Tag Archives: grandkids

Same Song Different Dance

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Yesterday was clear and sunny, but cold.  We are in the week’s yoyo on the climb back up the string.  Today is gray, but expected to be about 8 degrees warmer than yesterday.  Maybe the mid 40’s (8ºC), breezy, but no heavy wind. We will climb another 10 degrees tomorrow and Tuesday with increasing chances of rain, then plummet on Thursday back to a high of freezing and a low in the teens.  My system doesn’t like these flucuations.  With the changes bring wind.  Wind brings power outages.  We are low on wood for supplemental heat.  This spring, the woodlot will be checked for dead or dying trees to try to resupply.  A few years ago, a huge oak blew down in the woods of our farm.  It landed on thick branches so it was propped up at a dangerous angle and it sat that way for two years.  Eldest son tackled it with the chain saw and cut many thick branches from the tree, but our saw wasn’t long enough to go through the trunk.  Our farmer friend that hays our fields came in with heavier equipment than our chainsaw and little tractor and left with a couple of thick long logs for the mill, loads of firewood for another neighbor who had recently had bypass surgery, and left us enough firewood for two winters of supplemental heat and ambiance fires.  Two Thanksgivings ago, eldest son and I took down a dead tree and between then and a second visit at Christmas, we got it all cut up, I split most of it with his help on some and it was stacked.  That wood is almost gone.  Hopefully there will be no extended outages before it warms back up.

What does a “Mommom” (my name to these two grands) do on a Sunday morning?  Grandson’s breakfast of choice is pancakes or Honey Nut Cheerios.  About once a week, a week’s worth of pancakes are mixed and baked on the griddle to be frozen for him.  The last batch ended up too thin for his liking, Granddaughter loves them.   This morning, I felt they were too thick, but he insisted that was the way he liked them.  They are so thick that they didn’t bubble up on the edges to indicate the griddle side was baked and ready to flip.  His weekly batch of pancakes are cooling and will be frozen for this week’s breakfasts.  His Mom and Dad are grocery shopping now and he asked for sausages to go with them. The microwave will be busy this week.

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And I don’t even like pancakes, I would rather have oatmeal or a farm fresh egg, right from the nest of my girls.

End of Summer Week on the Farm

Summer is winding down.  Grandson that lives with us has returned to school.  Grandson #1 who gets to spend part of each summer on the farm and has been here since the end of July, has only a few more days before I drive him back home for him to also begin school for the year.

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A selfie after he whupped me biking on a local path, made on an old rail grade that traverses two towns.

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Pool time a few times.

 

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Hikes. The first a backpacking hike with his parents and me below this overview for part of the hike and today, a day hike to the overlook, just the two of us. I love the cloud shadows on the ridge across the valley.

Between these outings, an attempt to thwart the invasive plants that threaten to take over our hayfields each fall.  The spring hay is always nice, but the fall mowing is just to take control again.  The Queen Anne’s Lace and daisies are fewer and fewer each year in the hayfields, but the stick weed, an Asian invasive import tries to take over.  As we don’t spray weed killer on our fields, keeping it mowed down is our only defense.

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Though this is only a foot or so tall, some of it in areas that don’t get mowed for hay in the spring, the stickweed is 5 to 6 feet tall and quite intimidating to mow through on our tractor.  From the house, the back of our property doesn’t look very far away, but when we are mowing and look back to the house from the southern most point of the lower hayfield, you realize how large the field really is.

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This has not been a good year for our tomatoes.  Usually, by now, the shelves are filling with jars of pasta sauce and salsa, but not this year.  Most of one variety of tomatoes seem to spoil as soon as they turn red.  The heirloom paste tomatoes are just beginning to turn.  One of the packages of pepper seed must have been mispacked as the seedling developed into a different pepper than was planned.  The cukes and squash are spent.  The pole beans are producing, but Mountaingdad and I seem to be the only ones who like them.  Winter squash are spreading and producing lots of small pumpkins and Burgess Buttercups, twined about the stems of the popcorn plants and the pole beans that will be used as dry beans climbing well above the tops of the corn.  I never did get the lowest beds of the garden re-weeded and mulched and the blueberry bushes are engulfed.  With the cooler days and the end of the summer visitors, perhaps I can get it cleaned up before the garden is totally put to bed for the winter.  I still need to purchase another pound or so of seed garlic to plant in another month or so.  It isn’t too late to buy starts of broccoli and kale and get them in the garden under row cover to keep out the persistent cabbage worms.

