Tag Archives: family

5/15/2017 Summer is Coming

The torrential rains of last week are gone with no more rain in the forecast until the end of the week.  The days are near summer like and very breezy.

Yesterday early afternoon, we all piled into the largest vehicle after calling ahead to Outback Steakhouse, one of the restaurants that won’t take reservations, but will let you call ahead to get on their list and drove the half hour to celebrate Mother’s Day for daughter and me.

Mother's Day wait

Somehow, out of the 5 of them crowded on the bench waiting, 3 have their eyes closed.  The wait was less than 30 minutes and we enjoyed a good meal together.

Today, being warm and sunny, Jim took the BBH out for a ride on part of one of the rides he will lead for the 5 state rally next month.  That left granddaughter with me as Monday is her day she does not have preschool.  We ventured off to take the garbage and recycling to the center, then off to have lunch together, and Mommom bought the little lady a 5 year old size purple garden hoe.

Back from lunch, my little helper worked on the bed that will contain the bush beans in a few days, while I weeded the other planted beds and the end of the bed where the sweet potatoes will grow soon, then helped her finish her bed.

Helper

She is the cutest, hardest working little helper on the mountain and she loves the garden.  Note, she left the volunteer sunflower behind her and asked if there would be more planted and would that one get tall and have flowers.  After the beds were weeded and the pea patch trellised, a break for an orange and some juice, a bit of sitting on the front porch swing enjoying the breeze, and we went back out to work some more on the three sisters plot.  The smart weed, lambs quarters, and dandelions are threatening to overtake it.  Working with the hoe and the 4 prong cultivator did little.  Finally just turning it with the garden fork appears to be the only solution.  This tired old body turned row after row while granddaughter picked out the rocks and about a third of it was dug before just wearing out.

Three sisters

Once the 15 X 15 foot block is totally turned, it will be broken up with the 4 prong cultivator to get the remaining weeds and smaller rocks out, raked into the 12 or 16 hills and the corn part of the garden planted.   The pumpkins and tomatillos are going to be started in little pots to be put in the ground in a couple weeks.  The Anasazi beans will be planted with the corn once it is up.

The potatoes are all up and the soil is being added to the barrels as the potato plants reach for the sun.  Once the  barrels are full, they will just be mulched and the potatoes will grow, hopefully to fill the barrels with potatoes for our larder.

During the last few days, the adult hens and Mr. Croak were allowed free range time.  When I go out, I feel like the Pied Piper, as they all come running toward me.

Pied Piper

If I can get the three sister’s bed dug, the beans planted, the chicken run will be altered to make the double fence on the east, south and half of the west sides of the vegetable garden.

Olio-Week’s End, February 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This week has been an emotional wreck.  The grandson that lives with us is with his Mom, Sister, and “Dad.”  His biological father lived in Florida and without sharing details, passed away on Wednesday afternoon.  Grandson had been told about a week before that he wasn’t doing well and couldn’t talk on the phone on the scheduled day, but it was still very hard news for him to take and for daughter to have to deliver to him.  They are awaiting information on the service so they can go down and let the young man be there.  It is hard,  he is 10, and as my sister reminded me, children his age are still too young to fear death, though I’m sure he will have his share of tough moments over the next few weeks.  I still do over my Dad’s passing and it has been 14 months.

The week has been up and down with the weather as well, and the changes are causing allergy symptoms for some in the house, weather related headaches for others, and confusion for the animals as they go out to freezing wind one day and temperatures that invite playing in the creek the next.  Each day is a debate of what to wear, the uniform has become a short sleeve t shirt with a sweatshirt or fleece over it, a parka added if necessary.  Gloves stay in pockets when needed.  Some days, the layers stay on, some days peel down to the t shirt.

If we hadn’t had to cancel our ski trip, we would have arrived home late last night from a week in Colorado.  We missed not only the skiing, but also the company of our cousins who are wonderful hosts when we visit them.  Instead of sharing our anniversary dinner with them as we did 4 years ago, we just enjoyed each other’s company at one of the finer restaurants in town, a great 4 course meal that was delicious.

