Tag Archives: garden

A week on the farm – Oct. 26, 2018

Today was to be the Spirit Trail event at Wilderness Road Regional Museum, a fund raiser for the education program there.  I was to be in the old kitchen serving hot cider and playing with kids as they made corn husk dolls or besoms.  The event has outdoor actors and a horse drawn wagon ride.  The weather had other ideas.  The day started at 43ºf and heavy rain.  Both have held all day and the event has been postponed until Tuesday afternoon and evening.  Some of the characters won’t be able to reschedule, but it will still be a fun event.

After two days of garden and fence work earlier in the week, followed by a couple hours wrestling the huge  Stihl line trimmer to beat back areas that have been neglected most of the summer, I was beat.  Yesterday, chest muscles and lower back revolted and said take a day off.

 

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Yesterday morning was spent knitting on an Asymmetrical scarf from some of my hand spun merino/bamboo, followed by a grocery run and dinner prep of a cold weather treat of Stout Beef stew.  While the stew simmered, enough energy was rallied to do a bit of mowing and bush-hogging.  Hubby had started at the top of the property and worked his way down to the house while I was fencing.

Last evening as we sat down to enjoy the stew, our hay man arrived and began bush-hogging the fields.  About a quarter was done before it got too dark and today too wet.  We will work areas that he can’t do with his 10′ machine and once done, the mowing will be done for the winter.

There are still two sections of fence to be taken down and one to erect when the weather improves this weekend or next week.  Most of the creeping charlie was covered with tarps, cardboard, and paper feed sacks to try to kill it off.

My favorite jam from this year’s prep was Asian Pear Orange Marmalade.  The recipe only made a few half pint jars and I knew it wouldn’t last the winter, even using it sparingly and interspersed with raspberry, wildberry, or grape ones I kept.  As pears are still available, a couple pounds of Bartletts were purchased and another batch this time Bartlett pear orange marmalade was made today for the shelf.  It again only made 5 half pints, but so delicious.

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The chicken molt seems to be ending, the coop and pen no longer look like daily pillow fights, but egg production hasn’t picked back up.  The daily count is zero to 3.

Now is time to sit back with the garden plan, the seed catalogs as they come in and plan next year.  It is also time to get more knitting and spinning done for Christmas gifts and for holiday craft shows.

 

Summer is Gone – 10/17/2018

The thermometer on the front porch is sheltered under roof and protected from the wind.  The sensor indoors indicates it is 47ºf outside this morning, but tonight’s forecast is for our first frost.  A frost tonight would be right in the average.

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Yesterday’s high on the porch was 62, today’s is predicted to be about the same, but the nights are getting progressively colder until Monday night when they will warm slightly.  It is the season.  We will have some warmer days, some milder nights before true cold weather sets in, but it is time to pull out the heavier quilt and replace the summer quilt on the bed.  Last night my feet were cold.

A frost will mean the end of the garden.  This is always a time of mixed emotions, glad to be done with it for the year, sad that there won’t be more goodness from it.  It could be extended if I covered the peppers and lettuce tonight, but the tunnel that was purchased this summer to cover the fall veggies deteriorated very quickly.  The cabbages will be okay tonight.  The lettuce will be picked once my hands rewarm.  After feeding the chickens and setting them to roam for the day, two baskets were filled with jalapeños, seranos, and Anaheims.  The baskets would hold no more, though there are many peppers still on the plants, and my fingers were numb.

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All of the Anaheims were harvested, all of the red seranos and red jalapeños as a batch of homemade Sriracha sauce has been planned since they were planted last spring.  The large fat green jalapeños were picked to pickle another jar or two, maybe try Cowboy Candy with a jar or two.  Hubby would hate it and likely it wouldn’t appeal to me, but son the elder loves hot peppers and pickles and would probably like it.  It was cold harvesting them, colder than the thermometer registered, windy and damp.    Later more will be harvested, the rest still on the plants will go into the chicken run for them to peck, along with the tomato plants and the last of the bean plants after mature beans are picked to dry for next year’s seed.  The barriers will be relocated around the cabbages and the chickens will have the run of the garden for the winter, scratching for bugs, weed seed, and turning the soil as they dig.

