Tag Archives: haying

Olio – June 9, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.






Today was the last full day of the Harley Davidson 5 State Rally in Roanoke and the third ride that Jim was the ride Captain.  Grandson had his last day of school and I picked him up at 11 and we drove to the covered bridge in our community and sat for a few minutes until the 15 or so bikes rode by us on the way up to Mountain Lake Lodge to see the Dirty Dancing display, it was filmed there, and to have lunch.  We hurried in to town, picked up granddaughter from Preschool and back up the mountain where we joined the big group on the porch for lunch.  They were a really nice group of folks and the kids were well behaved and hungry.

Back home, my ride, the tractor was brought out and the yard mowed, showing the clear demarcation between the lawn and the hay.

It was such a nice afternoon that the new wheel and I adjourned to the front porch and a funky skein of yarn was plyed.  Daughter named it “Seussical” as soon as she saw it.  I am now spinning a yellow and orange skein that will be used with “Seussical” to make a hat and mitts for the Holiday Markets in the fall and winter.

While sitting there, the distinctive buzz of a hummingbird was heard and soon, the little emerald green hummer was feeding right in front of me. I have tried for years to get a photo of one and if I sat still and stopped spinning, it returned repeatedly to the feeder.

While I was prepping tacos for dinner, the haying team arrived and the area where the photo of the short grass and the tall hay along with most of the rest of the area in front of the house were mowed with a sickle bar to be raked and baled tomorrow or Sunday.  The big 15′ mower will arrive tomorrow and take on the big fields that have fewer obstacles and longer straighter runs.  The sickle bar will go around the rock piles and along the edges of the fields.  Soon the farm will be neat and mowed.  Farmer Jeff is right on schedule, he always gets to us in the second or third week of June.  The grands will be glad to have more area to play once the hay is all in.


Hay time

The hay is down, laying in the fields awaiting another hot dry day tomorrow to rake and bale it.  Once it is baled, I will follow up with our smaller tractor and brush hog to clean up areas that they can’t manage with the larger equipment and mow down a couple of patches of stickweed beneath huge trees.  It doesn’t look like it was a very good year. The top of the property and the big hay field look nice and thick, but the area between the house and the big field is fairly sparse.

Chickies 1 chickies 2


It amuses me at night when I go to lock up the chicks.  Little chicks are so curious and there are always one or two peeking out under the hen’s breast to see what is going on. Mama 1 continues to bring her 5 little peeps out of the coop and works with teaching them to search for food, to scratch, and even to dust bathe.  Mama 2 is so quick to keep her nine little charges inside the coop at this point.  She will herd them away from the door if they get too close or if I step into the pen.  They are getting very agile and hop up on the 2 X 6″ supports down the middle of the floor.  I bet they will be out and about in another day or two.  Neither hen wants us anywhere near these chicks, so they aren’t being handled at all.  I really am not the type to consider them pets, so I don’t handle the adults unless necessary.

Today was a busy day trying to finish getting items prepped for my shop and a craft show later in June.  Two batches of soap were made that won’t be ready for this show, but will be ready for a retreat where I will be a vendor in late August.  Some lotion bars were made, about a dozen and half beard oils were blended and sealed.  There are a few more lotion bars to complete, but the base is made, the labels are printed, and I still have enough tins to make them.  After dinner tonight, I put the shrink bands on the tins.  After having one lotion bar stolen and the tin left and others being opened though there are testers out and open, I have taken to sealing the screw lidded tins with the shrink bands.

My spinning is on hold awaiting the shipment of the slate fiber that will be plyed with the ones I did over the weekend.  I am doing some knitting and have two books underway.


A Week on the Farm – June 11, 2016

This has been a productive week on the farm.  The early veggies are coming in, with garlic scapes made into pesto and chopped for the freezer until tomatoes are ripe and pasta sauce can be made.  Edible pod peas and chard were on the menu last night.  Shelling peas are soon.