Last night, the cowl that was being knit from the silk that I had spun was finished.  It is beautiful and is blocked and drying.

cowl

The weekend approaches, our usual breakfast and Farmers Market Saturday, tomorrow and more vendors are beginning to return with early greens, so good food will be had next week.

My spinning is improving on my little antique spinning wheel.

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Generally it doesn’t throw the drive band, but the upright nearest the spinner still moves some and causes the wheel to skew and throw the band.  The next time it jumps off, the upright is going to be wrapped in a few rounds of waxed hemp thread to see if that will tighten it enough to hold its position.  The peg under the table also needs to be forced in tighter to help.  The missing part for the new antique walking wheel is being made and when it returns, another learning curve for me as a spinner.  Also improvement is noted with the support spindle that we got last weekend.

R & R and Thanks to my Love

We had a great and relaxing weekend away.  A weekend trip to visit our eldest son and his family near Front Royal was planned.  Their log home is not really set up for guests, though I have a cot there for when I am babysitting, so we booked a room in a motel in Front Royal, a short drive from them.  We got up there in the late evening on Friday and son came in to pick up the cooler of chicken, beef, and other frozen goodies and a large canvas sack of home canned goodies, eggs, and sweet potatoes so that we didn’t have to drive the dark curvy road to them after travelling there.  We visited in our room in our coats while we waited for the heater to get the room warm enough to settle into.

Saturday, a meet and greet was scheduled at 8:30 a.m. for me to purchased a support spindle and bowl from a fellow fiber artist that had listed it on Ravelry,  a fiber artist social network.  It turned out that she lived near Front Royal.  That was an anticipated purchase and the spindle and bowl are lovely and fun to use.

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It is slightly small and lighter than my other support spindle, so with my two remaining drop spindles, I had a 33% increase in spindles.

Our motel was situated with a median that required us to either make a U turn to get to the familiar road, or take a tour of the historic downtown to get to the other familiar road, and as we cruised down before the businesses were open, I spotted a Great Wheel in an antique store window.  After our transaction for the drop spindle and a visit at son’s house, sitting on the front porch on a beautiful warm morning, we lunched with them in town and had authentic delicious Mexican food.  That was followed by a walk downtown and by the antique shop on foot.  The 49 inch wheel looked sound and true, minus the quill.  My love bought the wheel for me as a 39th anniversary and Valentine’s gift.  We left it to be packed and drove a third of the Skyline Drive, stopping at overlooks to try and spot son’s house.  Though we could see his landlord’s roof, the houses to the left and right of them, their house sits in evergreens and deep in the hollow and we couldn’t see it.   After taking son and grandson home, rearranging the seats to make it fit, the carefully wrapped and padded wheel was loaded in the car and followed us home, a 50% increase in spinning wheels.

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Left to right, the nearly 200 year old Amable Paradis, the Great Wheel of unknown age, and the small light colored Louët with my stressless chair and ottoman my spinning stool and work baskets.

While online chatting with Bobbin Boy about the Great Wheel, they told me that the parts for the Paradis wheel were on their way back to me.  It looks like obtaining a quill for the Great Wheel from them is possible and affordable, so that purchase will be made soon.

Today was still warm, but very rainy when we visited again this morning at son’s house and for a portion of our trip home.  Then the sun came out and it went up to 80ºf in the Virginia mountains in mid February.  And they are threatening us with snow flurries over night today and a high half that tomorrow.  At home, a rearrangement of the loft was in order to accommodate the large third wheel.  By moving the love seat closer to the television, turning the desk and file cabinet, there is now a spinning studio for this fiber artist of the house.  A bit more needs to be done to better organize Cabin Crafted Soap and Yarn store supplies and packaging material and moving the bookcase of yarn and fiber from our bedroom to the “studio” needs to be done, but it has been a full weekend and the job will have to wait until tomorrow.

