Tag Archives: gardening

Weekend 4/8/2017

At last post we were expecting extreme weather.  Thursday the trip to take grand daughter to pre-school rewarded us with 3 rainbow segments.



At one point it was very vivid and a near perfect arc with the end settled in the valley.  This was the first morning rainbow I have ever seen.  It was accompanied by falling temperatures and increasing wind.  It rained until late in the day when it turned to a wintry mix. Parts if the state experienced tornado activity and a lot of damage east of the mountains.

April snow


This was Friday morning’s greeting and it snowed off and on all day Friday.  There was snow on the mountain above us, just a dusting on the farm.  It never warmed more than a few degrees above the prior night’s low 30s.  Again last night, it was near freezing, but today it is sunny and in the low 60s.  The wind isn’t as strong as the past 48 hours, but it hasn’t fully subsided.  It was a good day to get that chick pen fencing done.  They did fine the past couple of cold nights in the unheated garage with a single mother table to warm them.  The brooder tub is much too small for their rapidly growing little bodies and they need to be moved soon.  By midweek, the days will be in the mid 70s, the nights in the upper 40s to low 50s and the chicks will be at least 5 weeks old.  If a makeshift gate to their pen can be completed, they will be moved to Huck’s coop.

Fence   Fence done

There is enough fencing left to make some sort of gate.  A hawk cover needs to be added before they can be turned loose in the pen. But they will have to spend at least a week in the closed coop to acclimate to their new, though temporary home before they can be given freedom of the run.  Once they are too large to get through the welded wire fence of the run, they will be relocated to the main coop and the old hens and Mr. Croak will be moved to the large cull coop.  I am thinking about moving the old birds this week and thoroughly cleaning the main coop, roughing up the run and planting it with the cover crop to get some green growing in their before the chicks move in.  The run could probably benefit from 5 or 6 weeks of no traffic and the oats, field peas, and vetch would grow quickly in there, it was a portion of the garden with good compost soil and it has lots of natural fertilizer that they have provided.

If the weather holds, the lower garden and the chicken run will be broken up with the long handled cultivator and the cover crop sown tomorrow and Monday.  The warm week and midweek rain should get a good start on the spring cover growing.

There are still some aisles in the garden to be mulched with cardboard and spoiled hay and plenty of cardboard still in the garage to use.

Evenings have been spent planning a vacation trip now that our passports have been renewed and back in our possession.  Hopefully, this will become an annual event.

This week, we scored two 10th row center aisle tickets to see Arlo Guthrie in concert in July.  This prompted a weekend plan and reservations made for a quick get away.

Loving life on our farm and the return of spring.

Fading of Autumn

This week has been spent away from home, helping out at eldest son’s house.  He works very long days at a university an hour and a half to two hours away depending on traffic.  Daughter in law is working even father away this week on an art installation of a piece in a commercial building that was commissioned by an artist with whom she works.  I have grandson duty, getting him off to school, supervising homework, guitar practice, evening shower, preparing him breakfast and dinner and seeing him off to bed. His Dad hasn’t seen him since Monday, his Mom since Sunday as she is not even trying to commute this week.  This makes for long solitary days in their rural home, lots of time for spinning, knitting, and a little reading, though the book I brought puts me right to sleep, definitely not one to recommend.

Being on the edge of the Shenandoah Park, I had hoped for some woods walks while here, however, the very first night I awoke feeling like I had been hit by a truck with head congestion and body aches.  Grandson was home from school all day Tuesday due to the election, I dragged my achy body to the grocery for some decongestants and a few groceries, fed him lunch out and came back to rest while he played outdoors with the two kids across the road.  Wednesday was cool and rainy and I didn’t want to be out in it, so I stayed in and continued to rest.  Yesterday I was beginning to feel better and it was a beautiful day, but exertion caused me to cough, so again I mostly stayed in and today is chilly and gray, though I have yet to build a fire in the wood stove.  Tonight is predicted to drop below freezing which will put an end to the plants on the deck.

