Tag Archives: rain

The Calm Between …8/2/2018

the storms that is.  We got over two inches of rain last night and another 1 to 3 predicted for this afternoon and overnight.  Don’t get me wrong, we were approaching drought conditions and need the rain, but it makes our daily health walk, gardening, and deck destruction clean up difficult.  Playing in a rain shower occasionally is fun, working in downpours with distant thunder and sometimes visible cloud to ground lightening is not.

We ventured into town for a few groceries as there is a huge two day street festival in town this Friday and Saturday, thus rendering the Farmers’ Market nearly inaccessible and few vendors even try because of the difficultly in getting their goods in and back out, the festival surrounds the site. While there, we scored 8 cabbage and 8 broccoli starts that were locally started, and the 6th desired blueberry bush, an early producer of large sweet berries, 20% off.

When we got home, the sky looked threatening, but no rain was falling, no thunder heard, no lightening visible, so the plants were hustled over to the garden, the fat Buff Orpington hen that insists on “flying” to the top of the fence, balancing precariously, then dropping into the garden to peck any tomato that is even slightly reddening was ushered back out of the fence.  It frustrates me that she is getting in, there are so few tomatoes this year because of the blister beetles, that I am cherishing each one.  Enjoying a fresh sliced one each day and only freezing the scarce extras for sauce later.

A spade and hand trowel gathered from the garage and a few short minutes work in the wet soil and the Blueberry bed is ready for mulch.


The 16 young starts were set in two parallel rows, spaced far enough apart to allow growth.


That bed then covered in a tunnel that was long enough to cover half the spinach and lettuce rows planted a few days ago.  The tunnel will help deter cabbage worms that love to feast on the cole crops.  The cover will also extend the season for the lettuce and spinach hopefully.



On my way out, it appears that the 3 lonely pie pumpkins are turning orange, probably another attractant for the hen, so some protection will be needed, but we will at least have pumpkin pies for the holidays.


Back in the house, there is some distant rumbling of thunder, the rain will soon begin again.  Hope the power stays on until dinner is prepared.  This is the first year of my garden that I have actively sought to extend the growing season into the fall instead of enjoying the spring harvest and quitting.  This is also the first year that the weeds haven’t totally discouraged me by now.  Though there are some in the aisles, the raised box beds have been easier to maintain and the cardboard between the boxes has made the weeds easier to deal with in the aisles.  I just need to obtain the mulch for bedding it down at the end of the season.

Back to rainy day pursuits of spinning and knitting.  I am not happy with the length of the fingerless mitt and will remove the top ribbing and add another cable repeat before the ribbing.

Rainy Day business – 8/1/2018

The rainy season has returned, just in time to soak in the newly planted seed and transplanted berry bushes.  It has put a temporary halt on deconstruction clean up, but I still have a couple of weeks before it all has to be gone.

Rainy days are for knitting, spinning, and reading.  Diligently I have been working on my handspun sweater, hoping to get it ready to submit to the Agriculture Fair, but the body is going so slowly and the neck and front bands will have to be picked up and added, so I don’t think I will make it.  The fiber is a swirl dyed Coopworth from Hearts of the Meadow Farm, the pattern is Peasy.


In the car and away from the house, I am knitting fingerless mitts of my own design from some delightful fingering weight Kid Mohair, Merino Lamb, and silk blend from Junebug Farm.


Oh that isn’t a good photo, sorry.

Last night because my hands were tired from knitting, I tackled a 4 ounce braid of Corriedale combed top  from Best Friend Fibers that is white at one end and gradually ends in a rich royal blue.  It was split down the middle and is being spun into another gradient skein, though I don’t know if I will knit it or sell it.  We will see how much is there and if I have an inspiration when it is done.  Half was spun last night, the other half will be done today, then it will be plyed and measured.



The book of the week, though it is slow going as I generally fall asleep just a few pages in each night is Beartown by Fredrik Backman.  It is a good book, but by the time I pick it up each night, I am exhausted from the day’s activities.

