Tag Archives: signs of spring

Olio – 3/9/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Last weekend was the twice a year Fiber Retreat that I attend each February/March.  The group was a bit smaller this time, but the company was fun, the food was good (they finally got a restaurant manager that knows what she is doing), and it was a pretty good vending event.


I came home with a Jacob pelt to sit on, especially when I am on a hard chair at Living history events or retreats.


Additionally, I came home with a gift of 5 raw fleeces, two are Jacobs, one of my new favorites from Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em.  Some of the fleeces are going to be shared with a friend that raises Mohair goats, but at least one Jacob is going to be processed by me when I finish spinning my 15 breeds.

Prior to leaving, a new found social media friend and I were talking and she makes felted hats among other things.  Several years ago, I walked away at SAFF from a felted hat that I adored and have regretted it since.  Friend says she can make me one.  Some back and forth over style and color and since I wanted to use one of my woven tapes for the hat band, a price was set and this arrived shortly  after my return.


What fun to wear.  Such a great purchase.

The week has been spent continuing to recover from our auto accident.  We each had another visit with our physician and each had another orthopedic manipulation done to try to loosen up the tight soreness from the whiplash and another discussion about how long the brain fog, headaches, and dizziness when I bend down will last from the concussion.  It is such a hassle to deal with the discomfort and all the insurance issues when we were not at fault.  The car is in the shop and is supposed to be ready by Monday afternoon more than a month after the accident.

The week has also been spent doing some spinning, finishing two more breeds for the challenge and spinning up a “black” Rambouilett Dorset few ounces and an orange Coopworth few ounces that I had planned to ply together, but didn’t like the way the sample looked knitted, so they were plyed on themselves.  The other two spun were Tunis, originally from Tunisia, and Black Welsh Mountain originally from Wales.  The Black Welsh Mountain is on the threatened list and the Tunis is on the watch list from the Livestock Conservancy.


Currently I am spinning Hog Island, origin Britian and US and Florida Cracker, origin Spain, both on the critical list.  My last breed to make 15 is going to be Cotswold and it is on it’s way to me via mail.

Yesterday we awoke to it snowing and though the roads never really got bad, we had a few inches.  Some of the daylilies had broken ground and their tender tips got burned.  They will recover with spring thinking about making it’s way to the mountains.  The Autumn Joy didn’t seem to mind the snow.



For the past couple of months, the kitchen sink drain has been sluggish.  I have tried all of the “natural” cures, baking soda and vinegar; washing soda and boiling water to no avail.  Last night while cleaning up from dinner, it didn’t drain and sat with a couple of inches of water in it all night.  This morning, I poured a cup or so of vinegar into the standing water and we went out to breakfast and the Farmers’ Market.  On the way home, a stop at the hardware store and a 15′ drain snake was purchased.


Though I have done other plumbing repairs including removing a toilet, clearing it and reinstalling it with a new wax ring when our youngest (now in his 30s) tried to flush a Burger King Capital Critter unsuccessfully), installing a new garbage disposal in a house about 30 years ago, clearing P traps and tub drains, this was my first experience with the snake, fortunately not requiring any real contortions due to continued soreness.  There is now one in the house for future use and I feel more confident in its use.


As a senior citizen, change in my routine comes hard.  My body doesn’t adjust as quickly as when I was young, though I never liked the spring forward bit, and when there is change in schedule or an impending early event, I don’t sleep well.  My usual routine is an early bedtime, reading for a bit then lights out and rising as soon as the sky begins to lighten.  Daylight savings time totally ruins that routine.  I’m not ready for bed at what the clock says is my usual bedtime and I must awaken much too early for there to be light in the sky at least for a month or so.  The change also affected the grands.  They were put to bed at 8 p.m. last night.  Daughter fretted with them numerous times, before I think she went to the basement to work on some paperwork in quiet.  SIL fell asleep on the couch between laundry loads and he slept through their nonsense.  At 9:30, I was readying for bed and the kids were so loud that I went down and they were both in the lower bunk and it looked like “Wrestlemania” going on.  I must have left my grand mom demeanor upstairs, because I lit into them, verbally separating them back into their own beds and giving them what for about how “A” had to get up at 7 a.m. for school and he wasn’t going to want to get up as it was “an hour earlier” than usual.  They got quiet, I went to bed and sleep eluded me.  It was a restless night, worrying that I would sleep through my alarm, something I have never done.  My alarm rarely goes off as I am usually up well before the time set.