My garden is long gone for the season, they moved in during the summer and did not have time to put in a garden, but there is a tomato on the deck.

maters mums

It is likely the tomato and mum will both be burned off by morning with another below freezing night predicted Saturday.

As I sit in the living room on the computer or spinning and knitting, I see the nearly barren ridge across the road.  A few evergreens and a few leaves, the color gone for this autumn.



Tomorrow, I will return to our farm, continue to winterize and plant the garlic for next growing season.  We had our first frost the night before I left and I pulled the remaining peppers and plants before I left home.  The cull chickens have another week to fatten, they will be killed and butchered on the 19th and I will be down to my laying flock for the winter.  We are still not getting but an egg or two each day due to molting and the pullets just not mature enough yet to lay.  Hopefully their production will pick up enough for holiday baking and having family in the house for the holidays.  If not, I will buy from a local farmer when I go to pick up our Thanksgiving turkey.  I raise a breed that lays in the winter, though not as prolifically as in summer.

I still have not adjusted to the end of Daylight Savings Time, maybe because of all the time on the road in the past week and the change in schedule here over home.  Maybe by next weekend, my first Holiday Market for the season.  I need to get my stuff organized and decide which displays I plan to take.  I am hoping for a mild, dry day.

I’ll check in again from home.  Have a good day.


An Afternoon in the Garden

We survived the two frost threats so the peppers are continuing to grow.  The end of the garden that never got worked this past year was finally given back to the chickens.  It took all summer, but I realized that having doubled the garden the year before was a mistake.  Without regular help on the garden, it was just too large for me to manage.  I have always done better with a garden in 4 foot squares with heavily mulched paths between them.  Having the asparagus bed in the newer part of the garden and having moved the raspberries up to that end as well, it seemed the best idea to use that for the garden from now on.  It is closest to the chicken coop and it’s source of spoiled straw for the compost, putting the compost pile where the horseradish had been planted.

To make sure that this would be enough garden for me, I used an online tool to plan a garden using a series of 4 foot square beds.  The asparagus bed is larger than that and the frame will have to be built to surround them.  The raspberries won’t be boxed.  The compost was moved from next to the chicken coop, the old compost bed will become the area for next  year’s corn patch.

Garden plan

The new garden will be 30 by 30 feet instead of 30 by 60+ feet, the blueberries are still at the far end of the larger garden and will have to be boxed off from the chickens or moved.  If I box them off, the area I designated in the new garden will be set aside for flowers and herbs.   I will plant only 8 tomatoes next year and get them well supported early, about the same amount of peppers as this year.  There will be two squares for peas, two for green beans and being in boxed beds, I can keep the bunnies out. Boxes for garlic, onions, tomatillos, sweet potatoes, and a shared box for turnips, chard, and cabbage will be in place.   White potatoes will be planted in two half wine barrels that are located within the garden but sat idle this year.  Today, I bought the first two cedar boxes, moved fencing to keep the chickens out of the garden area, pulled most of the tomato vines, and started laying cardboard to keep the weeds out of the edge and down between the boxes.  Grandson collected a bucket full of the last of the tomatoes, mostly green.  Tomorrow, I will finish pulling the vines, rake up dropped tomatoes, built the box for the asparagus, set up the two new boxes, preparing one of them to receive the garlic in a couple more weeks.  If I buy 2 boxes a month through the fall and winter, I will have enough set up in the spring for planting.

The chickens weren’t supposed to be able to get in the enlarged part yet, but they found their way through the temporary barrier and started enjoying the weeds, bugs, and fallen tomatillos. They will have about 900 square feet of new run, but it won’t be protected from the hawk.  They will have quick access back to their protected area.

The compost pile is huge with the asparagus ferns, the tomato vines, and piles of weeds that are being pulled to clean up the  garden for winter.  The coop needs to be cleaned out before cold weather and that will be added to the pile to break down into good compost for the gardens.   I will have to take the weed wacker in to the lower area and knock down some of the tall weeds in there, but they will be left to lay to break down, provide forage for the chickens and attract bugs for them as well.