Olio- 4/24/2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things



The heading shows the story of the past 5 days, thick clouds, rain often torrential, many inches of it in the past few days.  Our creek is over it’s banks at the top of the farm and the one that tumbles into the sink hole has flooded the sink hole plain that can’t filter it down deeper into the earth than more is added.  It has overflowed down the old creek bed.

On Saturday, I drove to Front Royal area to help out.  Eldest was going to take advantage of the no motorized vehicles on the Skyline Drive to ride the 35 miles on his bike, but after a day in the cold rain at the Washington March for Science, he awoke Sunday with heavy congestion in his chest and decided he couldn’t make the ride after all.  I ended up driving back home Sunday afternoon.

The asparagus are sprouting and so far I haven’t gotten tired of them.

Asparagus Cut asparagus

The garlic is thriving.



But if you look beyond the boxes, the weeds are thriving as well.  That areas is about to be smothered and the pumpkins allowed to sprawl over the area.  In the fall, the ground cover will be planted and again in the spring.

The veggie and herb starts are doing ok on the back deck, but I keep having to go out and drain the water from the trays to keep them from drowning.  The weather is forecast to improve later tomorrow.  The second planting of peas, the seeding of radishes, turnips, and the chard starts seem to have survived the cool, wet days.

The ticks are out in full force already, having gotten my first bite of the season.  I guess I am going to have to pull out the repellent.  I have mowed around the house with the mower twice, very thick and tall grass.  The brush hog needs to be put back on the tractor so that the orchard and septic field can be mowed as well.  Most of the farm will wait until late May or early June to be hayed.

In mid June, I am going to go on a backpacking trip with eldest son and his family.  I have 8 weeks to get in shape and try to strengthen my knees.

The teenage chicks were left cooped up Saturday and Sunday during the worst of the rain, today all of the adult birds and chicks were left to choose whether to go out and mostly stayed in their coops.  The few chicklets that were out in the evening were easy to pick up and put in their coop.

Abysmal Day

It blew gales, the rain coming from all directions at once, whipping around the house, whistling and shaking screens.


The driveway looked like a river, culminating in a pond in front of one of the garage doors,


And created a new, but temporary creek between the house and the gardens.


Actually this is what is supposed to happen, though the pond in front of the garage door shouldn’t.  That is the result of the grands digging there where the softer soil has washed down the edge of the driveway.

When the rain quits and before it freezes, the tractor will have to be driven up to clean the culvert on the uphill side of our driveway.  The crushed gravel has washed down across the road again and about half filled the ditch.  Maybe a tractor bucket or two of that will be dumped and smoothed in front of that door. The design of the garage is raised enough that this water does not come in, but it is a mess to get to the cars.

The chicken coop was opened, but their food was put inside.  They didn’t venture out until the heaviest rainfall slowed.  I could hear Mr. Croak out there voicing his displeasure.  The high temperature for the day occurred early and though through Wednesday, it will still be mild, the rain should finally quit and a bit of drying out to occur before the cold arrives on Thursday.  Wednesday night’s low will be Thursday’s high and winter will return to the mountains.

What to do when it rains

… and rain it has this summer.  Normally by this time of the summer, it is dry and the grass doesn’t grow, the weeds don’t flourish, the garden languishes for cooler, wetter times.  It has been a wet summer.  The grass grows inches over night and it is too wet to run the mower and brush hog over it.  The weeds have engulfed most of my flower beds and continue to tax the chicken runs and the lower end of the garden, that I have never gotten a handle on this year.  The productive part of the garden has shaded out most of the weeds now, and I can handle staying on top of the ones that do crop up.

But back to the rain.  It is no fun to be out in pouring rain, chilly pouring rain for the past two days, so I have stayed in mostly.  I have spun 278 yards of local Leicester Longwool, and last weekend at the Farmers’ Market, bought a pound more of it.  It is a lovely fiber to spin.  I think this skein will be dyed and I still can’t decide whether to dye the roving from last weekend and then spin it or spin and then dye.  I really like the way dyed roving spins the colors, so that is probably the way it will go.


