Tag Archives: mowing

Olio – June 9, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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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.

 

4/26/2017

The nice weather returned today.  The expected 73ºf clear day ended up an 87ºf clear day.  After the preschool pickup run and a stop at Lowe’s to pick up 2 large pots and 3 sacks of organic composted soil, the brush hog was reattached to the tractor.  That isn’t a tough job if the tractor and brush hog are on level surface, if you can guide the tractor backward to align the 3 point attachment and PTO.  It was removed in the lower bay of the barn which is not level, so reattaching it was a job.  If you are strong, you can shift the back of the brush hog to do realignment.  I am not strong and I am a 69 year old woman, so it is all that I can do to jiggle the hog into position.  It took over an hour of sweat, a few unkind words, some tractor shifting but it is on the tractor.  The area around the house was mowed, the orchard was mowed, the septic field was mowed, and mostly around the tiny trees and the larger pines and firs through which they were interspersed, but the tractor needs fuel, so that task ended for today.

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There is thick long grass beyond that will be hay in a month or 6 weeks.

Once done with that, the two huge pots were placed, filled with good soil and the hops and some summer bulbs were planted in them.  This is an attempt to clean up around the deck and beautify it for spring and summer meals.

After dinner prep and clean up, the three half barrels were planted with the potatoes that finally arrived during the heavy rain.

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The chicklets aren’t so small anymore.  They are escape artists, but they are large enough to not be getting through the fence holes, so I’m not sure how they are escaping.

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The 4 Welsummer chicks are turning into beautiful young pullets.

We have a couple more good days and over the past two days, a good supply of cardboard has been obtained, so hopefully the areas of the garden that need to be smothered can be covered and the remaining aisles also.  The three sisters bed needs to be worked.  Normally we don’t put tomatoes and peppers in the ground until Mother’s Day, but the extended forecast shows warm days and mild nights, so they might also get planted along with the kale starts that were purchased at the Farmers’ Market on Saturday.

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The dogwood blossoms in the hedgerows and along the edges of the fields are spectacular this year.  My evening walk along the path that I mowed  today was lined with the beautiful white blooms.  The walk is a huge squared off figure 8 around the two fields in the header between where the photo was taken and the house in the center.  It always amazes me when I get back there to realize how large those two fields are.

Busy Days

The past few days have been busy.  Granddaughter started back to preschool, the dogs have had check ups and shots, we have been busy around the farm.

Between us, most of the fields have been mowed for fall.  I haven’t harvested the pears or apples yet, as I have been trying to catch up on tomatoes and peaches.  One day, I canned 30 pints of tomatoes and pasta sauce.  Of that, only a few didn’t seal, so we had a big spaghetti dinner last night and the leftover sauce was put in wide mouth jars and frozen.  We will use it first before we start opening the sealed jars.

Days work

Each Tuesday, daughter and son-in-law pick up a one person food share of meat and one of fruit as a test to see if it is worth their money.  A lot of the fruit has been peaches, though the late frost killed off almost all of the peaches around here, so they must be bringing them from south of us.  Jim and I are the only ones in the house that will eat a fresh peach.  The first batch was made into peach/mango chutney, a very authentic tasting chutney.  The second batch were peeled, sliced, and frozen.  The third batch went to the spinning retreat with me and were enjoyed by the group.  The fourth batch was sitting there about to attract fruit flies, so I made 9 half pints of sweet chili sauce today.  I tasted a bit of it and it is sweet and spicy with hot chili sauce added.  It should make a great chicken or pork basting sauce or topping.  I think it would be good over cream cheese with crackers.  It is cooling on the counter and will be added to the increasing jars of goodies on the shelves.

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Tonight late, our eldest son and eldest grandson will arrive for the weekend.  I have a dry rub pork shoulder that I will cook in the crockpot tomorrow and I think one of the jars of sweet chili sauce, a jar of the apple/pear chutney from last year, the last  jar of Pear Ginger Conserve will all be put out to eat with the pulled pork and slaw with a batch of roasted veggies for out dinner.

Tomorrow, we will get to return to the Farmers’ Market for the first time in a month.  We will precede that with breakfast out, and I will turn in my applications for the two winter Holiday Markets.

I am loving being able to return to a routine and see things getting done.

