Tag Archives: garden

OLIO – November 12, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

This hasn’t been a particularly busy week, 2 days home with a sick almost 6 year old, daily walks the other days, fairly consistently getting the 10,000 suggested steps each day and our speed up, walking 3.7-4 miles per hour, not bad for two oldies but goodies.

Car time was spent finishing up another pair of fingerless mitts for the Holiday Markets and the shop.

IMG_20171108_214140

Hand spun Coopworth by me and the green is part mohair from a friend’s goats, blended commercially with merino maybe and dyed by the friend.

A few nights ago, we were threatened with our first hard freeze, we have had several light frosts, so a harvest of mint, oregano, flat leaf parsley, and lemon balm were made to dry for teas and culinary uses this winter.  They are scattered around on trays on the hutch top and shelf to dry.

IMG_20171110_162747

A couple of sprigs of rosemary were brought in and put in the rooter ball in the kitchen window to root before potting.  The intent was to put row cover over the plant in the garden and over the rainbow chard, but intent and action didn’t meet.

IMG_20171111_170542

I probably should have.  If it perks back up, I will harvest a fair amount of it and freeze it then cover the plants and see if there will still be fresh greens for a bit longer.  It looked even worse this morning when I went out to feed and water the chickens.

IMG_20171112_085416

It has been cold enough the past few mornings to warrant the big ugly pink hooded barn coat and gloves.  It is ugly, but it is warm and there are two pair of gloves, depending on the chore and temperature, a pair of leather rough out work gloves and a pair of thick insulated Columbia fleece gloves that used to go winter camping with me.  With the sharp drop in temperature the other night came very strong wind.  It flipped our gas grill over two half barrels of herbs in the yard, tipping them over as well.  Other than a dent, it seems undamaged, but it will be moved well away from the house before it is lit to be sure.

Recently a friend, who is also a blog friend, posted a finished beautiful shawlette/scarf called Hitchhiker.  Years ago I knit one and the grandkids said it looked like a Dragon’s tail.  Though I was pleased with the knit and the shape, I didn’t like the color that I had chosen for the yarn and it sold in a prior Holiday Market.  I commented on her blog post and she encouraged me to knit another.  It seemed like a good project to take when we travel in February as it is one that can be picked up, put down, fairly easily memorized so good for airports and planes.  I started looking for yarn and couldn’t find anything that struck my fancy.  I had been spinning a lovely colorful Merino on the Spanish Peacock drop spindles, but feared it would look muddy plyed on itself.  If Navajo plyed, it wouldn’t give me enough yardage for the pattern and would be a bit heavier yarn than desired.  I realized that the Hearts of the Meadow Farm Coopworth that I am spinning for a sweater was a great color match, so a bobbin of it was spun fine and the spindle singles was plyed with the bobbin singles to produce a 155 yard skein.

IMG_20171111_163524

I like it, just 350 more yards of it need to be made to complete the project.  That will be my spinning project for a bit, except for Thursday when I am at Smithfield House in costume for a large Homeschool group.  I will resume spinning the oatmeal colored Coopworth that day.

Knitting, I am working on a Wonderful Wallaby, a hooded, pocketed sweatshirt style sweater for daughter.  I have made many of them for grandkids, this is the first adult sized one.  The body is done up to where the sleeves must be attached so the sleeves were begun last night as they are knit separately and then knit onto the sweater.

In spite of the very cold morning yesterday, we bundled up and ventured out to breakfast and the Farmers’ Market.  There are still many vendors there with produce, a few with meat, a couple with coffee, candles, artisan breads, and other goodies.  We came home with some produce, sausage as the house will be brimming at Thanksgiving, a loaf of bread, and a small bouquet of flowers for the table.