I finished the lime green Alpaca/Merino blend on my supported spindle, plyed it on my wheel.  It needs another run through the wheel and then a bath.  Also there are two knitting projects in the works.  A hat of my handspun superwash merino for eldest son. There is a lot of that yarn, so maybe a second one either for grandson or for the shop.


And progress on the Inside Out baby blanket.


The next couple of afternoon/evenings will be spent cooking Tacos and sides tonight and Lasagna and sides tomorrow night for the 9 people currently in the house.  Never a dull moment, even in the rain.


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 . . .


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.


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.


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.


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.

Repair and Prepare

Yesterday was gloomy most of the day, but not raining, thank goodness.  It did drizzle off and on, but nothing significant.  The school system where Daughter is subbing cancelled the school day because of roads still being flooded from the day before, so she helped me do some repair.

When we took Granddaughter to preschool, we stopped and filled the 5 gallon diesel can for the tractor.  With the tractor fueled, we tackled the ditches above and below our driveway culvert which had nearly filled in Tuesday’s 4+ inches of rain.  The crusher run and gravel that VDOT spread two weeks ago and now pooled at our driveway and ditch were dug out and dumped in the trenches the rain made.  The trenches were then smoothed out by dragging the tractor bucket downhill across them.


The culvert pipe was nearly blocked as well and we dug and raked until it was time to go back and pick up the little gal from preschool.  On that trip, we bought two bales of straw, more on that in a minute.

Once home, I dug into the culvert for another hour, trying to open both ends as far in as the shovel and hoe would reach.  More hand digging out of the ditch on uphill side was done as well, piling the crusher run and gravel from the culvert along the edge as a mini dam.  I also used the bucket of the tractor to try to open the notch uphill on the other side of the road in hope that the water running down that side would divert over to the low grassy area and eventually into the run off creek.  Some of the wash off gravel was piled in a damn just downhill from the newly opened notch.

In the midst of these efforts, two neighbors stopped and joked that they didn’t know I was now employed by the state.  Maybe I should send the state a bill for my services.

Once the road and ditch were somewhat repaired, the prepare efforts began.  With the hurricane taking possible aim at the coast of North Caroline, Virginia or Maryland, and with the Nor’easter that is also brewing, we are expecting more rain.  Lots more rain, epic rain with severe flooding in our region, actually most of our state.  The ditch work was both repair and prepare, hoping to divert the run off from the over saturated ground.  The straw was to try to prepare the coops for the deluge.  The Buffys’ coop is on stilts, but the rain on Tuesday came from the east instead of the usual westerly direction and I had left the large pop window open the night before, so their coop was wet inside.  The bale of hay that I pull bedding from was also wet, so the coop was shoveled out and a third of a bale of straw was spread to give them a clean, dry place to be in the pending rains.  I put a waterer inside the coop and will fill a 7 pound feeder and hang it in there tonight.  The remaining 2/3 of a bale was spread in the Cull Palace for the meaties.  They still insist on sleeping on the ground in a pile instead of perching on the two generous perches in there.  I deliberately bought a breed of slower grower broilers so they would perch and forage.  After spreading the straw, I put two wooden crates with a perch between them in the spot that they generally pile up.  I am hopeful that their curiosity of what I was doing and their exploration will encourage them to pile up on top if it really rains as hard as predicted as I am sure it will run through their coop.  They also got a waterer inside and will get a 7 lb feeder filled tonight.  If I can’t get out there to them tomorrow or Saturday, I want them to have food, water, and a dry space.

Since the tractor was out, I did a quick mow around the house and between the house and coops and garden.  My mowing was assisted by a neighbor, but she works much slower than I.


After I mowed where she wanted to be, she wandered back to her side of the fence.  The tractor was put away in the relative dry safety of the lower barn bay.

While mowing around the top of the cistern tanks, I spotted this gal.


She is huge and was feasting on an insect that wandered into her web.

