Tag Archives: grandchildren

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Olio – Sprwinter edition 4/9/16

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This is what we awoke to this morning.

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The end of the first full week of April.  In the decade we have lived on our farm, we have never seen more than flurries this late.  Tonight it is going down to 19ºf, so the likelihood of having any apples, pears, or peaches this year from our orchard looks bleak. I haven’t been out to the garden and coop this morning to see the damage there.  The chickens will be fine, but disgruntled that there is snow on the ground, but it is going up to 42ºf later today and up into the 60’s and 70’s over the next couple of days.  I may have to replant some of the garden.  It will leave this sprwinter mess and become spring eventually.

The cold, windy weather has allowed for more fiber play though.  The fingerless mitts that I have been designing are coming along.  One is complete.

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I love the double cable up the back.  The cuff on the second one is done and the hand is about to commence.  If I can get a better photo, that I am not trying to take single handedly in the dark loft, I will post them.

This was the week to receive my monthly installment of fiber from the Tailfeather’s Club from Unplanned Peacock and it was the most gorgeous silk top.  I have spun about 70 yards on my drop spindle and it is a delight to work with and made the softest, squishiest, glowing yarn.

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It was a 100 g installment, but was very generous, as still have more than 100 g after spinning this.  A beautiful soft cowl might be calling.  This is definitely a color I will wear.

Damage assessment in the garden will be done once I can see the ground again.  I think the peas, garlic, onions, and radishes will be ok.  The cabbages and chard, if they survived last night might be covered tonight.  I covered them with spoiled hay when I planted them, but we have been living in a wind tunnel for the past couple of weeks and the hay has scattered down the length of the bed and into the chicken run.  I’ll dig out an old sheet tonight.

From noon today until tomorrow afternoon, we will be flying solo with the grandkids.  K and R are going out of town to a concert that he bought tickets to for K’s birthday last November and they are going out to a nice dinner to celebrate their last August anniversary and spending the night in a hotel.  Right now, the grands are preparing to test for their next belts in Taekwondo.  N’s test is at 10 a.m. and A’s is at 11.  We are going to bundle up and go to the Farmers’ Market in spite of the weather.  Fresh greens and a bit of meat are in order.

I finally went to the doctor for my annual (but it has been a few years) physical and to get referrals for some of the other tests that one should have to endure once you reach a certain age.  Our family has a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol and a history of Type 2 diabetes.  I have managed to keep myself fairly thin, though not where I want to be and have since having access to local pasture raised meat, local butter and milk, and my own hen’s eggs, have let my veggie heavy diet slip to a more omnivore diet.  My cholesterol came back high.  Not OMG high, but enough to make me step back and get back on board with less meat, fewer eggs, skip the milk in my coffee diet.  I tried statins once and after a few months of feeling awful, I stopped them and don’t want to go that route again.  My fasting blood sugar wasn’t as good as it should be, but of no cause for concern yet.  I will strive to kick up my exercise routine, cut back on some foods and get retested in a few months.

A Peek in the Woods

The expected light snow has nearly ended.  The tops of the grass still exposed, the ground a white dusting.  Not the snow the grands had hoped for, to sled and tramp around throwing snowballs and getting soaked.

The chooks balked at their pop door when it was opened this morning.  It was as comedic as ever.  The first one or two shoved out by the remaining members of the flock, anxious to get out, until they too see the snow on the ground.  Once the critical mass inside is small, the last few refuse to leave and the ones forced out the door, quickly return to the inside of the coop.  Today, instead of trying to spread spoiled hay outside, as I know this snowfall is short lived, I just put their food inside with them.  Eventually today, they will all come out to search for bugs and shoots in the garden.

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Though the snow is light and won’t amount to much, it has frosted the trees, both the evergreens and the skeletonized deciduous trees along the edges of the fields in the wood lots.  The snow layer on the ground in the woods gives us an advantage to watching the wildlife that live in the woods and on the surrounding hill sides.  The winter dark furred deer and the dark feathered turkey are more visible.  They can be spotted more easily, deeper within the wooded areas, even when standing still.  Usually, we have to wait for them to come to the woods edge or spot their movement a bit deeper in the woods.