This fall’s hay never got cut due to the rain.  The hay man said he would brush hog it with his 10′ mower and larger tractor.  Though he can’t go everywhere that our smaller tractor and 5′ mower can go, it will save a couple dozen hours of mowing for us.  The driveway needs to be regraded, again after all the rain, then the brush hog put back on the tractor so that the parts he can’t get, can be mowed before winter.  The brush hog will then be stored, the blade reattached to the tractor to plow us out if we have deep snow.

The neighbor’s cows have serenaded us for the past couple of days.  She may have separated out the young ones to wean before market time, but they are calling back and forth.  That is one of the pleasures of living out away from towns, hearing the cows, turkeys, screech owls, watching the deer and the occasional bear or fox.  The coywolf/coydog howls are interesting, but unwanted.  There are too many with no real predators and they are predators of chickens, calves, fawns, barn cats.

The days are shortening, the nights are chilling.  Soon it will be time for fires in the fireplace and woodstove to take the chill off and for the ambiance of sitting mesmerized by the flickering flames and close enough for the warmth.  Sitting with a good book or knitting, a cup of hot tea, and a warm sweater.  The season of more leisure.

Peace and calm until next time.

Changes noted – 10/7/2018

As we were doing our weekly grocery run for those items that can’t be purchased at the Farmers’ Market or grown at home a trend was noticed, not for the first time.  After picking up a couple of items that were lighter than they used to be, I noticed this.  Rather than keeping food products the size they used to be and raising the price as needed to keep the business afloat, they decrease the package size and keep the price at the old level, or only slightly more expensive.

You used to buy a pound of coffee but now the packages are 8 or 12 ounces, sugar for making jams used to come in 5 pound sacks, now they are 3 or 4.  We buy an inexpensive cat food to supplement the diet of our barn cat and you could buy it in a 4 pound jug that could be refilled with bags until the jug dried out to the point of having to be recycled.  Then I noticed that the bags no longer filled the jug and when I needed to replace the jug, they were no longer available.  The kibble is now in a 3 pound bag for the price the 4 pounder used to cost.  These are just a few of the items, look at jars of nut spreads and mayo, most are fewer ounces than just a few years ago.  Some of these items are available in bulk at the natural food store, so the price is reflected by the ounce and you buy what you need, but it has made me notice when the foods are prepackaged, even items we don’t purchase.

Our grocery budget reflects this as the items must be replenished more often, so there isn’t a saving and the illusion that prices haven’t gone up is purely that, an illusion.

Time was spent in the garden a couple days ago, the corn is down and tossed to the chickens to peck for bugs and ears too small to harvest.  Much weeding was done, but the Creeping Charlie is taking over and must be eradicated somehow.  The asparagus ferns were attacked with hedge clippers that didn’t begin to cut through them, so a stalk at a time being cut with a small cross blade clipper.  They are only about 1/3 down and the pile of dried ferns is huge.  They have to be dragged over to the burn pile and not composted because of the threat of asparagus beetles.  Some people burn them in place, but my asparagus are in a wooden box, so no fires in my garden, plus it is only feet from my main chicken coop.

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More walks this week, one along an old now paved rail grade.  I love the cut through the hillside, it is always cool and damp no matter how hot the afternoon temperatures.

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Sumac and wild asters lining the trail.

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And another evening harvest and canning session.

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The beans harvested that night for dinner were tough and tasteless, that season is done.  The tomatoes are ending, but the peppers continue to overwhelm.  The rest will be left on the plants to ripen to red for drying and fermented hot sauces.