Once all the parts are here, a steep learning curve faces me to learn to spin on the two “new” old wheels.

The Quiet

Christmas morning was shared with eldest son, our daughter in law, and eldest grandson.  We had our traditional Huevos Rancheros and link sausages then opened stockings and Christmas gifts.  After a bit of wind down, last year’s rocket was taken down to the field and fired into the foggy, low hanging clouds.  The first one we never saw come back down, the second one we watched, but son and grandson could not find it anywhere it appeared to land in the neighbor’s fields.  Shooting the rockets was something that Jim did with our youngest son after eldest son was out of our house.  I think he had wanted a rocket when he was younger, but hubby wasn’t sure about it then.  Son and grandson got a pair last year for Christmas.  It lives here and gets used when they visit.  With both missing, we will get them a new one for future visits.  The rockets are fun to watch.  I wish I had all the money for all of the ones that have been lost in the past 20 years.

After their launches, they packed the car and headed across the state for Christmas #2 of the day and we were left in a very quiet house.  Since I had prepared our traditional full Christmas dinner on the eve, we had plenty of leftovers to enjoy it again last night.

We did talk with our daughter and her family, visiting son in law’s family in Florida this year.  We spoke on the phone with our youngest son as he was headed into work to let most of his employees have the day free to be with their families, and just finished talking with Jim’s sister who lives in Florida.

I had asked eldest son if he would make me a vertical lazy kate for my spinning bobbins. My wheel has a built in lazy kate, but I find that I get too much twist when I use it as the singles come off the end of the bobbins instead of the side.  This was made for me and under the tree yesterday morning.

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Last year he made me my soap molds and this year my lazy kate.  I love that he and his wife are so talented.  She made us ornaments of our first initials and hung them on the tree and made me a decorative bowl of the clay from the MGM site in Baltimore where she helped install a huge art piece also made of the clay.  I went to their house to help out the week that she was away working on that.

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It was pleasant having them here if only for a couple of days.

Our children know that we don’t want them spending a lot of money on us, so we love the handcrafted items such as two woodburned ornaments from our youngest.

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And the environment gift of an Arbor Day Foundation membership and trees from our daughter’s family.

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Cleverly presently with a tiny forest and a note.  We are trying to reforest parts of our farm and this gift will help us on the way.

Today is quiet.  We went to town to get lunch and a few groceries and around that I have been washing the bed linens from son’s family visit and our laundry.  It is cool, gray, and gloomy today so being outside has no draw.  The time is being spent spinning some brightly colored Merino wool and plodding through a book that hasn’t really drawn me in. Santa brought each if us generous gift cards to Barne’s and Noble, so I will get myself a book soon.  He also brought me a gift card to my favorite local coffee cafe.  I will enjoy sitting in there with coffee on many occasions.

The quiet will continue for another 8 days, then life will return to the school year routine of getting the grands off to their respective school days.

I’m hoping for a break in the gloom so I can go for a walk.  We have rain and gloom every day this week except Wednesday, and possible snow on Friday.  We will see.  Maybe I will just put on a jacket and rainboots and go outside anyway.

Olio – 12/23/16

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

Very early this morning in the wee dark hours, eldest son and his family arrived for Christmas.  Yesterday was spent cleaning up as much dust and animal hair as possible with the vacuum and a lightly dampened mop to try and reduce the allergen level of the house.  The process was taken down to the basement as well, where there are no rugs, granddaughter helping by collecting various tiny lego pieces, parts of her “kitchen” and other random toys that were not put away.  The bed in the bedroom down there was made with fresh sheets, as was the futon in the sitting area for grandson.  The last of the gifts were wrapped and sorted to be put under the tree.

