Tag Archives: gardens

My Corner Looks Empty – June 6, 2017

In the past week, two of my three spinning wheels have gone to new homes.  The Louët left by mail last Thursday for Connecticut and arrived safely on Saturday.  The old Amable Paradis was driven by me about halfway to it’s new owner in North Carolina late this afternoon. The corner only contains the great wheel until tomorrow.

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If the tracking is right, the new Ashford Traveller arrives tomorrow. The oils and waxes to finish her are awaiting her arrival.  She needs to be stained with the tinted Tung Oil mix at least twice and be dry by Sunday when I will need her at the Smithfield House Flag Day Ceremony.  I really would like to get a good coat of wax on too, but don’t want to rush the drying process.

The delivery of the old wheel this evening was at a location chosen by the buyer’s husband.  He was to meet me without her and I had to drive to him solo as Jim is in Roanoke for the next 4 1/2 days at his rally.  Meeting a stranger in a strange location was a bit scary, but there ended up being 3 State troopers eating in Subway, a gas station, Chinese buffet, and motel all in the parking lot that made me feel better, then he called and said he had missed the exit and had gone miles beyond our designated meeting place in the direction that I needed to go to return home.  A new exit was selected between us and the meeting was uneventful, a pleasant retired Coastie, his wife is a lace maker and wants to spin too.

Prior to delivering the grands to Taekwondo and their Mom, granddaughter and I planted the pumpkin and tomatillo seedlings this afternoon.  The corn is several inches tall now.  Before leaving to babysit eldest grand next week, the Anasazi beans will be planted in with the corn and pumpkins.

Arriving home just before sundown this evening, the annual hay mowing had begun on our side of the ridge.  Our farmer friend mows and bales several fields around us including ours and the largest field near us was about half mowed.  By the time my week away babysitting and backpacking is done, our fields should be mowed and baled as well.

As it was still light enough to close up the coops and collect eggs without a flashlight when I arrived home, the hens, pullets, and Mr, Croak were secured and the lonely sole egg of the day collected.  The hens are so senior that eggs are being offered in very small quantities.  It will be nice when the pullets are mature enough to start providing.

The walk over to the coop and back revealed the first Daylily of the season bloomed today.  Daylily season is such a joy with the beautiful trumpet shaped, various colored blooms.  If only the season were longer.  Additions of later and ever blooming varieties have been added to the garden to extend the season but it is still too short.

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Though the header is a few nights ago, tonight was another lovely pink post sunset.

5/13/2017 Mother’s Day Weekend

We waited too long to make reservations for lunch or dinner tomorrow, so we will have to try someplace that doesn’t take reservations and just has call ahead service.

Our new phones arrived yesterday and a rainy afternoon was spent getting them set up.  This morning, both us were awake early and with the town mobbed due to commencement exercises at the university, we headed in early to get breakfast and go to the Farmers’ Market.  So many vendors now and so many goodies to buy, meat, vegetables, breads, coffee beans, pasta, yarn, fiber, candles, prepared foods and beverages.  Other errand runs including making sure that the old cell service has been cancelled, bale of straw for the hen house, dog food for the 3 giant beasties that live here were all accomplished, before 10:30, then home.  The next 5 hours were spent in the yard and gardens.

Wood pile before

 

For several years, the woodpile has been up against the vegetable garden fence, leaning against the fence enough to require an extra T-post to keep it from collapsing into the garden.

Wood pile new

Up hill from the vegetable garden are two old cedar fence posts, two other posts that were under the wood were placed on either side of the two verticals, using them as end pieces and the wood was moved and re-stacked there.

Wood pile after

The resulting area will be part of the new flower and herb beds as soon as I get some more cardboard.  Once the wood was moved, the remaining stack of cardboard was toted outside, onions weeded, cardboard laid around two sides of that box where it has not been placed and where the lamb’s quarter was trying to take over, also placed under the fence at the south corner where I had quit prior to the rains.  More cardboard was placed outside of that uphill fence after lots of weed pulling and digging to  clean up around the comfrey and iris and to extend that bed  for two of the perennials that had been residing in pots on the porch. The cardboard was slipped under the fence to overlap the cardboard on the inside of the fence and spoiled hay mulched around them.  Another trip out for cardboard will allow me to carry the bed on around the corner.  The chicken run will just go around the south and west side up to the gate and the electric fencing wire will be reinstalled around the perimeter to stop the deer.