The chicken molt has taken its toll on the egg business, In 3 days there have only been 5 eggs from 15 hens.  There are no pullets ready to replace them as the schedule didn’t allow for raising day old chicks for 5 weeks this summer.  The old girls will be replaced before next summer and will be culled  before next molt season.  Usually at least part of the flock is replaced each year so some hens continue to lay, but the entire flock were raised at the same time and are 2 1/2 years old.  Laying will probably be scarce after the molt due to age and cold weather coming on.  This may be a winter with no hens.  Rural King can order me chicks now and they could be ready to lay by spring.  Something to consider.

Olio: 10/5/2018

Olio: a miscellaneaous collection of things

Yes the blog has been quiet.  It seemed that every post was another harvest, another canning session, and some stress thrown in for good measure.

The stress from several fronts, a family illness that hopefully is on the healing end and will put about 6 weeks of stress and discomfort to one branch of our children’s family behind them.  Stress over the political climate, an immature, ignorant bully for president, a Congress of Good Ole Boys that think “Boys will be boys.” is an adequate excuse to dismiss sexual assault claims, and those claims bringing down on me 53 years of repressed memories of my own sexual assault in high school.  I finally have blocked, unfollowed, unfriended many on Facebook and am almost to the point of leaving it entirely.  If you are a reader of my blog on Facebook, you might want to start following it from the link on the side of the blog as it may soon disappear from that source.

Fall is in the air and with it comes Fiber Festivals and retreats.  Last weekend we traveled north in the state to spend a couple of days with eldest son and family and attend the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival.  Part of the reason for this trip was to pick up an antique sitting quill wheel that I bought from a friend of a friend sight unseen and the friend railroaded it from it’s original home, to her home, to the festival for me to pick up.  She is a lovely little old wheel with some remade parts but she spins beautifully.  The wood is stained but otherwise unfinished and dry.  Regular treatments of Howard’s Feed and Wax are happening and will continue.  This little wheel will be the one that goes with me for living history events.  The legs are hand hewn with a draw knife at the top to fit into the mounting holes.  The axle is wood and the parts pegged together with wooden pins rather than nails.  The only metal are the tacks holding the wheel spindles in place and the quill.

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The weekend before last, was an opportunity to be part of a Revolutionary War encampment as a spinner at the Fincastle 50th anniversary Festival.  These events draw plenty of interest as people walk through the encampment to see how they are set up, to view the period clothing, the period crafts and old weaponry.  At 10, 12, and 2 p.m. the old cannon was primed and fired which in itself is quite a display.  I often have children sit in my lap and “help” me spin, lots of pictures being taken by parents, and the child getting to go home with a necklace or bracelet of yarn they spun.

Though fall is beginning to show some colors, we are still experiencing above average temperatures for the time of year.  If it didn’t rain a drop in October, we would still be well above the average rainfall for the year, but rain is still forecast today and tomorrow and later next week as well.  When it isn’t too hot or too wet we are getting out to walk and a walk in the woods was enjoyed a couple of days ago.

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For the past month or so we have had a huge garden spider that took up residence first on the shelter over the heat pump then as Hurricane Florence remnants blew through, she relocated to block the basement door with her huge web and web writing.

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Their black and yellow bodies and the web writing fascinate me, as long as they stay outside.

The waning daylight has brought on molt with the hens and their run, coop, and the yard look as though a chicken exploded or they are having pillow fights.  A motley looking crew they are and egg production is down to less than 4 a day from the remaining 15 hens.  One laid down in the driveway a few days ago and didn’t get back up.  None of them appeared ill, and there was no physical damage that showed an attack.  It happens.

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Their molt also produces some strange eggs when they do lay.  One this week looked more like a football than an egg.

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The cooler evenings and earlier setting sun have produced some beautiful sunsets lately, this one was captured last night.

