Tag Archives: Weather

A Week on the Farm – 7/27/18

Summer is going so quickly and the weather has been so strange this year.  A foot of snow in mid April after spring like temperatures in February.  Rain and more rain in early summer, making putting in a garden a challenge, then hot and arid.  Then the rain returned, along with insect pests in the garden, first Japanese beetles eating the leaves off of the Raspberry bushes, then they were joined by bean beetles and together, they decimated what remained of the first bean crop.  Then the blister beetles arrived and defoliated some of the tomatoes.  I hand picked them, dropping them in soapy water then sprinkled diatomaceous earth on the ground around the plants to try to kill off any that escaped to earth during the hand picking. The plants are alive, not putting out new growth, but fruit is ripening.


The tomatoes are being frozen whole but there are so many in the freezer now that I will pull them out, slip the skins off, and begin canning them this week when the rain resumes.  The cucumbers that I planted this year for pickles are small and greenish white, interesting mild smooth flavor raw.  Most of them are being lacto fermented into sour dills thick slices.  Maybe a jar or two of spears too.


The silicone nipple lids and glass jar weights make the fermenting so easy.

There were two partial days off the farm this week in Colonial costume working with children, demonstrating the fiber arts and teaching drop spindling.  Working with kids like this rejuvenates me.



Today, since it stayed dry yesterday and since tomorrow we will resume deck destruction, to take down the rest of the framework, I tackled cleanup.  One task that I had promised eldest son that I would get done, was to move the scaffolding that we were not using for the deck back into storage.  When we built the house, instead of renting scaffolding, we purchased it, knowing that it would be used repeatedly with staining the logs and other jobs.  On occasion we have loaned some of it out to friend.  Most of it was stacked against the house at various points and had been there for a year.  It is now back in the back of the huge garage until needed again.


More the rotting deck wood was burned off in the burn barrel while I was working outside.


There will be another burn tomorrow, I am sure.  To finish the jobs that I said I would get done this week was to stain the logs that were stained during construction then hidden behind the deck.  They got a coat of diluted stain today and will probably get another coat, less diluted tomorrow.  After tomorrow, we get another round of rain, so I will have to hope for a dry couple of days to get a third coat on before the new deck goes up.


This is the last day lily bloom of the season and for some reason, it is lopsided.  This one is called Sear’s Tower and gets quite tall.

Last night while we sat on the front porch in the cool evening, a tiny ruby throated hummingbird visited the feeder.  That is the first one I have seen that really had the vivid red throat.  This morning, another little hummer decided the feeder was all his/hers, came for a drink and then sat on the crook neck to guard the feeder, not letting any of the others near it.  It guarded for about 10-15 minutes, feeding then guarding, finally flew off.  The photo isn’t great, taken from inside the house through the screen and enlarged, but you get the idea.


The header photo and the teaching photo were taken at the Wilderness Road Regional Museum camp and used from their site.

Olio-Week’s End, February 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This week has been an emotional wreck.  The grandson that lives with us is with his Mom, Sister, and “Dad.”  His biological father lived in Florida and without sharing details, passed away on Wednesday afternoon.  Grandson had been told about a week before that he wasn’t doing well and couldn’t talk on the phone on the scheduled day, but it was still very hard news for him to take and for daughter to have to deliver to him.  They are awaiting information on the service so they can go down and let the young man be there.  It is hard,  he is 10, and as my sister reminded me, children his age are still too young to fear death, though I’m sure he will have his share of tough moments over the next few weeks.  I still do over my Dad’s passing and it has been 14 months.

The week has been up and down with the weather as well, and the changes are causing allergy symptoms for some in the house, weather related headaches for others, and confusion for the animals as they go out to freezing wind one day and temperatures that invite playing in the creek the next.  Each day is a debate of what to wear, the uniform has become a short sleeve t shirt with a sweatshirt or fleece over it, a parka added if necessary.  Gloves stay in pockets when needed.  Some days, the layers stay on, some days peel down to the t shirt.

