Tag Archives: travel

Holy Mother Nature!

Son #1 and Grandson #1 arrived in a horrendous rainstorm in the wee hours of Saturday morning after a harrowing bus ride from Northern Virginia.  Once everyone was up and fed Saturday morning, we set out to finish the Chicken Palace, the cull/meaties coop.  The plan involved using more of the leftover metal roofing to secure in the increasingly larger hole down each side of the coop to the ground.

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If you look at this photo from the day we built the main structure, you can see the triangular hole down each side as the back of the coop is a couple of feet higher than the front due to the slope of the land.  We cut the trapezium shaped pieces and fastened them to the nailers from inside the coop using roofing screws with the chicken wire that I had previously stapled up outside the metal.

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The front was half covered as well.  The coop still needs rocks or logs along the edges inside and out to discourage digging, but it is reasonably secure now.  If anything other than a bear can get it, it will be fairly small and probably won’t take on more than one adult chicken.  I also need to put up some fencing for a run to protect them from the dogs.  After we finished, we captured Midnight, the randy 20 week old Americauna cockerel; Romeo, the two year old Buff Orpington rooster whose spurs had become lethal weapons; Buffy and Buttercup, my two oldest Buff Orpington hens who proved not to be good Moms, they are the ones that abandoned they nests as soon as the younger hen’s eggs hatched.

Sunday morning, bright and early, before the family was up, Son and I dispatched the four of them to freezer camp, leaving us with no adult males for now.  The plan is to keep one of the cockerels from this summer’s hatchings to be the new king of the coop for next year.  We are on chick watch, with the last broody due to hatch the end of the week.  We have had a strange situation in the coop for the past few days.  The Momma hen who lost 4 of her babies two weeks ago and was placed in the coop with her remaining three, spent the first week taking them into a nesting box at night, then after a week she went up to a perch each night and the chicks wouldn’t follow, but instead, tucked under the broody who would accept them at night.  Mom would then take them outside during the daytime and teach and protect them.  I think last night, the chicks pushed 5 of her 11 eggs out of the nest.  I candled them and two appear to have chicks.  Since I’m not sure how long they were out, I put them back under Mom.  The other three do not seem to have chicks, so they will be discarded.

Late yesterday afternoon, Son, Grandson and I set out to take them back home by way of a 5 mile hike to Dragon’s Tooth and back to the car.  I managed all but the top smidgen of the up hike handling the steeps and even the rock scrambles until we got to this. . .

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I decided that with my bifocals and in a skirt, that though I might get up that, I wouldn’t safely get back down it.  The white dot just above center right is my 6’4″ tall son.  Grandson and son left me sitting at the base of this with my water bottle and finished the last 2/10 mile to the top of the tooth and then back to me.  We started out at about 5:30 p.m., made it back to the car just before 8 p.m. and took off for Northern Virginia.  With a dinner stop, rain and the semi trucks, and finally stopped by a huge accident on I-66 just one exit from his exit, we were about 1 a.m. getting there.

This morning we awoke to light rain and I took Son to work and headed for I-66 to return home.  Between morning traffic and harder rain, I missed my turn that I usually take and continued out Braddock Road as I knew I could get on the interstate farther out, but when I got to that turn, traffic was backed up as far as I could see in the direction I needed to go.  I turned south and headed for Manassas to get on there.  As soon as I climbed the ramp to the interstate, it began to rain barrels full and there must have been nose to tail semis in almost all lanes spraying more barrels full onto my little car.  I promptly got off at the next exit and headed south down the middle of the state on a route that I knew would get me home, but would take much longer.  I wasn’t too far down that route until it started raining so hard that I couldn’t see the car in front of me, my cell phone alarming “Flash Flood” warnings, and several inches of water standing at every intersection.  Needless to say, my 60 mph posted speed limit was more like 25 or 30 for about 2 hours.  Once I cleared the Charlottesville area, the rain stopped and the drive improved until I got back to the point of getting on the interstate again. Being tired and stressed, the semi traffic was too much to handle.  As soon as I could get off and take a back route home, I did.  The normally 4.5 hour trip took 8 hours, but I am home, the sun is shining and it isn’t miserably hot, so life is good.

To end on a laugh, Granddaughter just yelled up to me, “Mommom, what are we having for dinner?”  My response was that we are going to The Cellar (a local restaurant).  She fled back to her mom, fretting aloud, “Oh no, we aren’t having anything for dinner (she knows that part of our basement is the root cellar).”  I can only imagine what was going on in her little 3 1/2 year old head.