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Yard work continues as it is still warm and wet.  The garden is beginning to shut down, the corn is done and needs to be pulled or cut down, the asparagus tops have browned and need to be cut and burned, the cucumbers are gone.  We are still getting some late tomatoes that had a burst of regrowth after the blister beetle blight.  The peppers are over whelming me and with no extra refrigerator in the basement anymore, I am going to have to water bath can the rest of the peppers as there is no more room for cold storing them.  The second crop of green beans and the lettuce are producing and soon there will be some broccoli and cabbages.  After the first frost, the garlic will be planted for next year.  The Creeping Charlie is trying to take over and I am at a loss as how to rid it, pulling and weed whacking don’t make a dent.  The raspberries still have not been pruned and thinned and they are over run with Creeping Charlie.  At this point I may just dig them up, relocate the bed and try to smother the insidious weed with a tarp to try to reclaim that area.

As I have become less active on Facebook, I have taken to Instagram, there I don’t have to see the political climate and can enjoy the pictures of those I follow.  I am spn_knt there, but I have to approve you if you request to follow me, I don’t allow commercial followers.

Until I decide to blog again, enjoy the fall colors, be safe, and try to enjoy life.

The Wanderers Have Returned -8/28/18

Our vacation to Hawaii was both wonderful and fraught with stress.  Between cancelled and delayed flights we lost the Priority Boarding and extended leg room for tall hubby that we had paid extra to have, and resulted in late boarding and often very poor seating in both directions.  We were able to get a refund for the additional fees after arriving home.  While away, we had a family emergency back home that isn’t my story to tell, but that seems to be resolving hopefully.  The pending hurricane while in Hawaii was also stressful.  Though some parts of islands were badly damaged by flood waters from the heavy rain, though the storm was to the west of us and we were on the west side of the island, it was the east side that got slammed by the rain, we only had lighter rain and high rough surf.

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East side of O’ahu, first half of week, sunrises.

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Steep volcanic mountains behind the house.  These mountains are where Jurrasic movies and Jumanji were filmed.

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Lush Airbnb in Kona Hawaii where we spent second half of week. Luxury, pool, gardens.  Thanks to our family members who arranged this.

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Desolate beauty in the lava fields of Hawaii.

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Heavy surf from the hurricane off the coast.

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And the gorgeous sunset from a second floor open restaurant also from the storm off the coast.

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A new treat, that fortunately we can’t get here, or I would blow up like a balloon in weight.  It is Hawaiian Shave Ice.  A conical shaped cup half filled with shave ice (it doesn’t have a “D” on the end to make it shaved), a scoop of vanilla ice cream, more shave ice, up to three syrup flavors of your choice, molded into the rounded shape, and topped if you desire with various other toppings.  Served with a spoon and a straw.  They were enjoyed several times on Kona.

Back home after the delays and cancellations and more than 25 hours of airport and air flight time just to get home, we are still jet lagged even after two days home.

The garden had reverted to a weedy mess in 10 days and the first day home was spent weed whacking the aisles, hand weeding the beds, removing blister beetles, picking the too big cucumbers for the chickens, grabbing a few tomatoes and a pumpkin out of the garden.  Day two was spent on the riding mower, reducing the very tall lawn to a manageable length after the 10 days away and rainfall while we were gone.

The driveway took a hit from the rain, the blade is going to have to be afixed to the tractor and some grading done.  The two currently unused chicken pens are more than waist high in weedy growth, another weed whacking session is needed or to borrow a couple of goats (not really an option unfortunately.)  Sometimes, I think a couple of goats would be great to have to reduce some of the overgrowth in areas that can’t be mowed.

The Asian Pears and tiny misshapen apples are ripe.  This evening the apples will be pressed into cider and some cider frozen for winter.  Some of the Asian Pears are going to be made into a couple of batches of jam.  I would like to press the rest into pear cider, but lack my own press.

The fog is finally lifting, so some more yardwork is in order.

Love being home on our mountain farm.

Garden Quirks – 8/11/2018

Each year the garden has some thrivers and some fails.  Usually the tomatoes overwhelm, the peppers keep me busy canning and fermenting sauces, but the cucumbers and pumpkins are just so, so.

This year, the tomato plants stayed small and then the blister beetles came and a deer is getting in at night, the electric charger needs a new battery and the wire needs to be restrung.  As a result the tomato harvest is puny.  I have one overstuffed 2 gallon bag of them in the freezer awaiting processing, but it is only going to be one canning of pasta sauce this year which is sad.