IMG_20171112_085657

While there, I met up with the Market Manager, and Ian told me that our Holiday Market conflicts with a 12:30 home football game at the University, the last home game of the season.  Typically, home game days are not good market days as the parking around town all gets taken up by game goers, several of the larger lots that are on campus become tailgate sites, including the one across from the market where we typically park our cars and trucks, it will be closed to our use.  Jim may have to deliver and pick me up and I shouldn’t expect this market to be a good one.  December should be better.  I almost didn’t do the November market to do one at our local elementary/middle school.  Maybe that is what I should have done, but what is done is done.

After the market and the grocer and all was put away at home, we ventured to the local trail around the big pond to do our walk and it was still only in the low 30’s.  It was brisk and made us move quickly to keep warm,  Today is supposed to be a bit milder, up into the mid 40’s.

Another week on the farm, the mountain looking like winter, the leaves down, the trees barren, the little flock of finches, Tufted Titmice, and Chickadees frequenting the feeders, the chickens cleaning up what they spill and “weeding” my flower beds with their scratching.  I love life here, even in winter.  Must get some firewood though.

Olio – 11/6/2017

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things

It is truly autumn here, near 70ºf one day and 40’s to 50’s the next.  Sunshine and gloom, but more gloom than sunshine of late.

With the last of the harvest from the garden (still some chard and herbs), it was mulched down last week.  The 8 quart bucket of the last of the peppers brought in though I kept forgetting to buy ziplock freezer bags.  I avoid the use of plastic for the environment, but some things that go in the freezer don’t have another good option.  Son in law picked up a box for me yesterday and last night after dinner, daughter packaged and labelled while I chopped.  I didn’t specify how to label them and she tends to be a creative sort when not given specific direction.

IMG_20171105_192842

There are some interestingly labelled chickens in the freezer for the same reason.  It makes me smile each time I pull out one of the packages.

The shorter days have slowed egg production from about a dozen a day down to about 8 a day.  It amazes me that with 30 acres to prowl, that those 16 birds can foul their coop so thoroughly as quickly as they do.  This morning, I could smell ammonia again, so I opened the pop door, the coop door, and all three windows fully to hopefully dry some of the straw, but hardly got back in the house when thick gloom formed again.  A weather app check said rain was due before 10 a.m.  With the garden dormant and a winter to break down the hot fertilizer, I forked the fouled straw out of the coop and onto the dormant beds and spread new straw in the coop, closed the main door and lowered the windows to a ventilating crack.  Back in the house, only 8:30 and the rain has already begun.

I hope the rain will stop by early afternoon.  Jim and I have been working together for the past 8 weeks to improve our health.  This has included behaving better at meals and eliminating most snacks, altering the types of snacks we do eat, and walking daily.  We started with a bit over 2 miles at a pace the hare would laugh at, but yesterday we did 3 miles at 15.05 minutes/mile.  He is willing to go to the gym and walk the treadmill, I am not, plus we don’t encourage each other doing it that way.  I walk faster when I am with him and I think he does also, so I don’t like rainy days that interfere.  When it gets cold, he will go to the gym, I will layer up and continue to walk outdoors if it isn’t raining.  So far, though I don’t see much weight change, I have dropped a size in my jeans and had to purchase a couple of new pair yesterday as I was constantly pulling the old ones up.

The first Holiday Market is coming up and I am spending car time and evenings, knitting hats and fingerless mitts with small skeins of hand spun yarns.

IMG_20171104_132656

If the day is cool or windy, hopefully they will sell.  Each new item also goes into my online shop with the link on the side of the blog.

Lately, I have been missing my Dad.  It is approaching two years since he took sick and passed.  On Halloween, while looking for a photo of my daughter doing professional grade Darth Maul makeup on her little brother to show her son who she was doing as the Joker from Batman, I stumbled on this photo from many (maybe a dozen) years ago at a holiday meal at his home.  This is my sister and me with Dad with a silly smirk that I saw so often.  I’m not sure why my little brother wasn’t in the picture as well.

IMG_20171106_091310

I had much shorter and much darker hair back then.  This morning, while sitting and eating my breakfast, I was watching the birds on the feeders.  Please excuse the dirty window, I can’t go safely out on the deck to clean it.

