Tag Archives: eggs

Olio – February 3, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

If Phil had come out today instead of yesterday, he would not have seen his shadow.  It is thick and gray.  It looks like it could snow, but there is none in the forecast.  Even the weekend storm threat has dissipated, so there should be no missed school next week.  It is cold, each day this week has been colder by 10 or more degrees than the day before.  It was near the upper 60’s on Tuesday and it won’t reach freezing today with a low in the shivering teens.  We have had wind this week too, though today is calm.  One day, the wind took out our power for nearly 7 hours before they found the tree on the line and did some major pruning about a mile down the road.

With the lengthening daylight hours, the hens are picking up egg production.  Yesterday there were 5 eggs out of the 7 hens.

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It amuses me to see the variation on the size and color of the eggs from the Buffys.  The top two right and the bottom left are all Buff Orpington eggs.  The top left is the Americauna and the bottom right is the Americauna/Buff Orpington cross.  The seller of the Buff Orpington pullets that were to increase the flock must not really be interested in selling as they have not gotten back with me though they have email and phone number to arrange the sale and pick up.  Hopefully the girls will  be prolific this year and provide us with enough chicks to replenish the predator loss and still give us enough for the freezer.

The Fibonacci Infinity scarf is still growing.

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There is a 13 row white repeat to go, then pick up the blue with the white and finally the blue with the merlot.  It is already as long as my legs and very heavy due to it being a tube.  It will definitely be a warm scarf.  The silk cowl at the top is growing, it is about 70% done, only getting attention when I am the car passenger instead of the driver.

The Leicester Longwood, a bit finer than the yarn for the scarf is on the wheel.  Hopefully, it will make a knitted fabric that is more sweater friendly after a swatch or two trying different needles.  This week, my Spanish Peacock drop spindle went to a new home as it caused too much strain and pain in my shoulders.  The proceeds from that sale bought a new supported spindle and bowl.  That is a learning process and some of the soft California Red roving is being used to learn. This still allows for portable spinning with less strain on the shoulders and elbows.

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This is definitely a learning curve.  The spindle spins nicely, but my drafting of the fiber is still very inconsistent and trying to avoid the park and draft technique makes it more of a challenge.

Still loving life on our farm.

 

Olio

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Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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Now that the silk is spun, plyed, and ready to knit, I have returned to spinning Priscilla. She is a Leicester Longwool sheep that belongs to a friend, owner of Sunrise Valley Farm, raised locally.  I stumbled upon her delightful wool at our Farmers Market one Saturday morning.  I purchased a small bag of 8 ounces of the roving and fell in love. At the time I didn’t know it came from Priscilla, but after I bought the second 8 ounces, I was told and I asked for more.  I have spun many ounces, dyed some with Annatto seed and with Country Classics wool dye.

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The yellow gold and the lavender are some of what I dyed and the white is the natural roving.  Initially, my plan was to knit a Fair Isle pull over sweater to wear on a ski trip to Colorado this winter.  Those plans have had to be aborted and the yoke of the sweater was so heavy that the yarn was pulled out, rewound, and is now being worked into a Fibonacci Infinity Scarf instead.  You see the beginning of it in the photo above and more of it below.

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I am working the third sequence at this point and will switch to lavender and natural at the end of this sequence.  I am much more likely to wear the scarf than a very heavy sweater.

That said, I have enough of Priscilla to still knit a sweater for me, but I will use a different pattern and larger needles to make the fabric lighter and more drapey.

I have hopes that this spring, once the lambs are born, that I may have the opportunity to drive to the farm and see the lambs and perhaps finally meet Priscilla.  I was invited last year and never made it over.

Night before last, another friend, a country neighbor that is the lead blacksmith at the Smithfield Plantation House where I sometime get to spin, came over with his wife and he was able to straighten the metal crank part of my antique spinning wheel so that the vertical part of the footman no longer walks off when I treadle it.

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It still requires a leather washer, but each repair gets the wheel closer to being a working wheel.  The parts that I had to ship to Bobbin Boy have been repaired and are in the mail back to me.  I had hoped that they would have arrived today, but not yet. The split in the upright that hold the wheel has been glued and if that doesn’t hold, I will try some lashing near the point where the shaft of the wheel hub rests.  The last resort will be to ship that off to Bobbin Boy to have a new piece manufactured by them.