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The 4 X 8 foot bed is sparse and has few tomatoes.

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The ones I am getting have to be picked under ripe and ripened in the window, or I find this.

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A half eaten, smashed red tomato a foot or two from the bed in the wide aisle.

The cucumber vines are lush and loaded with blooms, several jars of pickles have already been fermented and hopefully, many more will follow.

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The sole pepper in the lower right corner is supposed to be a serano, the one that didn’t fit in the bed with the others and was planted with three anchos that failed, but the peppers on it look like anchos, not seranos, they are a large tapered  slightly flattened cone.  The jalapeños and seranos in the adjacent bed are beginning to produce.  As the weather cools, hopefully there will be enough to provide sufficient jars of pickled jalapeños for my hot pepper loving husband and son.  The tags on the starts must have been mixed up because at least one of the seranos in that bed is producing a pepper that is either going to be a cayenne or Tabasco, they are too small to tell yet.  I should just start my own seed, but haven’t had much luck doing that in the past.  They sprout and in spite of my grow light, get too tall and leggy.  After getting hardened off and planted in the garden, they usually fail and I end up buying from a Farmers’ Market grower but then sometimes don’t get what I thought I was buying.

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The pumpkin vines are starting to fade and they are covered with juvenile stink bugs so I cut the three pumpkins that were ripe and hope for a couple of pies at the holidays and maybe one stuffed with rice, veggies, and a bit of sausage.  There are still a few about the size of navel oranges out there, we will see if they mature enough to harvest.  The vines are going to get sprayed with Neem oil today to see if that will reduce the stink bug load.

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Planting two of the beans sprouted nicely.  We should still have 6 to 8 weeks before frost date, sometimes more and hopefully will get enough to enjoy and to freeze.

We went down to the Agricultural Fair this morning to watch some of the horse events.  Our former riding instructor was the judge for the events and we reconnected with her and may start taking lessons again after our vacation.  After watching events we went over to see the results of the display judging and to determine if I wanted to enter in any other categories next year.  I won, I won, two blue ribbons for my two entries of hand knitted shawls, one a modified pattern, the other of my design.  I am so excited.

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Next year I will enter that category again with other items and think I may enter some of my preserves and or sauces as well.  I don’t think my produce is sufficient to enter and my flowers are certainly not show quality except for some day lilies that are bloomed out by fair time.  I will display the ribbons on the items until they sell, then just hang them on my stall at craft shows.

 

Rest Day/Garden Day – 7/30/18

The garden has been neglected except for harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers of late.  I did get a second planting of bush beans in a couple of weeks ago and they are sprouting nicely.  The garlic needed to be pulled and cured.  It went in so late it isn’t a good crop, but hopefully will provide enough to allow a fall planting so next year we will have a good crop and some to enjoy this winter.  So the now cured onions were trimmed, the odd double ones, ones with still green necks, and ones with soft spots were culled and moved to the kitchen to be used first.

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Then the pulled garlic was laid out on the hardware cloth shelves to cure.  Once cured, they will be trimmed and used this winter except for the ones used to plant for next year’s crop.

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After spending part of last weekend traveling home  from visiting our youngest son and his family, last Sunday on deck destruction with eldest son, part of the week on Historic Camps and destruction clean up, and Saturday on the remaining destruction, I needed a break from pulling brackets and moving heavy lumber.  Part of Sunday was spent in the fruit and vegetable garden.  Tomatoes and cucumbers picked early in the day, a few blister beetles picked and killed, and while out there, the remaining bean stems pulled and tossed to the chickens.  This was a reminder that a couple of beds needed to be worked on and some fall seed planted.  A couple of afternoon hours were spent weeding where the beans had been, pulling and hoeing the few weeds that had come up in the bed where the peas had been and half of that bed was seeded with spinach and a leaf lettuce called Drunken Woman.  I had to get that one just because I liked it’s name.