Sure enough, “A” was hard to awaken, fell right back to sleep.  Round two, he awakened, rolled over and ignored me.  Round three, blanket ripped off, and a very stern Mommom told him to put his feet on the floor, “NOW.”  A few minutes later, he wandered into the kitchen, hands on hips and stated, “my clock says it is only 6:15″ as he looked at the clock on the stove.  Guess he and his parents failed to reset his clock, not that he would wake to an alarm anyway.


We made it to the bus stop as the sun started a struggle with the fog and cloud layers from last night’s rain.  It looked like the sky was clearing, but it is still cloudy out now.

Daylight savings time isn’t the only sign of spring up on the mountain, the forsythia is beginning to bloom.


Not as far along as in town, but a blush of yellow in the early morning light.  My first year daffodils, a plant trade from last year, have buds and there should be flowers by tomorrow or the next day.


B’rooster was crowing his “we are awake now” song when I got back to the house.  I guess either we removed the non-crowing roo or he decided to start once the other usurper was gone.  They were let out into the saturated run and showed much more interest in the kitchen scraps and leftovers than the layer crumble and cracked grain.  I love watching one grab a morsel and two or three others chasing after her because that was the one they wanted too.  Just like kids.

It is too wet to play in the dirt today so I guess, I will read, knit, spin and maybe nap if I can get “N” to take one.  For now, it is laundry morning.  I cleaned yesterday as Daughter and the grands had friends over for a play date and they had never seen the house before, so the layers of dog fur (it is shedding season) and dust were removed.  That will last all of a day or two, but at least it was clean and straight yesterday.

Still loving life on the mountain farm, but I DON’T LIKE DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME!!!


We Have Spring

At least the weather says we have it.  The calendar is still a couple of weeks off and I know that we don’t have frost free days until Mother’s Day here, but for this week, it is superb.  It is so nice today, that Mountaingdad took the Big Bad Harley out for a ride, realizing as he was getting ready to go that he had a back running light out, he rode to “the big city” an hour away to get it replaced and to get a hot dog.  The one thing he really misses about Virginia Beach is Famous Uncle Al’s.  They grilled Boar’s Head all beef hot dogs and have the best french fries ever, hot and crisp.  No where in this university town or the surrounding towns has he been able to find a “good” hot dog.  There is a place near the HD dealer that has ones he finds acceptable.  I’m glad he could get out.  Maybe tomorrow too.

When eldest son and grandson #1 came in on early Saturday morning, T tasked L to look under the bus seats to be sure they hadn’t left anything.  Once in my car on the way to the house, he reached for his hat and uh-oh, no hat.  This was a nice wool hat that I had knit two Christmases ago to go with a Moebius Scarf for him.  If the weather is chilly, due to his short haircut and thinning top, he wears a hat.  I try to keep him in knit hats.  Sometimes, without him nearby, they end up too short for him to fold the brim.  One of his last remaining ones, has numerous holes held together by safety pins, OK for around the house, but not too professional on the bus ride to work or the walk across campus to his office.  He was disappointed in it’s loss, but I had recently determined that I might have better luck selling hand spun, hand knit scarves and hats than I was having selling the hand spun yarn, so I pulled a skein of local undyed Dorset lamb yarn and two small skeins of dark undyed Shetland to make him a new one.  As he drives my car to his house when I return them home after a visit, because I have to drive home alone the next day, I tucked the yarn in my purse as we were leaving Sunday afternoon.  I cast on the hat, knit the ribbed brim as we drove north and began the color work part in the dark after dinner.  I had hoped to finish it on the drive and while there, but we arrived at 9:30 p.m. and having to get up at 4:30 a.m. Monday to take them to the Metro for their mini vacation, I didn’t get it done.  Yesterday, I was too foggy from the short night followed by the long drive home, the chores needed once here, I didn’t get but a couple of more rows done.  I realized that I had less of the cocoa color than I thought and had to pull out about 8 rows to change the design to accommodate the shortfall.  This morning, I finished it.


It has been washed and is blocking, once dry, I will mail it to him, knowing that in spite of this week’s beautiful spring weather, he will likely need it for a bit longer until it gets warm and stays warm.  This is the first hat I have ever made with my hand spun yarn.  It is thick, warm and generous.  I hope he likes it.

The spring like week lured me to put the kitchen floor potted herbs out on the deck.  This allowed me to clean up the dog hair, live and dead stink bugs, and a few dead wasps that were lurking between the pots.  I know that they will have to spend some more days and nights in the house before they can summer out, but they are out for now.