If we hadn’t had to cancel our ski trip, we would have arrived home late last night from a week in Colorado.  We missed not only the skiing, but also the company of our cousins who are wonderful hosts when we visit them.  Instead of sharing our anniversary dinner with them as we did 4 years ago, we just enjoyed each other’s company at one of the finer restaurants in town, a great 4 course meal that was delicious.

Last night, the cowl that was being knit from the silk that I had spun was finished.  It is beautiful and is blocked and drying.


The weekend approaches, our usual breakfast and Farmers Market Saturday, tomorrow and more vendors are beginning to return with early greens, so good food will be had next week.

My spinning is improving on my little antique spinning wheel.


Generally it doesn’t throw the drive band, but the upright nearest the spinner still moves some and causes the wheel to skew and throw the band.  The next time it jumps off, the upright is going to be wrapped in a few rounds of waxed hemp thread to see if that will tighten it enough to hold its position.  The peg under the table also needs to be forced in tighter to help.  The missing part for the new antique walking wheel is being made and when it returns, another learning curve for me as a spinner.  Also improvement is noted with the support spindle that we got last weekend.

Olio 2/13/17

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

And this is all over the place today.

Yesterday it was spring and the wind howled, taking out the power for a few hours before we got home. Last night it got very cold and the wind howled, rattling the dog run dormer on the back of the house and whistling through the edges of the metal roof.  This morning was crystal and the wind still howled.  Out to start the car to warm up for the grandson run to the bus stop and this was the view.



The sun higher each day, rising above the ridges in the east and lighting the tops of the other ridges while our hollow was still in the dawn and the waning moon still high in the western sky.

As grandson was grabbing his coat and pulling or pushing on the bi-fold hall closet door, it sounded like someone dropping tinker toys (do you remember them, I do).  Most of the doors in the house are beautiful doors handmade by eldest son when he was finishing the inside of the house, but rather than make a door that opened out into the hall, we opted for a bi-fold on that closet.  This is what happened.

Door broke


The top separated from the side and the slates came tumbling down.  Thanks first to my Dad who taught me to tackle most repairs, from replacing the insides of a toilet or even a whole toilet, replacing garbage disposals when in the city and they were used, installing faucets, door locks and knobs, and on and on.  Next to  eldest son who will set me to work on a job with some instruction, then go off to do a different job himself, the door was taken down, the slats were carefully put back in the slots, lined up top and bottom and the door hammered back together with a new glue joint and a screw for good measure.  The pilot hole drilled, the screw set, the door rehung, good as new (hopefully).



The day’s mail brought the parts to the first antique spinning wheel that was bought.  The repairs are wonderful and there is a second bobbin.  The wheel was put back together, the instructional video watched twice before attempting to put the double drive band on, and she was taken for a spin.


The front near leg still splays out a bit too much.  When the wheel arrived, that leg had an adhesive spongy material on one side of it, a shim of sorts?  That repair is on me to resolve.  The wheel does spin and draws in the singles, but it has a tendency to throw the drive band after about a dozen rotations.  Some adjustments must still be made, but my knowledge is too novice to know what so it has been thrown out into the ether for answers.  It is a beauty, but it needs to be functional.

For as long as I can remember, each Valentine’s Day, my Dad sent each of his girls from wife to great granddaughters a kid’s type valentine card.  When he passed in December of 2015, I knew I wouldn’t get any more of them, but Valentine’s Day 2016 came and there was an envelope with a card for me, one each for daughter and granddaughter and the envelope looked like it could have been written by him.  I cried, daughter had to open it, my younger brother had decided that he was going to carry on the tradition.  Today the envelope arrived and this was inside, again with that oh so familiar handwriting.  His handwriting is eerily similar to Dad’s.



Yes, it made me cry again, but tears of sweet memories.

Olio – Sprwinter edition 4/9/16

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This is what we awoke to this morning.


The end of the first full week of April.  In the decade we have lived on our farm, we have never seen more than flurries this late.  Tonight it is going down to 19ºf, so the likelihood of having any apples, pears, or peaches this year from our orchard looks bleak. I haven’t been out to the garden and coop this morning to see the damage there.  The chickens will be fine, but disgruntled that there is snow on the ground, but it is going up to 42ºf later today and up into the 60’s and 70’s over the next couple of days.  I may have to replant some of the garden.  It will leave this sprwinter mess and become spring eventually.