After fixing sausage gravy and biscuits this morning, we visited until Jim had finished his PT and daughter has finished teaching her class and we all met for lunch out and split up in the various cars for errands.  Jim taking grandson for a haircut, daughter bringing granddaughter home to finish their laundry and to pack and load the car to await son-in-law to arrive home for them to begin their drive to Florida where they will spend Christmas with his parents, pick up the grandson who has been with his bio Dad for the week, and then on to have a Christmas vacation for the kids.  Son and I made a few stops for items on his list.

When we arrived home, a footstool box pieced and taped together with enough foam sheeting to wrap the house and holding my new antique spinning wheel was sitting on the table.  This excited me and I carefully opened the box and found all of the disassembled pieces inside.  We pulled up a photo and began reassembling it to make sure it is all there.

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It is all there, with a few flaws that may have to be addressed, such as two of the whorls missing a chunk out of them, but I think I can still use them.  An arm of the flyer has been broken and reglued in the past.  The legs had been removed for shipping and need to be reglued for stability.  The parts are pegged together and the leather that holds the flyer on the mother of all is dry and too wide in one place, covering the orifice hole, so it hasn’t been used in a long time.  I suspect it has been mostly decorative.  It is a double drive wheel and the only twine that I had to test it with isn’t beefy enough to do the job and frayed very quickly.  The bobbin is so tiny, but the wheel is gorgeous.  It was made by a Canadian from St. Andre, a wheel with screw tensioning.  Paradis was born in the early 1800’s.

Daughter’s family is on the road.  Son’s family shared a pot roast dinner with us and now they are off to a movie with Jim.  I elected to have some quiet time at home with a cup of tea and bake the pies for our Christmas dinner.

We traditionally have our Christmas dinner on the eve with turkey, country ham, and all the trimmings.  Tomorrow, we will avoid the last minute madness, just enjoying each other’s company, sharing a festive meal in the evening and do our gift opening after a big Christmas breakfast on Sunday, before they leave for daughter-in-law’s parent’s home to have Christmas with them as well.

Our house will be very quiet after they leave for more than a week, just Jim, me and all the animals.

Have a very Merry Christmas to all of you who check in on us through my blog.

Busy Days

The past few days have been busy.  Granddaughter started back to preschool, the dogs have had check ups and shots, we have been busy around the farm.

Between us, most of the fields have been mowed for fall.  I haven’t harvested the pears or apples yet, as I have been trying to catch up on tomatoes and peaches.  One day, I canned 30 pints of tomatoes and pasta sauce.  Of that, only a few didn’t seal, so we had a big spaghetti dinner last night and the leftover sauce was put in wide mouth jars and frozen.  We will use it first before we start opening the sealed jars.

Days work

Each Tuesday, daughter and son-in-law pick up a one person food share of meat and one of fruit as a test to see if it is worth their money.  A lot of the fruit has been peaches, though the late frost killed off almost all of the peaches around here, so they must be bringing them from south of us.  Jim and I are the only ones in the house that will eat a fresh peach.  The first batch was made into peach/mango chutney, a very authentic tasting chutney.  The second batch were peeled, sliced, and frozen.  The third batch went to the spinning retreat with me and were enjoyed by the group.  The fourth batch was sitting there about to attract fruit flies, so I made 9 half pints of sweet chili sauce today.  I tasted a bit of it and it is sweet and spicy with hot chili sauce added.  It should make a great chicken or pork basting sauce or topping.  I think it would be good over cream cheese with crackers.  It is cooling on the counter and will be added to the increasing jars of goodies on the shelves.

Sweet chili sauce

Tonight late, our eldest son and eldest grandson will arrive for the weekend.  I have a dry rub pork shoulder that I will cook in the crockpot tomorrow and I think one of the jars of sweet chili sauce, a jar of the apple/pear chutney from last year, the last  jar of Pear Ginger Conserve will all be put out to eat with the pulled pork and slaw with a batch of roasted veggies for out dinner.

Tomorrow, we will get to return to the Farmers’ Market for the first time in a month.  We will precede that with breakfast out, and I will turn in my applications for the two winter Holiday Markets.

I am loving being able to return to a routine and see things getting done.