The Great Circle Wedding Weekend

Whew, what a weekend.  About 10 days ago, Mountaingdad came down with the symptoms that I had thought were allergies with me and I was mostly over, but as often happens with him, it went straight into bronchitis.  Last Tuesday, he went to the Doctor and came home with meds, lots and lots of meds.  We were scheduled to leave on Thursday and hoped that 36 plus hours on the antibiotic and prednisone that he would be feeling better.  We awoke Thursday and he still was not feeling any better, but we decided to go on anyway and hope for improvement.  We arrived in Northern Virginia to see our daughter in law’s senior exhibition prior to her graduation with a BFA in May.  As they don’t really have room for both of us in their house and because we didn’t want Mountaingdad to expose Son #1’s family to his bug, we returned to the hotel from hell down the street.  By the time we arrived, all he wanted to do was go to bed, so we checked in to the hotel and I took off on the Metro to met DIL at her exhibition to look around.  We had reserved a room with a single queen bed, got a room with two doubles which may have been good since he didn’t sleep much that night.  The heating unit in this room worked this time, thank goodness.

I did get to see the exhibition and we took Son #1 and Grandson #1 out for a quick dinner, got what rest we could and left Friday morning for Norfolk/Virginia Beach to my step sister’s wedding.  We were supposed to stay with our youngest son and his family and again feared exposing them to the bug that wasn’t going away, so we checked into a hotel.  Again, he stayed in bed and I went to visit with son and his family and took them out to dinner.

Saturday dawned and he still wasn’t feeling any better.  I had some goodies for my Dad and Stepmom to help feed their guests and for a brunch they were having this morning, so I left Mountaingdad in the hotel room and had a short visit with my Dad and their houseguests.  Afterward, I got him out long enough to get some lunch, still hoping for the best, but realizing that I was going to have to attend the wedding alone last night.  I dressed and was about to leave, when he revealed that he was feeling very dizzy and heavy in the chest.  Instead of attending the wedding, we ended up spending a couple of hours at a “Doc in the Box” making sure that his bronchitis had not turned into pneumonia.  We returned to the hotel with no change in diagnosis with a whole new regime of meds to try.  The hotel was hosting prom party rooms the first night and high school band competition groups last night, so not much sleep was had.

We left early this morning on minimal sleep to return home so he can rest in his own bed.  Nine hundred miles of travel in 4 days and very little family contact had, but we are home safely with no photos to share.  The new meds we hope will help this time and get him on the road to recovery.

Chaos to Quiet

What a week this has been and I hardly took a photo.  Last weekend we picked up eldest grandson in Northern Virginia and brought him to our farm for spring break so we had three of the grandchildren here with no parents.  The grandson that lives with us currently was in school until early release on Thursday for his spring break, so we mostly were caring for only two during the day.  Daughter and son in law arrived back here on Tuesday night, exhausted after taking two days to drive a mammoth truck with their goods here. Wednesday, Mountaingdad provided childcare while we unloaded the truck into two storage units, then helped us take the furniture out of our front bedroom to put their bedroom furniture in there.  Thursday after son-in-law’s successful interview, we moved our bedroom furniture into their storage unit.

Fortunately the weather last week was wonderful, allowing free range time for the chooks.

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They are loving the sprouting chickweed.  Tomorrow, the brooder pen will become home of 4 almost 8 week old Americaunas who will join the flock in a month or so, once they become acquainted through the fences and by fall, we should have some colored eggs to add to the one’s layed by the Buffy’s.  Some of the Buffy’s will be culled and hopefully, there will be some new Buffy’s to add to the flock.

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And nice weather for the cousins to run the fields and Mountaingdad to take a ride on the BBH to go the hour and a half to the dealer to have servicing and a flag added to the back.

Friday, I drove eldest grandson back to Northern Virginia in time for his evening guitar practice.  We ran errands that night and  yesterday morning and then I drove home, delighted to find daughter preparing dinner, so I didn’t have to worry with it.

Today we had our traditional Easter dinner of ham, au gratin potatoes, asparagus, deviled eggs and rolls mid day and daughter drove son-in-law to the airport to fly back to Florida for his last two weeks work there before he joins his family here and begins his new job.