The cold, windy weather has allowed for more fiber play though.  The fingerless mitts that I have been designing are coming along.  One is complete.


I love the double cable up the back.  The cuff on the second one is done and the hand is about to commence.  If I can get a better photo, that I am not trying to take single handedly in the dark loft, I will post them.

This was the week to receive my monthly installment of fiber from the Tailfeather’s Club from Unplanned Peacock and it was the most gorgeous silk top.  I have spun about 70 yards on my drop spindle and it is a delight to work with and made the softest, squishiest, glowing yarn.


It was a 100 g installment, but was very generous, as still have more than 100 g after spinning this.  A beautiful soft cowl might be calling.  This is definitely a color I will wear.

Damage assessment in the garden will be done once I can see the ground again.  I think the peas, garlic, onions, and radishes will be ok.  The cabbages and chard, if they survived last night might be covered tonight.  I covered them with spoiled hay when I planted them, but we have been living in a wind tunnel for the past couple of weeks and the hay has scattered down the length of the bed and into the chicken run.  I’ll dig out an old sheet tonight.

From noon today until tomorrow afternoon, we will be flying solo with the grandkids.  K and R are going out of town to a concert that he bought tickets to for K’s birthday last November and they are going out to a nice dinner to celebrate their last August anniversary and spending the night in a hotel.  Right now, the grands are preparing to test for their next belts in Taekwondo.  N’s test is at 10 a.m. and A’s is at 11.  We are going to bundle up and go to the Farmers’ Market in spite of the weather.  Fresh greens and a bit of meat are in order.

I finally went to the doctor for my annual (but it has been a few years) physical and to get referrals for some of the other tests that one should have to endure once you reach a certain age.  Our family has a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol and a history of Type 2 diabetes.  I have managed to keep myself fairly thin, though not where I want to be and have since having access to local pasture raised meat, local butter and milk, and my own hen’s eggs, have let my veggie heavy diet slip to a more omnivore diet.  My cholesterol came back high.  Not OMG high, but enough to make me step back and get back on board with less meat, fewer eggs, skip the milk in my coffee diet.  I tried statins once and after a few months of feeling awful, I stopped them and don’t want to go that route again.  My fasting blood sugar wasn’t as good as it should be, but of no cause for concern yet.  I will strive to kick up my exercise routine, cut back on some foods and get retested in a few months.

Fickle winter’s end

On Thursday when I left for Hawks Nest, it was flurrying. We drove into and out of heavier snow on the 2 1/2 hour trip. By Thursday afternoon, the snow on the ground was gone and by Friday morning, the ground was covered with a couple of inches. When we left on Sunday late morning, it was T-shirt and sandal temperatures in the mid 60’s, by yesterday it was in the low 70’s. Today, we will be lucky if it gets to half that, it is snowing and blowing again with light accumulation expected on Thursday night.


The forsythia is budding out, the daffodils are 6″ high but not yet budding. I want to plant peas, onion sets, turnips, but not yet. Another couple of weeks and a section of the garden will be reclaimed from the chickens and early crops planted to begin another growing season. Each day I check my second year asparagus bed for shoots. I may harvest a couple when they are ready.

We are getting 5 or 6 eggs each day from the hens.  They are signalling the lengthening days and coming spring.

Since Hawk’s Nest, my spinning has been put on hold until I finish a knitting project for a friend. Though it is not mine to share, I have learned two new skills doing it.


The first skill is the knit 1 below stitch. I was doing quite well with it and did 10 repeats of the pattern, until I goofed. I tried tinking back several rows to the error to fix it and realized that I messed up removing it, so I ripped out what I had, about half of the front of the project and started over. I should have learned the first time to insert a lifeline after a repeat was done, but no, I just trudged along and finished 11 repeats, but again there was an error. Instead of ripping it all out again, to learn skill #2 I looked on YouTube to learn how to tink (knit backwards) a knit 1 below row and removed two rows, back to before the mistake. Once this repeat is corrected, I am going to put a lifeline after each repeat. Each row is getting longer and each error is more work to correct.