A Day in the Life

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A busy week

This was a week of swim lessons for Gdaughter that lives here.  She is a little 4 year old fish.  Because of her lack of fear and the skills she learned last winter, they put her in a class of 6 year olds and up and she held her own.  Fearless to go under water, jump off the diving board toward a waiting instructor/catcher, swimming crawl and backstroke in a life vest and flippers.  I think she will be swimming well by the end of summer.

Today was a craft/vendor show for support of the Newport Volunteer Rescue Squad.  It was sponsored by their auxiliary that set it up in the Volunteer Fire Department building and served hot dogs, lemonade, and baked goods.  I have to consider my booth fee as a donation to the squad, because the event was not well publicized, was not well marked, and there were only 6 vendors.  Three crafts folk and three catalog sale type vendors.  The traffic was nearly non existent and I didn’t sell enough to even make my $35 booth fee in 5 hours.  I ended up with the full space that one fire truck parks in to set up my booth and though I knew that I wouldn’t sell knit goods in the summer, I still set up my newly homemade stand with shawls, hats, and mitts on it.  Many skeins of yarn, and a table full of soaps, lotions bars, healing salves, and men’s beard products were displayed.

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I finished the skein of yarn that I was frantically trying to get spun and plyed, but didn’t have time to wash it.  I skeined it up and took it anyway as it was lovely shades of green and not the reds, blues, and naturals of most of my yarns.  It didn’t sell, none of the yarn did, though my spinning on the drop spindles to pass the time attracted a fair amount of attention.

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Since it came home with me, I will wash and dry it before I put it in the shop.  It is about 180 yards of worsted weight with a bit of texture due to the Mohair carded in with the Longwool and Romney.

When I got home and unloaded, Jim and I drove to town to pick up a chair that I had ordered.  The furniture store was having a July 4 sale and I was able to pick up a chair I had wanted for about half price.

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Though I am a tall woman, my height is in my torso, so most chairs are not comfortable for me for any length of time as my back doesn’t touch the back of the chair in order to put my feet on the ground.  This chair fits me perfectly and allows me to recline or put my feet on the ottoman, or move the ottoman and spin from the chair.  It required assembly once home, but I haven’t moved from it in an hour.  It is so comfortable.  This is my new spot and I am loving it.

The young chicks are all escape artists.  Being so, they cause the hens angst and then they too manage to get out.  I have moved the netting around, expanded the pen, opened the meat bird pen to them which allows the chicks out through the fence, but keeps the hens in and still they escape.  There is still one sitting 10-12 eggs and another that wants to be broody, but as I am only getting 1 or 2 eggs per day right now, I won’t let her sit.  I am hopeful that if we get a few from this next brood that there will be enough birds to expand my flock a bit and still have enough for the freezer without buying day old chicks and raising them in the garage brooder this fall.

Tomorrow, I am going to take the large cardboard box that held a desk for my stepmom, that we hauled across the state with the table and chairs, and the box and packing cardboard from my new chair, and it will be laid to the path and just outside the garden fence to start the prep for next year’s perennial bed around the vegetable garden.  I am still trying to decide whether to remove the garden fence and return to electric fence and to use the fencing to create a large chicken run around the orchard for them to have more space to range.

Last night we drove up to the hill above our house to see if we could see where the logging noises were coming from, only to discover that they had clear cut the woods immediately behind our neighbor’s fields.  We think that there is land between it and us that is owned by someone else and are hopeful that they don’t breech the hill we see to the west of our lower field. While up there, I took a new photo for my header shot.

House

Still loving life on the our mountain farm.

A Week On the Farm – April 24, 2016

A Day Late!

Busy weekend.  Daughter and family went away for the weekend, but eldest son and family arrived.  Daughter in law had a job reinstalling an art piece for an artist that she works with.  They had de-installed it a couple of weeks ago and packed it up for the owner, who drove it to their new house about 45 minutes from here.  DIL and son went over yesterday to install the piece and we got eldest grandson time.