The tomatoes were pinched and tied a few days ago, the planted part of the garden, well weeded again.  The pumpkin patch still has me in its clutches.  I mowed the paths and worked with the hoe enough to create 3 hills for seed.  I still need to keep pulling the lamb’s quarters around them until they sprout and send out runners to choke out the weeds.  I am toying with trying to just smother them.

The Memorial Day weekend chicks are 2 weeks old now.  They move in and out of the Huck’s coop with ease, but also seem to be able to get out from under the plastic net fence, but not back in.  That makes the hen absolutely crazy and she will fly at me, pecking through the fence when I am trying to get them back in.  At 2 weeks, they are starting to grow the little wing feathers that come in first.  Another week and they will be scraggly adolescents and not so cute anymore.

Day olds and 2 weekers mingling and meeting.

The other Broody started her hatch out yesterday.  She successfully hatched all 9 of the original eggs under her and has 9 little fuzzy balls to try to keep up with.  Her babies were moved in their bucket nest this afternoon when we found half of them in the layer’s coop, half in the nesting box, and Mama frantically fluffing and trying to scare off the other hens and B’rooster.  After they were moved she was so thirsty that she stood at the waterer until most of the chicks had escaped from the nest.  Both broods are locked in Huck’s coop now, mingling.  Tonight might be interesting if the wee ones can’t get back into the nest.  I’m not sure that I want to crawl in there with two protective hens to help out.  I may have to.  Maybe she will just create a nest in the hay on the floor of the coop and tuck them in there.  This morning, I found one that had gotten out of the nest in the layer’s coop, a flaw in its design in that there is a 3 inch board to help hold the hay in, but an insurmountable obstacle to a chick less than a day old.  The little chick was cold and lethargic, but perked back up once I tucked it back under the hen.  That gives us a total of 14 chicks out of 19 eggs (plus a few discards that were laid under the broodies by other hens in days that followed them starting to sit.)  A good many of the chicks are “ugly ducklings” as daughter is calling the mixed breed chicks.  They all have some dark fluff on them and can be distinguished from the pure Buff Orpingtons.  I am hoping for a few BO pullets to add to the laying flock.  The cockerels and the mixed breed chicks are being raised as meat.  I really would like for two more broods.  If we could get another dozen chicks, I wouldn’t have to raise any in the garage this late summer.

9 new fuzzy butts

9 less than a day old fuzzy balls

The fields around us are all mowed and baled.  Our power went out today around 1:15 and stayed out until after 4:30.  We went to town to return to the Farmers’ Market as I had lost several of my mesh produce bags, to get the fixings for a cold Mediterranean dinner, and a Priority Box to mail some fiber.  When we got home, we found the smaller tractor with the sickle bar mowing the hardest part of our farm.


Spring moves on toward summer.  With it the heat.  This will slow down the grass growth and the frequency that it has to be mowed.  We will continue to mow around the house as needed, mow the hill with the trees a time or two, but the whole farm won’t be mowed again after this haying until a late summer/early fall mowing to knock down the invasive stickweed and Autumn Olive that crop up after the haying is done.

Haying time

Today was cool and windy.  A nice respite from the hot humid we have had.  The dry week following the weeks of hot, rainy weather, has the hay ready to be mowed and baled.

I walked out to where I planted the two little pines after Earth Day to see if they were still alive and to mark their location with lime green flags if they were.  It reminded me of the first June we visited our land after our January closing.  We had been coming up every month, clearing trash and old tires, but always staying in a motel in town on our visits.  That month, we planned to camp on our land.  The car was loaded with the necessary camping gear and we arrived to find all of the fields were literally chest high on me.  I am not a little gal, standing at 5’8″.  Hubby took many photos of me walking through the tall grass, though I can’t find one now.

Cave Hill & Cascades June 2005 009


We had no way to cut a campsite on that trip except swing blades, which did nothing, so we again headed to town to a motel, but also found a neighbor to be, who was glad to cut the fields for the hay.  We had no concept then of what the value of that hay would be.