Today is another day of mud and gloom.  The prognosticators indicate that it may partially clear off this afternoon, but expect heavy rain on Sunday and Monday.  The chicken pen is a muddy mess, the coop not much better.  I think a bale of straw is needed in the coop instead of the pine chips I had to use last time I cleaned it, and a heavy layer of spoiled hay around the outside of the coop to try to tame the mud and muck.  To walk into the pen is taking your life in your hands right now as it is sloped, slick, and soft enough to suck your boots clean off.  Most of the spoiled hay that was put down after the snow has been scratched into the mud.

No more mice have been caught in the car fortunately, but with the wet warm weather, they are trying to get into the house now.  The utility room trap has been busy of late. This morning, after dropping granddaughter off at preschool, I stopped to get the oil changed in my old lady.  I’m really trying to keep her going over 200,000 miles and we are getting close to that.  She will be a dozen years old in a couple of months.  The mini lube place that I took her always try to sell you more services and when the guy brought the cabin filter in for me to see, it was truly fowled between the dusty road and driveway (when we aren’t in monsoon season) and the contributions from the mouse that I caught earlier in the week in the car.  They did vacuum the cab and remove the last remnants of the little mouse’s nest that I had removed prior to setting the trap.

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The young Buffy roo is testing his voice. I don’t name the hens, but I do name the king of the coop.  He is replaced each year or so as his spurs get long and dangerous and he gets more aggressive.  There is always a new cockerel out of the hatchlings that can be put in with the girls after breeding season, and the old tough guy goes to the stew pot at son’s house.  We have had B’rooster, Cogburn, and a couple others.  This guy is Mr. Croak.  Maybe his voice will mature, but now he sounds like an adolescent male whose voice cracks.  He is about 7 months old, beginning to show spurs, has a nice plume of a tail and a funny voice.

Olio – December 13, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Last year this time, I was with my failing Dad.  He passed before Christmas and I moved through the holidays last year in a fog.  This year I can’t get him off my mind and the tears are never far from the surface.  Apparently, I put the sympathy cards in with the Christmas cards and put the box of them away together.  Pulling them out started it, then every ornament or Santa that he and his wife gave me triggered it again.  I will get through.  The family, not me, but others close to me have struggled with some health issues in the past month and that has produced it own level of stress.  All will be fine in the long run, but not right now.

I did get the house decorated.  As our daughter was born right after Thanksgiving, she insisted that no decorations be put up until after her birthday when she was growing up. That rule still applies.  Sometimes it is the day after Thanksgiving, sometimes a week later.  With a late Thanksgiving this year, the decorating was late.  The Santas and snowmen are adorning the shelves, windowsills, and table tops.

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They get tucked all over the great room and kitchen, this is only some of them. Saturday, Jim and I drove to the city and partied with his HOG group, staying the night in the hotel where the party was held and on Sunday, drove home to go out with the kids for lunch and off to buy a Christmas tree from one of the cut your own lots.  Last year, we let the grands pick the tree and came home with a 12-13 foot tree.  This year, I picked it and it is only about 8 feet tall.  Last night, daughter and her family decorated the tree with their family decorations.  We put one for our annual ornament, one that we have joked over annually that came from a good friend a couple of decades ago, the three little soft gnomes and daughter insisted that the tree be wrapped in the yarn candy cane rope from our box.

When I went down a couple of days ago to put an empty decoration box in the root cellar part of the basement, I saw a puddle of water.  This happened a few years ago and I did not know what was causing it until I talked with my son.  The air handler condensation tube drips into a floor drain.  The floor drain has a pipe that runs under the slab and out the back of the house, through a PVC pipe that goes 18.5 feet straight back off the stoop, then at a 45º angle off for another 10+ feet where it terminated in a shallow pit fill with gravel.  Twice the end of that pipe has gotten clogged with dirt, the gravel pit also filling up and the condensation backs up until the entire pipe is full and the puddle forms on the slab.  The first time it happened, I had no idea where the pipe was or how far out from the house it was laid.  I started at the back door slab and dug a shallow trench from where I could find the pipe until I found it’s terminus.  It was sleeting and snowing that time.  Today it was just a cold rain and I knew approximately where it was so instead of a trench, I only needed a series of shallow holes to follow the path to the terminus.