Tomorrow and Sunday are supposed to be beautiful days, I’m hoping to have everything ready for winter, except pulling the peppers which will be allowed to continue to grow until first frost.

I’m hoping that this plan, the boxes and smaller footprint will allow me to enjoy the garden more next year, get enough produce to fill our freezer and canning jars.  Giving the run back to the chickens will allow me a slightly larger flock.  The coop can hold a dozen to 14 birds and I only have 8.  Before chick season next spring, the fencing around the brooder coop needs to be replaced with taller, small mesh fencing to keep mature birds from flying out and chicks from getting away from the momma hen through the fence holes.  For now, it is clean up and then settle in for the planning season, looking for the seed I want to plant, the flowers I want to grow in the newly designed garden next year.

Olio – October 24, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

It was a beautiful busy weekend, that spilled over to today.

Yesterday, the asparagus bed was trimmed, weeded, and heavily mulched for the winter.  A few peppers were picked, but there are many more soon to be ready.  Some of the tomato vines were pulled, but I ran out of steam before the job was done.

I gave up on trying to stop the randy cockerels from escaping, but made the hen’s pen more secure so that at least they can’t get in with them.  I don’t think letting them coop up with the hens for the next 3 weeks is a good idea, I’m afraid it would incite more fighting between them and maybe they would even attack the fairly docile cockerel that I put in with them.  So far the hens are not letting him anywhere near them.  The molting season is full on and the yard near their pen looks like I had a pillow fight with someone.  Because of the mature hens molting and the pullets not yet laying, I am only getting 1 egg a day.  Hopefully that will change soon and we will start getting more eggs with the holidays approaching and baking to be done.

It was a good weekend to start making soap again.  I have an order for a full mold of a scent I don’t put in my shop anymore, and I needed three others for the upcoming Holiday Markets.



Two batches were made over the weekend, unmolded and cut yesterday.  Today I was going to make the other two and got one made, the kitchen a mess and realized that I don’t have enough of one of the essential oils to make the other batch.  Granddaughter is napping and I don’t want to get her up yet.  Grandson has to be picked up from the bus stop in a bit more than an hour.  Both of them need to be dressed and taken to Taekwondo by 5:15, so I guess I will buy the oil then and make the other batch tonight.

For a while, I have been watching the not quite 5 year old granddaughter ride down our dirt and gravel driveway and across the sloping yard on her balance bike.  Daughter and I had discussed that she was about ready to learn to ride a real bike without training wheels.  I am not a fan of training wheels.  I feel that once a kid has a comfort level with the balance, either on a balance bike or on a real bike on a gentle grassy slope, that they are ready to start pedaling.  She was taken to the elementary school where I taught her cousin to ride a few summers ago, and wasn’t there long before her Mom sent us a video of her riding on her own.  She still needed someone to help her start. Today, she asked me to take her riding again, so we went to the old high school track that is available for the public to walk or run on and she rode great loops around the track, into a head wind and then while I was approaching to help her start off, she did it by herself.  She was so proud of herself.

I have continued to work on the Christmas stocking for the newest granddaughter.  The chart that is used for the design is very poorly labeled and it violates every rule of knitting color work by spanning 10 or 12 stitches in a color change.  I have cut short lengths and wound many bobbins to avoid it, but as it is going to be lined in the end, there are some places where I just spanned too many stitches and did the color change.

chart mess

When doing a chart, each little box either has a symbol or lacks a symbol and there is a key to let you know what color, the symbol represents.  This one has a key, but the key does not match the colors in the photo (the yarn does), so it has been a challenge of flipping to the photograph to see what color the symbol is supposed to be.  To make matters worse, two symbols represent two different colors depending on where in the chart you are.  As it is, I am going to have to double knit a small section to “repair” a mixed up color from the chart.  The right photo is of the back of the stocking with all of the little bobbins and balls that I have to keep untangling.  I have reached a point where I am only using 4 colors now and soon only three, then to join in the round and knit the heel and toe.  Each stocking that I have made is lined.  For my children I did stockings that were crewel work, each grandchild has either a quilted or knitted one.  After they are finished and lined, I add a little cross stitched tag inside near the top that says, Made with love, (name they call me) and the year it was made.  I hope they treasure them as much as I enjoyed making them.