We still haven’t had a real snow this winter.  This is our third light snowfall.  It would have been a good weekend for a snow as Monday is a vacation day from school for the kids and from work for SIL.  He needs the long weekend, having developed a cold at week’s end.

This will be a good day to take a walk outside, bundled against the cold and carrying my camera to see what I can spot.

 

Holy Mother Nature!

Son #1 and Grandson #1 arrived in a horrendous rainstorm in the wee hours of Saturday morning after a harrowing bus ride from Northern Virginia.  Once everyone was up and fed Saturday morning, we set out to finish the Chicken Palace, the cull/meaties coop.  The plan involved using more of the leftover metal roofing to secure in the increasingly larger hole down each side of the coop to the ground.

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If you look at this photo from the day we built the main structure, you can see the triangular hole down each side as the back of the coop is a couple of feet higher than the front due to the slope of the land.  We cut the trapezium shaped pieces and fastened them to the nailers from inside the coop using roofing screws with the chicken wire that I had previously stapled up outside the metal.

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The front was half covered as well.  The coop still needs rocks or logs along the edges inside and out to discourage digging, but it is reasonably secure now.  If anything other than a bear can get it, it will be fairly small and probably won’t take on more than one adult chicken.  I also need to put up some fencing for a run to protect them from the dogs.  After we finished, we captured Midnight, the randy 20 week old Americauna cockerel; Romeo, the two year old Buff Orpington rooster whose spurs had become lethal weapons; Buffy and Buttercup, my two oldest Buff Orpington hens who proved not to be good Moms, they are the ones that abandoned they nests as soon as the younger hen’s eggs hatched.

Sunday morning, bright and early, before the family was up, Son and I dispatched the four of them to freezer camp, leaving us with no adult males for now.  The plan is to keep one of the cockerels from this summer’s hatchings to be the new king of the coop for next year.  We are on chick watch, with the last broody due to hatch the end of the week.  We have had a strange situation in the coop for the past few days.  The Momma hen who lost 4 of her babies two weeks ago and was placed in the coop with her remaining three, spent the first week taking them into a nesting box at night, then after a week she went up to a perch each night and the chicks wouldn’t follow, but instead, tucked under the broody who would accept them at night.  Mom would then take them outside during the daytime and teach and protect them.  I think last night, the chicks pushed 5 of her 11 eggs out of the nest.  I candled them and two appear to have chicks.  Since I’m not sure how long they were out, I put them back under Mom.  The other three do not seem to have chicks, so they will be discarded.

Late yesterday afternoon, Son, Grandson and I set out to take them back home by way of a 5 mile hike to Dragon’s Tooth and back to the car.  I managed all but the top smidgen of the up hike handling the steeps and even the rock scrambles until we got to this. . .

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I decided that with my bifocals and in a skirt, that though I might get up that, I wouldn’t safely get back down it.  The white dot just above center right is my 6’4″ tall son.  Grandson and son left me sitting at the base of this with my water bottle and finished the last 2/10 mile to the top of the tooth and then back to me.  We started out at about 5:30 p.m., made it back to the car just before 8 p.m. and took off for Northern Virginia.  With a dinner stop, rain and the semi trucks, and finally stopped by a huge accident on I-66 just one exit from his exit, we were about 1 a.m. getting there.

This morning we awoke to light rain and I took Son to work and headed for I-66 to return home.  Between morning traffic and harder rain, I missed my turn that I usually take and continued out Braddock Road as I knew I could get on the interstate farther out, but when I got to that turn, traffic was backed up as far as I could see in the direction I needed to go.  I turned south and headed for Manassas to get on there.  As soon as I climbed the ramp to the interstate, it began to rain barrels full and there must have been nose to tail semis in almost all lanes spraying more barrels full onto my little car.  I promptly got off at the next exit and headed south down the middle of the state on a route that I knew would get me home, but would take much longer.  I wasn’t too far down that route until it started raining so hard that I couldn’t see the car in front of me, my cell phone alarming “Flash Flood” warnings, and several inches of water standing at every intersection.  Needless to say, my 60 mph posted speed limit was more like 25 or 30 for about 2 hours.  Once I cleared the Charlottesville area, the rain stopped and the drive improved until I got back to the point of getting on the interstate again. Being tired and stressed, the semi traffic was too much to handle.  As soon as I could get off and take a back route home, I did.  The normally 4.5 hour trip took 8 hours, but I am home, the sun is shining and it isn’t miserably hot, so life is good.