It has been busy, this evening it is quiet and I will rest.

Loving life on our mountain farm and all of the young activity here.

A Weekend of Play, Responsibility, and Loss

The loss was not too significant, given that we still have about 6 weeks until we can plant tender plants outdoors, but as we were leaving for two days, one night, I left the light on my starter flat of tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers.  Most of the tomatoes and the tomatillos had sprouted, only a few of the peppers had shown any sign of sprouting. The light was very close to the clear lid on the sprouts and given the south facing window as well, it must have gotten too hot especially for the ones that had gotten tall enough to reach the lid.  I still have a few Jalapeno sprouts, one leggy tomatillo, but the rest are a burned loss.  This morning, I clipped the dead sprouts and replanted seeds.  This time, I am leaving the lid off and just spritzing the surface a few times each day.

Our away was a trip with the two grandchildren living with us to go to Northern Virginia to pick up our eldest grandson for his week of spring break.  We arrived mid afternoon and checked into the hotel just two short blocks from our son’s apartment.  The only things positive that I can say about the hotel were its convenience and its price.  We were on the front of the building, right across from the office with a busy street out front.  The beds had no foundation and were uncomfortably soft and unstable and the wall mounted heating unit, needed because the temperature dropped into the 20’s and the door had no weather stripping (we could see light around all 4 sides) sounded like a wind machine.  The thermostat in the unit did not work, so it was either too hot or too cold depending on whether I turned it on or off during the night.  The kids slept, fortunately, but Mountaingdad and I did not get 4 hours of sleep between us.  The kids were well behaved on the drive up and once we arrived at son’s apartment.  All of us went out to dinner together before separating for the night.  Son’s research showed us that a bus to the Metro left from in front of our hotel at 8:35 a.m. and he and eldest grandson were going to join us for a walking tour of the monuments on Sunday morning.  The car was packed and we were trying to make do with the free breakfast (bagels and grocery store donuts) when son texted that they found a bus a half hour earlier and could we be ready.

The Florida born grandkids thought the Fairfax connector bus and the Metro were great.  We got off on the Metro stop that put us nearest the Lincoln Memorial, a city walk of about a dozen blocks.  A lot of hand holding and herding were necessary to keep those two safe on Washington DC streets, especially since that grandson wanted to do everything that his almost two year older cousin was doing.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA bit of heavy reading on a man just studied in 2nd grade.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACousins posing in front of Lincoln.

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More monuments, the Korean War memorial, Martin Luther King memorial (also a recently studied topic), a history recitation by the eldest grandson on Jefferson as we looked across the water at that memorial, too far to walk with kids, and a little one who soon gave out, taking turns being carried by an adult, Uncle being the preferred carrier.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith a bit of coaxing and challenges to race, we got her on the ground again as we hit the homestretch, around the Washington monument with a jog up it’s hill to actually get to touch it and on to the Smithsonian Metro station for the train back to Vienna for the trip home last evening.  Many miles walked and tired kids.

The second grader was excited to see Washington.  Eldest grandson excited to be able to spend spring break on the farm, son and daughter-in-law relieved to be able to work and study this week without trying to find daycare for him and entertain him at night, and us pleased to be able to have 3/5 of our grandchildren in our home at one time with the responsibility to keep them safe and cared for in their parents’ absence.

Daughter and son-in-law are in route with a truck full of their household goods, hopefully taking it slowly and safely to arrive here tomorrow night.

While we were away, our haying farmer neighbor took out several cedar and locust trees that have interfered with mowing and haying and removed about a dozen boulder size rocks that have knocked more than one tooth off of his sickle bar and caused more than one nick in our brush hog blade.  His haying and our mowing should be an easier job this year.

Happy New Years from away

For the first time since we met, we were apart on New Year’s Eve. He proposed on New Year’s Eve 37 years ago. We had returned from a ski trip in Vermont, got off the bus and took me to the ER to have my shoulder x-rayed as I had injured it on the trip, in a newly acquired sling to support the separated joint we went out for an early drink then home to my house to celebrate the coming new year quietly. The proposal came just about as the year changed.

Yesterday, I was scheduled to catch a flight in the afternoon to arrive in Florida just after dinner, but before we left for the airport,  I received a text notification that my flight was delayed by more than 2 hours. We dallied about, drove to Roanoke where the airport is located, purchased a t-shirt to replace one of the 2 that I had gotten him for Christmas that had to be returned, had dinner at his favorite restaurant and dropped me off at the airport. As soon as he drove off and I walked in, another text delay.

