Tag Archives: grandson

Fall Gardening

The sunny day yesterday did not really happen, but it didn’t really rain either. It was only in the mid 60’s most of the day and partly to mostly cloudy, so a perfect day to garden.

Since eggs are a premium around here still, we went out to breakfast at our local diner. I have gotten 2 pullet eggs in the past couple of days. There are 11 pullets, so we are hoping they will all get the message soon. Their eggs are so cute next to the hens eggs.

After breakfast, we ventured down to Tractor Supply for pine shavings for the brooder and to replace the solar charger that is supposed to protect my garden and the chickens, but failed right before we left for vacation. When we purchased it, we only got a 6V solar charger. The batteries on them only last about 3 years and it probably needs a new battery, but Tractor Supply had a 12V on sale  for a price I couldn’t pass up. It is mounted and charging to be connected after I return from taking our grandson home today. Our adventure yesterday also took us to our favorite local nursery for fall vegetable starts. Having grandson here, activities with him, and our vacation just got in the way of starting my own. Once home, a bit of grubbing in the soil with my awesome hoe and my hands, cleared two beds, weeded the bean patch where I realized that the gnawed off shoots were growing new leaves. Planted were 4 Rainbow Chard, 8 Broccoli, 4 Kale plants.
Once they were safely tucked in the soil and mulched with some spoiled hay, row cover was placed over them and the beans to thwart the bunnies and the cabbage moths. Perhaps we will get some beans this season after all. We have about 60 days until our average first frost date, so I am hopeful.
In recent years, I have been reluctant to plant radishes and turnips in our garden as they always seem to be attacked by the little white maggots. Recently I read that if you sprinkle wood ash in your furrow that they won’t be a problem. I hadn’t really saved any wood ash, but found a couple of cups worth in the bottom of the woodstove and added it to about a cup of diatomaceous earth and planted a row of red radishes, a row of white icicle radishes and a row of turnip seed as a test, sprinkling the mix in the row and on top of the covered seed. We will see if that experiment works, if so I will save more wood ash next year. This bed was also covered with a row cover to thwart the bunnies.
My son says I should sit out there with my .22 and dispatch them and eat them. Unfortunately, I don’t like rabbit and I couldn’t clean them if I succeeded in shooting one. I will continue to deter them with row cover and maybe once I get the electric fence charged to keep the deer and dogs out, I will string plastic bunny fence around the vegetable garden.

I couldn’t get cabbage starts at our local nursery, they were all sold out, but Lowes just got theirs in yesterday afternoon and a scored a flat of 9.  This morning they were planted. , Now it’s time to thin the raspberries, harvest and preserve for the winter.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.

Book Challenge

One of my avid passions is reading. My favorites are forensic science fiction, historical fiction and fiction by local authors or authors that set their books in areas or regions that are familiar to me, though I often read books recommended by friends, family, or public reviews..

Last year I joined a 100 book challenge a bit into the year and succeeded in reading 90+ books. This year, again I joined the challenge and have read almost 50 books so far. The challenge is a group including many of my friends, however, it is on Facebook and I have decided to deactivate my account. I will miss the book suggestions and reviews from this group.

I have always loved books and have several that I read repeatedly such as Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and the classic To Kill A Mockingbird.

All of our family are readers and I have been in awe of our 9 year old grandson, who while staying with us this summer has read in excess of 4000 pages of novels.  Though he still picks up some books that would be considered 3rd to 4th grade level, he has read the entire Seven Wonders series, the entire Eragon series (3 of the 4 are over 750 pages each), and reread the first book of the Hunger Games series. He not only can read them, but will sit and discuss them with you. In that sense he reminds me of his Dad at that age. Such a great passion, love of books.

It’s Finally Done

Last night as the sun went down and the evening cooled, the edge of the garden, the empty chicken pen, and between the T posts that son and I set two and a half weeks ago were mowed in preparation for finally finishing the job that he and I started, I worked on and quit.

We had a couple of places that we couldn’t pound a T post in but they were going to only hold polybraided electric fence wire.  I did get the fencing up on the second chicken pen, the one that will be used for meat birds and culls, surrounding the chicken tractor which is too heavy for me to move daily and will serve as the coop for those birds.  I still haven’t reinforced the hardware cloth that the dog tore free from the frame, but I won’t have chicks until mid August and even then, they will be in the brooder for 5 to 6 weeks, so I still have time.  A week or so ago, I started putting the insulators on the T posts outside the welded wire fence and realized that I needed longer ones for the posts that also had fencing on them and stopped.  Grandson and I bought the longer insulators, but they have just been sitting on the workbench taunting me each time I walked by.  Brown Dog hasn’t been back, so I wasn’t in too big a hurry.