To end on a laugh, Granddaughter just yelled up to me, “Mommom, what are we having for dinner?”  My response was that we are going to The Cellar (a local restaurant).  She fled back to her mom, fretting aloud, “Oh no, we aren’t having anything for dinner (she knows that part of our basement is the root cellar).”  I can only imagine what was going on in her little 3 1/2 year old head.

Olio – July 9, 2015

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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Mountaingdad and an adorable Grand waiting for the July 4 parade.
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Old Cars
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Wagons
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The Village Historian

Village parades are fun.  The local politicians up for election, old cars, all of the village Emergency vehicles, horses, motorcycles, kids on ATV’s, tractors.  If you want to be in the parade, show up and they will line you up.  Most of the floats, politicians, service organizations, and the fire department, all throw candy and granddaughter came home with a whole bag full because she was so cute in her little red, white, and blue dress.  After the parade, there are hot dogs and burgers, salads, beans, and desserts for a donation of your choice and means held on the village green.

After our local parade, we went to the one in the university town nearby and she got more candy, balloons, flags and attention.  Our day ended in the same town watching the fireworks.

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Music, kids playing and finally dark and a fireworks display.

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A poor pup.  She has again developed an infection and she won’t stop licking.  An expensive vet visit and she is on antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and an Elizabethan collar to try to break the cycle.  She can’t eat or drink with the collar, so we bought this type to use when we are around and can keep an eye on her.  She can still lick herself in this one, but it serves as a reminder, more to us than to her, but she can eat and drink with this one and will go outside to relieve herself.  She has to wear the more restrictive one when we are out of the house and at night.

We feel like we need a boat and the garden is a mess of weeds.  I weed and it rains and they grow some more.  We are getting squash.  We enjoyed the last of the peas, chopped and froze a couple cups of Mammoth Jalapenos.  Today was finally dry, but it was miserably hot and humid and ended with showers and a double rainbow.  And more rain due for the next week.  The ground is saturated, the creeks full and each day of rain produces flash flood warnings.

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Son #1 and Grandson #1 are coming tomorrow night and we are hoping to get the chicken coop for the cull birds secured and will isolate them before the last broody hen hatches next week.   There needs to be some fencing completed so the culls will have a run too.

Olio – June 17, 2015

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

I haven’t done an Olio post in a while and the past week has been fitting of one today.

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The remaining two littles aren’t so little anymore, but are still small enough to get through the welded wire fence and often spend more time outside of the enclosure than in it, avoiding the teenagers who don’t mess with them too much and the hens who are always trying to put them in their place.  Momma is much less protective of them now, even though they are no longer isolated in the chicken tractor at night after the predator attack last week that killed their 4 siblings.  The littles go into the big coop at night and tuck one under each wing of Momma.

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The hen that abandoned her nest last weekend and then tried to steal the eggs back after I moved them was given her eggs back and she has been sitting ever since.  She is the one in the middle nest above.  The one on the left should start hatching tomorrow or Friday with the one on the right a day or two later and the one in the middle by Monday.

Daughter and I took measurements of the floor of the chicken tractor this afternoon and in a bit, Mountaingdad and I will be going out to do a garbage run and will buy a roll of chicken wire and 2 or 3 2X4’s so that I can put a doubled wire floor in the chicken tractor tomorrow in anticipation.  I have 3 nesting boxes prepared to put inside as soon as the floor is in place and the three hens and their chicks will be moved as soon as hatching begins.

The garden is growing weeds faster than I can keep up with them.  After having another squamous cell carcinoma removed last week, I don’t want to work out in the sun for too long. As it has been unseasonably hot I am not comfortable working for long in long sleeves and long pants.  I quit using sunscreen after I read too many articles that indicate that most of them are carcinogenic.

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The annual spring haying began Monday afternoon and they worked well into the dark by headlights after the monster tractor’s mower failed and they had to resort to a sickle bar on a smaller tractor.  Yesterday afternoon they returned to get back to mowing and raking to work only a few minutes until it began to pour rain for about half an hour.

