local high school student reached out to me to participate in her high school’s Heritage Day event in May as a historical demonstrator and I am allowed to also vend without paying a booth fee by participating. It is a month off and it take soap a month to cure, so the cool windy days have keep me out of the garden and inside making preparation.
First on my agenda was to finally build the display stand for knitwear, for which the materials were purchased more than a month ago and they have been on the garage floor.
It was measured, cut, and assembled on Sunday and today, it got the first coat of polystain.
It is going to need to be sanded down with steel wool or superfine sand paper as the dowel cross pieces roughened with the stain and a second coat applied, maybe tomorrow.
Next up to resupply soap and all 4 soap molds were put to use with 4 different soaps made to cure for the month. That is 36 bars of soap.
Lavender; Cedarwood/White Thyme/Rosemary; Citrus all vegan soaps and Goat Milk/Oatmeal/Honey. They will be unmolded and cut to cure tomorrow. When son made me the wooden molds, daughter in law asked if I wanted silicone liners and I said no but wish I hadn’t as folding the parchment or butcher paper to line them is a challenge for me. Today I ordered a very thin silicone baking mat and I am going to cut it to line the sides and seal the pieces with a tube of silicone caulk to make unmolding them easier.
My other project is one that has niggled me for a while. The shop name is Cabin Crafted Soap and Yarn, the logo is an ink drawing of the main part of our log home drawn by our very talented daughter in law. The display sign is natural wood slats with black wood letters. All of this suggesting rustic, but my table covers have been a green paisley Indian cotton bedspread that was cut and hemmed and my display boxes are wooden shadow boxes that were painted on the outside with a pale mint green color and that wasn’t in keeping with the theme, especially if I am vending in costume as a demonstrator. With our local JoAnn’s store having a major moving clearance sale, I decided to purchase enough unbleached duck cloth to make two table covers and some acrylic paint in “Melted Chocolate” color to paint the shadow boxes.
The feel is more natural and more rustic with the wooden sign, pecan stained wood display, and reed baskets trimmed with dark leather (probably pleather) for the yarn, if follows the theme better.
The very young clerk who assisted me was told the plan was to make covers for two 24″ X 48″ tables. We discussed the fact that the width of the fabric was only 42″ so I decided to double it and just seam up the middle. so that it hung down over the table. I left her to cut while I went to pick up the paint and foam brushes and returned to pick up my fabric and pay out to leave. Upon getting home to work on it, I realized that she not only did not calculate enough fabric to hang off the ends if I cut it to give me front and back drop, she didn’t even give me seam allowance to hem the ends and still cover the 48″ length. I decided that the backs of the tables didn’t really need drop as I generally store my crates under the table from the back and used the extra to allow side drop. I guess I should have done my own calculations. She said she was getting off shortly to go to her afternoon classes at the Community College. I hope she isn’t majoring in math or fashion.
It has been a while since an Olio was posted, actually been a while since much of anything has been posted.
Spinzilla, the TNNA (The National Needle Arts Assoc.) team spinning competition ended Sunday night. Our team had 25 spinners from across the US, sponsored by The Knotty Ladies and Strauch Fiber Equipment Company. Most of our team has reported their yardage with a photo, it was due to our team leader yesterday, but mine was turned in before the official end of the competition by about 3 hours. I was worn out, beat up, and generally over it by then and had finished plying a bobbin full of wool, so I quit. During the course of the competition as my spinning wheel only has 4 bobbins and 1 of them has some pre Spinzilla alpaca on it that didn’t get finished prior to the start time, I plyed off every bobbin or two bobbins together, wound them off the plying bobbin, measured the yardage, and banded them with fiber, yardage, and weight and put the info in a spreadsheet to make the total tally easier to do. In the end, spinning every spare minute I could on my wheel and everywhere we went on one of my drop spindles, I spun 5000.57 yards of wool, 2.84 miles in 7 days.
Though we have often had our first frost by now, we are still experiencing daytime tempertures as high as 90, but the light drought we have been experiencing has finally broken and we have had some rain in the past week, greening up the browned grasses. The trees are turning orange, red, and gold, some having already shed their leaves.
The pullets seem to all be laying now, often getting up to 13 eggs from the 16 on a good day. Only one of the old girls is still laying, though the molt seems to be winding down, it no longer looks like a chicken exploded in their coop and run.