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When I found the end, I cleaned out the mud, left an open hole and drove a stake until I have a warmer, drier day to redig a pit and fill it with gravel.  I think I will mark the terminus spot with a larger flat rock so I can find it even faster next time.

One of my pullets began laying this week.  She is a half Buff Orpington, half Americauna.  She looks mostly like a Buff Orpington, just a bit smaller and only slightly darker.  I was curious what she would lay and her eggs are small and olive colored.

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We are now getting about 10 eggs a week, half blue ones and half olive green ones.  The Buff Orpingtons which are generally winter layers, have not resumed from their molt.

Saturday is the second Holiday Market.  The forecast is abysmal with an 80% chance of precipitation starting as freezing rain.  It will be about 22 when I leave home to drive down.  It may reach the mid 40’s by the end.  It will probably not be the best Market, but I have the soaps, lotion bars, salves, knitwear, and yarn, so I should give it a go.  I will dress warmly, figure out how to put two sides on my tent and hope the wind is calm.

 

Oh Garden, Dear Garden

Never, have I felt so overwhelmed by the garden.  The tomatoes are thriving, but have the sprawl.  My cord tie up method did not keep up and they are hanging over each other and encroaching on the peppers.  The weeds seem to get 2 feet tall overnight.  The pumpkin patch never did get totally weeded and there is only 1 puny little pumpkin plant.  The blueberries don’t seem to like where they are.  At several years old, they should be full and 3 or 4 feet high, but they are sparce and look like I just planted them. Perhaps, they should be moved in the fall to a different location, if I can figure out where that should be.

The first crop of peas is done, the vines browned, pulled and tossed in the chicken pen. The cabbages are ready to harvest, I cut one today, pulled the garlic, a few onions, and a few beets.  Something must have gotten my beans again, there are very few plants but I think it is still early enough to replant them.

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Two varieties that I want to keep separate this year for replanting in the fall.  It looks like a good healthy crop.  I hope that they keep well.

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My beets are a surprise.  Though they look like red beets, when you cut into them, they are white with red streaks.  The flavor is great.  I will store a couple of the cabbages, make kraut out of one or two, and send a couple home with T and his family this weekend.  The second planting of peas are filling out nicely.  I could probably pick enough for one dinner today, but we had edible pod peas last night, so I will wait.

The chickens are all free ranging right now.  It was time to introduce the layers to the babies and let the Mom’s take care of them.  SH is still sitting her nest and BMW has left her alone for the past couple of days.  She took on her own nest, sat on it for one day and one night and abandoned it.  Eggs are scarce with 4 hens not laying right now.  Hopefully it won’t be too long until 3 of them are back in production.  SH still has 10-11 days to hatch and 6 weeks of being a Momma before she will start back to laying.  It is about time to move the oldest chicks into the coop with their Momma to give them a few more weeks to get some size before a decision is made on who stays to grow up here and who goes into the cull coop to be raised for the freezer.  The cull run is so overgrown that if a chicken is in there, I can’t even see them.  I guess I will have to cut a path with the line trimmer before I move anyone.

 

From Farm to Table

Years ago, when I taught Biology on the high school level, I was often reminded that our society of city dwellers are so far removed from the production of our food, that most of my students had no idea that their food was grown by people, harvested and processed into the canned and frozen products on the grocery shelves.  The idea that their meat had been a living animal and that someone had to raise, feed, and have it slaughtered and butchered to be put on the styrofoam trays, wrapped in plastic in the meat case was so foreign to them that they would argue with me over it. Truly a sad state of affairs.

Though they visited farms in Florida, I think it has been a good experience for my grand children to see that the chickens that I raise produce our eggs.  That the chicken we put on the table was grown here on the farm, killed, cleaned and prepared here.  The plants in the garden produce the tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions, squash, popcorn, peas and beans that they eat. They like helping out in the garden and pulling weeds to feed the chickens.  To see the chicks hatch and know that they are being raised to produce the chicken and eggs we eat.

It is wonderful that there are cities that have started community gardens and schools that have gardens to teach children about food production and nutrition, but it needs to go farther.  Watching chicks hatch in an incubator in a second grade classroom doesn’t really tell them from where their eggs and chicken come.