As the spring warms and the spring rains fall, I begin cutting a lawn around the house, coops, and the orchard, leaving the rest of our 30 acres to grow.  Earlier this week, we talked to Jeff when he brought me another bale of spoiled hay for the coop and garden and he said they were preparing to start the mowing season.  One of our other neighbors mowed he fields yesterday.  Today, Jeff began on the huge fields just to our east.  That field is at least twice the size of our farm and is used only for hay for another neighbor that raises beef cattle.

Our farm is also mowed by Jeff, for his cattle and contracting business.  In exchange, he keeps our tractor maintained, plows us out in the winter and does other occasional tasks we can’t do for us.


I will miss the wind blowing the tall grass, the light playing on it’s surface, but I will relish being able to again walk the perimeter of our fields and over into the woods without fear of the ticks that I know lurk in the tall grasses.  It will also mean that we can see the dogs again when they take off out of the lawn area.  The grandkids who have so much area to play in where I do mow, love when they too can explore farther from the house.

If the weather holds, by this time next week, there will be dozens of large round bales dotting our fields until he finishes all of the mowing and baling he has to do each spring, then he will come back with his huge tractor pulling a trailer and will load the bales away about a dozen at a time.  It is always an exciting time.

Tomorrow, we begin chick watch #2.  The second hen should begin to hatch her brood by Friday.   Yesterday, the first brood left the Huck’s coop for the grass, but when Mama Hen gathered them back to the coop, one didn’t make it.  She squawked from inside, chick peeped from beneath.  The chick was frightened of me and wouldn’t come out, the coop too close to the ground for me to reach under.  Mom and chick were finally reunited and she hustled the little to the back of the coop away from me.  Today, they stayed inside and big chickens were allowed to free range for a few hours.

One of these days, I will invest in some electric poultry netting and create a movable pasture to put the layers in each day to let them safely forage away from the dogs, both ours and the neighbors.

A Week On the Farm – April 30, 2016

This has been a busy week with some down time and almost no garden time.  We have reached our last average frost date and the little plants would probably love to be put in the garden.


Some of the little pepper plants are starting to bud.  To get them in place, I must spend a couple of hours removing the 3 inch high Lambs quarters plants, set the posts for the tomatoes, and stakes or cages for the peppers.  It is raining right now, and I don’t really want to garden in the mud.  Once they are in the ground, the lower end of the garden needs the same treatment to plant the popcorn, pumpkins, and Anasazi beans in a Three Sister’s Garden.  Most of a long bed awaits bush beans, cucumbers, and flowers to be scattered in various spots.


Last summer, I removed a large squarish rock from the hill above the house, leaving a substantial hole.  When son cleaned his deer last fall and the next day, he and I killed and cleaned meat chickens, we partially buried the feathers and unusable parts in that hole and dumped a sack of Black Kow on top, turned the wheelbarrow upside down over it to keep the dogs out.  The plan was to put a tree in that hole last fall, but winter came and went and the tree did not happen.  On Earth Day, SIL came home with two tiny pine seedlings and yesterday, I planted them, one in that hole and another uphill from it in another hole that I dug in an area that is very difficult to mow due to the rocks and contour.  The pines that you see above and to the left of them were planted as seedlings about 9 or 10 years ago from an Earth Day activity.  Once they have settled in and we have hayed that area for the spring, I will remove the tubes and tie caution tape on the poles next to the little trees to mark them as I mow.

During the week, I did mow an area around the house, garden and orchard.  A minimal area, leaving as much as possible for our farmer neighbor to hay in another 6 weeks.  It really limits the area the kids can play for a while and makes for messier dogs when they go out until the haying is done, but the area is still much larger than the yard the grands had when they lived in Florida.