This is probably the last time I will have the large pots on the floor in the kitchen as I have learned how easy it is to root Rosemary and so the Rosemary plants are going to be planted in the garden this year and cuttings taken and rooted for the window sill pots at the end of summer.  The cuttings will overwinter in the sill and be planted in the garden again next  year, it just doesn’t overwinter here in the mountains of Virginia.  The mint is going to be cut and rooted for a window sill pot as well, along with the other window sill herbs.  I have been toying with the idea of finding a small wagon that can be waterproofed inside that will hold several smaller pots so that I can perhaps expand the winter herb garden to include a few more herbs like bush basil and maybe a small sage.  It could then be rolled out of the way to clean under it, rolled out in the sun on nice days and stored for the summer when the garden has the herbs growing in it.

The excitement of seeing leaves, flowers, and vegetables growing again is swelling.  I still need a few seed packets, but the seeds I purchase are from a Virginia company and many of them are sold in the local natural foods store.  I just need to pull my list together and get in there to get them before they sell out.  It is approaching the time to start my tomato, tomatillo, and pepper starts.  They can’t go out until mid May and I don’t want them to get too tall and leggy before then, so I will likely wait another week or two to start them.  Everything else gets direct planted.  I have thought about direct planting them as well.  The volunteer tomatoes and tomatillos are always the strongest and best plants out there.


Spring has come to the mountains, finally!

We are enjoying mountain spring at last.  Days that are mild enough for long sleeves or a light sweater, nights still cold enough for a coat, but signs abound that Old Man Winter has finally moved south, way south.


Peach blossoms and green grass.


Garlic growing in the garden beds.

On one of my surveys of the outside of the house, I have found many Preying Mantis egg cases, two on one of the spent deck plants from last year.



They will be carefully cut off and placed in the new plants on the deck and we will try to catch the day they begin to emerge.  It is interesting to watch the tiny 1/2″ long critters creeping around on the plant leaves.

Sunshine today and though it is only in the mid 50s outside, the 4 week old chicks got some sun time.


They are just past the dinosaur stage and look to have nearly all of their feathers.  When out in the sun, they jump and flap, chase each other around the water trough that was their brooder.  Today they went back into one of the wire dog kennels, but this time in the garage as they kept tipping the water and spilling it into the trough and the pine shavings were getting too soggy too quickly.

Tomorrow we are expecting heavy rain most all day, so Jim and I will go to the lumber yard and purchase the wood and a roll of chicken wire to create a coop divide.  By the end of the week, the chicks will occupy half of the coop, perhaps still with a heat lamp for another week or so and the other half of the coop will be the two Buff Orpington hens and the Americana hen. Cogburn and the rest of his harem will be moved at night into the temporary pen and chicken tractor, tricked out with a new nesting box to keep them separate from the chicks and to isolate them until the day in July or August when they will be permanently removed from the flock.

After a few weeks of adjustment and a bit more size, the coop divider will be removed and the chicks will have to learn the pecking order with the three hens that we will be keeping.

Spring productivity

A record, 3 days in a row of sunshine and temperatures that are late springlike and it is showing around the farm.  The grass is greening and by August I will wish it weren’t as I mow and mow, but it is a welcome sight.  The lilac leaves are bursting forth and the forsythia has a yellowish hint of flowers soon to come.  The peach trees have swelling buds as do the Asian pears.


The beautiful weather has sparked the energy that the winter sapped and much as been accomplished.  The garage clean-up is about half done, the chicken run is complete except for the two wooden posts for the gate and I need the neighbor’s post driver for that, Jim and I hauled the chicken tractor over in front of the unused side of the compost bins and I erected fencing to create a pen for the cull birds this spring and the meat birds this fall.


Between the coop and the compost bins there used to be two more compost bins that eldest son and I took down when we put the coop in place.  There was plenty of good compost still there so a tractor bucket full was moved to the garden and spread around.  My 4 x 4 wooden boxes in the garden are rotting away, so I pulled several of them out and will just revert to long 4′ wide rows.  After the scoop of compost was removed, I realized that the spot would be a perfect potato bed, so some raking to smooth the surface and try to level it some was done, then weeding and planting of peas.  The garden has a good healthy crop of garlic up, the grapes and all but one berry bush are leafing out and the peas are finally in the ground.  There is more weeding to do in preparation for planting in a few weeks, but after three days of work, I’m spent.

I’m cleaned up, vegging out until time to go pick up my car from the shop and go socialize and knit with my friends.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.