Back Again

I have been silent for a while as life took over life, not due to any malady.  The season of fiber retreats is over, getting to do two great weekend get aways in a month, one to Tennessee and one to West Virginia.  At both events, I got to socialize, spin, knit, and vend some of my goodies.  The second retreat was followed by a quick overnight to help out with eldest grandson for an afternoon and evening and the return trip home to take over the routine with the live in grands.  I took very few photos at the retreats, but did get a picture of our cute neighbor in West Virginia and one of a fence lizard that I rescued from indoors.

Raccoon lizard

This week, we welcomed into our family, our sixth grandchild, a beautiful baby girl.  We hope we get to meet her face to face soon.  She is the third child, second daughter for our youngest son and his wife.  What a blessing for them.

More tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos have been harvested and stored away.  Soon the sweet potatoes will be dug, the tomato plants pulled and the garden put to bed for the winter.  We have had rain and more rain, producing some wonderful photos of cloud layers through the gaps and over the mountains.

cloud layers

You can see four ridges in this shot with cloud layers in each valley.

Today, I was granted a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the fiber arts.  It was the first of three weekends in a row of practicing my skills in front of people and getting to talk about fiber, spinning, making yarn, using it to knit or weave.  Today and on the 16th, I was at the Smithfield House in Blacksburg.  I worked in the Weaver’s Cottage, an old slave cabin that was moved from another property and placed where they thought the summer kitchen may have been.  Today was a special event and the blacksmith was demonstrating his craft, there was music, nature walks, food, and plants for sale.  Because I was in the cabin, I didn’t get to see it all, but it was a beautiful day and so much fun.

Cabin2 Cabin1

Cabin3 Cabin4

Set up with one of my handmade baskets in front of the barrier that protects the antique wheels, loom, and other fiber equipment.  The barrier ended up having to be removed as it was wobbly and in danger of crashing down.  In the cottage with me was a weaver that was using the Appalachian Rocker Beater Loom.

Next weekend, I will help our community celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Village’s covered bridge at Bridge Day, and on the 16th, I will return to the Smithfield House.  Maybe I should buy or make myself a period costume for these events.

A Day in the Life

Last Tuesday evening, son-in-law’s parents arrived by air, bringing Grandson A home from his 7 weeks in Florida.  With them was A’s eleven year old male cousin.  They got to have some quality time with the grandkids, enjoying some lunches out, a movie, laser tag, and the Children’s Museum.  This put 9 folks in the house for breakfast and 3 dinners.  They ate one dinner out with the kids and grands.  Yesterday afternoon, they left to return to Florida, of course leaving A here to get back on his routine prior to school beginning in a couple of weeks.

The bed and bath linens have been laundered, folded and put away until that guest room is needed again.  Last night, the kids rewarded us with a Mexican food meal out, freeing me from the meal prep, then we treated them all to ice cream out.  Tonight is a return to Taekwondo for A and is also the adult class for the kids, so dinner will just be Jim and me.

Once  home last night, I began spinning 4 ounces of over dyed Coopsworth wool.  I had hoped to use it with another skein that was left over from making the sweater last spring, however, the yarn weight is nowhere near the same gauge.  I will figure out what to do with them, perhaps make a hat and scarf set that can be used as a gift or go in my shop.


This morning, I dyed the 278 yards of Leicester Longwool that I spun last week. It is destined for my use and it is luscious.


In the midst of spinning, dyeing, cooking, laundry, and being grand-mom in charge, I worked on organizing my teaching materials, my product and labeling, and pulling out items that will be put in a reduced item basket to take to the fiber retreat toward the end of the month.