First full day back

I woke quite early again today and having convinced myself that the pullet and hen loss was from raccoons going after the birds that wouldn’t coop up at night, and given that most of today was going to be spent in close proximity to the coops, I let the chickens out, removed their food and water from their coops to the outside, and added new straw to give them clean bedding.

Grandson was awakened, fed, and transported to the bus, granddaughter was awakened, fed, and transported to her preschool Open House to reunite with some friends and make some new ones.  Once home, the tractor was driven out and the mowing commenced.  I tackled the thick tall grass that we consider our lawn and even with the tractor and brush hog, it was a challenge in some places.  I will have to go back over it in a couple of days to hopefully break up and disperse the clumps that formed.  Once I finished with that part, Jim took the tractor to the far hay field and began down there.  I had left him only about a quarter tank of diesel and told him, I was going to get some fuel and something to prepare for dinner.  Granddaughter and I got back up the mountain with just a few minutes before the afternoon school bus was due, so we waited.  Jim called to tell me he had run out of fuel before I got there and when he got back to the house on foot, he heard a ruckus in the chicken pen.  I was wrong about my predator.  It was a large hawk and it had my last pullet that I had put in the hen coop.  That means that I have lost all of my replacement hens and two older hens this summer.  I cooped them and the culls back up and I have to do something to prevent the opportunistic hawk from feeding in my chicken runs.  We live in the midst of 30 acres of woods and hay fields ripe with rabbits, squirrels, small birds, snakes, mice, voles, etc. but the hawk has found a food source that doesn’t require hunting and has a convenient large nut tree nearby to escape to.

Between us, we got about a quarter of the grass and fields mowed today with nice days due the rest of the week, so maybe we will get it finished.  Neighbors are mowing and some are second cut haying now also.

I didn’t get any harvest done today, nor did I figure out how I am going to protect the remaining chickens.  My run fences are 4 feet tall.  If I cover them, I can’t get in to change water, open the pop door, or close them up at night without duck walking under a 4 foot high net.  To raise the fence height to 6 feet tall, even if I cut the run size in half, will require taking down existing fencing, pulling up T posts, and starting over with 7 foot posts, new fence wire and then netting or tarping the top.  That would require another major investment in funds on top of the purchased coop, existing fencing, and labor building the two reclaimed coops, all for a handful of laying hens and a few meat chickens. So far, I have no sound ideas on how to create a tunnel fastened to the existing posts that would raise the cover without starting over.  Perhaps the existing T posts can support cattle panels bent to an arch then draped with netting, but still an expense.

It is too hot to keep the laying coop closed up all day for days on end.  I will lose them to illness or heat if I have to do that.

Tomorrow, there is no preschool, so maybe I can get some garden work done while Jim finishes the far field.  And maybe after sleeping on it, I will come up with at least a temporary inexpensive solution to protecting my laying hens and meat culls.  Life and death on a farm is expected, but I am getting very frustrated with my inability to keep my chickens safe.

A Week on the Farm – May 28, 2016

Yesterday was our eldest son’s birthday.  It seems like yesterday that I was standing in our new kitchen (we had just bought a house and moved in only two weeks before) shelling fresh peas that we had bought that morning at the Farmers’ Market in Virginia Beach. We had also taken a walk up Mt. Trashmore, a city park build on the old landfill, with hopes that it would stimulate labor.  It did, sort of.  At any rate, the peas did not get eaten that night, a stay in the labor unit at the hospital instead and his addition to our family the next day.  He is a delightful, intelligent, grown man now, 36 years young with his own wife and our eldest grandson.

The week has been a mixture of rain and sun with only a little gardening done.  Our neighbor has an overgrown Bearded Iris bed with three colors of Iris in it and he has known for years that I wanted a bit of each to go with my Grape Iris and Dutch Iris that were already in my gardens.  I had permission to come get some, but always waited until they had finished blooming until I thought about heading up to get some and didn’t want to dig without knowing which clusters to dig from in order to get a bit of each color.  He called one night this week and told me to come up with a shovel and bucket and I came home with some of each color.  They were planted in a flower garden that I had begun early spring above the vegetable garden.  Next year they will have multiplied and I will have more beautiful color.

Yesterday, I also stopped and got flowers for the wooden wheelbarrow that my Dad made for me about a dozen years ago.  As the weather began turning to spring this year, I brought it in to the garage and refurbished it, putting a new axle, handle and leg supports on it.  It also was screwed instead of nailed together in my efforts.

