Tag Archives: rain

What to do when you can’t garden

I want to get in the garden and get the weeds out, to get the seedlings and remaining seeds in, but it is too soon and too wet and I have a problem with the chickens digging up a couple of beds that I have started.  I covered them with row cover and the spring winds keep blowing it off.  As soon as the cover is off, one or more chickens are in.  I have planted Daikon radishes twice to find them scratched out before they are a couple inches high.

The tomato, tomatillo and pepper seedings are being hardened off with a bit more sun each day and brought back into the house for the night.  We are still 9 days from the last average frost date here when we will put them in the ground, plant the other seeds and start on maintenance until the produce starts coming in.  Many of the locals haven’t even plowed or tilled their gardens yet.

Before we do this, we are going to reduce the chicken runs so they can have more free range time and use the fencing to keep them out of the gardens.

In the mean time, as we have had a couple of days of rain, I have been spinning.  At Hawk’s Nest Retreat, I bought enough if a beautiful Coopsworth 2 way swirl from Debbie Martzell, one of the vendors, to spin then knit myself a sweater.  The beautiful roving has been sitting in a plastic bag waiting for me to get my Etsy shop up and running and to finish spinning some fiber I had started.  I had 8 ounces of undyed creamy white Dorset lamb from the prior Hawk’s Nest Retreat on too many bobbins that were awaiting my jumbo flyer in order to ply them.  That has been plyed and is now awaiting a large skein winder so that I can see how much yarn I actually created, my Niddy Noddy isn’t large enough for the skein I have to create.  Yesterday, I started spinning the Coopsworth.  It is a delight to spin and the color is so lucious.

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My knitting and spinning friends will grin, the color is so me.  Someday, I may venture to other shades, but teal and blue seem to grab me most.

On the chick watch, we are on day 4 for 5 eggs and day 3 for the other 5 eggs and Broody Buffy is being such a good Mom.  She leaves the coop first thing each morning for a bit of food and a drink and goes right back to her nest.  Every evening, as I move her off the nest briefly to check, there are always one or two extra eggs that other hens have laid and she has pushed under her.  The second Ms. Broody hasn’t committed to really being broody yet, so we don’t have two sitting.  I’m still hoping for another brood of 10 before too long.

More Wet Stuff

Our region is under water.  The forecasts have flood warnings, many roads closed, schools today had a 2 hour late start due to the flooding.  The morning dawned beautiful, but the afternoon brought more heavy rain.  You would think that in the mountains that flooding wouldn’t really be a problem, but the rivers and creeks are over their banks, fishing camps and river front yards are under water.

I turned the chooks out this morning to free range and graze on the new grass and emerging bugs.  When daughter and granddaughter came back from taking grandson to the bus stop, the dogs all slipped out.  Lately they have seemed to leave them alone when dogs and chickens were sharing the yard.  For some reason, I looked out to check on them and found our two chasing the chickens and daughter’s Golden Retriever eating one.  I don’t know who actually caught the bird, but I do know that we now have a problem.  The dogs and the chickens aren’t going to be able to be out at the same time again.  One of the dogs realized that opening through the electric fence that had a rope across it wouldn’t hurt them and barged right through.  This required me to move the fence around to create a new opening, narrower and on a different side of the fence.

I had planned on culling a few of the hens later in the summer, but didn’t plan on sharing them with the dogs.  After today’s stress, we only got 4 eggs.  Maybe the one they killed was the one laying weird eggs.  I guess we will see in a day or two.

Since the weather wasn’t good to be out and about much, I made Mozzarella and lasagna noodles and made a homemade vegetarian lasagna for dinner.  I love being able to make the cheese and noodles at home.  I noticed at the Farmers’ Market on Saturday, that I could get raw cow and goat milk for a donation, perhaps I will try raw milk Mozzarella or yogurt.

