Tag Archives: Loss

Merry Christmas

It is Christmas Eve here in the mountains of Virginia. It should be cold, at least much colder than the 70°f we are expecting. If it was cold we would be snowed in, instead we are contemplating travel to town by kayak. The rain is torrential at times, the roads muddy like in the spring, the fields the emerald green of May not December.


We returned home yesterday from the week on the coast, celebrating the life of my wonderful father, sadly because of his passing. The trip home was rainy, foggy and muggy. There were many accidents, fortunately none involving us and none looking too serious. There were many stoppages on the interstates because of these accidents and the weather, a few side excursions to get around the stoppages.  Thanks to my many alternate routes from my trips to and from Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, I have learned how to hop great sections of I81 and I64.

Last night I grocery shopped and added a couple of last gifts. This morning, remembering that our pups always get new beds and bones for Christmas, so I guess I am going to break my long standing rule of not going out on Christmas eve. Usually I am home preparing Christmas dinner which we traditionally enjoy on the eve. This year we will have Italian food tonight to fulfill SIL R’s tradition and have our turkey and ham tomorrow night when T and his family arrive.

I still need to clean, bake pies and sandwich bread, make Ginger snaps. Tomorrow we will try to move on and enjoy Christmas Day as Daddy would wish. I will sadly miss our Christmas call. Reach out to those you love, those you have befriended as you never know when you might lose them.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours. I will be silent for a few days now.

Tough Spring

I have had 5 hens brood this spring. Hen 1 hatched 6 of 10 eggs. I moved her to the chicken tractor with her Little’s and all was well until week 3. An Opossum got in under the end of the tractor and killed 4.  I moved mom and her 2 remaining chicks to the coop and they have been fine. Hen 2 hatched 7 of 10 eggs one day before Hen 3 was due and 2 days before Hen 4 was due. Hen 3 and Hen 4 each hatched 1 or two of 10 and abandoned their nests to try to steal Hen 2’s chicks. Most of their other eggs had developed chicks in them but didn’t hatch out due to the hens abandonment. All three hens were put in a tightened chicken tractor and they tried to occupy one nest, killed two chicks, injured two that I moved to a heat lamp in the garage. I finally removed the two older hens and left the 7 remaining chicks with the younger hen and she did great with them. Last night, a predator (unknown) moved several multi pound size rocks from perimeter of the tractor, dug under the end past a barrier board and took 4 of the chicks.

Out of 40 eggs, I have only 7 total chicks this spring. I have divided the coop for the broody hen and the hen and her 3 remaining chicks to secure them for tonight. Broody hen is sitting 10 eggs now and I have to figure how to make them more secure when they hatch. I’m distraught over the loss.

Perhaps I will move all of the hens except the two Momma Hens, the Americaunas, the chicks and Romeo to the cull coop until the babies get some size on them.  I can’t trust the Chicken Tractor until Son #1 comes on the 10th to finish the cull coop and secure the tractor as a brooder.

On a positive note, the two chicks that were moved to the garage brooder are healing nicely and have regained strength and energy.  I toyed with moving Momma Hen and her 3 chicks in with those two babies and let her raise them in the brooder for a couple of weeks.


A Tribute to a Mountain Man

Today a true mountain man was laid to rest on the hill overlooking our home.  The banner photo at the top of my blog was taken almost from the spot where he was buried.  He was one of the first people we met upon buying our land.  He was wary of us and we of him at our first meeting, but he quickly became a friend.  One of the characteristics of Appalachian men is to not to talk to women outside of their family.  He, though shy, was never like that.  He would stop when he saw me at our mailbox or mowing the top field and chat.  A nature lover, he would point out the hawks or the baby raccoons that he could spot before we ever saw them.  As a veteran, he was proud of his country and his service to his country, generally wearing a ball cap that stated Viet Nam Veteran.  He was a simple man that didn’t care what other people thought of him, he marched to his own drummer, but would do anything for you if asked.  In the past couple of years, he first lost a leg to circulatory issues and finally his life to Pneumonia on top of COPD, he failed fast and will leave a huge hole in his family and his neighborhood.  His request was to be buried on his farm, on his hill where he spent many hours day and night, watching the wildlife or the stars.  At his graveside, he was given a 21 gun salute by the local American Legion, VFW and National Guard.  His family presented with the flag from his coffin.  Like in life, he was buried in simplicity, in his hunting clothes, his Viet Nam cap and a simple pine box.  He will be missed on our mountain.

His passing allowed us to meet people who had just been names to us since our move here.  Our farm sits in the midst of hundreds of acres of farmland owned by his family, his brother and cousins, only a few of whom we had met.  It is a sad way to get to know them, but nice to be able to put faces with the names we have learned.

