Tag Archives: garden

Olio August 16, 2014

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

On Thursday, I returned our eldest grandson to his home.  He had been with us since July 3 and it was a wonderful 6 weeks.  He enjoyed playing with our dogs, learned to ride his bike, traveled to Florida with us to visit his Aunt and Uncle and cousins for a week, swam, had outings with Granddad to the batting cage and several movies.  He and Granddad played catch in the yard and had batting practice.  A few times, he cooked with me, learning to make his favorite blueberry muffins and getting some math practice with measuring and calculating which measuring cups would give him the quantity he needed.  It was a relief to his Mom and Dad to not have to try to find summer care for him and figure out how to get him to and from that care when they both left very early for their jobs.

Yesterday after playing with his neighborhood friends, showing off to his Mom and Dad his new bike riding skills, having Grandmom take him to his guitar lesson, they all left at 9:30 last night on the Metro to Union Station to catch an 11:30 p.m. Greyhound bus to Virginia Beach, where he and his Mom will spend the next week with her parents.  Our son will return home to Northern Virginia on the train tomorrow so he can be at work on Monday.  His Mom’s summer job has ended and her school begins just before Labor Day.  I returned to their house to spend the night before traveling home this morning.  As I was avoiding the interstate and taking a leisurely cruise down the Skyline Drive this morning, I received a text from son saying that they were stuck in Richmond, VA, only a couple hours from their home and a couple hours from their destination almost 12 hours after leaving on the bus.  Their 4 hour trip lasted 14 hours.  There is something truly wrong with Greyhound’s business model that passengers with tickets can not have a seat on a leg of their trip.  If they hadn’t had to disembark at the transfer station in Richmond, they would have been at their destination in the early hours, not the next afternoon.

After enjoying about an hour and a half of scenic drive, I got back on the interstate, so my 4 hour trip wouldn’t take all day and like Thusday, was again stuck with the semis.


I followed these two for miles and miles doing less than 60 mph in a 70 mph zone. Behind me was a line of at least a dozen more.


It is amazing how quickly chicks grow.  These little guys and gals are a week and a half old.  They can almost get out of the brooder which is a huge stock watering tank. I guess I am going to have to put a screen over it soon.  They are all darkening and growing wing and tail feathers.  The one center front is the one I named Chipmunk because of the dark stripes on his back when I uncartoned them from the Hatchery.

Egg production is picking up.  The pullets are getting the hang of the laying bit.  In the past 6 days, we have gotten 7 pullet eggs, so I know that more than one of them is laying.  We also got 5 hen eggs, though Broody Girl is still insisting on empty nest sitting.  This has gone on now for over a month.  Perhaps I should get her some fertile eggs and just let her give it a go.


The pullet eggs are so small compared to the hen eggs.  At least we are getting some again.

The garden loved last week’s rain, the tomatoes are ripening in the sun, peppers are swelling and I am nearly overrun with Tomatillos.  I haven’t looked under the row covers to see how the transplants are doing, but they will have to be watered today or tomorrow.

My purple thick skinned grapes are ripe.  Perhaps I should attempt some grape jelly.

The weather feels like fall already.  I shouldn’t get too excited, it will probably get hot again soon.

This week, we tackle power washing the decks to re-stain.  I’m trying to figure out how we are going to keep the outdoor cats off while they dry and how we will get the dogs in and out.  I guess they will have to go through the garage, but neither of them are used to doing that, so it may require leading them out on a leash til the decks dry.

Hubby took off early this morning on a ride on his BBH (Big Bad Harley) with the Hog Club from where his bike came.  It is a ride to just get there, over an hour.  They were going to have breakfast then ride into West Virginia.  He texted me that he did go and that he was in West Virginia.  I guess I will see him later this afternoon when he returns.

When I was in Northern Virginia to pick up grandson in early July, I bought some variegated yarn at a local shop.  The yarn is one that isn’t available around here and I knit a Hitchhiker scarf from it.  I decided that I wanted a cardigan sweater of the same yarn and returned yesterday to the shop to try to purchase it.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough of it to make a sweater, but I did get a worsted weight solid that coordinates beautifully with it.  As soon as the weather is cool enough to sit with the bulk of a sweater body in my lap while knitting, I will make myself a sweater to go with my scarf.

Though it is only mid afternoon, I am tired from my travels and contemplating a short nap.  Life is an adventure!

Olio July 17, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.


Rainbow at sunset.


An overflowing 8 quart bucket of garlic now curing in the root cellar.


Peppers and sunflowers, newly planted bush beans.


Pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes taking over half of the compost bins.


Chard and sunflowers.

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Haircuts for grandson and granddad.

