Tag Archives: weeds

Changes noted – 10/7/2018

As we were doing our weekly grocery run for those items that can’t be purchased at the Farmers’ Market or grown at home a trend was noticed, not for the first time.  After picking up a couple of items that were lighter than they used to be, I noticed this.  Rather than keeping food products the size they used to be and raising the price as needed to keep the business afloat, they decrease the package size and keep the price at the old level, or only slightly more expensive.

You used to buy a pound of coffee but now the packages are 8 or 12 ounces, sugar for making jams used to come in 5 pound sacks, now they are 3 or 4.  We buy an inexpensive cat food to supplement the diet of our barn cat and you could buy it in a 4 pound jug that could be refilled with bags until the jug dried out to the point of having to be recycled.  Then I noticed that the bags no longer filled the jug and when I needed to replace the jug, they were no longer available.  The kibble is now in a 3 pound bag for the price the 4 pounder used to cost.  These are just a few of the items, look at jars of nut spreads and mayo, most are fewer ounces than just a few years ago.  Some of these items are available in bulk at the natural food store, so the price is reflected by the ounce and you buy what you need, but it has made me notice when the foods are prepackaged, even items we don’t purchase.

Our grocery budget reflects this as the items must be replenished more often, so there isn’t a saving and the illusion that prices haven’t gone up is purely that, an illusion.

Time was spent in the garden a couple days ago, the corn is down and tossed to the chickens to peck for bugs and ears too small to harvest.  Much weeding was done, but the Creeping Charlie is taking over and must be eradicated somehow.  The asparagus ferns were attacked with hedge clippers that didn’t begin to cut through them, so a stalk at a time being cut with a small cross blade clipper.  They are only about 1/3 down and the pile of dried ferns is huge.  They have to be dragged over to the burn pile and not composted because of the threat of asparagus beetles.  Some people burn them in place, but my asparagus are in a wooden box, so no fires in my garden, plus it is only feet from my main chicken coop.



More walks this week, one along an old now paved rail grade.  I love the cut through the hillside, it is always cool and damp no matter how hot the afternoon temperatures.

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Sumac and wild asters lining the trail.

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And another evening harvest and canning session.


The beans harvested that night for dinner were tough and tasteless, that season is done.  The tomatoes are ending, but the peppers continue to overwhelm.  The rest will be left on the plants to ripen to red for drying and fermented hot sauces.

The chicken molt has taken its toll on the egg business, In 3 days there have only been 5 eggs from 15 hens.  There are no pullets ready to replace them as the schedule didn’t allow for raising day old chicks for 5 weeks this summer.  The old girls will be replaced before next summer and will be culled  before next molt season.  Usually at least part of the flock is replaced each year so some hens continue to lay, but the entire flock were raised at the same time and are 2 1/2 years old.  Laying will probably be scarce after the molt due to age and cold weather coming on.  This may be a winter with no hens.  Rural King can order me chicks now and they could be ready to lay by spring.  Something to consider.

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.



The much expanded garden has had the best of me this summer. I am getting squash, cucumbers, beans, peppers, tomatoes, and some greens, but to get to them involves a hike through the weeds. I just haven’t been able to stay ahead of them since I took out the rotting boxes and returned to wide rows. This move I think was a mistaken one. The second error was not using the bales of spoiled hay to heavily mulch after planting or weeding.  I was on the verge of just giving up for this year, accepting whatever harvest I could wade in and get, but then knowing that the work would be even harder next year if I did, I kicked myself in the tush and set about to remedy the problem at least for this year.

This is the lower half of the garden that still needs weeding again and mulching.
This is the lower half of the garden that still needs weeding again and mulching.
This is the upper half after two mornings and    one evening of work.
This is the upper half after two mornings and one evening of work.