IMG_20171106_080229

He always had feeders full for the birds and squirrels and most of the ones I can name when they visit are because of his lessons.

One of the things I really miss is our weekly call that always had a discussion of what we were currently reading and his recommendations of many excellent books I have read over the years because of him.  I did have a nice long conversation with my step mom yesterday though.

I think I will end with a picture of the best buds.

IMG_20171105_102000

They had been wrestling over a ball and she putting her whole head in his mouth, but then they they just collapsed into a puppy pile to snuggle.

 

 

 

 

Goodnight garden – 11/2/2017

Today seems like a spring day, blue skies, 68ºf, sunshine.  With the several mornings of frost on the grass and the windshield when taking the grands to the bus stop and then below freezing temps and snow flurries all day Sunday, I knew the garden was done.  Since the day is gorgeous and Jim is off enjoying it on the Harley, grands in school, daughter and SIL at work, it seemed like a good day to put the garden to bed for the winter.

Boy was I surprised when I got out there. The pepper bed which happened to be right behind a big round hay bale that I rolled in before finishing the fence last spring though slightly frost bitten was still hearty plants loaded with peppers.

IMG_20171102_145351

An 8 quart bucket was filled and those peppers will be chopped and frozen for winter use.  The plants were then pulled and tossed in the chicken run for them to pick at the leaves and remaining peppers that were too small to bother picking.

IMG_20171102_141645

 

The Echinacea  is still blooming, it was tucked down beside the rotting bale of hay.

The herb bed is still thriving too with several mints, rosemary, hyssop, and oregano.

IMG_20171102_141655

And lots of swiss chard.  We have a few mild days and a bit of rain expected, but before the next cold night, the mint and oregano will be cut to dry and a sprig of rosemary cut to root for the kitchen window garden of the winter.  I think the herb bed is going to be covered with a row cover to try to save the rosemary for the spring.

The Tithonia was mostly bloomed out and the plants dry so it was pulled and tossed in the chicken pen for them to get the remaining seed from the seed heads.  It will be planted again next year, but it with the sunflowers are going to be on an edge of the garden, not in the middle.  The asparagus ferns were dry so they too were cut back to a couple inches and then all of the beds that had been cleaned out, the tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, sweet potatoes, garlic, and onion beds were all heavily layered in old hay with the garden stakes laid on top to help hold it down from the winter wind and the chickens that get in the garden.

IMG_20171102_141148

The big roll of hay, with much effort was moved from in front of the gate where it had protected the peppers.  Much of it used on the beds.  The remainer will mulch the large area where the corn was grown, and around the raspberries. They  still need to be cut back and thinned, but their leaves are gone so it shouldn’t be too difficult a job.  The containment rings are going to be set around clumps of them and cardboard heavily mulched will be placed around the rings and over to the edges of the garden boxes.

Though I love my home grown garlic, I think I am going to skip a year and see if I can break the cycle of the nematodes that damage about a third of the harvest each year.

The second fence around the garden that would make a 3-4 foot wide chicken run all the way around the garden never was completed last spring.  I have the posts, but need to replace a section of fencing on the north side of the garden, move a comfrey plant, and set the new fencing.  This will also necessitate two new gates and one of them will need a substantial gate post set.

The rest of the putting to bed activity will have to wait for tomorrow or this weekend.  Two or three hours of pulling plants and weeds is enough for one day.  The pigweed, smartweed, horsenettle, and some tall mint family weed in spite of the earlier weedings required a fair amount of today’s energy.IMG_20171102_131657

These girls weren’t much help.

The header was yesterday’s morning sky while waiting at the bus stop.  With daylight savings time starting this weekend, it will be light at the bus stop next week, but dark so much earlier in the evenings.  I don’t think daylight savings time is a good thing.

Off to pick up the grands from the bus.  Until next time.