This evening just before preparing dinner, I got the area above and inside the chicken runs mowed on a high setting and the jungle thicket that even the chickens wouldn’t enter, clipped and pulled down.  The cull chicks seem to prefer to stay inside their dry palace than to venture out in the wet to help keep the weeds at bay in their run.  Maybe when it dries out a bit, they will come outside more.  Tomorrow, I need to try to get two bales of straw to put fresh dry bedding in the coops.  The hay bale that was designated for the coops is so wet from this summer’s rains that it is growing mushrooms.  It will have to be broken up and used on the garden as mulch.

A Week on the Farm – May 28, 2016

Yesterday was our eldest son’s birthday.  It seems like yesterday that I was standing in our new kitchen (we had just bought a house and moved in only two weeks before) shelling fresh peas that we had bought that morning at the Farmers’ Market in Virginia Beach. We had also taken a walk up Mt. Trashmore, a city park build on the old landfill, with hopes that it would stimulate labor.  It did, sort of.  At any rate, the peas did not get eaten that night, a stay in the labor unit at the hospital instead and his addition to our family the next day.  He is a delightful, intelligent, grown man now, 36 years young with his own wife and our eldest grandson.

The week has been a mixture of rain and sun with only a little gardening done.  Our neighbor has an overgrown Bearded Iris bed with three colors of Iris in it and he has known for years that I wanted a bit of each to go with my Grape Iris and Dutch Iris that were already in my gardens.  I had permission to come get some, but always waited until they had finished blooming until I thought about heading up to get some and didn’t want to dig without knowing which clusters to dig from in order to get a bit of each color.  He called one night this week and told me to come up with a shovel and bucket and I came home with some of each color.  They were planted in a flower garden that I had begun early spring above the vegetable garden.  Next year they will have multiplied and I will have more beautiful color.

Yesterday, I also stopped and got flowers for the wooden wheelbarrow that my Dad made for me about a dozen years ago.  As the weather began turning to spring this year, I brought it in to the garage and refurbished it, putting a new axle, handle and leg supports on it.  It also was screwed instead of nailed together in my efforts.

Barrow and Bear

The little carved bear on the edge of the porch was a craft show purchase many years ago.  It is chain saw carved and holds a solar light that comes on at dusk, not providing much light, but a guide to where the edge of the front porch is located on a dark night.

Some preparation of products for my shop were done with all three salves made and a couple of scents of lotion bars formulated.  While doing them, I prepared a written lesson in salve preparation and making and lotion bar recipe and instruction for a class I will be teaching in the fall at a retreat.

I got brave this week too and finally tackled dyeing a skein of yarn for my shop.  My first attempt was not my hand spun, but a 150 yard skein of Suri Alpaca.  For my first attempt, I used the kettle dyed method and Greener Shades dye.  I tried dyeing half for 20 minutes longer than the other half, hoping for a two toned monochromatic skein.

Ruby and Garnet


I don’t think I achieved what I was hoping for, but I am fairly pleased with the result.  I have several skeins of undyed natural white yarns in the shop and I will be dyeing several of them in the next few days experimenting with adding more color.

Two days of this week were spent in preparation and recovery from one of the dreaded diagnostics that senior citizens are encouraged to endure.  At least I don’t have to go through it again for another decade.

Today began with a solo run to the Farmers’ Market for salad, broccoli, a cucumber already, herbs, bread, and flowers.  Jim had breakfast with me in town and then took off on the BBH to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway and grab a hot dog in Roanoke.

After my early return, my day has been spent mostly outdoors, weeding and cleaning up the shrub bed along the front of the house.  It needs new mulch, but I didn’t want to drive back into town.  Pushing the mower up and down the hill by the driveway to clear around the shrubs growing there, the meat chickens pen which was up to my waist with grass and lambs quarters, the area in front of the Huck’s coop so that a containment pen could be made for the anticipated chicks.  We are on chick watch.  The next couple of days should produce our first batch of chicks for the season.  Their coop and pen await.