The bed that had been the tree nursery was turned and rocks removed, a good thick layer of compost and some bone meal turned and raked in and the blueberry bushes moved into it.

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Cardboard was put down beside that bed and the half barrels were moved onto it.  The cardboard will kill the weeds under it, leaf mulch will be laid down on top of it and except for an aisle wide enough to keep chicken heads from pecking berries through the fence, that will be the edge of the garden once we have a frost and the pumpkins are harvested.

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The pumpkins vines were already spreading to that area so I put them back in place after the cardboard was down.

Layered over that piece of cardboard is the other half of that huge box which may get more half barrels.  They are great for growing potatoes and herbs or flowers in the garden.  That sheet is being held down by a couple of bags of mulch that are just serving as weights and will be used in a flower bed around the house once leaf mulch or straw is obtained.

Hopefully, this week cabbage and broccoli starts will be available and they will go in the bed with the lettuce and spinach.  Perhaps a 6th blueberry shrub will be purchased to add to the blueberry bed.  They will hopefully thrive in the enriched deeply dug bed.  Once the last one is in place, a thick layer of straw or leaf mulch will placed around them to keep the weed load down.

That will leave only the 4 X 4′ bed that contained the garlic unplanted, and it will be sown with oats that will serve as a cover crop and the seed head given to the chickens, the oat straw can be used as mulch or coop bedding next spring.

I still need to tackle the raspberry bed now that the berry season is over and the Japanese beetles have moved on.  I still have a large cardboard box, but will need more to try to smother the wild geraniums and the raspberry volunteer shoots that are encroaching on the aisles and vegetable boxes.

This week between the rain, the rest of the salvageable deck wood will be moved to the barn until it is needed for another project.  Eldest son suggested adding a low dry stacked wall off from the existing tall dry stack retaining wall as a means of using some of the tons of rock that were under the old deck.

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The chalk line will mark the new wall, eliminating an area that is very difficult to mow because of the steepness and contour that really don’t show well in the photo.

The new deck will stop at the corner you see with steps coming down to where all the rock is, a path of flat stone will cross where the old deck stood over to the stoop where the old steps came down into the yard.  A small stone patio will eventually be worked into part of that area, the rest the new garden bed.

Once the new wall is build and backfilled with leaf mulch, the mints, lemon balm, thyme, and rosemary will be planted there.  The stones will help keep it warm and they will be allowed to spread and thrive as a perennial herb garden.

Today’s header is a picture we rarely see.  Though the pups are best buddies, the Mastiff owns that spot.  He used to sleep beside our bed on Jim’s side, but decided he liked the Shepherd’s bed or space.  We tried putting both beds there, but he stands over Shadow until she vacates even if he only takes one bed.  They were caught sharing the space, each on their own bed.

A Week on the Farm – 7/27/18

Summer is going so quickly and the weather has been so strange this year.  A foot of snow in mid April after spring like temperatures in February.  Rain and more rain in early summer, making putting in a garden a challenge, then hot and arid.  Then the rain returned, along with insect pests in the garden, first Japanese beetles eating the leaves off of the Raspberry bushes, then they were joined by bean beetles and together, they decimated what remained of the first bean crop.  Then the blister beetles arrived and defoliated some of the tomatoes.  I hand picked them, dropping them in soapy water then sprinkled diatomaceous earth on the ground around the plants to try to kill off any that escaped to earth during the hand picking. The plants are alive, not putting out new growth, but fruit is ripening.

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The tomatoes are being frozen whole but there are so many in the freezer now that I will pull them out, slip the skins off, and begin canning them this week when the rain resumes.  The cucumbers that I planted this year for pickles are small and greenish white, interesting mild smooth flavor raw.  Most of them are being lacto fermented into sour dills thick slices.  Maybe a jar or two of spears too.

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The silicone nipple lids and glass jar weights make the fermenting so easy.