Damage wasn’t too bad – October 18, 2017

In spite of feeling increasingly poorly as the day went on yesterday, the garden was assessed.  The tomatoes are done and were pulled and dropped in the chicken pen.  The pepper plants looked a bit sad, but the leaves did not burn in the frost and the peppers were unharmed.  An hour of so was spent  pulling corn stalks and weeds and dropping them into the chicken run.  The sweet potatoes were dug and brought in to cure.

IMG_20171017_160308

A 22 quart bucket full of Beauregard and Blue sweet potatoes.

IMG_20171017_161226

Laid out to cure on the hardware cloth shelf with the onions and garlic in the root cellar.

The sweet potatoes were grown this year in a raised bed that was deep with good soil.  Each vine had at least 4 good sized potatoes growing down into the soft soil, making a good crop fairly straight and nicely shaped.  There will be roasted winter vegetables and sweet potato fries, candied yams for hubby for Thanksgiving, and perhaps a simple baked one now and then.

If we can get the Xterra repaired, a friend has offered a trailer load of sheep manure that will be dug in before the beds are covered with spoiled hay to overwinter.  I need to figure out how to eliminate the nematode that damages the garlic and onions before I plant them again.

The asparagus bed needs to have the ferns cut back and mulched for winter and the raspberry bed needs a lot of fall work, there are too many volunteers and a tall woody mint family weed has infiltrated the bed.  I am thinking of sinking rings of culvert deep into the soil and planting the raspberries within the rings to try to regain control and make the harvest of berries easier.

When we were working on the deck on Sunday, we stirred up this guy.

IMG_20171015_151925

He wasn’t happy that his abode was disturbed.  I hope he found another place to settle before Monday and last night’s frosts.

It is that time – October 16, 2017

Facebook reminded me of a post from two years ago yesterday when a frantic harvesting was undertaken as we were expecting three consecutive nights of frost.  Tonight we are forecast for our first potential frost.  Right on time, mid October.  A few years we have gotten an extra couple of weeks, and a few years, it has come a week or so earlier, but our average is mid October.

The weekend was busy.  Daughter and family went overnight camping with their Taekwondo group and one from a near city for their belting ceremony and fun.  Eldest son and eldest grandson came in Saturday to tackle some needed work.  While son did some set up, I headed to the garden and harvested 2 peck of hot peppers for him to take home.  His garden, though productive with some vegetables, did not produce many peppers. The 7 old chickens and the rooster were sent to freezer camp Saturday afternoon.  It is going to take an extra slow cook to be able to chew those old birds, they were tough as shoes.  With early sunsets, that was all that we got done Saturday afternoon, but took a post dinner trip to Lowes to price out deck rebuilding materials.  I actually missed hearing Mr. Croak the past two mornings.

When we built our house, we built a huge deck on the south side, using a new borate treated wood.  Decks have a 10-20 year life expectancy and that one only made the lower end of that.

2012-07-29_08-10-10_171

Many of my blog photos have been take of or from that deck.  A couple of years ago,  when it was stained, the spindles that had all be hand cut had to be replaced.  They were replaced with pre routed boards top and bottom and new spindles that were pre cut at a top and bottom angle.  Last autumn, someone (maybe our 200 lb dog) put a foot through one of the boards on the decking, and we ended up replacing three boards with new pressure treated.  In the past year, more and more of the deck boards deteriorated until it just wasn’t safe to go on it.

IMG_20171016_085855 (1)

You can see the three replaced boards and two places where we stepped through it yesterday in preparation to resurface it and put on new railing.  Unfortunately, as son and I worked to remove the old railing, getting the nails and bolts out of the logs holding the balusters and spindles and assessing what would be necessary, it appears that most of the joists under the large part of the deck are rotting too and we just can’t rebuild the whole thing.  The 7.5 foot wide section coming out of the french doors of the dining room has sound joists, so it will be re decked with one of the composite decking materials, that will eliminate the need for the every other year re staining of this south facing deck, and wide steps will come off the side of it to the ground.  Over time, we will try to gather enough flat field stone from the piles on our property to make a ground level patio in the spot where the large part of the deck now stands.  It is disappointing, but because it is south facing and unprotected, it didn’t get the use we had planned for it to get over the years.