Normally in the autumn, we spend about 23 hours taking turns mowing our 30 acres with a 5 foot brush hog and our little tractor, but this year, we turned the task over to our retired postman and his helper and let them mow and bale the 3 big fields. That leaves only from the house to the road to mow and that often gets done monthly anyway. That was a big relief to not have to face that many hours on the tractor.
He got 20 large round bales, not too bad for a second cutting of hay after weeks of really dry weather. His cattle will appreciate it this winter if we get any bad weather.
Each day hubby and I try to get in a good brisk walk. Even with the rain we have managed most days. Between our house and Blacksburg, there is a large pond in the National Forest and it has a nice path around it. If we park in the upper parking lot, walk down to the pond and around it and then turn around and back track, we get about 2.3 miles. From the library in Blacksburg to the rec center in Christiansburg is an asphalt trail on an old rail grade, mostly through wooded areas, behind residential areas, and some open fields and it has several access points. There are two that we choose, from the library to Airport Road and back which is about the same 2.3 miles and from behind the hospital toward Christiansburg, a 2.5 section. Our 4th walk choice is to go to Radford when we are over in that direction and walk 2.7 miles of Bisset Park on an asphalt trail along the New River. As we are still seeing various specialists nearly weekly trying to determine what is going on with hubby, we have avoided steep climbs or walks that take us out of civilization where getting help if needed would be difficult. There is another trail along the New River that we want to check out, but it is one that will probably involve taking along a picnic and making a day trip of it as it is a bit of a drive.
My crafting since the end of Spinzilla has been minimal, but I did get my studio corner cleaned up and mostly organized and used some of my hand spun, hand dyed yarn to repair my favorite pair of jeans.
And I have read. The Orphan’s Tale is an excellent historical fiction set during WWII set in Germany and France and set around the circus. A really interesting read, highly recommended.
The first Holiday Market is Saturday. Today is sunny, calm, and 70ºf, a perfect day to be outside. I took a walk and because of Saturday’s forecast, drove by the lot where I will be set up. I was hoping that I would be able to slip a strap or polycord under or through the car stop wedge that will be the back of my stall, but they look like they are firmly adhered to the brick pavers. Last year, the market manager said he was trying to get the town to install tie down rings in the pavers, but that has not been done.
The hope for the strap or cord is because Saturday is forecast to be a high of mid 50’s, 20% chance of rain, and 25 mph gusts of wind. I have to erect a 10 X 10 foot popup canopy and I don’t want to spend all 5 hours worrying about it taking flight, taking out my display, or another vendor’s stall. I have a few empty 5 gallon buckets and dozens of rock piles on the farm, so I think I will load up a few buckets with 50 pounds or so each of rocks and tie the canopy down to them. If the wind can take out 3 of those along with the 25 pounds of leg weights, I am in trouble.
Of my last soap making, one of my popular scents did not set up properly. The bars are usable but not pretty, so that batch will be retained for family use. I will have to make another batch of that scent for the December market and see what others sell to determine which other bars to make.
My crates are packed. I spent the afternoon making sure that I have the little clip on chalkboard tags for each scent of soap, each scent of lotion bar, and each salve. I still have 3 skeins of yarn to label and pack, decide whether I want 2 or 3 tables and if I go with 3, then I need to decide what to use for my 3rd table cover. I bought an Indian cotton throw in the fall, cut and hemmed it to make two table covers, but I don’t have a third table cloth that will go with the color or pattern. I’m sure I will figure it out by Saturday morning.
If it is windy as forecast, my A frame stand for hats and mitts will likely blow over. The T shaped one with clips for shawls can be anchored to the table edge with a C clamp. Maybe I should add a base across the back of the A frame so it too can be clamped down.
I will dress in lots of layers that can be peeled off if it warms up during the day. Fortunately a new and favored local coffee shop has opened in one of the fixed stores right at the market, so I can at least keep a cup of hot coffee or tea nearby to warm my hands.
This was last year. The display is changed and simplified now. You will have to wait to see how it sets up this year. If you can’t come in person, stop by the shop https://squareup.com/store/cabin-crafted. You can make your purchases there and I will deliver them to you if you are local or mail them to you if not local.
It was a beautiful busy weekend, that spilled over to today.
Yesterday, the asparagus bed was trimmed, weeded, and heavily mulched for the winter. A few peppers were picked, but there are many more soon to be ready. Some of the tomato vines were pulled, but I ran out of steam before the job was done.