N and her mom went with me to an alpaca sheering and she sees me spinning yarn and knitting them hats, mittens, and sweaters from yarn, so she also has some realization that clothing doesn’t just come from a store.

Though I haven’t convinced them that homemade bread is better than factory produced balloon bread, they do love my corn bread, biscuits, scones, and made from scratch pancakes.

This has been a week of illness at our house.  N was sick on Sunday, ok on Monday, sick again on Tuesday, ok on Wednesday and sick again yesterday.  Today she seems ok again and started eating again last night.  Daughter is in her first week of her new job and she has the stuffies, maybe from pollen that is increasing each day. One evening, I felt the virus that N had, but fortunately it was very short lived, only the one afternoon and evening, never like N.

Last night, two of my spinning friends came to our house to learn to make soap.  In the frenzy of giving them the hands on experience, each making a batch with the other looking on and me on the sidelines coaching, I failed to take a single picture.  They each left with a full mold of soap they made, one 3 pound batch of Lavender Rose and one of Bergamot Lemongrass and some palm oil to help them get started on their own.  The only photo are the little muffin tins of overflow.

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Both of these ladies are fiber artists, animal raisers, spinners, knitters and I was gifted with fiber to spin and knit in thanks, a great gift.  What a great feeling to help others learn a skill and send them home with some of what they need to get started.

These two friends attend the spinning retreat that I attend, and one of them mentioned that she was selling her Strauch Petit Drum Carder to get a mechanized one. Once home, I talked with Jim about it and last night, she brought it to me as I decided to purchase it from her.  I am excited.  I will be able to blend fibers and fiber colors now. If I finally get brave enough to attempt to dye the fibers myself, I will increase my fun some more.

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With Easter coming up this weekend, I was asked by K to hard cook some eggs for the kiddos to dye before Sunday.

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Farm fresh eggs won’t peel if boiled, so I learned after starting to raise my own eggs, to steam them for 20 minutes.  They cook perfectly, no green ring around the yolk and peel like a charm.  This is the batch I did second, when the first batch had three cracked eggs in it and I knew not to let them dye them.  I’m not a fan of the commercial dyes, but they are easiest and most child friendly, so they will dye the dozen eggs with their Mom and Dad tonight or tomorrow.

I didn’t want to be left out of the natural dye method this year, so while their eggs were steaming, I did three with yellow onion skins, three in beets, and one each of my Americaunas’ eggs as one lays blue eggs and the other green.

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Later I am going to do a few with red cabbage, both brown eggs and Americaunas to see what shades of blue I get.  The beet dyed ones surprised me, instead of the pink I expected, it turned the brown eggs more yellow.  I know that these won’t be peel-able for deviled eggs as they had to be boiled with the natural dyes to get their color, but for breakfast or egg salad, they will be fine.  Since 4 of the 20 eggs cracked during cooking, I enjoyed a couple for my breakfast.  The kids were fascinated with the natural dyed eggs, but it just wouldn’t be as much fun for them as once you put them on the stove to boil with their dye, they just cook. They will have their fun later.

I love the rich brown of the onion skin dyed eggs.  Maybe I should start saving more of the skins and see what color it dyes yarn.

 

 

Olio – March 15, 2016

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

Yesterday did end up a dirt play day after all.  Between the heavy rain of Sunday night and the heavier rain and thunder storms of Monday afternoon and night, we had beautiful clear skies and delightful spring temperatures.  On our way home from errands in town, we drove past our driveway, along the top of our property to go down and see if there were any more new calves on the next farm.  We saw no calves, not even any of her cows, they must have been over one of the hills we can’t see from the road, but I spotted large patches of ditch lilies (the tall orange day lilies) up and thriving by the run off creek along the top of our property.  After we bought the land, before we started building, we would come up on weekends every few weeks and clean up trash and plant trees in the rocky area that we would never be able to graze animals or hay.  Along the creek, we planted River birch trees, they like the damp of the creek and along the creek edges, I put in 3 or 4 small clumps of lilies that I had brought up from my Dad’s garden.  Last summer, I wanted to dig some of them to put in the bed that has other day lilies in it down at the house, but the weeds and blackberries had gotten too big for me to want to walk into that area.  The weeds haven’t grown up yet, so with bucket and shovel, I went up and dug a good sized clump.