During the time that we were setting posts, our haying neighbor came down with a half bale of hay that was in the baler and he was done haying for the season, so he dropped it outside my garden for me to use as mulch.  Grandson attacked it with a fiberglass stake and spread it over a rather wide section of back lawn.  This morning before it got too hot, I decided that I better put it in the garden where it would smother weeds instead of all over the yard where it was smothering grass.  That proved to be a hefty task, pulling it back into a usable stack with the pitchfork and hauling fork after fork into the garden.  I also finally installed the longer insulators and realized that the corners were going to be a problem as the insulators only fit in one direction on the posts.

A few step-in posts solved the problem, setting the electric off the corner post by a couple of inches and placing a less sturdy post where we couldn’t pound in the T posts.  Wire is strung, charge is set.  Our dogs were wary of the electric when it surrounded the entire orchard and garden, but have gotten used to going over to “check on” the chickens since it has been down.  They are in for a shock, literally though mild, when they venture over now.  Hopefully, it will keep Brown Dog out as well, should he decide to revisit us.

Olio July 17, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.


Rainbow at sunset.


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


Peppers and sunflowers, newly planted bush beans.


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


Chard and sunflowers.

20140717_125843 1

Haircuts for grandson and granddad.

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

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

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






Olio – July 13, 2014

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things


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


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


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

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


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


Easy Rider

Many, many years ago, I could be seen running madly down the street hanging on to the seat of one of our children’s bicycles until they achieved the balance and confidence to ride away on their own. I am clearly not that young any more.   Eldest grandson, living in an apartment on a hilly parking lot in a busy city has been reluctant to learn to ride.  He rides with his Dad on the tandem bike, in fact they go many miles to Kung Fu each Saturday, rain or shine and often a couple of miles to guitar lessons on Friday evening with the guitar strapped to his Dad’s back.

Since he is with us for a good portion of this summer and since we are taking him with us to visit his 7 year old cousin in Florida, we brought his bike to the mountains for some lessons on riding before the Florida trip.  He has been here a week now and today, since hubby is off on his motorcycle, I decided it was a good day for a bicycle lesson.  L was quite reluctant.  The school counselor in me acknowledged that he was afraid, but insisted that together we could overcome that fear.  Off to the local elementary school we went, as they have a nice flat road and parking area and several gently sloping grassy hills down to water retention depressions.  When we got there, he was very oppositional about even trying, but I was as stubborn that he was going to give it a go, a bit of bribery thrown in for good measure.  I ran behind him, helping to keep him balanced until I couldn’t catch my breath and decided that the gentle grassy slopes might provide a good place to practice balance.


This gave me a chance to breath as well.  He would coast down the hill and walk the bike back up.  Once his balance was better, we resumed the running behind a few more times, but by then I didn’t have to hold the seat and handlebars, just the seat.  He is definitely getting it.  A couple more times of this and he will ride away from me on his own, a new skill learned.  I could see the confidence in his face after today’s session and I doubt that we will have anymore reluctance to try.

Let the Outings Begin

One week ago, right about now, we left Vienna, VA, grandson, son, daughter in law, and me.  We have had grandson solo since Sunday afternoon.  His daily routine here requires guitar practice, Kung Fu practice as he is missing those lessons this summer, a writing assignment and a math assignment as practice for weak skills and reinforcement for those skills that he does well.  I supervise those practices first thing each morning right after breakfast unless the writing requires a library visit.

We told him that he would have some basic chores to do here at the house each day and for that, we would give him an allowance so that he has some spending money.  He can earn extra money by going above and beyond his required chores.  He is only 9, so nothing is too onerous or too difficult.  We also told him that while he was here, we would do a series of outings and that with cooperation with his practices and chores, he could earn extra outings.  Some of the outings planned can be repeated such as the county pool, batting cage, movie date with granddad.  Others are ones that will only be done once, such as the one we did today.  We drove to Roanoke, the nearest city, about an hour from home, leaving to be there at lunch time.  The market square hosts a farmers market many days each week and we caught quite a number of farmers there today.  On the market square, there is a hot dog counter and we though it doesn’t stand up to our favorite one from Virginia Beach, it was a delicious unhealthy lunch, followed with healthy purchases of fresh corn, tomatoes, potatoes and a watermelon.  One stand had baked goods and we purchased a whole grain breakfast bread full of fruit, nuts, seeds and not too much real cane sugar.