After the service and a dinner at the chapel, we hurried home to try to harvest what was left in the garden, one of his cousins, our closest neighbor coming down to help and visit.  We are expecting winter to arrive tonight and have snow flurries expected this weekend with nights in the 20’s.


Darrell helped harvest any pumpkins and winter squash that were hanging from the compost bins, the ones on the ground we left to see if the leaves will die off in the freeze.  A box of mixed peppers, another of the remaining tomatillos and some greens were harvested, the pepper and tomatillo plants pulled and tossed in the chicken pen, the chard covered with row cover to try to save it for a bit longer.  The two cayenne pepper plants were pulled and hung upside down in the garage to see if the rest of those peppers will turn red.  He left after visiting and having a cup of tea with a box full of some of the goodies.  As we were cutting the pumpkins, we realize that there must be 35 or 40 more in the garden.  I need to find more recipes other than soup and roasted winter squash.

Olio – October 28, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

We have had two absolutely gorgeous days in a row with mild nights.  It has been windy off and on, but Mountaingdad has had two great motorcycle outings, probably the last two of the season.  Tomorrow we return to fall weather, late fall weather, if the weather prognosticators are correct we will see snow flurries on Saturday.  I am definitely not ready for the white stuff or any frozen form of precipitation.  If it does happen, the pumpkins vines will finish dying off and the rest of the harvest will be made, the pepper plants and tomatillo plants will be tossed in the chicken pen for them to pick over.  I really need to get the garlic planted and well mulched before the ground freezes.

While Mountaingdad was off riding, I was enjoying quiet time at home.  Having planned on running errands and perhaps getting lunch out, instead I read, ate leftovers and did a bit of yard and garden work.  Late yesterday, a package I had been awaiting arrived, a Turkish Spindle from Snyder Spindles on Etsy.  I learned to spin on a top whorl spindle and wish I had learned on a Turkish spindle.  After watching a You Tube to see how to set it up, I was off quickly spinning some maroon colored Merino.  I love the way you wind the single on the spindle to create a center pull ball that can then be plied with another ball or plied off of itself.  Though most of my spinning is done on a wheel, it is nice to have a spindle that is portable to take when visiting our kids.  A few ounces of fiber and the spindle take up little room in my bag.


As I was spinning the fiber, I realized how similar in color it is to the yarn that I am using to knit the fingerless mitts to go with my hat and scarf.  I had hoped that the mitts wouldn’t be needed for quite a while yet, but they may be welcome in just a day or two.  I was unhappy with the first one and selected a different pattern to make it over and make the second one.  I don’t really have enough done to show them off yet.

On Sunday, we were notified by one neighbor that another neighbor who we knew had been sick and hospitalized but released and home for a few days had been taken back to the hospital by ambulance and his prognosis was poor.  This saddened us as he was one of the first neighbors we met and though we were wary of him at first, he and his wife had become friendly with the strangers in their midst.  We were even more saddened to learn yesterday morning that he had passed Sunday evening with his family by his side.  He and his wife are our age contemporaries on the mountain. He has had several health issues over the past couple of years and their cumulative effect were more than his body could take this time.  Our hearts go out to his family at this time.

Today we found out that the company proposing the pipeline has filed their preliminary paperwork with FERC, so letter writing will occupy our time for a few days.  Tonight we are attending a meeting on our legal rights.  There may be nothing we can do, but we are going to fight to the end on this project.  As oil prices drop, fracking become less desirable and new wells aren’t drilled.  Keep hoping that the oil prices drop low enough to stop this.  A sign we saw in town says it all, “Stop the fracking pipeline.  Preserve the NRV.”  If you want to read more about this issue, go to www.preservethenrv.com.  While you are looking, do a search for the pipeline explosion in Appomattox, VA in 2008 and look at the photos of the damage that a much smaller pipeline explosion wrought.




A Passing

This morning I lost a friend who was lost from me and then found again through Facebook.  In reconnecting with him, I learned how parallel our lives had been, yet how different they were.

We both became educators, married about the same time for the second time each.  Had children near the same age.  Both built our own homes.  When I reconnected with him, one of the first questions I asked was whether he still played the guitar and learned that treatment for Hodkins disease his senior college year had robbed him of the use and feeling of his left arm and that it had also caused other damage that ultimately caused other difficulties with his health.

He loved his teaching at Utica College where he had been since completing his PhD.  He adored his wife and daughters and a grandson that he got to share only two years.  He was well traveled and had many stories that he told in blogposts.  He was planning on retiring at the end of this school term.  Most of his posts he ended with, “I am a fortunate man,” and I believe that he, in spite of his disabilities he was a fortunate man.

I am going to miss his blog posts, his humor on facebook and his friendship.  I was a fortunate woman to have known him.  He will be missed.