I finally arrived in Florida after 10 pm and was greeted by a bouncing 3 year old in a frilly glittery dress and cowboy boots, hugging my knees and any 8 year old holding a hand drawn welcome sign. Hugs all around and an hour drive back to their house, we arrived to watch the ball drop in Times Square, wish my home alone husband a happy New Year by phone and go to bed. Not a typical end of year.

But it is all for a good reason. Today daughter and I finish boxing what goes in the trailer, they meet with the Realtor who will likely list their home for sale and prepare to load up the trailer tomorrow for the drive to Virginia. This will be a new chapter in all of our lives, a very welcome one for us.

Holiday Thankfulness

We have just returned to our mountain farm from a few days with family elsewhere.  We were fortunate enough to have a neighbor farm sit for us so we didn’t have to board the dogs, find someone to deal with the outdoor animals and worry about the house in our absence.  This is the first time we have done it this way and it was such a relief to not have to worry about it all.

Our adventure took us away from here on Thursday morning to the coastal area of Virginia, though I have to admit, we never even drove down to the beach.  I don’t miss it at all now that we are in the mountains.  We spent 3 nights with my 91 year old Dad and my step-mom in their home in Norfolk, enjoying some quiet visiting time, a decorated house, and great meals.  Saturday we spent all day with Son#2, our youngest and his family.  Mountaingdad took grandson to see a previewing of Night in the Museum 3 on tickets that Son #2 and DIL had won on a radio contest.  While they were off riding the light rail into Norfolk from the city line and in their movie, Son #2 gave me my first cheese making lesson.  With his help and guidance, I successfully made my first pound of mozzarella cheese.

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We used the cheese as a caprese salad as part of our lunch and it was delicious.  We will see if I can make it again by myself at home.  I am excited to have taken this step in being able to prepare another food we eat and will be able make it with local milk.  If I master this one, I may move on to other cheeses.

Once grandson and Mountaingdad returned and we had lunch together, we celebrated our Christmas with their family.  As they had made most of our gifts and as I had made some of theirs we opened each other’s gifts.  Grandson immediately put on his Steelers hooded sweatshirt and wore it all day.  We, as a family, walked over to their neighborhood park for him to launch his foam tipped rocket with the rubber band launcher then all met with Mountaingdad’s sister and her friend, plus my Dad and step-mom at a restaurant for a big family dinner together.  After dinner, Son#2’s family with us went to a Winter Wonderland and Christmas decorated petting zoo to see the lights, the animated displays and the animals; goats, chickens, ducks, alpacas, llamas, a pot bellied pig and ponies.

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Unfortunately, Santa had already left, but as we wandered out from our walking tour, we stopped by one of the many fire rings that they had set up for making S’mores and enjoyed the warmth on a chilly night.

This morning, after attending the lessons and carols Christmas service at the church I attended as a child and in which both we and our son were married, we returned across the state to our own bed in the mountains.

It was a wonderful way to spend a long weekend, having quality time with my Dad and with our youngest son and his family, spending time with the grandchildren that we see too infrequently.  Now that our daughter is coming to live here and we know that our neighbor will farm sit if we all go away, perhaps we will be able to reestablish more contact with those grandchildren too.

Lovin’ life.

Thankful

Today is my thankfulness post as tomorrow I will be silent, cooking and enjoying family time and NO, none of us will be patronizing stores opening on Thursday for Black Friday sales, nor will we join the throngs shopping on Friday.
I am thankful for safe journeys yesterday though long and traffic filled. Our return trip took about 7 hours to make the 4+ hour trip including an hour to travel 7 miles due to nighttime construction on the interstate. We beat the weather home.

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This morning’s beauty.

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For a silly grandson and the beast who love each other.
For having part of our family here to enjoy this week.
For delicious food, mostly grown locally.
For frequent contact with our other children, my 91 year old Dad and my siblings.
For wood in the garage to keep fires burning today for warmth and coziness.
For health.
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving from the snowy Virginia mountains.