Barrow and Bear

The little carved bear on the edge of the porch was a craft show purchase many years ago.  It is chain saw carved and holds a solar light that comes on at dusk, not providing much light, but a guide to where the edge of the front porch is located on a dark night.

Some preparation of products for my shop were done with all three salves made and a couple of scents of lotion bars formulated.  While doing them, I prepared a written lesson in salve preparation and making and lotion bar recipe and instruction for a class I will be teaching in the fall at a retreat.

I got brave this week too and finally tackled dyeing a skein of yarn for my shop.  My first attempt was not my hand spun, but a 150 yard skein of Suri Alpaca.  For my first attempt, I used the kettle dyed method and Greener Shades dye.  I tried dyeing half for 20 minutes longer than the other half, hoping for a two toned monochromatic skein.

Ruby and Garnet

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I don’t think I achieved what I was hoping for, but I am fairly pleased with the result.  I have several skeins of undyed natural white yarns in the shop and I will be dyeing several of them in the next few days experimenting with adding more color.

Two days of this week were spent in preparation and recovery from one of the dreaded diagnostics that senior citizens are encouraged to endure.  At least I don’t have to go through it again for another decade.

Today began with a solo run to the Farmers’ Market for salad, broccoli, a cucumber already, herbs, bread, and flowers.  Jim had breakfast with me in town and then took off on the BBH to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway and grab a hot dog in Roanoke.

After my early return, my day has been spent mostly outdoors, weeding and cleaning up the shrub bed along the front of the house.  It needs new mulch, but I didn’t want to drive back into town.  Pushing the mower up and down the hill by the driveway to clear around the shrubs growing there, the meat chickens pen which was up to my waist with grass and lambs quarters, the area in front of the Huck’s coop so that a containment pen could be made for the anticipated chicks.  We are on chick watch.  The next couple of days should produce our first batch of chicks for the season.  Their coop and pen await.

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A plastic chicken wire pen attached to step in poles awaits them.  The electric fence will be restrung this evening after I re-hydrate and it cools off some.

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The other layers (who have contributed to the eggs being sat) and the proud Papa continue to harass the two gals sitting.  One hen insists on laying her egg in the nest of the first broody each day.  I marked the original 10 under her and then quit as I didn’t want to disturb her so much.  Whatever doesn’t hatch in the next couple of days will be discarded.  The same will be true mid June when the second hatch is due.  I need to block off the nesting box for the first hatch before they coop up tonight.  I don’t want a newly hatched chick to be pecked or accidentally fall out the pop door as her nest is right at that door.  One of the girls has taken to pecking the egg of one of the Americaunas each day if I don’t collect them as soon as I realize they are in a nest.  They aren’t totally breaking the shell, nor eating the egg, just slightly fracturing the shell.  I hate having to discard an egg most days.

We are expecting rain for the next two days.  I may take advantage of the wet soil to continue the weeding of the garden.  I still don’t have the popcorn and pumpkins planted.  I did re-weed the blueberries today and there will be a small harvest of them.  One of the aisles between beds was weeded and covered with spoiled hay today as well. I have concluded that from now on, I will just buy my turnips at the Farmers’ Market.  I harvested the first few that I planted and they are all full of the little white worm that torments me each time I plant them.  I have used wood ash in their planting row and around on top with limited success in the past, but it didn’t work this year.  I guess the chickens will enjoy them.

Our neighbor that hays our fields came over to look at my brush hog today.  He is going to take it home and refurbish it for me.  Rough ground and rocks are hard on them and the design of the stablizer wheel on the back of the one we own is poor, causing the shaft that holds it to stretch out and has made the wheel unstable.  One of the bolts that prevents wobble is bent too and he is either going to cut it off and replace it or just weld those two pieces together to prevent the wobble.  It has gotten so that it gouges  the ground when I mow.

Midweek Farm Life

Each day is partly a sunny day and partly a cloudy day, even afternoon thunderstorms with torrential rain at times.