A plastic chicken wire pen attached to step in poles awaits them.  The electric fence will be restrung this evening after I re-hydrate and it cools off some.


The other layers (who have contributed to the eggs being sat) and the proud Papa continue to harass the two gals sitting.  One hen insists on laying her egg in the nest of the first broody each day.  I marked the original 10 under her and then quit as I didn’t want to disturb her so much.  Whatever doesn’t hatch in the next couple of days will be discarded.  The same will be true mid June when the second hatch is due.  I need to block off the nesting box for the first hatch before they coop up tonight.  I don’t want a newly hatched chick to be pecked or accidentally fall out the pop door as her nest is right at that door.  One of the girls has taken to pecking the egg of one of the Americaunas each day if I don’t collect them as soon as I realize they are in a nest.  They aren’t totally breaking the shell, nor eating the egg, just slightly fracturing the shell.  I hate having to discard an egg most days.

We are expecting rain for the next two days.  I may take advantage of the wet soil to continue the weeding of the garden.  I still don’t have the popcorn and pumpkins planted.  I did re-weed the blueberries today and there will be a small harvest of them.  One of the aisles between beds was weeded and covered with spoiled hay today as well. I have concluded that from now on, I will just buy my turnips at the Farmers’ Market.  I harvested the first few that I planted and they are all full of the little white worm that torments me each time I plant them.  I have used wood ash in their planting row and around on top with limited success in the past, but it didn’t work this year.  I guess the chickens will enjoy them.

Our neighbor that hays our fields came over to look at my brush hog today.  He is going to take it home and refurbish it for me.  Rough ground and rocks are hard on them and the design of the stablizer wheel on the back of the one we own is poor, causing the shaft that holds it to stretch out and has made the wheel unstable.  One of the bolts that prevents wobble is bent too and he is either going to cut it off and replace it or just weld those two pieces together to prevent the wobble.  It has gotten so that it gouges  the ground when I mow.

A Week on the Farm – May 22, 2016

Another rainy week and a week that I struggled a bit with a pulled chest muscle and spent more time indoors preparing for yesterday’s demonstration of Newport Past and Present than I did on the garden.  With that behind me and today being alternately sunny and showery, I decided that the seedlings needed my attention regardless of any other issues.

The areas that we weeded last weekend were already showing a return of Lamb’s Quarter, smart weed, and grasses.  An hour with the hoe and the 14 tomatoes were free of weeds, the area that was designated for the peppers, also cleared.  I managed to get 22 pepper plants in the ground.  All but three of them of the hot to fiery varieties, Jalapenos, Habeneros, Anaheims, Thai Hot, Tabasco, and one Hungarian Black.  With them were two green bell peppers and one purple bell pepper.  Three comfrey plants were also added.  They were mulched with matted, wet and rotting hay during and between rain showers.

Planted and mulched.
They were blooming and already producing little peppers in the flats on the deck.

Cabbages and chard are thriving, the second planting of peas in need of something to climb, the first planting at the top of their fence.  Garlic is about to produce scapes.

I am excited that the Asian Pears and Apple trees have fruit.  Not as much as last year due to the late frost, but at least we will have some.


The week’s weather is supposed to be warmer and drier, so perhaps I will finally get the bush beans, cucumbers, and summer squash planted.  I need help weeding the lower garden and soon we will get the three sisters planted.  The sweet potatoes are sprouting and will be rooted and planted within the next couple of weeks.  I still have some flowers, the sunflowers and marigolds to plant and the basil tucked in.  Soon it will be maintenance, watching the plants grow and produce and enjoying the benefits of the work.