This morning, the deck umbrella and chair cushions were brought into the garage, sweeping dozens of wasps and stink bugs out of the inside of the umbrella.  When they are dry, they will be put away in the root cellar for the winter.  The outdoor chairs were stacked and tucked into a protected corner.  If the winds that they are expected really materialize, the glass topped table will be flipped upside down or tucked behind the porch swing against the breezeway wall.  There are still many potted peppers and herbs on the deck.  Being this close to the end of the season, I may harvest what I can and just take my chances on their fate.

We also bought 8 gallons of water and stuck them in the freezer with 5 gallons that were already there.  If we get the predicted wind with the ground saturated, there will be trees down and power outages.  I don’t want to lose what I have frozen for winter.  We will use the frozen bottles to pack the bags of beans, squash, beets, tomatillos and apples.  Plus they will provide us with drinking water if the power fails as we will have no pump to give us water.

As we prepare and hunker down, we hope that all the dire predictions are wrong and we will get little rain and no wind.  Better to be prepared and safe, than sorry.

Oh Noah, Where art thou?

Wow, have we had rain in the last 18 hours.  The creeks are raging and overflowing.  The region is under flash flood warnings.  We live 4/10th of a mile down hill from a paved road.  Our gravel road tips from one side to the other with curves and ditches that are first on one side of the road, then on the other, but no culverts to connect these ditches.  When it rains hard, rain washes back and forth across the road.  Here is the morning river.




The last one is right at the top of our driveway, where all of the gravel has washed down and formed a dam.  The ruts are a foot deep and the piles of gravel at least that.  Fortunately, SIL and I cleared our culvert earlier in the summer, so it is going under our driveway, not down it.

Periodically, we complain to VDOT and they bring a road grader out and smooth the surface again, but their engineer doesn’t feel like we need culverts under the road where it changes directions and doesn’t feel that the road is traveled enough to pave it.  Just below the last picture, the road drops to the culvert for the creek that crosses it and the wash out is even worse there.  I’m glad we don’t have to travel that portion. Our cars are all wheel or 4 wheel drive vehicles, except SIL, who drives a low small sedan.  I hope he can get in today.

Olio – July 9, 2015

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Mountaingdad and an adorable Grand waiting for the July 4 parade.
Old Cars
The Village Historian

Village parades are fun.  The local politicians up for election, old cars, all of the village Emergency vehicles, horses, motorcycles, kids on ATV’s, tractors.  If you want to be in the parade, show up and they will line you up.  Most of the floats, politicians, service organizations, and the fire department, all throw candy and granddaughter came home with a whole bag full because she was so cute in her little red, white, and blue dress.  After the parade, there are hot dogs and burgers, salads, beans, and desserts for a donation of your choice and means held on the village green.

After our local parade, we went to the one in the university town nearby and she got more candy, balloons, flags and attention.  Our day ended in the same town watching the fireworks.


Music, kids playing and finally dark and a fireworks display.


A poor pup.  She has again developed an infection and she won’t stop licking.  An expensive vet visit and she is on antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and an Elizabethan collar to try to break the cycle.  She can’t eat or drink with the collar, so we bought this type to use when we are around and can keep an eye on her.  She can still lick herself in this one, but it serves as a reminder, more to us than to her, but she can eat and drink with this one and will go outside to relieve herself.  She has to wear the more restrictive one when we are out of the house and at night.

We feel like we need a boat and the garden is a mess of weeds.  I weed and it rains and they grow some more.  We are getting squash.  We enjoyed the last of the peas, chopped and froze a couple cups of Mammoth Jalapenos.  Today was finally dry, but it was miserably hot and humid and ended with showers and a double rainbow.  And more rain due for the next week.  The ground is saturated, the creeks full and each day of rain produces flash flood warnings.


Son #1 and Grandson #1 are coming tomorrow night and we are hoping to get the chicken coop for the cull birds secured and will isolate them before the last broody hen hatches next week.   There needs to be some fencing completed so the culls will have a run too.

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.