Tag Archives: deck

Yarn setting day – Oct. 27, 2017

After yarn is spun and plyed, it has to have the twist set.  With the Spinzilla competition, the yarn is measured before the twist is set and it was labelled with fiber type, yarn weight, and yardage and piled in a huge canvas bag.  Since Spinzilla, a couple more skeins have joined the bag.  Some of the yarn is designated for my use, some will be re-labelled and put in my shop for sale and taken to the two Holiday Market events at the Blacksburg Farmers’ Market along with the hats, mitts, soap, balms, and salves.

The canvas bag is generally the bag I use to take the 6 or more dozen eggs that I sell to friends each Friday morning but it has been unavailable for a few weeks.  This morning, with Jim off to an appointment, the grands put on the school bus, daughter and SIL at work, it was time to set the twist on all of the skeins.  To do this, the skeined yarn is submerged in a container of warm water.  Because I have handled the fiber and it has sat around, the wash pan contained a bit of wool wash too.  Some of the dyed yarns bleed a little color, some of the natural yarns aren’t as clean as you would think, sometimes turning the clear wash water the color of tea.

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Each pan with a couple of smaller skeins, sits until the submerged yarn is totally saturated, then it is gently squeezed out, placed on a clean towel and rolled to absorb more of the water.  Once done, each skein is given a gentle shake and hung to dry.

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Twenty three skeins of yarn of varying length hanging to dry.  It is a nice sunny day and normally I would put the drying rack on the back deck to dry, but with the deck in partial deconstruct and the deck boards hazardous to walk on, it is sitting on the hearth.  It will take a bit longer, but it will dry.  The barn kitty inhabits the front porch so I don’t want to try to dry it there.

When I started crocheting in my teens, and knitting when eldest grandson was eminent, I didn’t know much about fiber.  I bought what felt good to me and was a color I liked.  I shudder to think about some of the stuff I made afghans from.  With the pending grandson, I searched for organic wool and cotton, undyed for his soakers, tees, and sweaters.  The internet was available and so I wasn’t limited to the local big box stores.  There were fewer yarn stores then and I hadn’t fallen into the rabbit hole of fiber artistry, animal raising friends, fiber festivals, etc.

When I took the drop spindle class many years ago, the instructor brought many different types of wool for us to feel and use.  Who knew that there were so many choices each with their own characteristics?  Unfortunately, that rabbit hole has made me a fiber snob.  I have now experienced many different animal fibers and know what I like and what I don’t.  The twenty three skeins drying represent Coopworth, Alpaca, Merino, Silk, California Red, Hebridean, Targhee, and Cormo.  Some are softer than others.  Some with more crimp making them stretchier.  Some are dyed, some natural from snowy white to dark almost black brown.  I have spun Romney, Pohlworth, Shetland, Mohair, Dorset, flax, camel, and more.  I have spun clean prepared tops and roving and spun raw unwashed Alpaca.  I have even worked with washing, carding, and spinning raw wool.  My spinning started with irregular thick and thin yarn, now it is consistent and fingering to dk weight, fairly fine.  I need to practice making thicker yarn again, some projects just need a thicker yarn.

Back to the deck.  Eldest son after we took the railing down and stepped through more boards, suggested I block off the door.  It already had a small post it note that said not to use the deck due to its hazardous nature, so I used paper painters tape to tape across the half that opens.  That didn’t really slow anyone down from going out there.  Yesterday, the post it note and the tape came down.  Sturdy cotton string was tied from hinge to hinge and a “Stop” sign that says “Whoa” on it was hung.

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Soon we will redeck the portion outside of the doors, finish deconstructing the large rotting part and build new steps to the ground.  Maybe next summer, I will start on making a patio at the bottom of the steps for my kitchen herb garden and for some flowers.

It is that time – October 16, 2017

Facebook reminded me of a post from two years ago yesterday when a frantic harvesting was undertaken as we were expecting three consecutive nights of frost.  Tonight we are forecast for our first potential frost.  Right on time, mid October.  A few years we have gotten an extra couple of weeks, and a few years, it has come a week or so earlier, but our average is mid October.