It has been a busy week with bike riding learning sessions for grandson and he can now ride around the bus loop, in and out of grass, stop with the brakes if he is going slow enough, ride up and down an incline, start without help and says, “This is easy!”  Why oh why did he make such a fuss just a few short days ago.

We have had several trips to the library, have done the daily writing and math practice and he is doing his chores with minimal complaint.

On a less positive note, I just got a call from my father and my sis who had Rotator Cuff surgery today, instead of going home has been put in ICU on a ventilator because of breathing problems.  Thoughts and prayers sent on the way to Kansas are welcome.






Olio – July 13, 2014

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things


Grandson’s play with the big guy backfired.  He is under there somewhere.


First pint of pickled jalapenos from the garden.  It will take dozens more to get Jim through the year, especially if Todd wants some too.


First summer squash and bell pepper.  The little pepper is a cayenne that broke off before ripening.  There are small cucumbers, still lots of greens, the first of the bush beans and the last of the peas.  The garden is full on providing most of what we want in veggies now.  The winter squash and pumpkins are taking over the compost bins, the sweet potato vines are thriving.

Yesterday, grandson was afraid of his bike, by the end of a session he would coast down a short hill.


Today it was a longer hill and then as I was running beside him holding his seat, I let go and he rode the length of the school parking lot, over and over.  He still needs an assist to get going, but once he is moving, he is off.  I took a video, but can’t figure out how to upload it here.


Olio – June 27, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

The Raspberry jam salvage was a success.  It is spoonable, spreadable, and isn’t so sweet it makes me gag.  A win.  The wild Blackberries are so thick with fruit this year, I have a dilemma.  I don’t need any more jam.  My daughter who LOVES blackberry jam made a pantry full of Strawberry Jam when the berries were ripe in Florida, so she doesn’t need jam either, but I can’t resist foraging for blackberries on the farm.  I can freeze them and use them in smoothies, cakes, and cobblers, but we aren’t dessert eaters unless we have guests and then hubby would rather I make apple, lemon or pumpkin pie rather than cobbler.  What’s a girl to do?

The rain held off long enough for me to get everything that wasn’t hayed, mowed.  Jeff is coming a few times a day and hauling off 9 bales of hay at a time on his lowboy trailer pulled by the behemoth tractor.  There are still 45 bales to go.  The mowing was a priority as I am off to babysit for 5 days then bring RT and L back here with me on July 3.  We will send 8 chickens to freezer camp, hang a gate, watch fireworks, and feast for the two days RT is here, then he will catch a bus back home to be back at work on Monday.  L will stay with us for about 7 weeks of his summer vacation.

The teenager chicks are looking like I may not have to wait until August to get eggs from them.  Many of the girls combs and waddles are growing and turning red.  It won’t be long before I start seeing wind eggs in the coop and then pullet eggs in the nesting boxes as they figure the process out.


They are hiding from the heat, the culls are dustbathing to keep cool.


I dragged the chicken tractor to a new spot to give the culls something fresh for their last week.  Jim will be in charge while I’m gone.

The last of the spoiled bale of hay needs to be moved over to the garden and some areas remulched.  We had a chicken escape and they got in the vegetable garden and the new flower bed and made quite a mess.  Between that, some thin areas that are starting to show weeds, tomatoes and peppers tall enough to mulch around, I need to get that task done before I leave also.  I might actually welcome a rain shower while that is being done to cool things off a bit.  The garden is thriving, the kale is winning.


The sink is full, the chickens got at least this much and there is plenty to take to Northern Virginia for them when I go up.


First Tomatillo.  Can’t wait for a crop of them.


The peas are almost done.  If I cool off enough from working out there, I will pick a meal’s worth for tonight.


It amazing me how quickly the raspberries ripen.  I picked the bushes clean yesterday and treated myself to a hand full while I was weeding.  I save a hand full to have with my yogurt tomorrow.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.


Questions answered

My favorite local organic farmers harvested a bumper crop of salad for their local restaurant and natural food store deliveries and I scored a pound of their “extra” that was delivered to my door for the same price I would pay if I went to the farmer’s market for it.  Two of my hen gems are boiling, a few chunks of cheese are cut, some leftover cooked asparagus and I am about to have a late lunch fit for a tired queen of the castle.

While he was here, I asked about the mystery weed


that was threatening to overtake the garden.  It is Smart Weed and it does have pretty little flowers a bit later in the spring.  It does spread, but is relatively easy to pull.