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Again they are at it this afternoon, hoping to get up what has been mowed and mow and bale the remainder.  Tomorrow and Friday are the best days this week for not getting rained on, but I guess they are hoping to avoid the thunderstorms today.

In the heat, I have stayed indoors much more than usual, reading Appalachian Daughter and now Yellow Crocus, knitting on my sweater when the house is cool enough to hold it in my lap.

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The body is nearly done, just requiring a couple more inches and the ribbing, then I must decide what sleeve length to make.  That will depend on how much yarn is left after the body.  You can tell that it spends more time balled up in my knitting bag than in my lap by the wrinkles that will have to be blocked out later.

In the past few days, in order to free up some bobbins to resume spinning my Coopsworth from Hawk’s Nest retreat, I finally plyed the 4 bobbins that were full, creating another 421 yards of yarn to add to the 200 that were previously plyed, washed and dried.

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I have over 600 yards spun and plied and have resumed spinning the remaining ounces. Once I know the total amount, I will determine what article to knit for me.  It seems only appropriate that I should finally knit a garment for me from my handspun yarn.  That was the reason for purchasing a full pound of the roving at the retreat.  The last two skeins are soaking and are about to be hung to dry.

Today marks the day that grandson left for 7 weeks with his biological father picked him up for his summer visitation.  It will be quiet and we will all miss him while he is away. His Mom, Daddy and little sister will especially be at odds for a while.

A Weekend of Play, Responsibility, and Loss

The loss was not too significant, given that we still have about 6 weeks until we can plant tender plants outdoors, but as we were leaving for two days, one night, I left the light on my starter flat of tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers.  Most of the tomatoes and the tomatillos had sprouted, only a few of the peppers had shown any sign of sprouting. The light was very close to the clear lid on the sprouts and given the south facing window as well, it must have gotten too hot especially for the ones that had gotten tall enough to reach the lid.  I still have a few Jalapeno sprouts, one leggy tomatillo, but the rest are a burned loss.  This morning, I clipped the dead sprouts and replanted seeds.  This time, I am leaving the lid off and just spritzing the surface a few times each day.

Our away was a trip with the two grandchildren living with us to go to Northern Virginia to pick up our eldest grandson for his week of spring break.  We arrived mid afternoon and checked into the hotel just two short blocks from our son’s apartment.  The only things positive that I can say about the hotel were its convenience and its price.  We were on the front of the building, right across from the office with a busy street out front.  The beds had no foundation and were uncomfortably soft and unstable and the wall mounted heating unit, needed because the temperature dropped into the 20’s and the door had no weather stripping (we could see light around all 4 sides) sounded like a wind machine.  The thermostat in the unit did not work, so it was either too hot or too cold depending on whether I turned it on or off during the night.  The kids slept, fortunately, but Mountaingdad and I did not get 4 hours of sleep between us.  The kids were well behaved on the drive up and once we arrived at son’s apartment.  All of us went out to dinner together before separating for the night.  Son’s research showed us that a bus to the Metro left from in front of our hotel at 8:35 a.m. and he and eldest grandson were going to join us for a walking tour of the monuments on Sunday morning.  The car was packed and we were trying to make do with the free breakfast (bagels and grocery store donuts) when son texted that they found a bus a half hour earlier and could we be ready.

The Florida born grandkids thought the Fairfax connector bus and the Metro were great.  We got off on the Metro stop that put us nearest the Lincoln Memorial, a city walk of about a dozen blocks.  A lot of hand holding and herding were necessary to keep those two safe on Washington DC streets, especially since that grandson wanted to do everything that his almost two year older cousin was doing.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA bit of heavy reading on a man just studied in 2nd grade.

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More monuments, the Korean War memorial, Martin Luther King memorial (also a recently studied topic), a history recitation by the eldest grandson on Jefferson as we looked across the water at that memorial, too far to walk with kids, and a little one who soon gave out, taking turns being carried by an adult, Uncle being the preferred carrier.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith a bit of coaxing and challenges to race, we got her on the ground again as we hit the homestretch, around the Washington monument with a jog up it’s hill to actually get to touch it and on to the Smithsonian Metro station for the train back to Vienna for the trip home last evening.  Many miles walked and tired kids.