There are now two broody hens.  One is on 9 eggs that I know of.  The other is on an unknown number and I am leaving them alone.  We should see the first chicks around Memorial day weekend and the others by June 11 or 12.  I spent some time beginning to erect a chick pen of plastic chicken wire to contain and protect the hens and their babies around the brooder coop.  Once they hatch, they will be moved over there.  I still need to build a ramp to the door of that coop.  I wish that the hens would have allowed me to move them and their nests to that coop to sit the eggs, but that didn’t work out.

Now it is raining buckets full on the newly planted seedlings.  It is thundering, so my planting is concluded for the day.


Olio – March 22, 2016

Olio – a miscellaneous collection of things.

Spring came in cold and wet, but no snow accumulation, thank goodness.  The last two nights predicted to go into the upper 20’s f didn’t, so no damage to the herbs on the deck.  The planted part of the garden is showing life, peas and radishes are up, the garlic is standing tall.  I’m still not seeing any asparagus in my second year bed, but neither is my friend in hers, so maybe it is still a mite early.  At Farmers Market on Saturday, I purchased 8 cabbage starts, already hardened off and they need to go into the ground, perhaps this afternoon.  More comfrey has sprouted, also more peppers, but two varieties are not showing yet.  Today, I dug a spadeful of the old comfrey plant and moved it beside the garden.  I hope it will take root there and spread.  It is another plant that likes wet feet and I am thinking about moving some up to the creekside with the daylilies that are there.

This is the first week of daughter’s new HR job and both of her kids decided that this is the week to test Mommom’s ability to deal with little ones not feeling well.  N wasn’t feeling well on Sunday, but seemed ok yesterday.  She had a dentist appointment for a cleaning and was quite a trooper, though Mommom was rattled as in the excitement of the new job, the trip away for the Taekwondo tournament, and N not feeling well, the insurance card and already filled out paper work was forgotten.  I had to text daughter and SIL for the information, but for some reason, daughter’s return texts were not getting through but with SIL’s help through text messages, we muddled through. Maybe the paperwork wasn’t all filled out the way daughter would, but it got done.  We had left the dentist, gone another town east for lunch and got a call from A’s school that he was in the nurse’s office and would I please come get him.  Back across to him and he was brought him home to rest and drink lots of water for his headache.  He lets himself get dehydrated and gets a headache on occasion.

This morning, he was put on the bus to school, N was dressed for preschool and we went to town to get a breakfast treat first.  She seemed fine and chipper until she sat town with food in front of her.  She is back home, did not go to preschool today, is carrying around a bucket when she is awake and felt too bad to bother getting up in bed for her nap.


Hopefully, when she awakes, she will be able to keep something down.

On Thursday evening, I will be having two friends over for soap making lessons.  Though I am still working through a big tub of Palm Oil, I have wanted to phase that oil out of my soap making for ethical reasons.  Palm oil is obtained by slash and burn of rain forests, then planted in the trees for palm oil and once they are of sufficient size, the entire tree is cut.  The laborers for this industry are very poorly paid.  Though coconut oil has some issues too, in that harvesting the coconuts is dangerous, they don’t cut down the whole tree and there are fair trade versions of the product available.  To begin to play with the idea of palm oil free soap that is still vegan, not containing lard or tallow, I put together a recipe yesterday, scented it with lemongrass and sweet orange essential oils to see what I would get.  That recipe made a mold full, plus 5 silicone muffin tins full.  It was unmolded and cut a few minutes ago to begin curing for my use or maybe to go in my etsy shop.  It smells delightful and the scraps made a nice lather.  If it cures hard, I will begin the switch to the palm oil free soaps.


Slow roasting pork is in the oven.  Preparing sides and cornbread will follow later to nourish the working family, kids and us.

Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful so another gardening day will be in order, hopefully everyone will be healthy by then.

