Tag Archives: family

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.

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.

Snowed in again

A beautiful snow this time, no wind.  Daughter and I took a walk in about 10″ of new snow, no drifting.  By the time we started back, we were getting a little sleet.  The roads near us are impassible, but no need to go anywhere.  Groceries were purchased yesterday, dog food as well.  We did get out for our Anniversary dinner, though the snow started hours earlier than predicted.  Last evening we followed our son in law down the mountain, us in our 4 wheel drive truck, him in his little low 2 wheel drive sedan and he went to work 12 hours early to nap there as he wouldn’t be able to get to the hospital today.

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Ooops, got my glove in that one.
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Our old pole barn
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An old snow covered wheel on a rock pile.
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Snow covered hay rake
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Old fly wheel driven saw in front of our barn.
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Barn and house from the top of the driveway. Not going anywhere for a while, though the 2 4-wheel drive vehicles are behind me.
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Rock wall in our sink hole, several hundred feet away.  We have Witch hazel planted above it and went on a search for it, it should be blooming now, but could not find it.
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Our house in the hollow from the hill above us on the neighbor’s farm.

It isn’t snowing as hard now, still thick and gray outside, some sleet due to crust this over this afternoon.

On our walk, we spotted another very young calf, a little black one tucked between two black cows at the hay feeder on the neighbor’s farm.  Some of her girls look like they are about to burst.  Daughter was calling them Moocicles, with their coats dripping icicles.

We came back from our walk to warm leftover soup and leftovers from our Anniversary dinner out for lunch.  The woodstove is keeping the basement toasty and the downstairs floors warm.  We haven’t bothered to light the upstairs fire, saving the wood in case the power fails as the ice accumulates.  I guess I should fill some containers with water, just in case.

The week is supposed to warm, so perhaps the asparagus bed can be weeded before the shoots begin to appear, the chicken coop cleared of the spoiled straw that has housed them during the two snow storms, and their food and water returned to the outdoors.  For the past couple of weeks, they have mostly been getting warm water inside the coop twice a day, their feeder inside the coop staying filled and with single digit temps or snow, they have been locked in.

I have finished the body of my handspun sweater.  I need to pick up the stitches to add the sleeves, perhaps that will be a good afternoon task, plus I bought fabric to make granddaughter a little backpack to carry her dance clothes in.  She got a leotard, dance pants, and a skirt for Valentine’s day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Valentine

Thirty eight years ago this evening, I became Mrs. Mountaingdad.  We had met about 10 months earlier through a mutual friend.  Over the Christmas Holiday from the school system where I was a counselor, we went on my first overnight ski trip.  I had been on a one day semi local trip with a group of students and teachers from the school where I worked, but not a trip to a big resort, not a trip to Vermont.  We went with a local ski shop, with Mountaingdad’s sister and her friend as part of the group and stayed off resort at a really cool working dairy farm/Inn.  The SIL to become, her friend, and Mountaingdad were all skiers already and had outfitted me with very short skis to begin and longer ones for later in the week if I got the hang of it.  First day out, I separated my shoulder.  I am a determined soul and with the thick layers of clothing that helped restrict movement, continued to ski for the rest of the week, needing help to dress and undress, to braid my long hair, cut my meat for dinner, or anything that required flexibility or strength with my left arm (I am a lefty.)  We arrived home on New Year’s Eve and went straight to the ER where I was Xrayed, put in a restricting sling and referred back to my family Dr. in a week for the 1970’s version of physical therapy.  That night, Mountaingdad proposed to me and I accepted.  We didn’t want a huge wedding and set about to make plans, knowing that we wanted a ski honeymoon. As it turns out, Mountaingdad was a romantic, he suggested Valentine’s Day for the date.  Plans were made and on that night, my first Valentine, my Daddy, stood in the back of the church as Mountaingdad had my brother bring me a Valentine card, and Daddy walked a teary bride down the aisle and passed my hand to the man I was about to marry, my new Valentine.

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Rehearsal night, sitting with my Dad as we watched what we were to do the next night.

Every Valentine’s Day for 67 years, my Dad sent me a Valentine’s Card, usually one like the kids hand out at school.  I could count on getting at least one card as a kid.  As I had children, my daughter also received a card from him, and later my granddaughter as well.  He sent them to all of his “girls.”

I lost my first Valentine, my Dad in December.  He was 92 years young.  Healthy and vibrant until August, showing his age and a rapid decline after that.  He remained at home, still helping out as he could until 2 weeks before he died when he had back to back hospitalizations and passed with his kids, stepkids, a niece and his wife with him over the last few days.

I knew that each Sunday, when we talked to each other on the phone, would be difficult and that holidays would also be tough for a year or so, but I didn’t think about Valentine’s Day, that is Mountaingdad’s and my day.  A few days ago, this was in the mail.