I gave up on trying to stop the randy cockerels from escaping, but made the hen’s pen more secure so that at least they can’t get in with them. I don’t think letting them coop up with the hens for the next 3 weeks is a good idea, I’m afraid it would incite more fighting between them and maybe they would even attack the fairly docile cockerel that I put in with them. So far the hens are not letting him anywhere near them. The molting season is full on and the yard near their pen looks like I had a pillow fight with someone. Because of the mature hens molting and the pullets not yet laying, I am only getting 1 egg a day. Hopefully that will change soon and we will start getting more eggs with the holidays approaching and baking to be done.
It was a good weekend to start making soap again. I have an order for a full mold of a scent I don’t put in my shop anymore, and I needed three others for the upcoming Holiday Markets.
Two batches were made over the weekend, unmolded and cut yesterday. Today I was going to make the other two and got one made, the kitchen a mess and realized that I don’t have enough of one of the essential oils to make the other batch. Granddaughter is napping and I don’t want to get her up yet. Grandson has to be picked up from the bus stop in a bit more than an hour. Both of them need to be dressed and taken to Taekwondo by 5:15, so I guess I will buy the oil then and make the other batch tonight.
For a while, I have been watching the not quite 5 year old granddaughter ride down our dirt and gravel driveway and across the sloping yard on her balance bike. Daughter and I had discussed that she was about ready to learn to ride a real bike without training wheels. I am not a fan of training wheels. I feel that once a kid has a comfort level with the balance, either on a balance bike or on a real bike on a gentle grassy slope, that they are ready to start pedaling. She was taken to the elementary school where I taught her cousin to ride a few summers ago, and wasn’t there long before her Mom sent us a video of her riding on her own. She still needed someone to help her start. Today, she asked me to take her riding again, so we went to the old high school track that is available for the public to walk or run on and she rode great loops around the track, into a head wind and then while I was approaching to help her start off, she did it by herself. She was so proud of herself.
I have continued to work on the Christmas stocking for the newest granddaughter. The chart that is used for the design is very poorly labeled and it violates every rule of knitting color work by spanning 10 or 12 stitches in a color change. I have cut short lengths and wound many bobbins to avoid it, but as it is going to be lined in the end, there are some places where I just spanned too many stitches and did the color change.
When doing a chart, each little box either has a symbol or lacks a symbol and there is a key to let you know what color, the symbol represents. This one has a key, but the key does not match the colors in the photo (the yarn does), so it has been a challenge of flipping to the photograph to see what color the symbol is supposed to be. To make matters worse, two symbols represent two different colors depending on where in the chart you are. As it is, I am going to have to double knit a small section to “repair” a mixed up color from the chart. The right photo is of the back of the stocking with all of the little bobbins and balls that I have to keep untangling. I have reached a point where I am only using 4 colors now and soon only three, then to join in the round and knit the heel and toe. Each stocking that I have made is lined. For my children I did stockings that were crewel work, each grandchild has either a quilted or knitted one. After they are finished and lined, I add a little cross stitched tag inside near the top that says, Made with love, (name they call me) and the year it was made. I hope they treasure them as much as I enjoyed making them.
Last Tuesday evening, son-in-law’s parents arrived by air, bringing Grandson A home from his 7 weeks in Florida. With them was A’s eleven year old male cousin. They got to have some quality time with the grandkids, enjoying some lunches out, a movie, laser tag, and the Children’s Museum. This put 9 folks in the house for breakfast and 3 dinners. They ate one dinner out with the kids and grands. Yesterday afternoon, they left to return to Florida, of course leaving A here to get back on his routine prior to school beginning in a couple of weeks.
The bed and bath linens have been laundered, folded and put away until that guest room is needed again. Last night, the kids rewarded us with a Mexican food meal out, freeing me from the meal prep, then we treated them all to ice cream out. Tonight is a return to Taekwondo for A and is also the adult class for the kids, so dinner will just be Jim and me.
Once home last night, I began spinning 4 ounces of over dyed Coopsworth wool. I had hoped to use it with another skein that was left over from making the sweater last spring, however, the yarn weight is nowhere near the same gauge. I will figure out what to do with them, perhaps make a hat and scarf set that can be used as a gift or go in my shop.
This morning, I dyed the 278 yards of Leicester Longwool that I spun last week. It is destined for my use and it is luscious.