New bed

The inside of the henhouse was hosed down with white vinegar, neem oil, and essential oils and left open to dry.  The bale of straw will be spread in there as soon as it is thoroughly dry.

Something has been nibbling on the baby chard plants so that bed was covered with hoops and bird net.

The chickens have been free ranging since I started working outside today.  they should be put away so the dogs can go out.  We still haven’t gotten them so that they don’t chase the chickens when out.

Perhaps some more weeding and planting can be accomplished tomorrow before we go out for Mother’s Day.

Olio 4/14/2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Yesterday was another beautiful day, the 4th in a row.  The forecast is continued nice temperatures, but the next 10 days show 8 of them with a fairly high chance of rain. We had both grands home with us for their spring break, so no serious running around was scheduled.  We did go get the gate hardware at Tractor Supply and came home to a couple hours of work outside time.

The gate hardware was installed on the wooden post that was already set, having to drill a pair of 5/8″ holes about 4 inches into the post.  Once the gate was hung, the end T post was shifted a few inches to give the gate something to abutt  and the fence that had to be removed to move the post was reattached.  A section of rabbit fence was used to close the opening between the chick run and the cull run so the chicklets won’t be able to escape from one run to the other and then out through the welded wire fence.  The three 7 foot tall posts to hold the netting were strung together with a length of braided electric fence wire and anchored to the end T posts and the netting was suspended.  The run is ready to let the chicklets out in another few days.

Chick pen

 

There are two wooden 6 x 6″ posts with the two gates hanging from opposite sites of one post usually and the left gate closing against the second post.  That post now has gate hardware so that one of the gates can be moved leaving one run open.  Maybe someday, a third gate will be purchased, but since there are only two groups of birds to deal with right now, gate moving will occur instead.

Last year at one of the spinning/knitting retreats, I taught a class in salve making and in my shop, I sell several different herbal healing salves.  This summer, I am going to teach a similar class to kids at one day of their camp and am often asked what is the best use for each salve.  This is a topic of interest and so I purchased a new book on herbal medicine, an art that has been practiced since recorded history or before.

Herb book

 

And reading through the book over the last couple of days has gotten me thinking that at least part of the unused garden section can become a permanent herbal medicine garden, consolidating the perennial herb and the annual herbs in one bed of good soil.  One of the herbs that I have never grown, but find interesting is Hops.  In Tractor Supply purchasing the gate hardware, I found this.

Hops

Now a place that it can grow needs to be decided, the box says it will gets 15 to 30 feet long and will trail along the ground, on a fence, or a trellis.  There are a few other herbs that have been on my list for a while that will now be sought out and my next project is to make some tinctures.  As we don’t use chemical fertilizer or herbicides, the plantain and dandelion are safe to use right from the yarn once they have been washed off.  Another project is to try to build a solar dehydrator to dry the herbs.  I envision a stack of wire grids that have a mesh cover to keep the insects out.  Either one that can hang or on wheels that can be brought in off the deck if it is going to rain.

After dark, the big birds were all moved to the huge cull coop so that a cover crop can be seeded and hopefully will germinate in the main run before the 16 chicklets are large enough to move.  After a couple of days in the coop, the big birds will be allowed out into that run and they will be excited to find it full of chick weed to eat.

 

Winning

The much expanded garden has had the best of me this summer. I am getting squash, cucumbers, beans, peppers, tomatoes, and some greens, but to get to them involves a hike through the weeds. I just haven’t been able to stay ahead of them since I took out the rotting boxes and returned to wide rows. This move I think was a mistaken one. The second error was not using the bales of spoiled hay to heavily mulch after planting or weeding.  I was on the verge of just giving up for this year, accepting whatever harvest I could wade in and get, but then knowing that the work would be even harder next year if I did, I kicked myself in the tush and set about to remedy the problem at least for this year.

This is the lower half of the garden that still needs weeding again and mulching.
This is the lower half of the garden that still needs weeding again and mulching.
This is the upper half after two mornings and    one evening of work.
This is the upper half after two mornings and one evening of work.

