Tag Archives: Flowers

Easy Schedules – 9/21/2017

Each day that it isn’t raining, we venture out to one of the local trails to walk.  We are trying to build our stamina, reduce our weight, and improve our fitness between appointments still trying to figure out why hubby is having some medical issues, including fatigue.  Most days we walk on the Huckleberry Trail, an asphalted walking and biking trail on an old railroad grade.  It is a bit more than 7 miles long between Blacksburg and Christiansburg.  There are several places to enter the trail and we pick different ones, walking  about 2 1/2 to a bit more than 3 miles, sometimes briskly, sometimes with less vigor if one or the other of us is not up to speed, so to speak.

There are a few other places to walk as well, and today we took a different path, a path mostly in the shade along the river.








Flowers, fungi, the calming sound of the water.  Yesterday we pushed too hard and today we took it easy.

The fall is coming on, the leaves beginning to change, the flowers inviting the last butterflies of the season.



And producing beautiful sunsets.


We have had first my car in the shop this week, and now Jim’s, but tomorrow we will leave the house chores and animal duties to the kids and take a weekend away since our cruise fell apart.  This weekend is the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival and I have wanted to visit it for years, but it conflicts with one of the fiber retreats that I generally attend.  It was not on my schedule this year, again because we were supposed to have just gotten home from our cruise, instead I will finally get to go to the festival.




Olio – June 20, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things


After a week away and much rain according to Jim, the gardens are both beautiful, full of day lilies and lavender, and full of weeds.


The pepper plants are in there somewhere.


and the tomatoes and basil in there.  Grandson and I arrived home on Sunday evening, giving him time with his Dad on Father’s Day with breakfast out and for us to take Jim out for Father’s Day dinner as well.

Yesterday we went out in the morning to get Grandson some shoes.  The ones he wore hiking were worn out and wet.  He wore flip flop here and promptly lost them in the house.  He had to wear my garden clogs to go buy shoes.  Once home, the overgrown grass that is too close to the house for the tractor was mowed with the gas mower and the weeding was begun on the garden, but early afternoon thunderstorms drove me back indoors for the rest of the day.


On Sunday before we got home, Jim rode the BBH on a ride that had been one of the Rally rides that he couldn’t do because he was leading a ride elsewhere that day.  He missed a turn, saw bad weather ahead and aborted his ride on Sunday but wanted to see Smith Mountain Dam and lake, so today we took the car and with me navigating, drove over to the dam visitor center and took the path up to the lookout.


There were a number of these little skinks up near the top, and a tiny fawn right at the visitor center, but it got where we couldn’t take a picture of it.

This evening, I weeded out the tomatoes and basil, the peppers, the beans, the peas, and cut the garlic scapes.  There are still small weeds that will need to be hoed out and the corn and pumpkins still need to be weeded, but the garden is looking better.  The tomatoes already need to be tied up. Because the weeds took over areas where tomatillo seed and flowers were planted and since the garlic, onions, and peas will soon be pulled, there will be spaces in the garden that should be planted with something.  More beans are definitely due, maybe another block of corn as the three sisters plot has holes in it and I still need to put in the pole beans there.  The cabbage worms have laced the kale. The chickens love them and I pick a handful every time I go out, but a garlic red pepper spray may be needed if we are going to get any kale.  It looked so good before I left.  The turnips didn’t get thinned enough before I left and it looks like a jungle, more tops than turnips.  A second planting of them will be made for the fall.  The tomatoes and peppers have fruit started, and some basil plants are flowering already, so pesto is soon in order.

Tomorrow is another nice day and more garden work may get done. We promised Grandson a trip to a pool this week while he is here and tomorrow may be the last good weather day to do it.


I’ll leave with a picture of our barn cat Girly who spends most of her time on our front porch instead of hunting mice in the barn.  She was a spooky adult cat when she was given to us, but now she wants attention every time anyone goes outdoors.





A Week On The Farm

This has been the beginning of really harvesting from our garden.  The last of the beets were brought in today, the onions have been pulled and are curing.  The garlic is cured and needs to have the leaves trimmed, sorted into shallow boxes and put in the root cellar to begin to use.  Some of each will be held out to plant in the fall for next year’s crop.


