Tag Archives: holidays

A Month on the Farm – 12/20/2018

Tomorrow marks the first official day of winter and the shortest day of the year here on the farm, though the meteorologic winter began weeks ago.  I’m ready for the days to lengthen.  Being much a creature of natural light cycles, I awake each day around 5 or 5:15 a.m., but don’t want to get up and disturb the household until the sky starts to lighten in the east.  By sundown and full on dark, I am ready to snuggle in for the night, trying to stay up and awake with night owl hubby at least until 10 or 10:30 p.m., often to fall asleep in my chair before drifting off to bed.

The month has been a whirlwind with 5 craft markets in 5 weeks that require loading and unloading the set up and product from the car.

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This Saturday is the last one for the year with no more until spring.

The month also has included 3 Christmas celebrations, two in costume at Wilderness Road Regional Museum for their music, Christmas treats, and evening lighted tours as I spun on a beautiful old Walking Wheel that with a tiny bit of TLC by me, now works.

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I love this photo with the shadow of the wheel on the wall.  This one is credited to April the organizer of the events.  There will be one more on Old Christmas that I will also attend in costume.  The third celebration was with the spinning group to which I belong.  I have not been a very good participant of late with everything else going on, but made a point of joining them for that as many folks that don’t get to come regularly come for this event and I enjoy seeing my friends.  I hope to get back to the weekly spin days after the holidays.

The month provided another challenge as I bought a dozen winter chicks about 4 1/2 weeks ago.  They were fortunately already 2 weeks old and beginning to feather out.  The “brooder” I use is a huge 110 gallon flexible plastic stock tank with a heat table for warmth.  Not a fan of having the birds in the house, the stock tank is in the garage on a carpet covered platform about 4 inches off the ground.  It was cold when we brought them home and ended up adding a 250W red heat lamp and covering half of the top with a mylar sheet to help retain the heat.  This was functioning okay until we were threatened with and received more than a foot of snow.  Wet snow this time of year often results in loss of power, so the brooder was dragged around the back of the house and into the walk out finished basement where there is a wood stove, before the snow began.  The stove was kept going until we were sure the power was not going out, about 3 days.

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The snow was beautiful and before it was totally gone, the brooder was loaded onto a sled and dragged back to the garage.  By Monday, the littles were 6 weeks old, fully feathered and too big for the stock tank, so the thoroughly cleaned coop was layered with about a foot of straw and they were moved to tough it out without the benefit of supplemental heat.  We have had several very cold nights and all is well in the coop.  The basement then received a deep cleaning to remove the dust from having the chicks indoors for a week.

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I am working on teaching them to use the adult no waste feeder and no waste waterer, while providing the hanging feeder as well.  They are beginning to get their adult colorations.  By mid week next week they should know that food and water are in the coop and that is where to return when hungry and at night and they will be let out into the run.  I fear they are still small enough to get through the holes in the fence though and I don’t like to panic them by trying to catch them but until they will follow me back to the run for treats, they can’t free range.

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This view if you have followed the blog for long, often appears.  The end of that ridge in the distance drops to a gap to the New River.  That view is one of my favorites from the farm and it was just over 13 years ago that we saw this property for the first time in early December.  By January, it was ours to plan and build on.  If you can love a property in the bleak of winter, you can really love it anytime.

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The deck progressed in the past month as well, with a Thanksgiving weekend being spent by son and daughter in law preparing it for the decking, rails, and balusters.  Those materials are to be delivered tomorrow and by the first of the year, hopefully, we will be able to safely step out of the French doors of the dining room onto a solid surface, not a one story drop.  It is deceptive as the stairs come down on a flat created and held in place by a gorgeous stone retaining wall.  The deck itself is one story up from the grade below.

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With the prep for Christmas, the various events, cooking for family for Thanksgiving and preparing to cook for Christmas, little knitting or spinning have been done except for two pair of wool socks for a tiny farmer, the toddler son of one of the regular vendors at the market.  They have been knit this week after she asked last Saturday.  I hope they fit the little guy and can be passed down to his baby brother in another couple of years.

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas or other seasonal holiday of this time of year and a Happy New Year.

The Quiet

Christmas morning was shared with eldest son, our daughter in law, and eldest grandson.  We had our traditional Huevos Rancheros and link sausages then opened stockings and Christmas gifts.  After a bit of wind down, last year’s rocket was taken down to the field and fired into the foggy, low hanging clouds.  The first one we never saw come back down, the second one we watched, but son and grandson could not find it anywhere it appeared to land in the neighbor’s fields.  Shooting the rockets was something that Jim did with our youngest son after eldest son was out of our house.  I think he had wanted a rocket when he was younger, but hubby wasn’t sure about it then.  Son and grandson got a pair last year for Christmas.  It lives here and gets used when they visit.  With both missing, we will get them a new one for future visits.  The rockets are fun to watch.  I wish I had all the money for all of the ones that have been lost in the past 20 years.

After their launches, they packed the car and headed across the state for Christmas #2 of the day and we were left in a very quiet house.  Since I had prepared our traditional full Christmas dinner on the eve, we had plenty of leftovers to enjoy it again last night.

We did talk with our daughter and her family, visiting son in law’s family in Florida this year.  We spoke on the phone with our youngest son as he was headed into work to let most of his employees have the day free to be with their families, and just finished talking with Jim’s sister who lives in Florida.

I had asked eldest son if he would make me a vertical lazy kate for my spinning bobbins. My wheel has a built in lazy kate, but I find that I get too much twist when I use it as the singles come off the end of the bobbins instead of the side.  This was made for me and under the tree yesterday morning.