After our lunch and the market we drove a few short blocks to the Virginia Transportation Museum.  This was a fun adventure, bringing back many memories for me as I used to ride a Norfolk and Western train from Norfolk to Farmville to and from college.  On display are locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses, old wagons, handpump firetrucks, and a trolley car.  Inside the museum is a huge O gauge train set up, displays on bus transportation, train history, and air travel.  It was a fun couple of hours spent with our grandson.




Back home, the last of the peas were harvested and the vines pulled for the chooks.  The peas were shelled and cooked with the corn and some left over kabob beef and pork tenderloin for dinner.  Once the clean up was done, some garden weeding and harvest of 76 heads of garlic, now drying for a day or two outside before the stems are clipped and they are moved to the wire shelves of the root cellar to finish drying.


That part of the bed will be cleaned up and planted with a second planting of bush beans within a day or two.

I love when the garden is producing and the local markets have produce that either we don’t grow or don’t have in ready in our garden yet.

I’m loving life on our mountain farm.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Home at last.  I love my visits to babysit the eldest grandson.  I truly appreciate that they trust me with him so completely and that they appreciate my helping out.  I am glad to be home though.  After almost 8 years of living here in the mountains, the city makes me restless.  At night here, we have total darkness, billions of stars and quiet, only night animal sounds.  Their apartment complex has bright flood lights on the end of each building shining on the parking lots, Sodium Vapor lights in the courts, lighting the walkways and the apartment is never totally dark.  They live near the street end of the complex with one row of buildings between them and a busy Northern Virginia road, so there are automobile, truck and emergency vehicle noises all day and night.  After a few days up there, the city lights and noises don’t bother me as much as when I first arrive, but I am glad to be back in the rural mountain quiet.

It was spring break and the District of Columbia attracts tourists, so grandson’s and my visits to the museums and the zoo were frought with thousands of people.  For the first time in the 3 years they have been there, the volume of people was so high that we had to wait in a block long line to get in the Natural History Museum.  We had hoped to get a glimpse of the just delivered T Rex bones in the fossil lab, but they weren’t visible anywhere that we were allowed and there were so many other folks there because that display is about to be closed for a 5 year renovation, that we couldn’t even see the displays.  Grandson wanted to go to the SPARKS lab in the American History Museum and it is closed until next year for renovations.  There is a lot of renovation going on at the Smithsonian.


This was the crowd waiting to get in when we left at 2:45 p.m. on Friday.

We stayed so busy that I never even opened my spinning wheel, knitted, or took my carders out of my suitcase.  I did read a book and a half though.

My journey home was uneventful, fortunately.  The weather was good, the traffic tolerable.  My first task after greeting hubby and the pups, and unpacking and checking on the chickens, was to put fresh clean sheets on the bed.  It will be a delight to sleep in my own bed tonight and have crisp clean sheets too, they needed changing when I left.



A Zoo Day

Yesterday was spent in part driving for my week of babysitting the eldest grand. They like us have had a week of beautiful weather and it is delightful to have the windows open day and night. Tomorrow that is going to change with 100% chance of rain followed by a drop in temperatures to a spring freeze, then cooler more seasonable day time weather. Grand and I took advantage and bus, then Metro rode to The National Zoo.

The baby Panda cooperated and was hanging out in a tree in plain sight, one of the adults was in the yard as well. An elephant cooperated and let us get a photo.


The Otters, seals, sea lions and wolves were out and visiting, as were thousands of other visitors also on spring break.

Any indoor exhibit was so crowded you couldn’t even see the displays. We saw what we could, walked the length and one side and called it quits. After crowd fighting, we stopped for refreshment and rejuvenation.


He was done! But not to be so, we walked several blocks downhill back toward the Metro and I realized I had dropped one of the Metro farecards with more than $30 on it. This caused me a bit of panic and a jog back uphill to see if I had dropped it out of my pocket and fortunately it was right under the chair I had used. Back downhill to the train to discover they were having issues and we had to wait quite a while as the crowd grew and finally were packed like sardines, standing on the train. Before we got to our connector point there were so many bodies on the subway that you couldn’t move and could hardly breathe. When we got back to the station a mile from home, we had 30 minutes to wait before the afternoon commuter buses started, too tired to walk home, we waited.

Portuguese white bean soup is on the stove and I’m hungry and tired.

Tomorrow is rainy so we will take the car to the Udvar Hazey Space Center and maybe a bookstore.  Later in the week we will venture back to the District to the Smithsonian American History Museum.