The second grader was excited to see Washington.  Eldest grandson excited to be able to spend spring break on the farm, son and daughter-in-law relieved to be able to work and study this week without trying to find daycare for him and entertain him at night, and us pleased to be able to have 3/5 of our grandchildren in our home at one time with the responsibility to keep them safe and cared for in their parents’ absence.

Daughter and son-in-law are in route with a truck full of their household goods, hopefully taking it slowly and safely to arrive here tomorrow night.

While we were away, our haying farmer neighbor took out several cedar and locust trees that have interfered with mowing and haying and removed about a dozen boulder size rocks that have knocked more than one tooth off of his sickle bar and caused more than one nick in our brush hog blade.  His haying and our mowing should be an easier job this year.

Baby Calves and Spinning Wheels

Granddaughter is fascinated with all of the spring calves and lambs and is often asking us to drive by one of the many fields with babies.  The foals at the Virginia Tech Horse Center haven’t arrived in the fields yet, but we did see a whole field of tiny black lambs a couple of weeks ago.  It looked like most of the ewes had twins as there were many more lambs than ewes.  Most of the calves are too far away from the car to see except as small lumps lying in the grass, but our neighbor’s herd is next door and our gravel road runs right through her property, so we can often drive up and see them right by the road.  This morning, we drove up the road and the herd was right there with all of the babies nearby.  There are six calves less than 2 weeks old and a couple more that were born right at the beginning of the year.

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We parked along the side of the road and watched as they ate hay, nursed and were bathed by the cows.  She doesn’t quite understand why she can’t pet them as they are all smaller than our Mastiff that she adores.

In the past week, I have gotten back on my spinning wheel.  I had some roving that I had purchased at the Fiber retreat in February that is for my daughter.  As I had ordered a jumbo flyer for my spinning wheel and wanted to wait for it to ply the two very full bobbins of Dorset lamb that I was spinning at the retreat, I began on her roving.  The roving that I purchased was called Mystery Sheep.  A flock of sheep had been abandoned in a nearby town and had been rescued by a kindly citizen.  Two of the ladies at the retreat have a shop selling roving from their own sheep and also selling from the rescued flock.  Twenty percent of the sale of that roving goes back to helping provide feed and vet care for the rescued flock.  It felt good to buy some fiber that was going to help out.  It was only 2 ounces of fiber and spun up into only about 116 yards of yarn, but enough for my daughter to make herself a slouchy hat, which is a project she wants to start as soon as her house is packed up and moved.

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The fiber was soft Easter egg blue and green and made a nice yarn.

Now on my wheel is a very soft Merino just in time for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.  It is a nice cherry red and is spinning to about worsted weight.  It is 4 ounces of fiber and should made a nice skein that will soon appear on my Etsy shop.

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On the knitting front, I am slowly completing the yoke on my newest sweater, but it has taken me weeks to do the 7 inches that I have accomplished, just too many other things going on in our lives right now.

Another Sunny Growing Day

before the next rain and drop back to normal temperatures.  After Grandson was dispatched via school bus and breakfast was prepared, eaten and cleaned up for Granddaughter, we set out on errands.

One errand was to locate some inexpensive pots to plant the salvaged raspberry canes in for Son #2.  It was sticker shock to see how much clay pots cost these days, even the cheap plastic ones were much more than I had hoped, but 5 were purchased as they are after all for Son #2.  IMG_0008[1]

Raspberries, neatly pruned and potted and awaiting transport to him in April.

The next errand was to get a new chess set.  Decades ago, I gave Mountaingdad a carved Olivewood chess set.  The pieces have always been close in stain, but the years have faded them to an almost imperceptible shade difference making playing with the set difficult even in good light.  About a decade ago, while in El Paso for a family funeral, we travelled by bus over to the markets in Juarez when it was still safe to do so and came home with a huge set of the Aztecs vs the Conquistadors which safely made it back to Virginia on the plane, but it too is difficult to distinguish the pieces.  We have a leather suitcase set that had backgammon, checkers and chess, but the grands have lost two pieces from that set, making it also unusable.  Mountaingdad enjoys playing with the grandsons, working with them on strategy and confidence, so off to Target we went and came home with a folding wooden box that has the board on the outside and pieces for chess and checkers that are white and dark brown.  The grandson living here will be delighted tonight.