Soaking Wet

We had a couple of stellar spring days and took full advantage of it.  One full bed of the garden was cleaned up, peas, Daikon radishes and a few pepper plants (which we may yet have to cover) and Swiss Chard plants we purchased were planted.  We have garlic, onions, kale and turnips up.  There are a few more beds to be cleaned up to plant the tomatoes, beans, cukes and summer squash and once the remaining peppers are large enough, they will also be planted.  The strawberry plants don’t like the rain that we have had.   Sunflowers and winter squash will be planted near the chicken runs.  As the chickens are spending more time free ranging, I am considering reducing their run size and using their well fertilized, run, bare of weeds for more planting.

The spring’s first mowing was done and some of the house plants relocated to the front deck.

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One of the Buffys is having reproductive issues and she is laying very strange eggs.

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The egg on the right is a normal egg.  The two on the left are two of her treasures for the past few days.  All of the girls are at least 14 months old and less than 25 months old, so it shouldn’t be age.  None of her odd eggs are double yolked, but the albumen is very watery and the shells all have cracks that have been calcified over.  Her shells are very thin as well.  If I could figure out which Buffy it is laying them, I would double band her as a potential cull.

The littles are getting braver and are coming out of the tractor more each day, however, today it has rained until I will need a rowboat to get to the coop.  The littles somehow got locked out of their tractor this afternoon and were soaking wet when I went to lock them up.  The Buffys who could get in their coop were also soaked, but they gave us 10 eggs today.

Instead of being outside, today was a day to make chicken feed and granola.  I also did a bit of garage cleanup, still trying to merge extra bicycles and yard toys into the garage and still have room for Mountaingdad to turn the BBH around in there.

We are enjoying the change to spring, the trees and spring flowers blooming, the leafing out of the shrubs and trees; the warming days and nights and the lower electricity bills they will bring; the return of the spring Farmers’ Market and the fresh salads that it brings.

Loving life on our mountain farm.

Dreariness

It is cold and raining.  Not the biting cold of last week, that is due again tomorrow, but cold enough to make procrastination on outdoor chores inevitable.  I cuddled in bed with my book until the Shadow, the German Shepherd was dancing cross legged by my side of the bed, Ranger, the big guy still lazing on his pad on the floor by Mountaingdad.

It is wet enough that the pups didn’t want to stay outside very long, not long enough for me to finish prepping their eggs, so they hovered around and behind me while I cooked.  The recalcitrant hens producing barely enough eggs to have for home use and as I used one of yesterday’s 3 eggs to make cornbread last night for a meal we shared with our recently widowed neighbor after the Pipeline Opposition meeting, there were only two to cook this morning.  Once I carton a dozen and put them in the refrigerator for neighbors or friends, I leave them alone and only use from the bowl on the counter. This left me with no egg today, but I had leftover cornbread, a wedge lightly buttered and toasted in a cast iron skillet is a treat to be savored, with or without an egg.  The pan was heating to cook the pups eggs, so I got my cornbread first.

With the house critters (including me) fed, it was getting harder to stall about layering up in gumboots, coat and gloves and finally making the wet, chilly walk over to let the chooks out and to feed and water them.  Their sloped run, bare of a single blade of grass and with the hay scratched and washed off was as slick as ice.  It is too wet to uncover the big round bale of hay to throw more down at the gate, hopefully later it will quit raining long enough to accomplish that task.  Their coop hay tossed to loosen it up for insulation and turned to facilitate the deep litter composting that produces heat for them, their feed served in two metal dog bowls to keep it from being trampled into the mud and a quick check of nesting boxes for cleanliness and I found a surprise.

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Three fresh, warm eggs to keep my hands warm as I slogged back to the house.  I haven’t seen morning eggs in weeks and am luck to find 3 or 4 cold eggs in the evenings.  It would be nice to get back to going out and finding more than I can carry in without a basket, but maybe not until springtime.