In anticipation of the next two very cold nights, the rest of the peppers will be harvested or if the wind dies down today, perhaps just covered with row cover or a tarp.  If the asparagus ferns burn, they will be cut back along with the raspberry canes and the sweet potatoes dug and put in storage for a couple of weeks curing time before we begin to enjoy them.  The garden is shutting down for the winter and the chickens will be given access to it for the winter.  If I can get some seed garlic, it will be planted in a couple of weeks and covered so the chickens don’t dig it up.  Until next spring, the garden is going to bed.  Bye bye sunflowers.

 

End of week 9-16-2017

This has been a crafty week ending with a good session on the tractor to beat the too tall grass back to a reasonable length.  The unused chicken run is going to require the weed wacker and this body is just not up to that this afternoon.  Our house sits on a slope that has the main floor at ground level on the front and on the second level on the back.  To mow with the tractor first requires that the gas powered lawn mower (not self propelled) be hauled out and a couple of swipes around the house along with a couple of areas that the tractor can’t reach, must be done.  The typical mowing is 4 or 5 acres, around the orchard trees, the garden and chicken runs, and the front, back, and side yards.  The area that is hayed and we usually brush hog in the fall is going to be hayed this fall, taking this task from me this year.

The crafting has involved designing two new patterns for fingerless mitts for the shop. The patterns have been shared with a few friends, I am hopeful that if they knit them, that they will alert me to any miscues that might surface.  Also this week,  3 batches of Shea based cold process soap, and a couple dozen tins of salves and balms were made for the shop and the upcoming shows.

IMG_20170910_163418

IMG_20170914_213534

The lower ones are for me, though I will knit a pair or two for the Holiday Markets as well.

A few weeks ago, a friend asked if I could make a particular hat for her grand daughter who is turning 1 soon and has yet to grow hair.  The project was quick and sent to the friend, who in turn sent it to her daughter.  The photo credit is from her daughter, they were very pleased with the results.

20170913_154827

And then today was Worldwide Spin in Public Day, and my new Spanish Peacock drop spindle accompanied me today as we went to our usual Saturday morning breakfast and Farmers’ Market trips.

IMG_20170914_095328

IMG_20170916_100447

IMG_20170916_101845

 

A busy week.  Tomorrow the garden and a batch of pickles will be the focus.

Another Busy Day

The day is gloomy, chilly, and very damp as the remnants of Harvey drift over the state.  Saturday we go to breakfast then to the Farmers’ Market and have missed the past two weeks, so in spite of the gloom, we traveled in to our favorite local diner for breakfast, then on to see what the market vendors had in stock today, we were low on meats and there are many veggies that I prefer to purchase rather than grow, partly to support our local farmers and partly because when they are ready to pick, there is more than we can use.

We were then off to a department store at the nearest mall to get Jim a couple of nicer shirts and another pair of khaki pants in anticipation of our cruise that we hope will depart next Saturday, if the next hurricane doesn’t foil that plan.

Back home, the rain had stopped for a bit, so a much needed harvest was done.  The 22 quart bucket was half full of jalapeños, cayennes, and large bells, half full of tomatoes, and a big bunch of second growth basil.

IMG_20170902_124003

 

The tomatoes from the last harvest were removed from the freezer, peeled and cooked down into a nice thick sauce.  While it was cooking down, two strings of extra large jalapeños and the cayennes were strung and hung in the south door to dry for winter use, 5 more pints of jalapeños pickled and canned.  That makes a total of 31 pints of them canned so far, many more than any other year, but eldest son and Jim will eat one with most dinners for the next couple of seasons until there are more next year.  Some of my poblano pepper plants ended up jalapeños and there are many more to be harvested before our first frost takes out the plants.