The meat chicks are now a week and a half old and they can almost escape from the cattle trough that serves as the brooder.  I have had to put a screen over them already. They foul the straw so quickly that it is having to be changed out every couple of days.  The fencing around the cull coop still needs to be erected within the next 4 weeks, but the arthritis and trigger finger in both ring fingers is making me reluctant to do the weeding and the fencing as both fingers lock up on me and are getting harder and harder to release.  I guess this winter, I will have one hand then the other dealt with. The mature hens are beginning their fall molt and this year’s Americaunas and the Buff Orpington youngs are not laying yet, so egg production is nearly non existent.

This time of the year is bittersweet.  The days and nights are cooler, the trees are fading and will soon color.  The garden winds down.  The orchard is full of apples and Asian Pears that must be processed into sauce and chutney to enjoy later.  It is time for a trip to buy half a dozen or so Bent Mountain cabbages to make into kraut and to store for winter slaws and sautes.

Garden Day, Finally

Tomorrow is our last average frost date and it seems that we have gone from winter straight to summer, so we aren’t afraid of more cold nights.  After our weekly jaunt in to the Farmers’ Market for salad, asparagus, a bit of meat and some more pepper seedlings, we started on the garden to do list.  First up was removing the remaining 4 pods of the old compost bins.  They were constructed 9 or 10 years ago when the property had been purchased, but the house was only under construction.  My current compost bin is up from the chicken coop and serves me well.  The very large multi-pod bin was necessary when the gardens were just started, filled with composting leaves and horse manure from down the road.  They have served as temporary shelter for cull birds and last year for sweet potatoes, winter squash and pumpkins.  Today we deconstructed it.  SIL knocked it apart with a sledge, Daughter and I knocked nails through the boards and pulled them, dropping them in a bucket for later disposal.  Many of the boards are Chestnut and still sound, so they were stacked with the idea of using them to construct a more permanent meat bird coop.

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While we hammered and pulled, our helpers started on the weeding, to keep them away from the nails.  Unfortunately, SIL missed and swears my middle name must be Vlad as he impaled one of the smaller finishing nails through the sole of this boot and into the instep of his foot.

Once the wood was stacked, we tackled the former grape bed that had not been weeded very well last year and had many large clumps of Bermuda grass growing in it.  While Daughter and I weeded, SIL hauled rocks and put them in the tractor bucket.  Daughter was given her first tractor driving lesson today and by the end of our workday, was driving the tractor alone to dump the buckets of rocks onto one of the dozens of rock piles on the farm.

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The chickens loved having clumps of grass, chickweed, burdock, thistles and other greenery with roots tossed into their run.  They are still penned up, because we still haven’t moved all of the fence to keep them out of the gardens.

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Romeo standing guard.

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Today was a great start on the garden.  When it cools some tonight, I will set the peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos in the beds prepared for them.  The former raspberry bed still needs further clean up, many volunteers pulled and weeds removed and we will get the beans and other seeds planted.  The barren end of the chicken run will be planted with winter squash, the area where the compost bins stood, we will plant the Seminole Pumpkins.  Until they get large, I will continue weeding the area between where the bins stood and the chicken run.  Sunflowers will be planted along the edge of the garden for their beauty and for the seed for the chickens.

Love this time of year, just wish it wasn’t quite so hot already.

Whew, We Survived!

The kids are in bed and we survived the entire weekend.  We were not young parents, which makes us not young grandparents, but we are healthy and stay active.

The weather cooperated, and the kids had a lot of free outside play time.  They have moved from a neighborhood with a street in front of the house and a canal that was home to the occasional alligator in the back, so playing outside without an adult nearby just didn’t happen.  Here on our farm, they have boundaries about where they can go alone and rules about not climbing on the rock piles, but are allowed to dig, run, romp and roll, and play make believe games to their heart’s content.

We are still introducing them to the region, so after lunch and quiet time, we took them to the Huckleberry Trail, a paved former rail grade that is still a work in progress, connecting more and more areas of the region, but the original portion, runs from the town library to the mall area in the next town, about 7 miles.  The trail is an asphalt path used by bicycles, joggers, dog walkers and people just out for a stroll.  We started at the library and walked only 3/4 mile to the gazebo.  By then, the three year old was done.  She had walked and run on the outward leg.  She was coaxed, challenged to races and monkey backed on the way back to the car.

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Home for some more outdoor play, dinner prep and clean up, a couple of chess games with Mountaingdad, baths and bed.  We are now recuperating before I have to get up early to get grandson to his bus for school.