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Last year he made me my soap molds and this year my lazy kate.  I love that he and his wife are so talented.  She made us ornaments of our first initials and hung them on the tree and made me a decorative bowl of the clay from the MGM site in Baltimore where she helped install a huge art piece also made of the clay.  I went to their house to help out the week that she was away working on that.

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It was pleasant having them here if only for a couple of days.

Our children know that we don’t want them spending a lot of money on us, so we love the handcrafted items such as two woodburned ornaments from our youngest.

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And the environment gift of an Arbor Day Foundation membership and trees from our daughter’s family.

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Cleverly presently with a tiny forest and a note.  We are trying to reforest parts of our farm and this gift will help us on the way.

Today is quiet.  We went to town to get lunch and a few groceries and around that I have been washing the bed linens from son’s family visit and our laundry.  It is cool, gray, and gloomy today so being outside has no draw.  The time is being spent spinning some brightly colored Merino wool and plodding through a book that hasn’t really drawn me in. Santa brought each if us generous gift cards to Barne’s and Noble, so I will get myself a book soon.  He also brought me a gift card to my favorite local coffee cafe.  I will enjoy sitting in there with coffee on many occasions.

The quiet will continue for another 8 days, then life will return to the school year routine of getting the grands off to their respective school days.

I’m hoping for a break in the gloom so I can go for a walk.  We have rain and gloom every day this week except Wednesday, and possible snow on Friday.  We will see.  Maybe I will just put on a jacket and rainboots and go outside anyway.

Holiday Thankfulness

We have just returned to our mountain farm from a few days with family elsewhere.  We were fortunate enough to have a neighbor farm sit for us so we didn’t have to board the dogs, find someone to deal with the outdoor animals and worry about the house in our absence.  This is the first time we have done it this way and it was such a relief to not have to worry about it all.

Our adventure took us away from here on Thursday morning to the coastal area of Virginia, though I have to admit, we never even drove down to the beach.  I don’t miss it at all now that we are in the mountains.  We spent 3 nights with my 91 year old Dad and my step-mom in their home in Norfolk, enjoying some quiet visiting time, a decorated house, and great meals.  Saturday we spent all day with Son#2, our youngest and his family.  Mountaingdad took grandson to see a previewing of Night in the Museum 3 on tickets that Son #2 and DIL had won on a radio contest.  While they were off riding the light rail into Norfolk from the city line and in their movie, Son #2 gave me my first cheese making lesson.  With his help and guidance, I successfully made my first pound of mozzarella cheese.

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We used the cheese as a caprese salad as part of our lunch and it was delicious.  We will see if I can make it again by myself at home.  I am excited to have taken this step in being able to prepare another food we eat and will be able make it with local milk.  If I master this one, I may move on to other cheeses.

Once grandson and Mountaingdad returned and we had lunch together, we celebrated our Christmas with their family.  As they had made most of our gifts and as I had made some of theirs we opened each other’s gifts.  Grandson immediately put on his Steelers hooded sweatshirt and wore it all day.  We, as a family, walked over to their neighborhood park for him to launch his foam tipped rocket with the rubber band launcher then all met with Mountaingdad’s sister and her friend, plus my Dad and step-mom at a restaurant for a big family dinner together.  After dinner, Son#2’s family with us went to a Winter Wonderland and Christmas decorated petting zoo to see the lights, the animated displays and the animals; goats, chickens, ducks, alpacas, llamas, a pot bellied pig and ponies.

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Unfortunately, Santa had already left, but as we wandered out from our walking tour, we stopped by one of the many fire rings that they had set up for making S’mores and enjoyed the warmth on a chilly night.

This morning, after attending the lessons and carols Christmas service at the church I attended as a child and in which both we and our son were married, we returned across the state to our own bed in the mountains.

It was a wonderful way to spend a long weekend, having quality time with my Dad and with our youngest son and his family, spending time with the grandchildren that we see too infrequently.  Now that our daughter is coming to live here and we know that our neighbor will farm sit if we all go away, perhaps we will be able to reestablish more contact with those grandchildren too.

Lovin’ life.

All Good Things Must End

The holidays are over and with it, the travel time. These past couple of months have been quite atypical for us. We travel little, other than my jaunts to Northern Virginia to babysit for a few days, we generally take a weeklong ski trip, boarding the pups and a week long visit to our daughter’s family with the dogs.

This fall we left on a two week adventure after boarding the pups. One week of that was a Bahamas cruise with our youngest son and his family, then spent an additional week with them in their home. The dogs like the boarding kennel we use, but were glad to be home.

That was followed with Thanksgiving at home with eldest son and his family visiting, then a week later, boarding the beasties again for our week long trip to Zihuatenajo Mexico.

Back home from that the second week of December in time to decorate and finish shopping for Christmas, we had a couple of weeks to recover.

Christmas brought eldest son and grandson back for a few days to celebrate together and Christmas noon, they left in my car headed north to home and we loaded up gifts, luggage, and dogs in Hubby’s SUV to drive south for 4 days with daughter’s family.
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The visit was fun. The kids love the dogs, with our two plus their golden, it was a houseful of fur. Our pups stoically tolerate the 13 to 14 hours each way driving.
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It has been great, but we are tired and ready to be home for the winter. My neighbor has gotten more of my eggs this fall than have we and the freezer is full of our produce we haven’t been home to eat.

All of this was on top of last February’s week trip skiing in Colorado, a 3 day ski trip in West Virginia, and the 3 day August trip for the family gathering. That has put us away from home in the past year for 42 days. We have exhausted our travel quota til our energy and budget recover.