Today was dedicated to work and fun on and near the farm. Last year, we tried to use the chicken tractor that was too heavy for me to move by hand and not sturdy enough to move by tractor as a brooder coop, inside one of the chicken runs.  It ended up being a disaster, we lost batch of chicks after batch of chicks, regardless of how we tried to secure it.  Son was determined that we could make it work.  Last fall, he cut some cedars, stripped the branches and brought the trunks up near the chicken pens.  Today, we set about making a base for the chicken tractor that lifted it up off the ground on a solid floor.  One of our goals was to not spend any more money on it, as it probably only has a couple more years of life before the reclaimed wood fails.  My idea was to put it up on blocks with a plywood floor.  He said that was too expensive.  We had many old cedar posts that were being used mostly unnecessarily to try keep weeds out of the garden or to keep the chickens from going under fences.   We decided to use them.  Four large fairly flat rocks were located in rock piles and used as the corners instead of cinder blocks.  Two of the cedar trunks were used to be floor beams and the cedar posts, cut to length as the floor joists, surface.  Now I need to let you know that at this point, I threatened to rename son, Huck and give him a paddle.

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The end joists were screwed to the cedar trunk beams and the rest packed as tightly as we could put them.  “Huck” questioned whether they were close enough together and though they are, they surface is neither smooth nor flat.  I said that I would spread a thick layer of newpaper, wood shavings or hay over it and that would probably do.  DIL had the idea that we could make a sod house type floor to smooth it out instead.

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We started laying hay over the raft perpendicular to the floor.

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A few tractor buckets of soil and sod were layered on top of that, the rocks removed and packed down.  Thereby creating a sod floor over the cedar raft.

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The fence was removed from the meat chicken pen’s upper end (no chickens in there right now) and son and I wrestled the tractor out and adjacent to the sod covered raft.  The two of us could not lift it alone, but a neighbor and his friend were using metal detectors on our field looking for civil war treasures and they came up to help out.  With DIL eyeballing where it should sit, the other four of us each picked up a corner and set the tractor on top of the sod covered raft.

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This left a few gaps and we decided to line up the rocks that we had pulled out of the soil around the interior perimeter.  The shot I failed to get was son on his hands and knees inside this structure as I handed in rocks for him to fill the gaps.

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The structure is now soundly in place and as secure as we could make it.  The lower hardware cloth sides are going to be closed in, leaving the upper triangles for vents, a ramp built and the nesting boxes installed.  A low chicken wire fence will surround it to allow the chicks and their mommas outside once they are a few days old.  I still need to reattach the fencing that we removed to get the tractor out of the run.  A predator will now have to climb, and gnaw in to get to the babies.  Perhaps we will have better luck raising them this year.

Once we finished and had lunch, we took off on a hike that was a portion of the hike we did last summer backpacking.  The hike is about 5 miles total with the first half a steep climb to a ridge that is a beautiful, fairly level walk out to a rock outcrop that allows us to look through the gap to Blacksburg and Christiansburg in the distance.

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In spite of the beautiful blue sky, there was quite a haze off in the distance.

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The first shot, looking east toward the towns and the other looking west up the valley and the farmland.  Sorry they aren’t clearer.  It was definitely still looking like winter up there though the temperature was summer time.  There was no leaf cover at all at the elevation.  I certainly got my steps in today, almost getting twice the 10,000 step goal with 19,780, walking/hiking 8.63 miles, and the equivalent of 111 flights of steps.

They are headed home.  Daughter and her family have returned from their trip.  Leftovers prepared, eaten and cleaned up for dinner, a shower taken and now I am ready for bed.

Tomorrow is the last nice day for a week of expected rain, so I will try to repair the fencing, enclose the brooder coop and work more on garden prep.  We are approaching our last expected frost date and I will be able to plant the tomatoes, peppers, beans, popcorn, pumpkins, bush beans, cucumbers and flowers.  The part for my car came in, and that is also on my schedule to get the part installed and the reinspection.  An appointment has been made to get another estimate on replacing the ball joints in a few more days.