If it is going to be wet and cold, it should at least be white.  I’d settle for the mountain snow flurries that fall for days on end with no real accumulation, just the dusting on gardens, roofs and cars.  Cold, rainy winters remind me of winters on the coast, you are supposed to have snow in the mountains. I know, I should be careful of what I wish for, we may find ourselves snowed in without power later in the winter and we haven’t laid in wood for the stove and fireplace, having only a bit left over from last year.  I suppose we should set in an emergency supply at least.

Rainy Sunday Musings

Again it rains! Everyday for the past 7 days. The grass is literally knee deep and too wet to mow. The decks haven’t dried to be able to paint. When I brought these in last weekend I had no idea they would still be on the kitchen counter.
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These are my kitchen herbs for a quick snip when cooking and I don’t want a trek to the garden. They live on the south deck, just outside the Dining area French doors. Some winter over in the house, but not this early.
And then there were 4. . .
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Last night when I went to lock up the girls for the night, there were 4 eggs. There are two 17 month old hens (1 not currently laying); three 26 week old pullets; eight 24 week old pullets, one whose comb and waddles are still small and pale. It has been 6 weeks since we were getting more than an occasional egg. I have missed them but have enjoyed a few this week with our fresh tomatoes and a few shreds of raw cow milk cheese.
Since it is rainy and wet, instead of mowing, I will process more tomatoes and tomatillos.
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The garden is giving. The rain causing the tops of the tomatoes to split. There are more Habañeros than we will ever need for hot sauce and salsa, I am going to experiment with drying some. A pinch of them dried and crushed will surely add a kick to curry or chili and Son#1 will use them.
But the flowers love the rain and it does make the weeds easier to pull between storms.
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If it doesn’t stop soon, I will need a machete to get to the garden and the coop.
The chicklets are getting huge. They are 2 1/2 weeks now and going through 2 jars of feed and a gallon of water a day. I moved them temporarily this morning to a smaller brooder box long enough to clean the huge water trough that serves as their brooder. It is 15 square feet of floor space and looks too small for the 15 chicklets that seem to double in size weekly.
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The most severe storm we had on Thursday evening damaged some component of our internet service. Our provider iuis a local coop with no weekend hours, so being on the internet or posting right now is an effort in frustration.
We love life on our mountain farm!

Noah, we need help.

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Please send Ark plans.  Today is our 5th straight day of rain, often heavy.  This rain allowed only that the scaffolding be erected over the weekend, no caulking done to allow the staining.

It is the 5th day that harvesting in the garden has been difficult to impossible.

The chicken pen is so deep in mud that my muck boots sink a couple of inches each time I have to enter the pen.  I would clean out the coop and throw the soiled hay over the mud except that it won’t stop raining long enough for me to uncover the hay to put clean dry hay inside.  The older three of this years chicks are now 24 weeks old and I am hoping for eggs soon.  To encourage them, I put fake eggs (golf balls) in the nesting boxes.  Broody Girl is still being stubborn and has managed to move two of them into her box so she is sitting on 3.  I move them back and she relocates them again.  She is sure being stubborn about being broody.

The new babies are thriving in their brooder.

The rain has done nothing to help the lake at Mountain Lake.  It began to leak a few years ago and went totally dry for two summers.  Geologist and soil scientists studied the lake bottom and attempts to repair it were made.  The lake partially refilled last summer after the repairs were made, but mother nature had other ideas and the lake is only partially refilled and lower this summer than last.

Mountain Farm Morning

Where is the camera when you need it?  I opened the back deck door to let the dogs out and caught just a flash of movement across the side of the deck.  It’s size told me it was either a mouse or a chipmunk (the farmers up here call them ground squirrels).  Below that edge of the deck is the retaining wall that son and DIL built during construction.  It is a beautiful piece of stonework that gets covered each spring and summer with Hairy Vetch and Virginia Creeper.  The doors out onto the deck are a full story above the ground, though the deck itself is only 3 steps up.