IMG_20170902_154141

IMG_20170902_142543

 

 

The tomatoes frozen today will be peeled and canned as Rotel style tomatoes tomorrow for chili this winter.

As usual, I turned to my two favorite canning books by Marissa McClellan.   She is not a sponsor, but if I ever wanted a sponsor for my blog, she would be one I would seek.

IMG_20170902_162503

I still need to find a good canning recipe for the Asian Pears.  There are so many and I don’t need more jam, conserve, or chutneys, my sweet tooth has been curbed and they just don’t appeal to me anymore.

This week, the young hens have come into good production, while the old ladies have all but given up.  Each day there are 10 or 11 eggs to bring in.  We only use a dozen or so each week ourselves, so there are many eggs to share with friends who appreciate me raising healthy, non commercial eggs.

It is time to start the oven to cook the stuffed peppers from today’s harvest.

The Absent Blogger – 8/10/2017

One day seems like the next.  A pleasant August of temperatures not typical of the month, most days reaching only about 80ºf, nights that warrant at least a sheet for cover.  Each day is a series of doctor’s appointments to try to diagnose hubby’s symptoms and the accompanying stress of not knowing, harvesting from the garden that daughter and grands helped me get totally weeded last weekend, canning the harvest, and refereeing the constant squabbles of the grands who have another 18 days before school begins and are tired of each other’s company and the play options available to them.  Most days ending in thunderstorms, though not filling the creeks, it is keeping the garden watered and the dust down.  The seeds planted in empty beds after our weeding session are sprouting to provide us with turnips, radishes, spinach, carrots, and peas for the fall.  The sweet potato vines are thick, kale, chard, and corn thriving, a few small pumpkins appearing amidst the corn. Several of the pullets are laying tiny eggs now, the hens have all but quit laying.  The Monarchs found the parsley and are chowing down, but the butterflies are welcome. The hay was finally moved off of our fields.  The shelves of salsas, pickles, and sauces are filling.  As the tomatoes begin ripening more quickly, pasta sauce and more salsa will be made.  The Asian pears are ripening and pear sauce or pear apple sauce will be made.

Such is a day in the life of the absent blogger.

IMG_20170810_103712

IMG_20170810_103622

IMG_20170810_102912

IMG_20170810_100909

IMG_20170730_203904

IMG_20170810_090358

IMG_20170808_171820

IMG_20170807_100635

IMG_20170806_163650

Putting by – July 29, 2017

This is the beginning of the putting by season for the non productive winter to come.  The garden has provided a lot of basil, peppers are maturing, tomatoes too.  Though the peas were a bust this year and potatoes not what I was hoping, the sweet potato vines look healthy, the corn is forming ears, and we are getting enough green beans to eat a few times a week and a bit in the freezer.

IMG_20170727_172824

Dairy free pesto for the freezer, pickled and canned jalapeños for the pantry, fire cider for cold season, oregano and basil vinegars, and shelling of field peas for ground cover and chicken treats.  That was one afternoon of work, along with bunches of basil and hyssops drying for teas and cooking.

IMG_20170727_171803

Today was our weekly Farmer’s Market visit and breakfast out.  We missed both last week with our music weekend, and next weekend will be the huge street festival that happens in town, so many vendors will not even try to attend the market on Saturday.  With this being the height of the season and with several of the meat vendors having recently gotten cuts back from the abattoirs, we stocked up on some meats.  Peaches are in season as well as cucumbers and we came home with several pounds of peaches and a couple of pounds of pickling cucumbers.  Once home, another putting by session was held.

IMG_20170729_133827

Eight half pints of the Peach Sriracha sauce that is a hit here, and 4 pints of classic dill spears were prepped and canned.  The pot used today for water bath canning only holds 7 half pints or 4 pints at a time, so one jar of Peach Sriracha sauce went into the refrigerator for use now.