In the midst of spinning, dyeing, cooking, laundry, and being grand-mom in charge, I worked on organizing my teaching materials, my product and labeling, and pulling out items that will be put in a reduced item basket to take to the fiber retreat toward the end of the month.
This evening just before preparing dinner, I got the area above and inside the chicken runs mowed on a high setting and the jungle thicket that even the chickens wouldn’t enter, clipped and pulled down. The cull chicks seem to prefer to stay inside their dry palace than to venture out in the wet to help keep the weeds at bay in their run. Maybe when it dries out a bit, they will come outside more. Tomorrow, I need to try to get two bales of straw to put fresh dry bedding in the coops. The hay bale that was designated for the coops is so wet from this summer’s rains that it is growing mushrooms. It will have to be broken up and used on the garden as mulch.
Yesterday was our eldest son’s birthday. It seems like yesterday that I was standing in our new kitchen (we had just bought a house and moved in only two weeks before) shelling fresh peas that we had bought that morning at the Farmers’ Market in Virginia Beach. We had also taken a walk up Mt. Trashmore, a city park build on the old landfill, with hopes that it would stimulate labor. It did, sort of. At any rate, the peas did not get eaten that night, a stay in the labor unit at the hospital instead and his addition to our family the next day. He is a delightful, intelligent, grown man now, 36 years young with his own wife and our eldest grandson.
The week has been a mixture of rain and sun with only a little gardening done. Our neighbor has an overgrown Bearded Iris bed with three colors of Iris in it and he has known for years that I wanted a bit of each to go with my Grape Iris and Dutch Iris that were already in my gardens. I had permission to come get some, but always waited until they had finished blooming until I thought about heading up to get some and didn’t want to dig without knowing which clusters to dig from in order to get a bit of each color. He called one night this week and told me to come up with a shovel and bucket and I came home with some of each color. They were planted in a flower garden that I had begun early spring above the vegetable garden. Next year they will have multiplied and I will have more beautiful color.
Yesterday, I also stopped and got flowers for the wooden wheelbarrow that my Dad made for me about a dozen years ago. As the weather began turning to spring this year, I brought it in to the garage and refurbished it, putting a new axle, handle and leg supports on it. It also was screwed instead of nailed together in my efforts.
The little carved bear on the edge of the porch was a craft show purchase many years ago. It is chain saw carved and holds a solar light that comes on at dusk, not providing much light, but a guide to where the edge of the front porch is located on a dark night.
Some preparation of products for my shop were done with all three salves made and a couple of scents of lotion bars formulated. While doing them, I prepared a written lesson in salve preparation and making and lotion bar recipe and instruction for a class I will be teaching in the fall at a retreat.
I got brave this week too and finally tackled dyeing a skein of yarn for my shop. My first attempt was not my hand spun, but a 150 yard skein of Suri Alpaca. For my first attempt, I used the kettle dyed method and Greener Shades dye. I tried dyeing half for 20 minutes longer than the other half, hoping for a two toned monochromatic skein.
I don’t think I achieved what I was hoping for, but I am fairly pleased with the result. I have several skeins of undyed natural white yarns in the shop and I will be dyeing several of them in the next few days experimenting with adding more color.
Two days of this week were spent in preparation and recovery from one of the dreaded diagnostics that senior citizens are encouraged to endure. At least I don’t have to go through it again for another decade.
Today began with a solo run to the Farmers’ Market for salad, broccoli, a cucumber already, herbs, bread, and flowers. Jim had breakfast with me in town and then took off on the BBH to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway and grab a hot dog in Roanoke.
After my early return, my day has been spent mostly outdoors, weeding and cleaning up the shrub bed along the front of the house. It needs new mulch, but I didn’t want to drive back into town. Pushing the mower up and down the hill by the driveway to clear around the shrubs growing there, the meat chickens pen which was up to my waist with grass and lambs quarters, the area in front of the Huck’s coop so that a containment pen could be made for the anticipated chicks. We are on chick watch. The next couple of days should produce our first batch of chicks for the season. Their coop and pen await.
A plastic chicken wire pen attached to step in poles awaits them. The electric fence will be restrung this evening after I re-hydrate and it cools off some.