We did our usual Saturday morning breakfast out and Farmers’ Market run.  I enjoyed my homegrown asparagus for two cuttings, but have left them now to help the bed get more established.  Our favorite market farmer, had asparagus and radishes (mine are still too small to harvest), another had bok choy and chard, a loaf of bread and some bagels, two pounds of garlic brats, and my first bouquet of flowers for our enjoyment this week were purchased.  I love supporting the local small farmers and knowing them and where my food was grown and how it was grown.


The lilacs on our driveway bank are blooming.


The week has allowed me plenty of spinning and some knitting time.  I finished a skein of Romney and Merino that I carded together and named Purple in Memorium and put in my new shop.


And finished a pair of Autumn Double Cable fingerless mitts of my own design also in the shop.

Autumn Double Cable Mitts

Next time I need a better hand model, this one had dirty nails.

I am currently spinning Green Apple Merino and knitting another pair of fingerless mitts with three cables, also my design.  I am toying with selling some of my patterns on my shop as well.

Last week’s brooder coop, survived a week on Huck’s raft, I did get plastic stapled to the sides to help keep the inside dry.  I still need to put in some nesting boxes and await a broody hen or two.  Once they start to sit, I will put up a low fence and move them to that coop, hoping to raise a good couple of broods of chicks for replacement hens and meat chicks.  I really don’t want to have to buy meat chicks and set up a brooder in the garage this year.

Still loving life on our mountain farm.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

The Harvest


Yesterday just as they finished mowing the lower field, it started to rain.  We probably got two inches yesterday evening and last night.  This morning dawned thick and gray and it didn’t look good for finishing the hay.  Jeff unhooked the baler and added a second fork to the back of the tractor and started moving the already baled hay into trailer size loads around the fields.  The sun finally came out and the wind picked up, so they tettered the mowed field twice and let it sit for a couple of hours, raked it and finished baling it about an hour ago.  The total hay harvest this year is 96 big round bales.

While they were baling, I picked more raspberries.  I need less than a cup to make a batch of pure raspberry jam.  Another day or two and I will be set.  The peas are filling out faster than I can pick them and certainly faster than we can eat them, so tomorrow I will pick, shell and freeze at least a few packages for the winter.  There are tiny peppers on some of the plants, blossoms on the tomatillos, the cucumbers, squash and beans are continuing to grow.  I think there will be a handful of blueberries soon too.  The chickens are enjoying the over matured kale leaves.  I think a big armful of kale and chard will accompany me to Northern Virginia in a week when I babysit for 4 days and then bring our oldest grandson here for a few weeks of the summer to help his Mom and Dad out.

The 3 jars of mustard finished their ferment time yesterday and today and were completed and packaged in 8 oz jars for summer enjoyment and to share with our kids.

We started our morning at the Farmers’ Market and came home with radishes, turnips, carrots, spring onions, flowers, beef and pork.  We are set for a week of good eating.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

Farm Life as Summer Approaches


The 90 hp behemoth at work.  There are 47 bales done and they are working to beat the rain on the lower field.  He will bale by headlights tonight.  The hay is beautiful and thick.  That tractor always amazes me, our little tractor is only 28 hp.  It would pull the tetter or the hayrake, but the sickle bar and round baler require too much power.  We can easily mow with a 5 foot brush hog, power a post hole auger and if we could figure out how to use it, pull the small plow we store in the barn. I am not a short woman and my chin would rest on the top of the back tires of that beast.


Bales in the morning sun.

Jeff has equipment that is modern with CD players and A/C and equipment that is older than my kids.  It is always fun when he is working here as he brings one tractor, then another, a hayrake, a tetter, generally he doesn’t trade out the equipment, he just changes tractors for the next job.


In the midst of the chaos, today I found a new wildflower/weed in the front yard which is green, but seems to be more wildflowers/weeds than grass.


This afternoon when I went to pick peas for dinner, I realized that there were still garlic scapes in the garden.  I harvested as many as I could hold with the egg basket full of eggs and peas.  I was able to make 7 half cup jars of garlic scape pesto and blended the other half of the scapes with olive oil to make a garlicky paste that I dropped in 2 Tbs. plops on foil to freeze for use as fresh garlic in sauces.