There were two partial days off the farm this week in Colonial costume working with children, demonstrating the fiber arts and teaching drop spindling.  Working with kids like this rejuvenates me.

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Today, since it stayed dry yesterday and since tomorrow we will resume deck destruction, to take down the rest of the framework, I tackled cleanup.  One task that I had promised eldest son that I would get done, was to move the scaffolding that we were not using for the deck back into storage.  When we built the house, instead of renting scaffolding, we purchased it, knowing that it would be used repeatedly with staining the logs and other jobs.  On occasion we have loaned some of it out to friend.  Most of it was stacked against the house at various points and had been there for a year.  It is now back in the back of the huge garage until needed again.

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More the rotting deck wood was burned off in the burn barrel while I was working outside.

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There will be another burn tomorrow, I am sure.  To finish the jobs that I said I would get done this week was to stain the logs that were stained during construction then hidden behind the deck.  They got a coat of diluted stain today and will probably get another coat, less diluted tomorrow.  After tomorrow, we get another round of rain, so I will have to hope for a dry couple of days to get a third coat on before the new deck goes up.

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This is the last day lily bloom of the season and for some reason, it is lopsided.  This one is called Sear’s Tower and gets quite tall.

Last night while we sat on the front porch in the cool evening, a tiny ruby throated hummingbird visited the feeder.  That is the first one I have seen that really had the vivid red throat.  This morning, another little hummer decided the feeder was all his/hers, came for a drink and then sat on the crook neck to guard the feeder, not letting any of the others near it.  It guarded for about 10-15 minutes, feeding then guarding, finally flew off.  The photo isn’t great, taken from inside the house through the screen and enlarged, but you get the idea.

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The header photo and the teaching photo were taken at the Wilderness Road Regional Museum camp and used from their site.

Olio – 7/21/18

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Mid week, we walked down the west side of the property along the fence line of our south west neighbor then across to the south east neighbor’s property to see what was going on with the fracked gas pipeline that is being put in between us and the house south of us. This photo is a shot of all of those properties from satellite showing the 125 foot wide scar that is being dug across our beautiful county.

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pipeline

The tan square in the center of the picture  with the “tail” reaching up is our farm, our house is above the green fence line through the middle.  The jagged tan line near the bottom is the pipeline track. Thursday, they began burning the piles of tree parts that weren’t logs to carryout and sell.  There were at least two directly behind our farm.

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The past couple of weeks have been hot and arid and very busy, some deck deconstruction in preparation to rebuild a smaller deck that is made of ground contact pressure treated wood and Trex boards, hoping to make it more permanent, though less green than the original version.  The deconstruction is creating a pile of rotting wood, some still containing nails, screws, and bent brackets.  Not wanting to burn this wood on the ground where we might drive the riding mower or tractor, or even an occasional car and pick up a tire popper, we picked up a large metal barrel, but it still had a sealed top with a bung hole for pouring.  To make it a burn barrel, the top had to be removed.  Our schedule had us leaving early Friday morning to drive across the state to meet our newest granddaughter and eldest son arriving late Friday night to work on the deck today, so he needed the burn barrel.  Thursday evening, we stopped and bought a cold chisel and came home and attacked the top, Jim and I taking turns banging with a 22 ounce hammer until our arm was tired.

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An hour of hard work and we got the top off

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Another 15 minutes, a ground out drill bit, a little more cutting with the cold chisel and we had 4 vents around the bottom.

The negative was that the barrel had contained some sort of urethane and the first burn in it produced a very irritating smoke for son and grandson.  After a burn or two in it, he says the smoke is just construction smoke.

We did take off early for a drive that should have been just a tad more than 5 hours, took 7 due to construction in the Williamsburg area and the standard gridlock at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.

I was shotgun for most of the trip and spent the time knitting on the sleeves of the sweater than I spun the yarn for and want desperately to get it ready for the Agricultural Fair in August.

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Between the trip down and the 7 hour drive back today in pouring rain, the sleeves are almost finished.  Maybe tonight I will finish them and return to the body.