While there, we found a tiny clay flower pot with a grow pellet and a packet of sunflower seeds in it.  Grandson is growing a seed at school, so granddaughter gets to grow one at home.  Little miss with her newly planted dwarf sunflower.  Now to keep her out of it as it grows.  She insisted for a few minutes that she was going to stand there and wait for it to sprout, a reminder that 3 year olds don’t have the concept of time yet.  Each time we leave the house, she comments that her Mom will be home when we get back, though her Mom won’t be back for 8 more days and we have repeated that over and over, even showing her on the calendar.

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The planting efforts outside resulted in some weeding and the chooks got a green treat of their favorite snack, fresh chickweed.
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If I could control where they grazed, I would direct them to the front shrub bed that is quickly being engulfed by chickweed.  In between other tasks, another 2 five gallon buckets of whole grain chicken feed were mixed, so they have a good diet to hold them until we can let them free range again and just supplement their feed.

I need to make a batch of hand scrubbing soap for the household.  With gardening chores and weeding beginning, the dirt stained fingers and nails will soon be in need of good scrubbing each day.

Weekend with the Grands

This is our first solo weekend with the grandkids that are living with us now.  During the week, one of them is in school so we still outnumber the other one.  Our Saturday morning tradition, even most winter Saturday’s is to go into the town and have breakfast at one of the local restaurants then walk over to the Farmers’ Market to support the farmer’s that brave the cold with their meats, breads, and cold storage vegetables.  As we are only two weeks from the full season return of the market, there are still only a few stalls, but more today than in the past weeks, including a new addition to the market with heritage pork.  Turns out we know that farmer, so we supported her with a purchase of the thickest pork chops I have ever seen.  I hope I don’t overcook them.  They are thawing for a meal in a couple of days.

We took the back way home and let the kids see all of the brand new calves in the fields around our farm.  This brought us back to speculating about how many we could raise, how much it would cost us to have our field hayed when we kept the hay instead of giving it to the farmer for his work and whether we could make a small profit by raising a small herd for our own meat and to sell maybe 4 or 5 head each year.

Once back home, some chicken chores to add straw to the coop and hay to the extremely muddy run were done while the kids play outside in the sunshine.  I want to let the chickens free range, but we just planted some seed in the garden and it is only fenced with two strands of electric which doesn’t even slow the chooks down.  I don’t need them digging up my freshly dug, weeded, and seeded beds, or the newly transplanted raspberries, so they will have to remain penned until daughter returns.  We will then expand the garden and string plastic poultry fence around the vegetables and let the girls wander again.   Or perhaps we can just make poultry netting tunnels over the beds and let the chickens keep the weeds and bugs at bay between the beds. The egg production is up, having gotten 18 eggs in the past two days from the dozen hens.  I am hoping that one of the girls gets to feeling broody soon, and I will let her sit a clutch of about 8 eggs to hatch.  This will be our first year allowing this and hoping that we will be able to cull some of the older hens and the cockrells that hatch for the freezer instead of raising purchased meat chicks.  If this doesn’t happen, I will buy meat chicks later in the summer and raise them until the fall for the freezer.  Freedom Rangers or Rainbow Rangers only take about 11 weeks to freezer size and that is what we raised last year and found them to be an excellent table bird.

The seeds we started indoors are beginning to sprout.  The flat is on a heat mat in a south facing doorway with a grow lamp.  The Roma and Purple Cherokee tomatoes, and the Tomatillos are showing.  So far the 6 kinds of hot peppers are still buried, but we hope to see them sprout soon too.  Four of the varieties of peppers there are only a couple of plants and they are experimental for us heritage varieties.  The others are of many pots of Jalapenos and several Habenos for salsa and chili tomatoes to be canned this summer.

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Tomorrow is supposed to be another beautiful day, so perhaps we will take the kids for a walk on the Huckleberry Trail or a hike in the woods if it has dried enough.

Next Saturday we will all drive to Northern Virginia and pick up the eldest grandson for a week too.  We will have a house full of younguns to keep us young or run us ragged.