Today I debated whether to try to get the yard that was knee deep mowed or the peppers and tomatoes planted in the garden.  I decided that the mowing was more critical as tomorrow there is a much higher chance of rain and I could plant between rain storms, but couldn’t mow the grass as tall as it was if wet.  I started off this morning, trying to get around the house with the gas powered lawn mower, getting where I can’t go with the tractor.  Good idea, but I only did about a third of it and ran out of gasoline.  I intended to go get some after lunch, but the clouds were building, so I just got as close to the house as I could on the tractor and mowed a lawn around the house in the encroaching hay field.  We are still about 6 weeks from haying here and it is getting seriously tall.  The grands need a place to play, I need to be able to get to the chicken pens and I don’t like the orchard to get too tall as the trees are too close to the chicken pen fence for the sickle bar hay cutter and too close to each other for the big haycutter.  I did beat a terrific thunderstorm by only minutes.

When I went out to let the flock out for the day, I found this . . .

Broodymama

Broody Mama giving me the evil eye for trying to move her two days ago.  She is sitting firmly on yesterday’s 6 eggs.  I will try to slip 4 more under her tonight from today’s lay. If all goes according to schedule, we will have chicks in about 3 weeks.  She chose the box nearest the pop door, not the best one to raise a family in when there are 5 others that are safer, but it is where she is.

Burnpile

With the ground so wet and haying season upon us soon, the burn pile finally got lit off.  The Christmas tree made a good starter fuel and most of the pile is now gone.  In a day or two, I will move the debris to an area we don’t mow after sorting through for nails and screws.  One day, there will be a permanent place and an incinerator in which to burn before the piles get too large.

One of my commitments to my shop is to make a more environmentally friendly soap, removing palm oil from all of my soap recipes.  There are only going to be 4 soaps in the store, Goat milk with honey, Lavender Goat milk, Citrus Shea, and Cedar/Rosemary/Thyme.  All of them are going to be made with Organic Shea Butter, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Castor Oil, and extra virgin olive oil (organic when available).  The liquid will be either coconut milk or goat milk and if scented, with pure essential oils.  Yesterday, I made two batches of the Lavender Goat milk soap with Shea butter and Organic Moroccan Red Clay for sensitive skin types.  It was the most beautiful dark caramel color when hot and today when I unmolded it to cut and cure, it looks like fudge.  It is such a pretty soap.

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There are 18 bars of it curing for the next 4 weeks before it can go in the shop.  That makes two of the 4 soaps Palm oil free so far.  I will be making another batch of the Cedarwood and the Goat milk Honey soap in the next day or so, both also Palm Oil free. The Shea butter makes such a nice rich soap and it is not responsible for rain forest deforestation.

With the coming of warmer weather, short sleeves, and air conditioning, today I added 3 mini shawls to the shop to throw over shoulders instead of a jacket or sweater when in the office or dining out.  They range in price from only $15 to $25 and fiber from Seasilk to Wool with Mohair.

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Tomorrow, after taking N to preschool, I hope to get in a walk with a friend and then finally get back to the garden.  I still need to get gasoline and mow outside the garden and around the chicken coops.  That may have to be done with the gas trimmer as it has gotten so long and thick.  Maybe I can get son-in-law to do it this weekend.

Still loving the mountain life.

I’m getting too old for this!

The weather has been beautiful.  Mid 50’s at night, great sleeping weather with a window open, 70 for the day’s high.  Occasional clouds, some of them quite lovely.

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Last night it was so beautiful outside that after I finished staining the garage doors with Mountaingdad and then finished the half wall on the garage that Son #1 didn’t have time to finish, we grilled out and ate on the back deck.  I was tired and sore and needed some zen time, so I spend about an hour near sundown mowing in one of the back fields.  It really is quite zen to ride the tractor and watch the goings on around you on the farm.

Today being a copy of yesterday, I began earlier to get the front and back walls of the breezeway stained.  This critter with her brood of babies on her back watched from the stone wall nearby for quite a time.

 

 

 

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While I was doing the breezeway, our handyman neighbor was staining the ceiling of the front porch and we worked together to get the front porch posts to use up the remaining stain mix that was made today.  Once the additives are mixed in, it must be used within 6 hours.  As we were working on that, I spotted another spider’s work.

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It is spun to the contour of the A frame bird house.  This is the best I could do to get a photo.

The only parts of the house left for me to stain are the front log wall, seen in the background of the photo above and the 8 windows that are in the areas that I have or will stain.