Yesterday we had a delightful afternoon and evening with our youngest son and his family.  We played in a park, had a seafood dinner, took a drive over to a new outlet mall, and got lots of kid and baby snuggle time.

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This morning was pouring rain, we stopped for bagels, cream cheese, and OJ and headed over to their house for a couple more hours of family time, more hugs and snuggles before our trek home in the pouring rain.

Prior to our trip, I discovered that the garden has Blister beetles devouring the foliage on my tomato plants.  I did some handpicking, sprinkled diatomaceous earth around the plants.  This week I will have to be diligent in the battle to save my plants.

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I am getting enough tomatoes to begin to freeze them to peel later and begin to make salsas and sauces for the winter.

No Rain, But Rested-7/17/18

Again it was HOT and no rain.  I could see rain less than a mile away and a rainbow, but we got sprinkles for a minute and nothing more.  It is dry, dusty, arid, dry.

My effort for yesterday outdoors was to water the daylily bed and the new bed that goes down the back of the garage with the half barrels.  The plants look wilted.  And a small harvest of a few ripening tomatoes, cucumbers, and bush beans.  The tomatoes will be frozen until there are enough to peel and can. Most of the day was spent indoors, with the air conditioner turned back on partly because of the heat and partly because the dreaded pipeline work is now close and between the dust and noise pollution the heavy equipment kicks into the air and the huge burn piles of wood they couldn’t log out, the air quality is not good.  Our beautiful, clear mountain air is fouled and the landscape is scarred.

With the A/C on, I was able to pick up my sweater and work on the sleeves.  I would like to finish it to enter in the Agriculture Fair, but I think I may have to enter a different project, it doesn’t look like it will get done.  If I could get the sleeves finished, the body will go quickly with less turning and fewer balls of yarn to tangle.

While waiting for the last few hens to straggle into the coop last night, I picked the last few raspberries for the season.  The canes that didn’t get cut last fall need to be cut back and the ones that fruited this year cut back in the fall.  The remaining canes need to be thinned and somehow, I would like to get the mat of wild geranium weeded out from around them,  Maybe I should just leave it as it is low, thick and keeps most of the other weeds from developing in the bed.

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Those berries didn’t make it into the house.

The rest of the week is supposed to be cooler, we will see, and we are supposed to get rain today, again, we will see.  The hay man came yesterday to pick up the rest of his hay, but he seemed to be having tractor trouble, couldn’t get the bales up onto the truck more than Ia single level high and then the tractor sputtered to a stop with a bale still speared on the spike.  He drove the truck with 8 bales off and didn’t come back.  There are still many bales in the field and the tractor.  I hope the tractor problem isn’t serious for him.  It is one of many, but each seems to have it’s own function in the process, maybe just so the attachments don’t have to be changed as frequently.

There are 5 large comfrey plants in the garden and beds, some of it is used in making the salves that I use and sell.  By mid July, after the first flower, they seem to collapse outward and send up second growth.  This morning, I noticed as I went to let the hens out, that the collapse was complete.  Comfrey makes excellent mulch and if packed in a water filled bucket and left in the sun, though a stinky slimy mess, it is terrific fertilizer.  The large clippers were carried out and the three within the vegetable garden fence were cut back and the cut leaves placed in aisles of the garden as mulch.

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It is a messy looking mulch, but effective and in a few days will be a brown mat to help keep the weeds down.  The second growth is already visible.  The two that are outside of the vegetable garden are going to be cut and put in a 5 gallon bucket of water to use as fertilizer on the vegetable garden in a few weeks.

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The big guy is missing his kid.  He spent most of yesterday near the hallway to the back bedrooms or laying by the seat that grandson preferred.  This morning he was looking out on the porch, hoping he would come back inside.  Grandson has been in his life forever on a visiting basis and they adore each other.  As a 6 or 7 month old pup, he rode to Florida with his head in grandson’s lap.  After 3 1/2 weeks of having him here everyday, Ranger doesn’t understand where his kid went.