Loving life in the mountains.

Olio – March 5, 2016

Olio – a miscellaneous collection of things.

This is a weekend of family.  Eldest son and eldest grandson rode the late bus in last night, arriving in the wee hours.  We started slow this morning with a good breakfast of our eggs, bacon, tortillas and homemade banana walnut bread.  We followed with some family visiting and catching up while daughter, SIL, and the other two grands went to their last swimming lesson of the current sessions.  After a brief trip for books and gravel, we tackled the basement soffit reconstruction.  Due to the leak we were experiencing last fall and winter, the soffit that was sheathed with drywall was blistered and crumbling and eldest son ripped it down to the framing at Christmas to help us diagnose where the leak was originating.  We had had a roof repair made that had not cured the problem prior to that.   Seeing where the water was coming from allowed the leak to be actually fixed and we left the soffit open until we were sure that we no longer had a problem.

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They came this weekend to not just visit, but rebuilt, this time using beadboard paneling and pine trim that can be unscrewed and taken down in the event of a future need to access the plumbing, electrical, and heating ductwork that all converges in that area of the basement.  Mountaingdad and I had made a run to Lowes on Friday to purchase most of the necessary wood and screws to make it happen.  Some ripping with the circular saw, cutting with the jigsaw, fitting and screwing in place and we now have this much done.

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Tonight, after a homemade Mexican food feast, he and I returned to Lowes to get more trim pieces that we realized we would need.

Earlier this afternoon, I told son that both of the surviving chicks from last summer had developed into beautiful young roosters, however, with only 8 hens, we didn’t need two randy young males spewing testosterone in the flock.  I thought we could wait until problems began to deal with it, however, when I went out to lock them up at dusk, the boys were cock fighting and once in the coop, attacked a hen, so I captured the first one I could grab and he is now in the freezer, to become soup at some time in the future.  My flock is down to 9, but the hens and the Foghorn Leghorn will be happier.  Hopefully, we will be able to successfully raise some chicks this summer and we will increase the flock to 12 or 14 hens and Foghorn Leghorn.

Since my return from the spinning retreat, I have been having a fairly significant arthritis flare.  My right basal joint has been a problem for several years, as has a shoulder injured 38 years ago.  The basal joint treated with injections, surgery and finally just splinting when it is too aggravated. Today, while I was holding the beadboard sheets for son to cut, I noticed that my finger joints were beginning to swell.  I guess that was inevitable.  Some recent research on foods that trigger inflammation and foods that help calm it has caused me to alter my diet in the past couple of months.  Though I have enjoyed some other benefits from the diet change, it hasn’t really helped the joint pains if I overdue as I am prone to do.  Perhaps it is also a result of the fickle weather we have been experiencing with days of the 70’s followed by days in the low 30’s, rain, then sun, then snow.  This is springtime in Virginia and if you don’t like the weather, wait for 24 hours, it will change.

Tomorrow afternoon, I will drive son and grandson home, spend the night with them and then take them to the Metro station early Monday for them to go away as a family for a few days and I will return home.  Our week is supposed to be more springlike, maybe if it stays dry, some garden cleanup can begin.  The garlic is up several inches and will have to now be protected from the chickens, the blueberries never got a good weeding in the fall, but I have been stockpiling newspaper and bought a hay fork, so I will layer newspaper and cardboard around the bushes and pile on some spoiled hay for mulch.  I’m looking forward to playing in the dirt again.

Hopefully, the snow we had Thursday night was the last measurable snowfall of the season with more warm days to come.  Another couple of weeks and the turnips, onion sets, and peas can be planted.  I’m trying to figure out a way to allow the chickens to continue to wander the aisles of the garden and among the blueberry and raspberry bushes to help keep the weeds down this year and to allow them to feast on the unwanted bugs.  I can’t fence each row, some crops are too tall to row cover, but I will figure it out.