A quick peek

Last night I finished grand daughter #2’s sweater for Christmas, that leaves her brother’s sweater on the needles. It was saved for last because it is going to require more fiddling to get the size right. He is tall enough for a larger size, but so thin, he requires a smaller size. Daughter is sending me length measurements and I am using a smaller size to go around his thin frame. If his takes only slightly longer to make, I should have them all done and the mittens too by deadline. Granddaughter#2’s sweater was given a wash this morning and is now blocking on the dryer top.

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The pattern is Cottage Creations Wallaby, the yarn Universal Yarn’s superwash worsted. This is the 5th or 6th time I have made this pattern for a grand, they love it and the areas that I found frustrating the first couple of times are a cake walk now.
Big brother,  is also getting a Wallaby in a darker shade of blue.
Now I’m off on a round trip to Northern Virginia to pick up Son#1 and family for Thanksgiving. I hope the bad weather holds off until we are safely back here and tucked under warm quilts for the night. Tomorrow I bake pies and more rolls, I wasn’t happy with the first batch. The bread was perfect, the rolls not so much.

Return

Sunday eve found Son#1, Grandson#1, and me motoring back to Northern Virginia.  The original plan had been to work on the scaffolding and sharpen knives on Saturday, deal with the meat chickens on Sunday, and have some hiking or other recreation on Monday, Columbus Day, and then I was going to take them home.  Friday as Son#1 was preparing to leave work for home and then the bus trip here, he realized that he wasn’t off on Monday, but Grandson#1 didn’t have school.  Plans changed, we accomplished the Saturday and Sunday plan and took off on Sunday eve for their house.  I spent two nights there to provide care for Grandson#1.  Leaving for home early this morning and encountering much semi traffic and intermittent rain, I decided to take a non interstate route home, at least most of the way.

The route was a beautiful drive, though it took about 90 minutes longer and I drove through a few very severe storms.  The route took me through a good portion of the poultry raising parts of Shenandoah.  This is why I humanely raise and kill my own chickens and buy our turkey from a local free range farmer.

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This is one of hundreds of poultry “houses” along the route. The sign that I tried to capture said, “Absolute no trespassing, no visitors.”

This is what the inside of a “free range” building looks like. Photo from the internet, source unknown.

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A poultry processing factory, it covered about 2 blocks. The entire town smelled like death and stench.
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One of half a dozen trucks I passed going to the factory, each with 120 of these cages so low the turkeys can’t stand in them and each cage holding about a dozen turkeys.
The birds beaks were clipped so they couldn’t harm each other.  This is grocery store poultry.

On a more pleasant note, though the rain was intense at times, part of the route paralleled the Maury River.

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The leaves were beautiful, the river sometimes well below the road like the picture above and at other times it was only feet from the edge of the road.  It was a certainly a prettier trip than the interstate, but the trip expanded to 6 hours instead of the usual 4 1/2.  Was it worth avoiding the semis?  I guess it was, but I’m glad to be home again.

 

 

 

It Isn’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings. . .

Or the garden quits producing.  The tomatoes are long gone, the Tomatillos and peppers are making up for it.  Much to my surprise, the late planting of bush beans is producing.

I returned from my Retreat and the 12 hours of driving in 2 days, the babysitting and errands with more jars, lots of them.  I have been taking jars to NoVa for three years, full of canned goodness and have brought a few home, but today I have enough to keep me from a purchase for a while at least.

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And bigger jars purchased for the winter storage of bulk goods.

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I left NoVa early today and arrived home in time for lunch with Mountaingdad and wandered off to chicken chores and a garden check and was greeted with . . .

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Peppers, 5 kinds, tomatillos and beans.  This was inducement to pull out the canner again and pickle 4 pints of Jalapenos, 5 cups of XXX Habanero/Tomatillo sauce, blanch and freeze 3 meals of beans and a quart of bell pepper slices.  The tiny hot little peppers that I bought as cayenne are being added to a bottle of vinegar as I harvest them for a couple of smaller bottles of pepper vinegar.

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The more I put by, the more we will enjoy this winter and the more we can share.  The garden has been good to us this year.  I still plan to put up a few more pints of applesauce and a few quarts of apple slices in juice, make a gallon of cider vinegar, as much green salsa and XXX hot sauce as I have Tomatillos and peppers, pints of pickled Jalapenos until the frost hits.  The winter squash and pumpkins continue to spread and grow.  Hopefully, below all of those leaves we will find a good harvest of Buttercup squash, Seminole pumpkins and yellow and white sweet potatoes that were engulfed a couple of weeks ago.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.  It is good to be home.