A friend of mine has a beautiful garden with boxes, a flower bed outside the garden fence and wood chips spread over cardboard in the paths and flower bed. Once I finish weeding, planting some fall seed, and breaking up the other bale of hay to mulch the lower half of the bed, I will begin my search for cardboard to mulch a 4-5 foot bed for herbs and flowers outside the garden fence and a path inside the garden fence. Relocate the wood pile and get the area ready for this winter’s wood. As the harvest ends, I will again establish boxes, locate more cardboard and lay in a supply of wood chips to mulch the flower bed and paths. The two terrace walls need to be improved to make the heavily sloped garden into three fairly flat areas.

I realize that I tried to expand too much too fast and one section that was taken back from the chickens will be returned, not to the laying hens, but incorporated into the meat chick pen to give them plenty of space. This will involve moving one of the gates, but that too can be done.  I just need for the pole beans climbing the fence to produce and die back.

If I don’t get the weeding and mulching finished by Thursday afternoon, I hope Son #1 and DIL will help me finish one evening over the weekend or early next week while they are here visiting.

The two garage chicks never really integrated in with the coop chicks.  A few nights ago, one of them came to me when I went out to coop everyone up for the night and it didn’t seem to have any energy.  The next morning, the chick didn’t leave the coop and before I could do anything to help it, it died in my hands.  There didn’t seem to be any evidence of injury and none of the others in the coop seem ill.  I wonder if the chick ate something that it shouldn’t since it didn’t have a Hen Mom to teach it.  On a more positive note, the remaining chick, though it seems to think I am its Mom, is eating with the other chickens in the morning and nests with the Coop Hen Mom at night.  Perhaps it will eventually become part of the flock.

Olio – July 25, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Phone saga continued. . . after numerous visits to the cell phone store, learning that they are retail outlets with zero authority to do anything but make a phone call; agreeing to accept a “Network Extender” refurbished with a monthly discount to help pay for the thing, knowing that it probably wouldn’t work since we don’t have high speed internet with our phone co-op, just DSL; receiving the extender (a new one 3X cost, not a refurbished one) 10 days ago; hooking it up to have service, maybe, if you were sitting right in front of it; receiving our bill (still no reliable service) and there being a charge for a new extender, no reduction of cost; we took both phones, the extender, and a major case of attitude back to the store yet again.  This time, the poor young man on whom we unloaded, was very sympathetic, knew what to say to customer service and finally got our contract cancelled without penalty.  Another couple of hours in the old provider’s store that we knew had service on our mountain and we have new phones, and amazingly, service.

Now reality, this was probably all my fault in the first place.  I wanted an Iphone, the provider we had didn’t have them;  my service with this provider was good here in the mountains, but spotty when I went to babysit in Northern Virginia a few times a year.  I didn’t get an Iphone when we switched, the service was better in Northern Virginia, but the two times we had a crisis here, we couldn’t even call each other within shouting distance if we had both been outdoors.  Back with the original provider, they do now have Iphones and I got one.  Hubby got the next generation of the phone he had and liked and we can make and receive calls on our property, up our road, and in our house.  I will suffer spotty service when I travel to have a phone at home.

Broody hen is still being difficult.  I put plastic buckets in her two preferred nesting boxes, there are still 4 others, so she is hunkered down just outside of the boxes.  She tried to peck me when I shooed her out the pop door and got a swat for doing so.  Our egg production is less than one a day right now.  I know that in a few weeks, we will be overrun with eggs once all 13 girls are laying.

On Tuesday, both pups had a new vet visit.  When we first got them, we took them to a vet in our county, but it was 18 miles in a direction we rarely go.  We tried to switch to a vet that was much nearer us, but they didn’t carry the Trifexis that we had the dogs on for heartworms and fleas, so we switched to one about 18 miles away in a direction we do travel, but he is nearing retirement and has a new younger vet part time in the office that we did not care for.  During the time we were using him, our pups decided that they wouldn’t willingly take Trifexis.  Surprisingly, the big guy, the English Mastiff would let me force feed his, the much smaller German Shepherd would have no part of it and nothing I did would trick her into taking it.  During this 14 months or so, the vet nearest us retired and the two vets that took over his practice, are great as well as doing house calls if necessary.  They switched the pups to Sentinel and Nextgard and both dogs will take them willingly.  Win/win!