Olio – March 15, 2016

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

Yesterday did end up a dirt play day after all.  Between the heavy rain of Sunday night and the heavier rain and thunder storms of Monday afternoon and night, we had beautiful clear skies and delightful spring temperatures.  On our way home from errands in town, we drove past our driveway, along the top of our property to go down and see if there were any more new calves on the next farm.  We saw no calves, not even any of her cows, they must have been over one of the hills we can’t see from the road, but I spotted large patches of ditch lilies (the tall orange day lilies) up and thriving by the run off creek along the top of our property.  After we bought the land, before we started building, we would come up on weekends every few weeks and clean up trash and plant trees in the rocky area that we would never be able to graze animals or hay.  Along the creek, we planted River birch trees, they like the damp of the creek and along the creek edges, I put in 3 or 4 small clumps of lilies that I had brought up from my Dad’s garden.  Last summer, I wanted to dig some of them to put in the bed that has other day lilies in it down at the house, but the weeds and blackberries had gotten too big for me to want to walk into that area.  The weeds haven’t grown up yet, so with bucket and shovel, I went up and dug a good sized clump.

After walking them back down the drive to the house, I debated where to plant them.  I have had bronze fennel beside the side garage door on the east side of the house and on the other side of the door, is a bed with Dutch iris, day lilies, and lavender.  The chick weed has begun and is growing and spreading like wild fire in that bed.  I decided to make a little tribute garden to the man who loved his gardens and flowers.  The bronze fennel was dug up, a trench dug from the stoop to the south wall of the garage, a good layer of compost dug in and the shovel full of day lilies planted there, the bed edged with stone from our property and mulched down heavily with spoiled and rotting hay.


Since that looked so good and the soil was damp enough to make weeding not too onerous, I tackled the other side, finding the sprouting iris and day lilies and weeding around them, taking buckets of weeds and grubs to the chickens.  A thick layer of newspaper was laid down around each plant and a hefty coat of hay added.


I still have about 3 feet of that bed to do, but I am waiting to see if the perennial sunflower is going to come up. It started raining before I could finish even the part I started, but it will also have a trench dug and stone edge put in place.  We aren’t wanting for stone of this property.  All of the foundation and chimney stone came off our land.


While pulling back the chickweed, this little lizard climbed the stone and tried to hide. I love finding the lizard’s and toads that eat the insects and show that the gardens are healthy and unsprayed. It will be happy with the thick layer of spoiled hay that replaced the chickweed.

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to a T-shirt that amused me.  I showed it to Mountaingdad and asked if he would wear it and he said yes.  It came today…


I’m glad he has a sense of humor, he didn’t even give me a hard time when I had him put it on and model.


The chickens relished the buckets of goodies that I gave them yesterday and so far, they haven’t flown over the low fence around the bed in the middle of the garden.  It amuses me that all 8 of the hens will take turns using the same nesting box in the coop.  There are 6 nesting boxes and it is rare to find eggs in any except the right hand most box, sometimes just outside of it.


This may be a problem when one or more gets broody, as they will lay eggs in the broody hen’s nest.  Last year, I marked the eggs under the broody hen and checked every couple of days to remove any not marked ones.  This year, we hope to have a brooder coop to separate them.  When one goes broody, she will be moved to the brooder coop and over a couple of days, given a dozen eggs to hatch.  The brooder coop will have a floor this year, so hopefully, the chicks will survive whatever predator was getting under it last year and doing the damage.  I don’t want to lose 50 chicks again this year, I would rather increase my flock and have some for the freezer instead.


About 20 years ago, my Dad made himself a little wooden wheelbarrow to fill with potted flowers in his garden. I commented on it and a couple years later, he gifted me with one he had made just for me. That little barrow has lived at 3 houses, the one we raised our children in, the one year rental after we sold our house and started this one, and here. One of the handles was broken in the move and I  did a makeshift repair on it. A year or so ago, the broomstick axle broke and the little barrow sat forlorn and damaged by the garden. Today, I am going to refurbish it and it will have a place in the breezeway perennial garden filled with shade loving flowers this summer.

I plan to enjoy every rain free daylight hour for the next few days. Monday we are going to see another stint of winter, snow flurries and freezing nights and all. Soon it will really be spring and the Camelot like days of warmth, the evening rain showers will return.