After walking them back down the drive to the house, I debated where to plant them.  I have had bronze fennel beside the side garage door on the east side of the house and on the other side of the door, is a bed with Dutch iris, day lilies, and lavender.  The chick weed has begun and is growing and spreading like wild fire in that bed.  I decided to make a little tribute garden to the man who loved his gardens and flowers.  The bronze fennel was dug up, a trench dug from the stoop to the south wall of the garage, a good layer of compost dug in and the shovel full of day lilies planted there, the bed edged with stone from our property and mulched down heavily with spoiled and rotting hay.

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Since that looked so good and the soil was damp enough to make weeding not too onerous, I tackled the other side, finding the sprouting iris and day lilies and weeding around them, taking buckets of weeds and grubs to the chickens.  A thick layer of newspaper was laid down around each plant and a hefty coat of hay added.

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I still have about 3 feet of that bed to do, but I am waiting to see if the perennial sunflower is going to come up. It started raining before I could finish even the part I started, but it will also have a trench dug and stone edge put in place.  We aren’t wanting for stone of this property.  All of the foundation and chimney stone came off our land.

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While pulling back the chickweed, this little lizard climbed the stone and tried to hide. I love finding the lizard’s and toads that eat the insects and show that the gardens are healthy and unsprayed. It will be happy with the thick layer of spoiled hay that replaced the chickweed.

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to a T-shirt that amused me.  I showed it to Mountaingdad and asked if he would wear it and he said yes.  It came today…

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I’m glad he has a sense of humor, he didn’t even give me a hard time when I had him put it on and model.

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The chickens relished the buckets of goodies that I gave them yesterday and so far, they haven’t flown over the low fence around the bed in the middle of the garden.  It amuses me that all 8 of the hens will take turns using the same nesting box in the coop.  There are 6 nesting boxes and it is rare to find eggs in any except the right hand most box, sometimes just outside of it.

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This may be a problem when one or more gets broody, as they will lay eggs in the broody hen’s nest.  Last year, I marked the eggs under the broody hen and checked every couple of days to remove any not marked ones.  This year, we hope to have a brooder coop to separate them.  When one goes broody, she will be moved to the brooder coop and over a couple of days, given a dozen eggs to hatch.  The brooder coop will have a floor this year, so hopefully, the chicks will survive whatever predator was getting under it last year and doing the damage.  I don’t want to lose 50 chicks again this year, I would rather increase my flock and have some for the freezer instead.

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About 20 years ago, my Dad made himself a little wooden wheelbarrow to fill with potted flowers in his garden. I commented on it and a couple years later, he gifted me with one he had made just for me. That little barrow has lived at 3 houses, the one we raised our children in, the one year rental after we sold our house and started this one, and here. One of the handles was broken in the move and I  did a makeshift repair on it. A year or so ago, the broomstick axle broke and the little barrow sat forlorn and damaged by the garden. Today, I am going to refurbish it and it will have a place in the breezeway perennial garden filled with shade loving flowers this summer.

I plan to enjoy every rain free daylight hour for the next few days. Monday we are going to see another stint of winter, snow flurries and freezing nights and all. Soon it will really be spring and the Camelot like days of warmth, the evening rain showers will return.

 

Olio – February 20, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

On this day 29 years ago, my youngest was born.  He was 11 days late, I thought he would never enter this world, and when he did decide to come, he was presented sunnyside up, with a huge head, and weighing in at a whopping 11+ pounds.  We didn’t have to have a C section, but almost.  We are extremely proud of him as he became an EMT at 18 and has volunteered with it ever since.  He moved on to earn his Paramedic certification with Advanced Life Support and has worked in that field most of his adult life.  He recently has started his own transport company and is awaiting the final inspections to start moving with his two ambulances at the ready.  Happy birthday, son.

The snow from last week finally is gone except for a few sheltered places in the woods and on the north side of the house and barn.  There is a coastal storm that is threatening us next week, hopefully not to interfere with my friend’s and my drive to the spinning retreat on Thursday.  The forcasters can’t decide if it is going to be snow, ice, or rain, we are hoping it is only rain or if the snow or ice is on the earlier end, coming on Tuesday.

I am packed for the retreat and ready to go as compactly as I can be.  Since, I am only taking soaps, lotion bars and salves, I have packed it all into one large wicker lidded basket, instead of the usual 5 or 6 wooden crates when I also have yarn and knit wear. This retreat is for fiber folks, they make their own yarn and knit wear.