This morning I went out to finish mulching the garden with the spoiled hay.  There is now a good thick layer in the paths, around the grapes and around the berries.  Hopefully this will keep the lambs quarters, smart weed, henbit, deadnettle, horse nettle and oxalis at least reduced.  For now it looks neat and tidy and I am still picking splinters out of my hands.  Yes, I know that I could wear gloves, but I never garden in them.


A few days ago, when I was away from the house and Jim had been off on his motorcycle.  He had left the garage door open as it is difficult to close headed up the gravel driveway on his bike.  When he came back, he passed two adolescent males walking up our driveway and we wondered why they had been down here.  The house is secure with the two big beasts that live inside and I saw nothing amiss in the garage or the chicken pens.  Today, I think I discovered what mischief they wrought.  The end of the big round bale of spoiled hay that was going on the garden and had been used in the chicken coop until it molded is charred on the end away from the house.  Fortunately it didn’t catch, I guess they left it smoldering and it went out, thank goodness.  It does make me a bit concerned as we don’t know who they are or where on the mountain they live.  None of our close by neighbors have kids or at least kids that age.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.

Garden Day

The afternoon had a 60% chance of rain and after lunch it was mostly overcast.  It seemed a good idea to at least attempt to finish getting the garden cleaned up and planted for the season.  Between yesterday’s burn and today’s 4 + hours in the garden, I should have my quota of Vitamin D, however, due to a prior bout of skin cancer, I stay totally covered with a wide brimmed hat, long sleeves and long pants.  Much crawling around on my aging knees and rooting around in the dirt with bare fingers, the weeds are cleared.

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Cleared beds and a ground eye view of the raspberry bed as I inched along that path pulling weeds.  After my efforts, 4 rows of black wax bush beans, 1 row of lemon cucumbers, 1 row of spacemaker cucumbers, a small patch of carrots, and several hills of yellow squash have been planted.  I still need to transplant the pepper and tomato starts and get a thick layer of spoiled hay in the paths to try to keep the weeds down and to get a bit more around the raspberries and grapes.  I still have a space between the garden and the chicken run that is full of tiny stones and some weeds that needs attention, but I gave out and it was dinner prep time.  Wouldn’t you know that the rain chance has diminished to 40% without a shower and the sky has alternately cleared and clouded while I worked.

The chickens love my efforts as I take armloads of weeds and bugs to them to peck through.  Everytime I go to the fence they come running to see what the load contains.  They particularly like when it is full of chickweed or if I dig up a grub or two.  I was rewarded with 7 eggs collected in my hat as I quit for the day.

My hope is to try to stay ahead of the garden this year and not be faced with a later season weeding as I usually have to do.  As soon as the garlic is harvested, a second planting of bush beans and a fall planting of kale and cabbage will be planted in those two beds.  I still haven’t figured out where to plant the pie pumpkins and winter squash, but I am leaning toward putting them near the berries and let them run where they can’t do any harm.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.


Sunday Thankfullness

A beautiful day.

A visit with a friend at her shop with another cloud of Tunis to spin.  When I am done there will be enough to make a rib warmer vest for this fall.


Cloud shadows on the mountains.


A motorcycle upright in a ditch thanks to VDOT’s lousy maintenance that was resolved with no harm thanks to the aid and ingenuity of neighbors and friends.

Glad I haven’t planted the peppers and tomatoes in the garden, we have a frost warning for tonight.

Mow day

Last night after dinner out and before it got dark, I pushed the mower two swipes around the house and in the corner that I can’t reach with the tractor in preparation for mowing this morning.  The first mowing of the season, I got as close as I could and just did a patch around the house large enough to get to the cars, the chicken coop and garden without walking through knee high grass and I didn’t premow the close strips, so that grass was thick and tall last night, stalling out the mower constantly.

This morning after a trip to the Farmers’ Market for meat and spring greens and turnips, I cranked up the tractor and mowed the area we consider yard in the middle of our 30 acres.  That includes around the garden, the orchard, an area that is too small to hay above the orchard, around the well head and the front, side, and back areas that are regularly mowed.  With last week’s rain, it didn’t look like it had already been mowed once.  The areas around the chicken fence and close around the orchard trees has to be done with the lawn mower or weed whacker and I started on them with the mower and ran out of gas.  Not wanting to go out again, I quit for the day, just before Jim arrived back home from his motorcycle ride.

As soon as I came in to get the watering can to water the newly planted porch and deck pots, I spotted a hummingbird who had already found the red geraniums that I planted yesterday.  Have you ever tried to take a picture of a hummingbird?  You will just have to take my word for it.

It is looking more like spring everyday.  The trees all have a haze of small green leaves, the dogwoods are blooming and beautiful.


Only another week or two and we should be clear of late frost and more of the garden will be planted.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.