Today I bought in the first of the tomatoes, two heirlooms and one paste.  Not a lot, but a start.  There were almost enough Jalapenos to pickled another pint.  And enough cucumbers to have some fresh and to make 4 quarts of icicle pickles.  I need to steam the beets, peel them, slice and freeze the remaining ones.  I pulled a good size chunk of horseradish root and used it to make a half pint of grated horseradish, I used a couple tablespoons of it to make a pint of Horseradish Mustard that is fermenting on the counter for 3 days.  That is my favorite mustard.


Earlier this week, Jim, daughter, and I went out one night after dark, when the 13 chicks all cooped up together and we sorted them into culls and keeps, keeping 4 Buff Orpington pullets to replace the one that died, Broody Mama Wannabe who has not proven herself, and to add two to the layer flock.  I will have 11 layers if they really prove to be pullets.

This week, we have had a series of horrendous thunderstorms.  The garden has been ok in this, but the newly graded, regravelled road to our driveway, and the upper part of our driveway really took a hit, with deep ruts crisscrossing the roadbed.

This is a very yellow time of year in the gardens with the Rudbeckia, False Dahlia, and Sunflowers blooming.  The Sunflowers in the corn, tomato, and pepper jungle are Hopi Dye Seed.  I am hoping to get enough of the seed to dye a skein or so of yarn the lovely purple that they produce.  There are also Russian Mammoth sunflowers and a smaller cluster sunflower that produces flowers about 7 or 8″ across.


Browneyed susan False Dahlia Jungle


We love our life on our mountain farm.

I think it is here!

A three day break from the cold wet sprwinter we have had instead of spring.  Today is another beautiful one.  Yesterday, I ventured off on another walk to a different path I had never taken.  Though it proved not quite long enough to get in my daily step goal, I did get it by adding more erect and less sitting time afterward.

Some of the neighbors sunning with their calves.
A few more babies.
As you see, the trees still think it is winter, the flowering ones have bloomed, but no leaves yet.
The mouth of the cave above us ringed with Virginia Blue Bells in beautiful bloom, but my zoom just wasn’t enough to get individual blossoms.
Woodland flowers along the road.

The spotted wintergreen is growing, but not yet blooming.  Yesterday’s walk did not have the views of the previous day, but it was a beautiful day to be out and a great chance to chat with the owner of the cows.  She was out checking on one of her girls who is due to calf any time now.  I think I will walk down and see if there is a new baby in the field.



Thus is spring in the mountains

Flowers bloom.
Outdoor projects are done.  The little decorative wheelbarrow made by my Dad about 15 years ago has a new handle, new axle, the side boards screwed on instead of nailed and a new support beneath to keep it from wobbling.
Set in place, filled with pots and awaiting the warm weather and flowers.
The horseradish, asparagus, and raspberry beds fenced off from the chickens and heavily mulched. The chicken coop cleaned out and a compost pile started behind the fence to keep the chooks out of it.


Today is 80ºf, Sunday it is supposed to snow.

The garden now has two long fenced off beds, plus the blueberries are fenced off.  Before Saturday afternoon, I hope to get the beets and some cabbages planted and the blueberries heavily mulched.  There is enough of the plastic fencing to fence off two more beds, but I will need to get more step in posts first.  I bought two rolls of the plastic fencing and only needed one, so I will return it for more posts.  That should give me space to plant the beans, more peas, and the peppers.


All 14 of the little peat pots have at least 1 tomato sprout with primary leaves.  They are spending each warm day outdoors, hoping that they will grow strong and not leggy.  Yesterday, I saw that one of the comfrey seeds had sprouted.  They were a total failure last year and I failed to divide the big plant last fall, so I tried again with seed.  I hope that more of them germinate.  They will be outside the vegetable garden.  There is 1 pepper sprouted so far.  Once the weather warms back up next week, I hope that they will join the tomato sprouts outdoors and maybe the mini hoop house will be constructed to help protect them from the wind while they develop into garden sized plants.

Today lots of work was accomplished.  Tomorrow will be cooler, but still nice and except for taking “N” to preschool and having spinning in the early afternoon, I have no commitments and hope to get the blueberries mulched and maybe the beets and more peas planted.  Friday will be cooler and still dry, another garden day before we get the predicted light coating of snow that will be gone in 24 hours.

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.


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.


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.



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.


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



A Mid Summer’s Morn

The heat broke last night, bringing with it a storm and cloudy morning, but delightfully cooler temperatures.