I was hoping to get some peas in the freezer for winter, but we are enjoying them fresh so much it is hard to put any away.  Peas picked, shelled and cooked within half an hour are a whole different vegetable than even “fresh” peas from the Farmers’ Market.

It has been a productive day on our mountain farm.



Olio – June 18, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Pet peeves of the day;

  • the trend of semi fast food restaurants to shout out across the dining area “Welcome to …” each time a patron enters any door of the establishment.  Do they really think that is appealing and welcoming?
  • also in a semi fast food restaurant or even a real restaurant for an employee to walk up to your table and grab the tray/plate before asking if you are finished with it and say, “May I take your …”  One literally tried to take the tray with my husband’s fries on it today while he was still eating them.
  • along the same vein, to be in an establishment and have not only your own server ask how your meal is, but anyone else that works there.  We have been asked at one steak place we patronize as many as 4 or 5 times by that many different people about how our meal/visit was while we are still seated and eating.  Let us enjoy our food in peace.

Today was resupply all the critters feed.  We managed to run out of dog food, cat food, chicken layer and chick starter grower all at the same time.  That was a car full.

On our way home, we stopped at a local greenhouse and bought 4 new Day-lily plants, different from the two that I have and also bought 3 more pepper plants as some of my heirloom starts didn’t grow once put in the garden.  Of course that mean garden work when we got home and it is HOT, HOT, and humid out there today.  Two of the Day-lily plants went in the perennial bed in the front of the house.  The garage wall bed had gotten grossly overgrown with grape iris, the purple ones that smell like grape Kool-aid.


That is one of 4 huge clusters when they were blooming.  They haven’t been thinned in a few years, they were overrunning the English Daisies, and the bed had gotten weedy as well.  I dug them all out!  I hate to throw them away, but there are too many to replant.  I am going to load them in the tractor bucket and dump them where we don’t mow.  I bet some of them will come up next year and bloom there.  A few of them were moved to a bed by the deck.  The rest of the bed now has the other two Day-lily plants, two lavender plants, some English Daisies, a yellow poppy, three clusters of Dutch Iris plants that I divided from the deck area and on the opposite side of the walkway out of the garage side door, the Bronze fennel.  The bed is weeded, watered, and mulched with spoiled hay until I can get some more shredded mulch to apply to the bed.


It looks sparse now, but will fill in quickly and have more variety.


The haying is not going as quickly as we had hoped.  Jeff is trying to do too much at the same time.  They tettered the upper fields yesterday then came back and raked it into rows for baling, but the first bale was too green so they left it to mow the lower field and ran out of fuel. This afternoon the have turned the hay and

hopefully will get it baled this evening as we are due for rain for a few days.

The first batch of mustard is so good, there are 3 batches fermenting now to share. Two are Bavarian style and one is a repeat of the horseradish recipe.

I think I am going to have to buy some sausages to grill soon.

Raspberries are ripening.  Tonight I harvested about a cup of them and resisted eating them as I picked.  They went into the freezer.  As soon as I have a quart, there will be a raspberry jam making session.


Life is good on our mountain farm.

It is Hay Time




It is that time of year.  We have been watching the fields mowed and baled around us for days.  Jeff has been waiting for hot dry days to do ours as we have really good hay this year and he didn’t want to spoil it.  There are currently two tractors with sickle bars mowing the upper fields.  Tomorrow they will be tettered and tomorrow evening probably baled.  The lower field will follow.

For the first bit they were here, both dogs were going nuts in the house, barking and looking out first one window, then the next.  They have gotten used to the noise now, but we wouldn’t dare let them outside right now.

The plus side of this is that we will be able to walk our entire property for a few weeks after they are done, and we will be able to see deer and turkey.  The negative side is that this will disrupt habitats and we will see more bunnies near the house and mice in the house for a few days.  It usually brings out a snake or two.

Life is good on our mountain farm.