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I couldn’t even open the envelope as I knew what was inside.  I handed it to my daughter, teary eyed and had another cry.  My stepmom had sent the Valentine cards on to all of his “girls” for him.  Yesterday, another envelope arrived for the three girls in the house.  This one contained 3 cards and a note explaining that my IBB (younger brother) knowing that Daddy had carried out this tradition forever and he was continuing it.  I cried again.  Thank you IBB.

Tonight, I have but one Valentine.  He and I will go out for a nice dinner and celebrate our 38 anniversaries together.  He has been my love for a long time and continues to be there for me when I need him the most.  I love you, Jim.

Olio – January 13, 2016

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Olio – a miscellaneous collection of things.

Winter has arrived, officially.  This has been typical of the past few mornings (for my non USA readers, that is in Fahrenheit).  Mornings that have me serving as GICOM (grandparent in charge of mornings).  Daughter K has taken a long term substitute teaching job at a middle school that begins only a few minutes after grandson must be awakened to ready for school.  SIL R leaves for work very, very early as he has at least an hour drive to be at work around the same time.  Since the kids aren’t old enough to be left to their own devices, I am getting up just a bit later than the time I used to rise to get ready for work before retirement, and beginning the morning routine.  Dress, let the 3 dogs outside in the dark, start coffee, wake Grandson A, feed dogs and outdoor cat, pour coffee, go back to wake A for the second time (most mornings), make my oatmeal, feed A (he won’t eat oatmeal), drive him the almost half mile to the bus stop (must have a parent/guardian present at stop), drive home, carry warm water and feed to the flock of chooks and turn them out for the day, back in house and three days a week, get granddaughter N up, dressed and fed then drive her to the next town to preschool.  On those days, I then have a couple of hours to clean, knit, spin, make soap, or veg until time to drive back to town to pick her up.

The chooks are still on strike, I am getting an average of 4 eggs a week from 8 hens.  Turns out that both of the youngsters that I added from the only survivors of our chicks last summer are young randy roosters.  One of them will have to go come springtime.  My flock are Buff Orpingtons with two Americaunas.  The BO’s are supposed to be good winter layers and dual purpose birds.  Unfortunately, they are all the same age, almost 2 years old, so all on the same cycle.  I’m sure to see an increase in production as the days lengthen, but with full winter coming on, they are more reluctant to be outdoors, especially if it is snowing, frigid like today with wind blowing or a dusting of snow on the ground.

We have only had two dustings of snow so far this winter.  Another is predicted this weekend, but for the past 5 years, that has been the pattern, with little measurable snow in December and January and then getting the winter’s normal amount in February and March.  I suppose I should take advantage of a sunny day to try to break up the large round bale of spoiling hay, as I will need to be putting it down in the run to get the chooks to even come out of their coop.

The cold has kept me indoors more than I prefer.  Fortunately, there is a treadmill in the basement, so I have still been taking a brisk 50-60 minute walk each day.

The chilly days and nights have also given me a lot of time to read, knit and spin.  I just finished a first novel, Orhan’s Inheritance, by Aline Ohanesian about the Armenian genocide.  I recommend it to any of you who are readers of historical fiction.  She based it loosely on her great grandmother.

My knitting has been a hat and unintentional mobius ring scarf in Mountain Colors Mountain Goat.  They are both done in a leaf lace pattern.  The hat ended up too short, the ring scarf with a twist, both causing me grief.  The top of the hat was pulled back to add another inch of length to it and reknit.  The ring scarf, I think will be left alone, if I can figure out how to block a mobius or maybe steek it, untwist and kitchner back together.

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I like the colors, but I’m not sure I like the fuzziness of the mohair in the yarn.  Perhaps they will end up in my Etsy Shop.

My spinning has resulted in a skein of cotton candy pink worsted weight yarn from fiber received in a yarn and fiber monthly club.

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and some Shetland from my stash that is to be a hat kit in my Etsy shop.

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These natural colors will make a great striped or colorwork pattern in a hat.  The yarn is Navajo plied so it is a nice study three ply yarn, worsted weight.  I have a few more yards of the natural white to spin and ply and the kit will go live in the shop and on Ravalry.  Spinning has been a real soul soother this past week.

Now my knitting is back to finishing the toe of N’s second sock and taking out the toe of the first one to make it half an inch longer.  By tonight, she should have a new pair of warm woolly socks of Wildefoote Sock Yarn.

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Life is good on our mountain farm.  I just want some real snow.

Kitchen Play

Saturday’s are Farmers’ Market day.  There are very few vendors this time of year, but Cavalier Farm, where I get beef and pork and eggs when my girls are being slackers, is there year round if the weather allows them to get there.  We needed meat and eggs today.