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The only items that didn’t fit were my cash box and my business cards.

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They will fit into the red and blue plaid bag on the floor.  The group has a nightly happy hour, and the bag will also carry the snacks and snack dishes for the items I will be contributing.  We do a gift raffle and as a vendor, I must supply one gift of $20 value or more and will as a participant, provide a second.  They will go into that bag as well.  That leaves only my clothes, spinning wheel and fiber to put together.  That won’t be done until Wednesday night, unless we are going to get snow and ice, requiring my car to be put at the top of the driveway or even up at the paved road, in which case I will pack it all before moving the car.

Today was a beautiful spring like day.  The melting snow finally allowed the Buffys to venture over into the garden area to scratch and search for goodies.  With the longer days, I am generally getting 3 to 5 eggs a day.  Interestingly, the two Americauna have produced more than half of the eggs produced in the past three days.  This puts the 6 Buffys to shame.

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One of the Americauna’s eggs are blue, the other more olive.  The Buffys eggs vary from pink to darker brown and from tiny like the top right to giant like the bottom right.  It is nice to have fresh eggs for breakfast and for baking with the bonus of having enough to share with some of my friends.  The girls will be cared for in my absence by Mountaingdad and daughter.

The house is quiet tonight.  Daughter and family went out to dinner and to a movie for the kids.  It is strange to cook just for two after 13 months of having a house full.  As I was food shopping today, I found a grass finished New York strip steak, so Mountaingdad got a treat tonight.  Risotto and sugar snap peas rounded it out and provided my dinner along with a glass of the Merlot that my brother made last summer.

At the Christmas party for my spinning group, I scored 12 ounces of California red wool. I started spinning it recently and have fallen in love with the fiber.  It is a natural white color and spins like a dream.  I have one bobbin full and it looks like it is going to fill 4 bobbins once done.  Once I see how many yards it is once spun, I will decide what it will become.  I definitely won’t sell this yarn.

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Our local Barnes and Noble sells Harney and Son teas.  A year or so ago, I went on their website to buy one of my favorites, Autumn Cranberry as a bulk loose tea and received a travel sample of Valentine Blend, a chocolate with rose bud black tea.  I savored that delicious, fragrant tea, hoping that it would be carried by Barnes and Noble around Valentine’s day.  They did not get it in, so again I visited the website and today, my 4 ounce tin and one pound bag arrived, just in time to tuck some into my luggage to go with me to the retreat.

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We are hoping that this week’s weather does not produce more school outage.  Grandson has only been in school a few days in the past two weeks due to snow, ice or extreme cold.

Tomorrow, I hope to enjoy the warm day to finally weed the asparagus bed before the new shoots begin to emerge.

Fall Generosity

Saturday mornings are Farmers’ Market mornings and we drifted in to see what we could score to add to our own garden produce.  Most of my flowers are perennials and they are fading this late in the season as are the sunflowers, so I purchased a bouquet of annuals from our favorite county organic farmers, Stonecrop Farm.  Their flowers and produce are always superior.  Beets and cucumbers were also acquired from their weekend offerings.

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Some lamb chops, beef, eggplant, salad mix and corn were added at other stalls to provide us with fresh local food goodness this week.  We got home with it after a stop for dog food in time to put it away and venture back out just a bit later to meet my 92 year old Dad and Stepmom for lunch.  They drove up yesterday to attend the wedding of one of my cousins this afternoon.  It was great to see him, his health improved from a couple of months ago, when we last saw him for a short 24 hours.

While we were out, we left the hens free ranging as there was no fear of the dogs being accidentally let out.  We came home to find they had breached the low fence around one of my perennial beds, digging in the spoiled straw bedding from the chicklets brooder that I had tossed around them as mulch.

This morning I realized that the Asian pears and apples were beginning to drop from the trees, so it was time to harvest them.  The handmade basket is 22 X 10 X 7″ and the fledgling orchard rewarded us well.

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This is the first year that we have allowed fruit to set on the trees and though the apples were scarce, the Asian pears were generous.  We have harvested another large basket previously, many of which were taken to Northern Virginia with grandson #1 as he loves them.  I will make chutney, ginger pear sauce and perhaps freeze a few.  That will be tomorrow’s task.