About 38 years ago, I separated my left shoulder on the second day of skiing with my hubby.  We weren’t married then, though he says that my skiing for several more days after that injury helped him decide that I was the woman he had been looking for.  I am a southpaw, so I work that shoulder and arm a lot and when I do, whether gardening or staining like I am doing now, that old injury makes my shoulder quite sore.  I may need a day or two break before I tackle that front wall.  It will take me several hours to complete.  For now, I’m going to get cleaned up and go socialize with my friends at knit night.  As a bonus, I have 4 dozen eggs to sell to them.

Eleven and an Escape Artist

For the past several days one of the young Buff Orpington hens has been giving herself a free range walk-about. One day we let the rest out too. Somehow, she is getting herself back in by bedtime or if I put a special treat in the run. She won’t show me how so I can try to stop her and she is laying in the coop so she is at her own peril, though she is pecking every red tomato within her reach.

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Today there were 11! There are only 12 layers and one still has pale small comb and waddles so I’m excited that maybe Broody/molty girl is over it. More than 9 eggs a day provide enough for our use, a dozen for the 2 neighbors that help us out and enough to sell to buy feed for them and the meat chicks.
Yesterday I opened the ark and freed the 5 week old meaties into their run. A few came out for a few minutes but they mostly hunkered down in the ark. Today I put half of their food out in the run in a dog feeding pan and as I went to put them up for the night, I had to lure them in with food. They were so active, it was a joy to watch them play and run and chase the grasshoppers that were fleeing the mower.
Today though mostly cloudy was delightful and I took advantage of the dry, cool weather to start the major fall mowing of all 30 acres. Because of the recent rains, I started around the house and worked out doing 3 small fields that only get hayed in spring and mowed in fall. The 2 huge fields, making up about 2/3 of the farm remain and we know we are facing hours and hours mowing unless our haying neighbor comes and brush hogs with his bigger more powerful tractor as he has offered to do.  Though I don’t particularly like pushing the lawn mower or using the huge weed wacker, I do like mowing on the tractor.

Sunday musings August 17, 2014

This is the first Sunday in 6 weeks that I could be lazy.  The first Sunday where I didn’t have to arise by 7 a.m. prepare breakfast for Grandson #1 and supervise a math worksheet and a writing assignment then encourage him to practice his guitar and his Kung Fu forms.

I was tired last night.  I drove for 5 hours and once home alone as Hubby was out on his BBH riding, I turned on the Solar Charger that I installed just before leaving to charge the electric fence.  Reluctantly I touched the fence at the farthest point from the charger and nothing.  It is a 12V impulse charger, so I should have felt a zing every few seconds, nothing.  Again I read the manual.  I had attached everything correctly, but I had tried to run the wire in two directions from the charger to give me a better place to put the gate without having to bury the wire in PVC pipe below the gate.  Assuming that to be my problem, I disconnected everything and determined that the gate was just going to have to be where the charger is mounted on a wooden post and rewired the fence in a continuous two strand loop from charger to gate opening.  When I turned the charger back on, still no zing.  In walking around the perimeter, I realized that the wire was touching the welded wire fence of the auxiliary chicken pen and must be grounding itself.  That corrected and the charger on, I did indeed get shocked on both sides of the gate opening.  Now I need a third gate and a second non conductive post to hang the gate for our convenience.  The garden and chicken pens are within an electric force field.  It won’t keep the bunnies out, but it should keep the neighborhood dogs and coyotes out of the chickens and the deer out of the garden.

Once that was complete, a walk around just to enjoy the beautiful afternoon, I discovered …

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The apple and Asian Pear trees are only three years old, so I stripped most of the flowers from them this spring to give them another year to establish.  I left a few flowers on one apple tree and the larger Asian Pear tree and was delighted to find 4 apples (one was badly pecked so I gave it to the chickens) and 8 Asian Pears.  I ate one pear standing right at the unsprayed tree, Tossed the two tiny malformed ones to the chickens.  Our first tree fruit.  The peaches produced small hard peaches that all oozed sap.  I assume they were attacked by something.  I will have to do some research as I won’t use pesticide spray on my fruit, near my vegetable garden and the chickens.

Once I was finally moving this morning, after dog and chicken chores, and enjoying a bowl of homemade granola with coconut milk and a cup of coffee, I hauled the lawn mower out to cut the area inside the electric fence that is not vegetable garden, compost bins or chicken pen and also the grass inside the auxiliary chicken pen as there are no chickens in it right now and the grass was getting quite tall.