This week, Glade Farm was there with a large selection of produce.  I came home with two huge Daikon radish, about 4 pounds worth, a bunch of salad radishes, bags of Tatsoy, Bok choy, and salad mix.  They also had some winter squash, as well as some other leafy greens.  I still have a bit of kale and chard in the garden if it doesn’t freeze solid in the next few days and the root cellar has many winter squash stored.

The Daikon radish were too great a temptation to not come home and make a big batch of radish kimchee.  I was introduced to kimchee when we moved here.  There is a Korean restaurant in the next town and though I don’t like all of them, I do love the spicy radish one.  Last year I found a recipe on the internet that was so similar a product that I bookmarked it.  Four pounds of radish, makes a bit more than a half gallon of spicy kimchee.  It is tasty as soon as you make it, but it is so much better after fermenting on the counter for a few days.

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Once that was cleaned up, the kitchen became the soap making location.  The Holiday Market put a huge dent in my inventory of soap and since I left just a few days after because of my Dad’s hospitalization and then his memorial service, followed by Christmas with a houseful of family, I had not begun the resupply.  Today I made a batch of Mountain Man soap and a batch of a very moisturizing unscented facial and body soap, using my new wooden molds made by son T.  Tomorrow, I need to get another gallon of olive oil and another essential oil and a couple more batches of soap will be made.

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I love my new molds.  Tomorrow, I will unmold those two soaps, cut them into bars for curing and make the new batches.  Probably the newest scent, Lumberjack and either Lavender or Jasmine.

Maybe tomorrow will also be bread baking day.  The last two loaves are gone and we are going to regain grandson and his air escort, his other grandmother who will stay for a few days.

Gifts of Love

And appreciation. T’s family were the first recipients of my handmade products. I had been buying them handcrafted soap at the Farmers’ market after their move to Northern Virginia. When I started making soap myself, they received a batch. Then on a visit home, one of my Lotion bars was offered and that too became a product they used and the Beard oil for wild and wooly facial hair . Baby clothes, knit headbands, scarves and hats, a vest or two and a sweater to two left my needles for their home. They appreciate the handcrafted goods and I enjoy making them.

They have skills beyond my level in so many areas. Last Mother’s Day, knowing that I was reaching a point where I was going to have to start paying to keep my blog up, T developed my format on his server and presented me a link. I now know that my blog is secure and that I can post pictures without wondering if the next one was going to be the one that required me to pay for the service or seek sponsorship, not a route I desired.

W is an artist and my home displays many of her paintings, prints, and sculptures. A couple of decades ago, Mountaingdad presented me a beautiful hand thrown pottery platter.

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This huge 16.5″ diameter beauty has never had a display place in our home as there is no rack to hold it safely on the wall. It did live in the middle of the dining room table in one home, when we had a separate table in the kitchen used for most family meals, but our log home has but one table, used daily, so the platter sits on the pine and cedar shelves above the refrigerator nesting a large wooden bowl and often hidden by the bags of chips and tins of cookies blocking the view of the shelves and their display of little used pottery and the wok that is too big to go anywhere else in the kitchen.

W is in the process of carving a platter rack to mount on a log wall just above my jelly cupboard in the dining room. Tucson, as the platter was named by it’s creator, will finally have a home where it can be seen and admired more than the two or three times a year it is put into service. You see, wood working skills are another of her talents.

Because of my desire to have a couple of wooden soap molds of dimensions that will hold my favorite recipe for soap,  T put his carpentry skills to work and with a couple of red oak boards, he built me two lidded molds for Christmas.

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And to encourage me to keep making my products, the first installment of several large jars of organic Coconut oil for use in soap and lotion making and for cooking.

Each day we live in and admire their talents, as they were the builders and finishers of all of the finish carpentry, cabinets, and interior doors in our beautiful log home, and their craftsmanship makes this a wonderful place to live, as well as being decorated with much of their talent.

I love my home, my family and their talents and skills. Tomorrow I will use my new molds for the first time to start replenishing my soap supply after the holiday markets. I am indeed a fortunate woman.

Merry Christmas

It is Christmas Eve here in the mountains of Virginia. It should be cold, at least much colder than the 70°f we are expecting. If it was cold we would be snowed in, instead we are contemplating travel to town by kayak. The rain is torrential at times, the roads muddy like in the spring, the fields the emerald green of May not December.

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We returned home yesterday from the week on the coast, celebrating the life of my wonderful father, sadly because of his passing. The trip home was rainy, foggy and muggy. There were many accidents, fortunately none involving us and none looking too serious. There were many stoppages on the interstates because of these accidents and the weather, a few side excursions to get around the stoppages.  Thanks to my many alternate routes from my trips to and from Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, I have learned how to hop great sections of I81 and I64.