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Beneath the deck there is loose rock tossed in to help with erosion and to keep the weeds down.  I’m sure that it is a great hiding place for all sorts of wildlife, more or less protected from the cats.  As I stepped to the edge of the deck to see if I could spot the little critter, the chipmunk scurried quickly across the deck and through a space I can barely stick my fingers through and down under the deck.  They are cute, but destructive little critters, I hope it doesn’t take an interest in the Direct TV cable that is fastened to the front leg of the deck, travels along the lower edge of the deck then follows the flashing across between the basement and ground floor of the house to where it enters.

Breakfast prep was started as I put some of our fresh eggs on to boil for the pups and me.  My morning ritual includes cleaning up their feeding area, two plastic trays on a bath mat to catch at least some of the food and water that the big guy slings around when he eats or drinks.  His tray always has a cup or more of water and a dissolved kibble or two floating around on it.

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Once their area is cleaned up I call them back in to eat, only as I stepped out to call them, leaning around the west end of the house from the front porch as that is where they always return to be let in, I heard a racket of turkey chatter and dog barks and spotted the dogs both chasing a wild turkey across the near hayfield as the hen took flight and landed way up in a tree on the edge of the field.  Shadow once she stopped bounding, couldn’t even be seen in the tall hay waiting for good days to cut and bale.  Ranger continued to stare longingly up at the tree where the hen continued to cluck.  Hopefully they didn’t disturb a nest, but if it is in the hayfield it will suffer destruction as soon as Jeff comes to mow the hay.  Finally I got them back in the house and breakfast eaten.

Then it was chicken care time.  I filled the pans with mash, millet and sunflower seeds to take out to the two pens and just as I stepped out, I heard the rain moving over the ridge and through the trees in my direction.  Raincoat collected just as a torrential downpour started.  Chickens had to wait for it to subside at least a bit.  We are in for a stormy day.  A good day to sew, knit, spin, and read.  Tonight is Knit Night, hope it isn’t storming too badly when it is time to leave.

 

Rainy Wednesday

This is the 4th consecutive day of rain and we are sitting in the middle of an area showing the potential for some very severe weather this afternoon.  We should start seeing some sunshine again tomorrow, I hope.  The coop is nasty and the hay is wet, so I can’t add more.  The wind blew the tarp off the round bale just before the rain started.  It will have to sit in the sun for a few days before it will be dry enough to add to the coop.

Each morning as I put my rain jacket and boots on and slog over to the coop, I find all 10 chicks in the smaller third with Cogburn and his Queen, the Olive Egger and the two Buff Orpington hens in the larger 2/3 section.  This amuses me because as soon as I open the pop door, several chicks are pushed out to the ground by the two adults trying to get out.  Usually one of the BO hens comes out too, but the second one seems to have difficulty returning to the small side to exit and needs help.  The chicks then all come over to eat, including the ones who were pushed out.  They gather in the pop door and poke their heads out, but still won’t venture outdoors on their own.

The runs are muddy, thus the eggs are dirty each day.  The garden is soggy.  I hope we aren’t facing another cool wet summer like last year, I really want to get a good supply of tomatoes, salsa, pasta sauce, chili tomatoes, pickled peppers, beans and hot sauces canned this summer for next winter.

The wet weather has turned me to books and spinning.  I discovered a local author and am working his newest book after reading his fourth book last weekend.  One was great, this one is too dark, but both are set in our area which makes them interesting.

Spinning is progress on the 4+ ounces of red carded Tunis wool that I purchased at The Olde Liberty Fibre Festival a few weeks ago.  This is my first experience with Tunis and I think I like it.  I am debating plying it with the Finn that I bought at the same festival, creating a red and dark tweedy yarn.  We will see.  That would give me about 6-7 ounces of yarn with which to knit.

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Tonight is Knit Night and I will go if we aren’t under a tornado warning.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.