I went out to take scraps to the chickens yesterday evening and the stench coming from the coop was unbelievable. Not the usual chicken smell, not the coop needs cleaning smell, just an awful sulphurous odor.  Knowing that the eggs that should have hatched last Friday or Saturday were still under Broody Hen and were to be secreted away after dark last night, I checked. She had bailed when one of the unfertilized eggs had exploded, thus the smell. Plans changed and I carefully removed the nest and it’s contents to the compost pile, sure to attract some unwanted creature to the pile.  This meant that I could not sub the two garage chicks for the eggs.  After dark, I took them out and placed them with the Momma hen that is raising their siblings. She looked at them and settled back down. The three coop raised chicks don’t sleep under her any longer, they sleep in front of her.

When all the chooks were let out this morning, the two were conspicuously absent outdoors. A peek into the coop and the two Little’s came running to my hand. They have been handled so much in the garage brooder that they are not fearful of me or of Daughter. I tried to encourage them out the pop door and down the ramp, but they just don’t seem ready yet.


I will leave them alone except for giving them an escape place in the coop and hope that they acclimate to the other inhabitants and don’t end up reinjured and requiring a return to the brooder.

The current color of summer is yellow; chicks, sunflowers, coreopsis, rudbeckia, bronze fennel, and squash.





The rain has also encouraged fungi.


Not what we need growing on our deck, this must be eradicated.


Less colorful lacy ones growing in the spoiled hay.


A bit of purple with echinacea, comfrey, and coleus.

I love the colors of summer on our mountain farm.

Olio – May 8, 2015

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.




Hardened off veggie plants waiting for the garden that isn’t ready for them.

The last free range time until we get the fencing up around the garden.  The fluffy critters ate half of the sweet potato plants I put in earlier this week.

The annual spring Turkey dance.  Flocks of 14 or more with the Tom fluffed up with chest puffed out and tail spread like the children’s drawing of a Thanksgiving bird.

Nearly 400 yards of undyed Dorset lamb plied and 200 yards of Coopsworth spun and plied.  I can’t decide whether to dye the Dorset or what to do with it, but the Coopsworth is for me.  A sweater once the huge bag full is all spun, plied and measured.

The first flowers from our garden.



A nice weekend ahead with plans to deconstruct the compost bins, weed the remaining garden beds and get the seeds and plants in the vegetable beds.

We are half a week from chicks, we hope.  Broody Hen is being a great Mom, I hope she is rewarded for her efforts.

Loving our mountain farm.

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.

Signs of Spring

Leaves on the Lilacs
Blooms on the Forsythia, my favorite spring shrub.
New chicks

Frightful on the left behind the waterer. Three are Redtail Hawk colored, one is more black and gray with just a bit of reddish brown in her wings.



The four new Americauna pullets were picked up today.  Not wanting to order chicks, set up the brooder and raise them until they could go outside, I spotted a post on one of my Facebook Groups from a lady who offered to include your order in hers and you could pick up your day old chicks from her for cost or she would raise them to 8 weeks for a fee.  Wanting to keep a heritage flock of the Buffys, but missing the green eggs from the Olive Egger, I ordered 4 Americaunas from her and agreed to pay the fee to let her raise them til feathered and able to be outside.  By fall we should have green, blue or pink eggs.

Daughter and I used a roll of heavy mil plastic and stapled it to the sides of the chicken tractor, put the food and water inside and introduced them to their new temporary home.  In a few days, they will be released into the pen to run around and graze and get acquainted with the Buffys through the fence.  In 8 more weeks, once they can have the whole grain feed mixed with layer pellets, they will move to the coop.  I hope by then that one or more of the Buffys decide to get broody and sit a nest.  They will be moved to the brooder pen once they hatch which might expedite moving the Americaunas.  Daughter has decided that the largest one with the Retail Hawk like coloring and the dark head should be named Frightful after the Falcon in My Side of the Mountain.  The other three are still unnamed.  I don’t name birds that I know will eventually end up in the stew pot, so I don’t know if they will be named.

The Buffys got free range time while all of this was going on and every time I moved toward the house or back out toward the pens, I felt like the Pied Piper with the flock so close to my feet that I had to walk with a shuffle to keep from stepping on a hen.  They will eat out of my hand, but they don’t want to be petted.