Last night I grocery shopped and added a couple of last gifts. This morning, remembering that our pups always get new beds and bones for Christmas, so I guess I am going to break my long standing rule of not going out on Christmas eve. Usually I am home preparing Christmas dinner which we traditionally enjoy on the eve. This year we will have Italian food tonight to fulfill SIL R’s tradition and have our turkey and ham tomorrow night when T and his family arrive.

I still need to clean, bake pies and sandwich bread, make Ginger snaps. Tomorrow we will try to move on and enjoy Christmas Day as Daddy would wish. I will sadly miss our Christmas call. Reach out to those you love, those you have befriended as you never know when you might lose them.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours. I will be silent for a few days now.

Family, Feast, and Celebration Thankfulness

I wrote a version of this yesterday evening and when I hit publish, it all disappeared except for the first sentence, so as thankful as I was for the prior week, I gave up.  Let’s try again in the dawn of early morning.  The animals have been taken care of, Grandson A has been delivered to his school bus for a new week.  Granddaughter N is still sleeping after too many days of no naps and late evenings, daughter K is off substitute teaching, SIL R is at work.

We had a week of celebrations, family, and feasting.  If you are a new reader, we currently have our daughter K, SIL R, and two grands (N is 4 and A is 8) living with us, so our large log home has already been full of family and activity.  From Wednesday morning to Sunday afternoon, we also had our eldest son T, his wife W, and the eldest grandson L (10) here.  In this mix are our two large dogs, K’s large dog and their two house cats.  The rest of the animals, our barn kitty and the chicken flock live outdoors.  The house was a whirl of noise, laughter, color, movement with little time for quiet and calm.  Though the grands only saw each other occasionally prior to January, they have had much more time together in the past 11 months.  N and A have most of their toys in the finished basement, but when T, W, and L are here, they stay in the basement bedroom and on the futon in the sitting area, giving them a bit of private space too.

We feasted.  Thankful for the local sausage, the eggs I stockpiled from my Buffys, goodies grown and preserved from the garden and from the local Farmers’ Market and the 19 pound pasture raised turkey from a local farm.  The turkey was alive on the morning of November 21 and in our refrigerator that afternoon.  T had read an article on spatchcocking a turkey, so we tried it.  I will never prepare roasted whole poultry the traditional way again.  There is very little of the bird left after feeding 9 for most of the week.

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It was a week of celebrations as well.  The day we picked up the turkey was my birthday and we celebrated with wood fire baked pizza and later with homemade fudge brownies prepared by K.  Tuesday was N’s birthday, born on Thanksgiving day 4 years ago and we celebrated with Olive Garden and dessert, delaying her party until Saturday.  Thursday we celebrated with the full traditional feast, served family style at our extended dining table.  I wish I had taken a photo with my collection of all hand thrown pottery plates and serving pieces filled with the homegrown or at least locally grown goodies.

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Sorry the image is a bit blurry, but it is difficult to photograph a 4 year old on roller skates with a phone camera.

Saturday was birthday party day for the little lady.  She had a roller skating party that included the nine of us, her best friend E with her mother and brother.  Everyone but Mountaingdad and I skated.  The last time I skated, about 14 years ago, I broke a wrist and just don’t want to risk it anymore.  I will still snow ski and bicycle, but not skate.

Yesterday was daughter K’s birthday.  It is difficult for me to accept that our children are adults, all in or near their 30’s with families of their own.  Prior to T’s family leaving to drive home, we all went to a Thai restaurant for lunch to celebrate one last feast together this week.  Later K and her family went to a movie and the house was so quiet after all the activity.  We ended our week of celebrations with a delicious cheesecake (K’s choice), that was made locally by one of the Farmers’ Market vendors, ordered two weeks ago when I was a vendor at the Holiday Market and picked up Saturday at last week’s market.

The household is back to a normal routine for a couple of weeks.  It will be cleaned thoroughly and decorated for Christmas.  After the current winter storm of seasonal temperatures and cold rain end, the tree that T and I cut a couple of weeks ago and finished by T and W over the weekend will be handsplit and stacked in anticipation of warm fires to sit by and enjoy and to provide us with heat when we have winter power outages.  We don’t rely on wood for heating normally, but do burn the fireplace and woodstove when the power is out to keep the house warm enough to be comfortable.

December 12 is the December Holiday Market where I will again set up to vend my soaps, lotion bars, Beard Oils, salves, yarn and knit goods with a couple of gift box additions.  Come on out and shop local for your Holiday gifts, there are many non food vendors there for this with jewelry, blown glass ornaments, beeswax candles, pottery, my wares and more.

This Christmas morning will be exciting with two of our younger grands here to celebrate with T and his family arriving later in the day to have another feast and the second turkey we picked up on the 21st and to spend several more days together.

Maybe some day, we will have all three of our children and their families together for a holiday again.  It might require setting up 5 cots for the grands, a second table for the feasting and eating off paper plates, but it would be grand.