The garden is more or less stalled due to the hot weather.  There are lots of tomatoes, but none of them are turning red yet.  There are some peppers and I will likely have to pickle another jar or two soon.  Chard is thriving, but grandson doesn’t like it.  Berries are done.  We don’t like the yellow wax beans and the green beans are just sprouting.  There are a few white scallop squash and an occasional lemon cucumber.  There will be dozens of small Seminole pumpkins come fall and it looks like a stellar crop of yellow and white sweet potatoes.  Two beds are awaiting some fall greens in another couple of weeks.  This fall, the raspberry bed is going to be dug out, a reasonable number of shoots moved to the orchard and that bed prepped to return to part of the vegetable garden, there just wasn’t quite enough space this year with blueberries, raspberries, and grapes occupying about half of the garden beds.  The huge multibin compost structure is coming down, it is actually falling down, so it will be pulled down, the compost spread and a compost pile initiated.  That area will continue to be utilized for the vegetables that spread so viciously throughout the garden.

Any photos that I had taken are on the SD card of the old phone and haven’t been transferred to the computer or the cloud to add to the new phone and blog, so just words today.

Olio – June 10, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Nine years ago today, we received a call from Asheville, NC, a tired, satisfied and obviously in love voice announced that we had our first grandchild, a boy.  It hardly seems possible that he is now 9 years old.  The young man that I visit several times a year to provide day care for when his Mom’s and Dad’s school/work schedules require someone else to step in.  He will be spending 7 weeks with us this summer, in the house where he spent his first few years as they moved here when he was only 9 weeks old to supervise and do all of the stone masonry and finish carpentry in our home and then we all moved into it together for several year.

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Taking a break at the zoo in April.  Happy Birthday, Loakum.

It seems that the teenage pullets think I am the Pied Piper.  Each morning after I open their coop and let them loose in the pen with fresh food and water, at least half of them then follow me back down the run to the gate.  I don’t know if they think there will be a special treat for them if they do or if I’m just Mama as they came to me as tiny chicks and were raised in a brooder in my care until old enough for the coop.

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The garden is starting to brim full of good things to eat and other things to dream about.

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Chard and kale, peas with plumping pods, bushes of raspberries and blueberries slowly ripening in the sun.  Peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash and sweet potatoes getting larger with each rain storm and sunny day.  Garlic almost ready to harvest and cure.

Yesterday was a busy afternoon.  After having a skin cancer removed a few years ago, I make an annual visit to the dermatologist for a full body check, that visit was in February, but a few spots appeared that caused me some concern, so a return visit started the afternoon.  Everything is fine.  Once home, Jim and I finally tackled the cleanup of the burn pile from a few weeks ago.  We were concerned that it would start filling with weeds, making the task more onerous than it already was.  Upon burning the wood that was there, we discovered a significant pile of large rocks.  I remember than eldest son had discussed putting the chicken coop there when the garden was much larger than it is now and he hauled that rock in his pick up truck from remnants of building the retaining wall, to use as a foundation for the coop.  With much grunting and groaning, the use of the tractor bucket, we moved the largest flattest of those stone to the culvert on one side of the driveway.

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Where it will be turned into a guardian/warning wall like this one on the other side of the driveway.

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These are to warn folks that there are car and tractor eating holes on either side of the drive that feed and drain the large culvert under the driveway and prevent it from washing down into our garage.

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Once the rocks were removed, several tractor buckets of charcoal, nails and screws that had been in the wood, and rocks too small for the wall were scooped up and dumped where unsuspecting tractor or truck tires haying or hauling hay won’t meet with a flat.  The area was then leveled as well as it could with the edge of the tractor bucket and the surviving rake.  Once eldest and family settle into their own house after degrees are complete, I guess I will have to buy myself a new rake as the surviving one is his that I am storing.  Mine did not survive the burn pile control as it proved to have a plastic fitting.

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On each pass from the burn pile to the culvert, I mowed a swipe through the orchard and back on the return trip.  Once the burn pile cleanup was complete, I just had to finish the job I had started and mowed the yard and orchard as close as I could with the tractor.  After a quick late dinner from the grill and a salad, the lawn mower was hauled out and the finish work around the fruit trees, chicken pen, garden and close to the house was done, just as the sky was darkening with the chickens settling in for the night.  With them closed up for the night, personal cleanup of bodies and laundry and a rest were in order.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.