When this project is done, I will return to spinning my lovely fluff from the retreat, finish knitting my sweater and frog (rip out) the socks I was making for myself that are just too big, unless I can find someone with a size 8 foot that is wide and who has large calves.

Another Snow Day

Yesterday, local school systems shut down 1 to 3 hours early in anticipation of the Clipper system in the forecast. It snowed lightly at our elevation, mostly a wintry mix that was gone by 5 p.m. At dusk it began again as snow.  We left a 4 wheel drive vehicle at the top of the driveway, SIL left his little 2 wheel drive sedan down near the main road, we gave him a key to ours so he could get to his this morning.  Today schools closed, kids were up at the crack of dawn, trying to get the remaining 3 adults up too.  We of course wanted to take advantage of no schedule and warm beds to nest down and sleep in.



The accumulation is only a couple of inches, enough to be pretty, not enough to cause any problems for 3 of the cars.  Pictures taken as I took food and warm water to the chickens, knowing that it would have to be served “in bed” to them as they won’t come out when the ground is white and I didn’t want to take the effort to break up the snow covered bale to put down hay as we are looking at increased cloud cover and another 1 to 4″ today and tonight.  My guess is there will be no school again tomorrow.

One of the local amateur weather forecasters, who is usually more accurate than the meteorologists, has warned us to start watching the 15th through the 17th for another major winter storm.  At this rate, the kids will be in school until July 4. At least we will be able to go out and celebrate our 38th Anniversary on Valentine’s Day without a drive in the storm as we have had a couple of years.

My handspun sweater is coming along.  I am on the body, below the armpit and still on the first 200+ yard skein, though I am near needing to add the second one.  It is going to be a delightfully warm, heavy winter sweater when done, my heaviest to date.



I have read several books in the past few days as well.  I stumbled on a series of novellas by Kendra Elliot and read the first two but must await the release of the third, then was offered a Kindle first of a pre release by Joe Hart, the first of a trilogy, called The Last Girl.  I enjoyed it and will probably read at least one more in the trilogy when it comes out.  For now my reading is a return to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, a paperback that I bought before the storm a few weeks ago.  So far, I haven’t really been able to get into it and have never seen the series on TV, nor do I want to unless I finish the book.

Winter plods on with spring a distant dream.  I probably should start a seed list for the items I lack for the garden when the weather warms.


Tomorrow is the Big Day

The wind is howling, wind advisories are in effect.  The temperature has dropped from the balmy upper 60’s we’ve had most all week to the upper 40’s and low 50’s.  Because of requirements to weight the canopy, I purchased a set of leg weights for the tent, but they won’t be enough if this wind continues.  It is supposed to calm by early morning tomorrow.  I sure hope so.  We have some exercise weights that I think I will also take and lash to two of the canopy legs and put double weights on the other two.  The weights will be half again the weight of the tent, but if the wind continues, I will be hard pressed to keep it on the ground.  We can’t stake them down as we will be set up on a parking lot made of pavers.

Early this week, K and I set it up in the garage to figure out arrangement and made a few minor adjustments, like removing the small price signs and putting an A-style chalkboard with all of the prices on it in the corner of the tables.  I’m hopeful and anxious as the huge annual Y Craft Show begins today in town and continues through Sunday and the local toy shop is having their holiday unveiling event tomorrow as well, so lots of events going on the same day.


More than two weeks ago, I ordered more of the screw lid tins that I use for the solid lotion bars, the Biker Bum Balm, Comfrey Salve, and Brigand’s Oil Salve.  Having ordered from this company before and receiving my order in a week or less, I figured, I was going to have them in plenty of time to finish packing some of my products.  I have tracked this package that was shipped from California on November 3rd.  It only took a day and a half to get to New Jersey.  From there, FedEx sent it to West Virginia, only a couple of hours west of us, then to North Caroline, a few hours south.  Then, it hopped over Virginia and went north again to Maryland where it sat for 5 days.  Two days ago, it was an hour west of us in Virginia and with any luck, it is out for delivery today by USPS as they turned it over to them.  Ten days it has been in transit, a smallish box that would easily have fit in the medium flat rate USPS box and would have been here in 3 days at most.  I have contacted them, but received no reply.  I guess I will be up tonight finishing what I had hoped to have all packed and ready to go early tomorrow morning, I have to be at the market for final instructions by 8 a.m.