The weekend was busy.  Daughter and family went overnight camping with their Taekwondo group and one from a near city for their belting ceremony and fun.  Eldest son and eldest grandson came in Saturday to tackle some needed work.  While son did some set up, I headed to the garden and harvested 2 peck of hot peppers for him to take home.  His garden, though productive with some vegetables, did not produce many peppers. The 7 old chickens and the rooster were sent to freezer camp Saturday afternoon.  It is going to take an extra slow cook to be able to chew those old birds, they were tough as shoes.  With early sunsets, that was all that we got done Saturday afternoon, but took a post dinner trip to Lowes to price out deck rebuilding materials.  I actually missed hearing Mr. Croak the past two mornings.

When we built our house, we built a huge deck on the south side, using a new borate treated wood.  Decks have a 10-20 year life expectancy and that one only made the lower end of that.

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Many of my blog photos have been take of or from that deck.  A couple of years ago,  when it was stained, the spindles that had all be hand cut had to be replaced.  They were replaced with pre routed boards top and bottom and new spindles that were pre cut at a top and bottom angle.  Last autumn, someone (maybe our 200 lb dog) put a foot through one of the boards on the decking, and we ended up replacing three boards with new pressure treated.  In the past year, more and more of the deck boards deteriorated until it just wasn’t safe to go on it.

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You can see the three replaced boards and two places where we stepped through it yesterday in preparation to resurface it and put on new railing.  Unfortunately, as son and I worked to remove the old railing, getting the nails and bolts out of the logs holding the balusters and spindles and assessing what would be necessary, it appears that most of the joists under the large part of the deck are rotting too and we just can’t rebuild the whole thing.  The 7.5 foot wide section coming out of the french doors of the dining room has sound joists, so it will be re decked with one of the composite decking materials, that will eliminate the need for the every other year re staining of this south facing deck, and wide steps will come off the side of it to the ground.  Over time, we will try to gather enough flat field stone from the piles on our property to make a ground level patio in the spot where the large part of the deck now stands.  It is disappointing, but because it is south facing and unprotected, it didn’t get the use we had planned for it to get over the years.

In anticipation of the next two very cold nights, the rest of the peppers will be harvested or if the wind dies down today, perhaps just covered with row cover or a tarp.  If the asparagus ferns burn, they will be cut back along with the raspberry canes and the sweet potatoes dug and put in storage for a couple of weeks curing time before we begin to enjoy them.  The garden is shutting down for the winter and the chickens will be given access to it for the winter.  If I can get some seed garlic, it will be planted in a couple of weeks and covered so the chickens don’t dig it up.  Until next spring, the garden is going to bed.  Bye bye sunflowers.

 

May Day – ooops, almost

The past two days have been beautiful after the heavy rains of the prior days.  Jim has gone off on his Harley for short rides that turned into long rides, but he is enjoying it and getting more comfortable on the big bike.

Me, I just enjoy the farm and the beautiful weather.  It was still wet outside yesterday to do any playing in the dirt, but today, since the garden is still pretty soggy, I worked on the porch and deck pots.  This winter was hard on the shrubs in front of the house and we lost everything except for the Barberry.  It looks lonely amongst the dead Nandinas and the other shrub, I can never remember, that we should never have been sold for our climate.  I have to decide whether to move the Barberry or replace the other shrubs.  The front bed is under an overhang and has to be watered, it is also on the north side of the house so it receives no direct sunlight.  The shade plants that I am most familiar with all are deer magnets, so I don’t want to replace the shrubs with them.  Before the shrubs were put in, I had a perennial bed of English Daisies, grape Iris, and a few daylilies.  After the regrading was finished a couple of  years ago, I moved them to the east side of the garage and put in the shrub bed.  I should have left well enough alone.  I think I will just put several half barrels along the front rail and plant annual flowers in them for spring and summer color.

Today was just flower pots.

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A quick trip to Lowes to fill up the back of the CRV with plants.

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Petunias and trailing petunias in the front.

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Geraniums with Verbena on the south deck, they match the cushions and umbrella and the hummingbirds love them.  I still have a large pot that goes between the garage doors that needs something tall and spiky and a hanging pot for the shepherds crook.  Last summer I never had to water, but also could never eat outside.  I would rather have to water and be able to enjoy dinners on the deck this summer.

Now to go run the chicks out of the coop for some sunshine.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.