The other layers (who have contributed to the eggs being sat) and the proud Papa continue to harass the two gals sitting. One hen insists on laying her egg in the nest of the first broody each day. I marked the original 10 under her and then quit as I didn’t want to disturb her so much. Whatever doesn’t hatch in the next couple of days will be discarded. The same will be true mid June when the second hatch is due. I need to block off the nesting box for the first hatch before they coop up tonight. I don’t want a newly hatched chick to be pecked or accidentally fall out the pop door as her nest is right at that door. One of the girls has taken to pecking the egg of one of the Americaunas each day if I don’t collect them as soon as I realize they are in a nest. They aren’t totally breaking the shell, nor eating the egg, just slightly fracturing the shell. I hate having to discard an egg most days.
We are expecting rain for the next two days. I may take advantage of the wet soil to continue the weeding of the garden. I still don’t have the popcorn and pumpkins planted. I did re-weed the blueberries today and there will be a small harvest of them. One of the aisles between beds was weeded and covered with spoiled hay today as well. I have concluded that from now on, I will just buy my turnips at the Farmers’ Market. I harvested the first few that I planted and they are all full of the little white worm that torments me each time I plant them. I have used wood ash in their planting row and around on top with limited success in the past, but it didn’t work this year. I guess the chickens will enjoy them.
Our neighbor that hays our fields came over to look at my brush hog today. He is going to take it home and refurbish it for me. Rough ground and rocks are hard on them and the design of the stablizer wheel on the back of the one we own is poor, causing the shaft that holds it to stretch out and has made the wheel unstable. One of the bolts that prevents wobble is bent too and he is either going to cut it off and replace it or just weld those two pieces together to prevent the wobble. It has gotten so that it gouges the ground when I mow.
Six batches of soap made for the December Holiday Market.
Four cut and curing. Two are cocooned until tomorrow. After much discussion with others and self arguing, I decided to have my 4 signature unscented soaps; Coffee Scrub, Jasmine Green Tea, Lavender Bud Oatmeal, and Rosemary Oat. With 5 scented soaps settled on are Lavender, Winter Mint, Bergamot Ylang Ylang, Mountain Man, and Tree Hugger.
To simplify the lotion bars and to try to make pairings easier, there will be Lavender, Rosemary, unscented, Mountain Man, Bergamot Ylang Ylang, and Tree Hugger.
As the beard oils are also Mountain Man and Tree Hugger, gift sets can be assembled for the Market. K and I took a trip to Michael’s and found some small boxes to facilitate making sample gift sets.
I recently went out for breakfast with a friend and she introduced me to an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal essential oil blend in a carrier oil that she had been given by her SIL. Later when I was talking to my daughter, she knew the oil by the name I gave her and another name from a Therapeutic essential oil company. Figuring out the component oils was fairly easy and coming up with my own blend was not too difficult. This oil blend carries with it a tale called the Legend of the Four Thieves. After reading many versions of this tale, I decided to come up with my own summary variation and have printed little scrolls of the legend with the uses of the topical oil to attach to each little 1 ounce bottle that I have prepared. Thinking that a one ounce bottle with a dropper wasn’t a very good way to carry it with you, some of the oil mixture was blended with a carrier oil and a bit of beeswax to create salve in one of the little screw lid tins as well.
I await my shipment of more tins to be able to make a supply to add to the wares going to the market next weekend. Our Farmers’ Market is mostly vendors of Organic produce or pasture raised meat, so I am hoping that adding these two products to the Comfrey Salve and Biker Bum Balm will be items that are successful with the crunchy crowd that frequents it.
My little natural first aid kit that I carry in my shoulder bag now has one more item in it.
Two nights ago, K and I moved two beat up hens and two young roosters to the cull pen with the meat birds that are destined for freezer camp next weekend. Last night, Mountaingdad and I went out on a date night and K locked the birds up after dark when their family came in from getting pizza. At least she thought everyone was locked up. This morning, I found the remains of both hens and one young rooster outside the cull coop but inside the run. There is a 4 foot fence around the run, a secured gate at the end and no evidence that anything dug in, so I’m not sure what got them, but it had to be able to go over the fence and get back out after eating. Tomorrow after today’s rain ends, I will attempt to make the electric fence hot again, strung along the top of the runs and around the back of the cull coop near the ground. Whatever it was did not get into the coop, so the birds must have been hunkered down somewhere in the run.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been knitting a shawl for a cousin. It was finished last weekend. Earlier this week, I got the ends woven in, washed and blocked. It took forever to dry as it is a cotton yarn that she picked. The package was mailed off and she received it today. She is delighted with it.
I hope I get a photo of it being worn.
Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family