Later we must make a Tractor Supply run for dog and chick feed and perhaps to purchase the gate.  I can get our neighbor to help me hang it this week.  As I was mowing the area above my garden, I realized how much slope the yard has between the area that Son #1 and wife had established as the upper garden and where my vegetable garden is with the compost bins in between.  As we are going to remove the compost bins and just leave me a compost pile, I think we will have to terrace that area making a 4 tiered garden as we expand the garden and berry patch back up the slope.  It has been nice having the space this year for the pumpkins, winter squash and sweet potatoes.  It will be nice to have more space for summer squash and cucumbers to spread out, a place to again plant potatoes which we haven’t done in a couple of years and more room to spread out the tomatoes and peppers so they aren’t quite so crowded.  Since I have started using the heavy spoiled hay mulch system this year, there has been much less weeding to do.

Planning continues as our little mountain farm evolves.  Life is an adventure!

 

Olio – June 10, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Nine years ago today, we received a call from Asheville, NC, a tired, satisfied and obviously in love voice announced that we had our first grandchild, a boy.  It hardly seems possible that he is now 9 years old.  The young man that I visit several times a year to provide day care for when his Mom’s and Dad’s school/work schedules require someone else to step in.  He will be spending 7 weeks with us this summer, in the house where he spent his first few years as they moved here when he was only 9 weeks old to supervise and do all of the stone masonry and finish carpentry in our home and then we all moved into it together for several year.

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Taking a break at the zoo in April.  Happy Birthday, Loakum.

It seems that the teenage pullets think I am the Pied Piper.  Each morning after I open their coop and let them loose in the pen with fresh food and water, at least half of them then follow me back down the run to the gate.  I don’t know if they think there will be a special treat for them if they do or if I’m just Mama as they came to me as tiny chicks and were raised in a brooder in my care until old enough for the coop.

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The garden is starting to brim full of good things to eat and other things to dream about.

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Chard and kale, peas with plumping pods, bushes of raspberries and blueberries slowly ripening in the sun.  Peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash and sweet potatoes getting larger with each rain storm and sunny day.  Garlic almost ready to harvest and cure.

Yesterday was a busy afternoon.  After having a skin cancer removed a few years ago, I make an annual visit to the dermatologist for a full body check, that visit was in February, but a few spots appeared that caused me some concern, so a return visit started the afternoon.  Everything is fine.  Once home, Jim and I finally tackled the cleanup of the burn pile from a few weeks ago.  We were concerned that it would start filling with weeds, making the task more onerous than it already was.  Upon burning the wood that was there, we discovered a significant pile of large rocks.  I remember than eldest son had discussed putting the chicken coop there when the garden was much larger than it is now and he hauled that rock in his pick up truck from remnants of building the retaining wall, to use as a foundation for the coop.  With much grunting and groaning, the use of the tractor bucket, we moved the largest flattest of those stone to the culvert on one side of the driveway.

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Where it will be turned into a guardian/warning wall like this one on the other side of the driveway.

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These are to warn folks that there are car and tractor eating holes on either side of the drive that feed and drain the large culvert under the driveway and prevent it from washing down into our garage.

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Once the rocks were removed, several tractor buckets of charcoal, nails and screws that had been in the wood, and rocks too small for the wall were scooped up and dumped where unsuspecting tractor or truck tires haying or hauling hay won’t meet with a flat.  The area was then leveled as well as it could with the edge of the tractor bucket and the surviving rake.  Once eldest and family settle into their own house after degrees are complete, I guess I will have to buy myself a new rake as the surviving one is his that I am storing.  Mine did not survive the burn pile control as it proved to have a plastic fitting.

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On each pass from the burn pile to the culvert, I mowed a swipe through the orchard and back on the return trip.  Once the burn pile cleanup was complete, I just had to finish the job I had started and mowed the yard and orchard as close as I could with the tractor.  After a quick late dinner from the grill and a salad, the lawn mower was hauled out and the finish work around the fruit trees, chicken pen, garden and close to the house was done, just as the sky was darkening with the chickens settling in for the night.  With them closed up for the night, personal cleanup of bodies and laundry and a rest were in order.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.