While doing a bit of weeding in the vegetable garden, I picked an ear of popcorn to see how it was doing.  Looks like we will be enjoying homegrown popcorn this winter.

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There was another colored egg this afternoon, each day the size is getting more average and bluer in color.  I still don’t know how many of the Americaunas are laying, but as I am getting only one per day, I guess it is only one.  With the summer visitors gone and with daughter’s family not really being egg eaters, I am going to have to get eating or sell a couple of dozen to friends who like the fresh eggs.

When I arrived back from Northern Virginia yesterday, I realized that we are entering Stink Bug battle time.  I collected more than a dozen inside the house, found dozens more outside the screens.  Winter before last, they were horrible, last year not as bad.  It looks like this may be another bad year.  It is unfortunate that they want to come in just as the weather is right to have the windows open to enjoy the beautiful weather.

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What a nasty pest they are.  None of the homemade or commercial traps really seem to reduce their presence.  Any suggestions other than poisons?

 

 

Is It Contagious

We have gone from 10 laying hens and 3 Middles too young to lay, one Rooster and one Cockrell to contagious broodiness and few eggs.  First one of last year’s hens started sitting 10 eggs and hatched 6 chicks, adorable little fluff balls who are getting more active each day, wandering between the two runs, checking out what everyone else is eating and doing.  On May 29, another hen started sitting a nest and over two days, we put 10 eggs under her.  She rarely leaves the nest even to eat and is a feisty Mom, pecking at me if I intrude on her space.  On May 30, a third hen started sitting a nest and over a couple of days, we put 9 eggs under her and though she will leave the nest to eat and puffs up if I come near, I can move her or pick her up without harm.  Today a fourth hen started showing signs of broodiness, sitting on a single egg in an adjoining nest.  She was removed and the egg removed, but when I went to lock them up tonight, she was trying to share the nest with Mom #3.  I moved her away and she literally crawled on top of Mom #3.  I picked her up and put her on a perch and she immediately tried to get on the nest again.

I guess tomorrow, I will build two more nesting boxes to put in the chicken tractor and move the two sitting Moms with their nest and eggs and hope they will stay on the nest, or build a barrier around them in the coop and put their food and water inside. I need to break the broodiness of this 4th hen, I can’t house any more chicks than the potential I have, though another brood of chicks would be just that many more in the freezer this fall.  Our egg production is down to just a couple of eggs per day with all the sitting Moms.  We aren’t eating eggs each day like when I have a good laying flock, not collecting any to sell or give to neighbors.

Son #1 is going to try to come on a weekend soon to help make the chicken tractor a permanent coop of slightly larger size with low nesting boxes to use as a brooding coop that will later be the cull coop, once we can sex the chicks.

I am hoping the Americaunas start laying soon so that we have some eggs and need to figure out how to break the broodiness cycle with the laying hens.

The Good and the Bad of Spring

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Forsythia blooming, Lilac leaves unfurling.  Frightful and her sisters have found the perches in the chicken tractor and instead of being Frightful, she should be Frightened as they won’t come out and play in the yard.  Apples, Asian Pears and Peaches are blooming.  The Buffys are being generous.  The Maples are all lime green with flowers and oh the pollen.

The dogs are shedding fiercely requiring daily vacuuming.  The garden is going to require some sort of major rework to keep the Buffys and Romeo from scratching up every seedling that is emerging.

I am in a fog.  Though I was never allergic to things growing up, I seem to be developing more and more allergies as I age.  It started about a dozen years ago with my first and major case of poison ivy, followed by more and more serious reactions to paper wasp stings and this year my eyes are gritty and my head stuffed full from the indoor and outdoor spring allergens.

Because of the reactions to stings, our youngest son with funds we fronted has established a bee hive in his yard in Virginia Beach and applied for a grant that will refund part of what was invested and with that he hopes to get a second hive.  He will maintain the hives and we will enjoy our share of the honey they produce.  That is a win/win as far that they and we are concerned.  I wish the hives could be here to benefit our garden and flowers, but it is not a risk I am willing to take with the nearest medical facility at least 20 minutes away.  The same son is a Paramedic and he said that most Doctors won’t prescribe an Epi Pen to seniors due to other risks.  I guess I should visit our Doc and inquire.