Mid week, I received an email from a reporter at the local newspaper.  She wants to include the local crafters that are on Etsy in the Holiday Craft market section of the newspaper.  K took a photo of a representation of my products, I wrote up the brief blurb that she wanted and a listing of my products and sent them on.  The next day she asked for a profile photo so K took that as well and that too was sent on.  This should be a nice little boost of publicity.


If you are one of my local readers, come on to Blacksburg tomorrow and visit all of the events going on, buy some local produce and meat while you are at it.  I am not the only craft vendor tomorrow, so you can browse for holiday gifts for your friends and family.

I hope the tins arrive and the wind dies down, then maybe my anxiety will lessen.

Go Away, Just Go Away

Spring is just around the corner, I know it is.  The calendar shows First Day Of Spring in just a couple of weeks.  I know that we will have continued periods of cold, even snow flurries well into April and can’t put most things into the garden until mid May, but winter needs to stop already.  We had a reprieve for a day or two and last week’s snow mostly melted, but between the melt, the roof drip off and the rain, the county is now under a flood watch.  This isn’t a problem for us as we are high on the side of the mountain and our creek flows into a sink hole that when flooded, rushes down the west side of our property, still well below the house.

The roadsides that are steep from blasting to put the 4 lane main road through the valley are seeing minor mudslides, but the ground is totally saturated and pudding soft, so the fear of a more major mudslide that could block our ingress to town is possible.

Yesterday it rained, then sleeted, then rained and sleeted again and this is ongoing today.  The high for the day, right at freezing and headed down about 30 degrees by midnight is turning the rain to more freezing rain and sleet with another 5 inches of snow due by nightfall.

imageThe trees and shrubs are ice coated and if we really get a few inches of wet snow, there will be branches breaking and threats of loss of power.  We have enough firewood to get us through a couple of days, but that is all.   The grill’s propane tank is about half full and we have plenty of beans, rice, and frozen foods to make meals.


When I went over for chicken chores this morning, I realized that a small 5 year old dogwood near the side of the house has been seriously gnawed, probably by hungry deer.  It was sleeting out and the ground is still too hard to try to pound in stakes to put a piece of fence around it, but I was able to force a couple of fiberglass poles around it and drape a piece of row cover fabric over it to thwart more chewing until I can get a fence around it to try to protect it.  Perhaps I should check my fruit trees as well.

The Great Chill

Our Virginia born daughter who has lived the last dozen or so years in Florida and her Florida born children arrived as an Arctic blast hit our region. The first two days they were here, we saw highs of around freezing and lows 10 or so degree lower. They are cold, to the bone cold and the next two days are colder. We awoke to 20°f (-6.67°c) and that is today’s high.


We have a wind chill advisory for the next day or so. It is snowing, mountain snow showers. The kids want snow to play in, but not this event.


When I took food and water to the chooks, the wind cut through me. I filled the PVC feeder that hangs inside the coop and realized that even the water in the coop was frozen solid. The waterer was brought in to thaw and a pan of water put in the coop. I opened the pop door, they ran out into the yard, turned and back into the coop, where they will likely stay today.
Other than trips to the coop to check for eggs and thaw water, we are going to hunker down indoors with a fire going, games to play, knitting, planning and reading.


My knitting  is an Ouroboros Moebius from Margaret Radcliffe, a local knitting designer and author, a friend knit out of Green Dragon Gradient sport weight in Teal which I will treasure as this other local friend is no longer dyeing yarns. Son#1 and family gave me the Organic Seed Grower for Christmas and my two favorite seed catalogs arrived during the busy holidays and I haven’t had time to even look at them.
The day will be fueled by a pot of stew or vegetable beef soup and maybe a pan of bread.