Cave Hill Olympics Vol. 4

Last winter Olympics we had a couple of back to back snows and grandkids coming.  We bought a couple of plastic toboggans in anticipation.  Once our friendly farmer neighbor with the behemoth tractor with a heated cab plowed us out, we drove to town, resupplied and parked the 4 wheel drive SUV at the top of the driveway.  With the toboggans in the back, we loaded the groceries onto the toboggans and before Mountaingdad could turn around, I hopped into one with the groceries and started sliding down the driveway of packed snow and ice.  He quickly caught on and hopped in the other one to race me.  Each time we had to go out for supplies, we dragged one of them to the top of the drive (2/10 mile) and hauled the supplies back down to the house.  When the kids arrived, the fun really began and we took many photos of kids and adults, us included, sledding down the various hills on the property.  The biggest kid was our son in law, the one still in Florida trying to sell their house, but he is flying in today for the weekend and some snow fun.

The day after our foot of snow this week, we dragged the sleds out and bundled everyone up for some snow play.

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Last night after 8 p.m., the neighbor farmer and his behemoth with enough lights to light up our house, plowed us out.  We had gotten an additional couple of inches of snow yesterday, it was 13f (-10.5c) with strong wind blowing snow in whiteouts.

We woke to -1f (-18.3c) with a high today of only 4f (-15.5c) and a low tonight of -14f (-25.5c) and light snow falling.  We have fires in the wood stove and fireplace and will hunker down except for a trip out to pick up son-in-law by one or two of us when his plane arrives.

Tomorrow is supposed to be somewhat warmer and I expect a great deal of snowplay will occur, lots of dryer time as we dry out layers for more play.  Saturday, we are expecting another 5″ of snow and ice before a thaw begins on Sunday.  We will enjoy it while it lasts and hope that spring is on its way.

Vacation

On July 27th, we packed the pups off to doggie camp, loaded the car with suitcases, guitar and amp, bike, ball gloves and a cooler and headed south.  Grandson and I in the car, Jim on his motorcycle for his first major road trip.  We headed off for a weeklong visit with our daughter and her family.  We haven’t seen them since last Christmas and grandson hasn’t seen his cousins since last August.  We had booked a hotel room about halfway there, a bit over 400 miles.  It took us longer to make those miles than when it is just the two of us in the car as we stopped every 110-120 miles to reconnect with each other and for Jim to have a chance to get a drink and walk around for a bit to give his sore parts a rest.  Once at the hotel, the guys took a dip in the pool, we found a Mexican restaurant catering to the Mexican population and had a good dinner, then back to let grandson ride his bike around the parking lot to let off some steam.

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As the temperature reached 100ºf that day, I’m not sure if he was letting off steam or making steam.

Visiting was active for the three grands, with biking, Lego building, Light saber battles, reading, soccer and baseball, a beach visit, a day at Busch Gardens in Tampa.  The Busch Gardens day was hot and humid, but everyone from the 2 1/2 year old to the 70 somethings found rides to ride, shows to see, snacks to eat.

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Riding a camel on the carousel.  We rode it about 5 times and she never would get on a horse that went up and down.

Sunday we started our return journey home, leaving early to try to miss the afternoon rain showers.  Again stopping every couple of hours to reconnect and spending a night in a hotel a bit more than half way home.  The afternoon arrival was greeted with a delightfully cool house that had been closed up with no A/C on, temps in the upper 70’s, a deliciously chilly night in our own bed.

My stop at the neighbor who chicken sits for us, revealed that she didn’t get a single egg, I’m glad I took her two dozen on our way out and brought her a pound of Orange Blossom honey from Florida.  My visit to the coop, I found a still broody hen on one fragile egg that she broke when she puffed up and tried to prevent me from moving her off the nest.

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This morning, she got a surprise as I removed her from the nest and put re-freezable ice packs in her nest and the next one over.  She is nearing 22 days of broodiness on an empty nest.

Later this week, a delivery of 15 Rainbow Ranger meat chicks will be delivered and we will begin raising them for 11 weeks.

The heavy straw mulch on the garden has kept the weeds down.  There were a few over developed squash and cucumbers that got fed to the chickens, more harvested for us.  Lots of peppers that I need to process today.  Basil that needs to be pulled and dried. Yellow wax beans pulled and dumped in the chicken pen.  Bunnies or deer got in the garden and ate most of the new green beans down.  I will cover them today and see if there is any recovery.  There are three beds that need some fall crops planted before it is too late.

This morning, grandson and I went to pick up the pups.  They seem to be glad to be home.

We have one more week and a half with grandson and I will return him home.  The weeks have gone by so quickly, but it has been a delight having him with us.