Though she isn’t a sponsor and I get nothing for this recommendation, if you are a new canner, have limited space for storing, or a small family to prepare for, Marissa McClellan’s books, Food in Jars, and Canning by the Pint are priceless.  The Peach Sriracha recipe is one of her jams that I blend and prepare thinner for a sauce and came from one of her books. She has a newer book on canning with sweeteners other than white sugar that I haven’t tried as I make few sweet canned items.

Right on the 20th week since hatching, one of the pullets presented us with an egg.  It is a Welsummer egg, reddish brown but not as dark as I had hoped they would be.  All 4 of the Welsummers have bright red combs and wattles, so we should start seeing eggs from all of them soon.  The Buff Orpingtons will probably not lay for another month.

IMG_20170727_204137

Pullet eggs are so cute compared to the mature hen’s eggs.

Earlier this spring, I bought a pound of raw fawn colored alpaca locks from one of the local vendors.  This week, I spun a bobbin of it and a bobbin of some chocolate brown alpaca roving that had been given to me a year or so ago, and plied them into more than 200 yards of light fingering weight pure alpaca yarn, pictured in the header.  I think it will be knit into a hat and fingerless mitts for the shop, but maybe it will just be sold or traded, especially as more is currently being spun.

Kitchen Alchemy and Camp – July 25, 2017

IMG_20170718_142052

IMG_20170718_142119

This is the time of year that the herbs and wild plants that are used in the salves, balms, and some soaps in the shop are growing and being harvested.  Once a batch is dried, jars of the herbs and the oils that make the infused oils are started.  Sometimes they are suntea processed in a window sill for a month or so, but sometimes one or more are needed sooner than that and they are infused in a makeshift double boiler system for 3 hours.  Once the infused oils are made and cooled, they are strained into a clean jar and the portion needed measured out and rewarmed to melt the organic beeswax needed to make the oil into a salve or balm.  Before our weekend away, a kitchen alchemy session was conducted and several salves resupplied, labelled, and put in the shop.  Some of the oils are needed for the Mountain Makings camp that is in session this week.

IMG_20170725_135037

IMG_20170725_134005

IMG_20170725_135026

Today was day 2 of their camp, my first of two sessions working with the young ones.  My friend, Jennifer, and I worked with them last year and again today.  The children are 7 to 12 years old and all very involved in the activities.  We had a very brief discussion of spinning and how  and why it was used in past generations.  They were each given a few ounces of hand dyed fiber and a hand made drop spindle, an improved version of last year’s with a heavier whorl.  One parent was fascinated with this portion of their program today and stayed.  She was given a spindle and fiber and followed right along with the children, making her first spindle full of yarn singles.  After the spindles were all being used without too much more assistance, they put them down and each were given a packet that contained a cardboard loom, weaving needles, yarn, and an instruction sheet for reference at home and they began a small wall hanging that they wove themselves.  Once they were all working well with that, we moved to our spinning wheels and gave each child an opportunity to spin a long enough singles to double it back on itself to create a length of hand spun yarn that they can use in their weaving.  At the end of the day, they will go home with their spindle and fiber, their loom, yarn, and weaving needles.

Tomorrow, I will return alone to take the children on a plant walk to identify some of the plants that can be wild harvested for their salve making.  They will get a handout of plants, their uses, and recipes for making the infused oils and instructions on making a salve.  We will make salves together and they will take home a tin or jar of their salve.

IMG_20170725_190105

IMG_20170725_190119

Once home today, with a clear bobbin on the wheel, I tackled a one pound bag of raw alpaca locks that I had purchased at the Farmers Market earlier this spring.  I have never spun raw unwashed fiber before, but the alpaca lacks the lanolin of wool and other than picking out some vegetable matter, it is clean to spin.  The fawn colored alpaca is from “Graham” an alpaca living at Poplar Hill Alpacas, a local farm.  It will be plyed with a brown ply from another local Alpaca farm.  This yarn will be knit into fingerless mitts for the Holiday Markets.  If enough is spun, perhaps a hat will be made to match.