A friend of mine has a beautiful garden with boxes, a flower bed outside the garden fence and wood chips spread over cardboard in the paths and flower bed. Once I finish weeding, planting some fall seed, and breaking up the other bale of hay to mulch the lower half of the bed, I will begin my search for cardboard to mulch a 4-5 foot bed for herbs and flowers outside the garden fence and a path inside the garden fence. Relocate the wood pile and get the area ready for this winter’s wood. As the harvest ends, I will again establish boxes, locate more cardboard and lay in a supply of wood chips to mulch the flower bed and paths. The two terrace walls need to be improved to make the heavily sloped garden into three fairly flat areas.

I realize that I tried to expand too much too fast and one section that was taken back from the chickens will be returned, not to the laying hens, but incorporated into the meat chick pen to give them plenty of space. This will involve moving one of the gates, but that too can be done.  I just need for the pole beans climbing the fence to produce and die back.

If I don’t get the weeding and mulching finished by Thursday afternoon, I hope Son #1 and DIL will help me finish one evening over the weekend or early next week while they are here visiting.

The two garage chicks never really integrated in with the coop chicks.  A few nights ago, one of them came to me when I went out to coop everyone up for the night and it didn’t seem to have any energy.  The next morning, the chick didn’t leave the coop and before I could do anything to help it, it died in my hands.  There didn’t seem to be any evidence of injury and none of the others in the coop seem ill.  I wonder if the chick ate something that it shouldn’t since it didn’t have a Hen Mom to teach it.  On a more positive note, the remaining chick, though it seems to think I am its Mom, is eating with the other chickens in the morning and nests with the Coop Hen Mom at night.  Perhaps it will eventually become part of the flock.

Olio – July 24, 2015

Olio – a miscellaneous collection of things.

This week has been a bit cooler with nights that invited an open window over the bed and a light cover in the early morning hours. A week of weeding a bit each time a harvest run to the garden is made. During my weeding a grabbed a handful of poison ivy where the corner of the compost bins had been without seeing it.  I thought we had eradicated it. Since I developed a significant allergy to it about a decade ago,  a quick return to the laundry sink to scrub up was in order. I mostly removed the urushiol oil from my hands but I must have brushed my hand against it before and have a small spot of rash on the back of one hand. This morning I took plastic bag with me and using it as a second glove, pulled and bagged it.  I’m sure it will reappear again as some root broke off.

As happens each summer, about the time you can hardly give away another summer squash, the plants begin to die off, one by one. One day the plant looks healthy, the next they are a wilted pile, a sure sign of squash borer. I love summer squash, Mountaingdad doesn’t favor it so much, so their loss doesn’t bother him. There are many quarts frozen and two yellow squash and all 4 Bennings green tints, this one . . .


are still thriving. The bees love the huge yellow squash blossoms and their hum accompanies me with natures song as I wade through the hip high plants to pick the veggies.

I am getting a few cucumbers, not as many as I would hope and every once in a while one escapes notice until it gets so large it is tossed directly to the chickens. They seem to appreciate the fresh veggies too.

Just as my beans are beginning, something has gotten into the garden and nibbled a half a row down to stubs.  I suspect the deer realized the electric fence was off, it is back on now, but there is also a tiny bunny who flees each time I go to the chicken pen and it could easily get through the welded wire fence.  I hope it doesn’t get so fat it can’t get back out of the garden.

A friend gave me a sack of pickling cucumbers in exchange for a sack of summer squash (don’t you love bartering?)  and I made two half gallon jars of lacto fermented dill pickles. They are fermenting on the kitchen counter for a few more days before moving to the root cellar.


They will be so good with sandwiches and diced into meat or egg salads.

With two knitting projects going, I haven’t been spinning this week, so no progress on that front. It wouldn’t take me long to finish the Coopsworth and have it ready to wind into balls to knit.

The sweater sleeve is growing inch by painful inch. I blame the hot weather for not working more on it, when in reality, I hate knitting sleeves. Round and round in endless boring rows having to stop every couple rows to turn the whole sweater body over in my lap a few turns to keep from having a tangled mess.

The sock however is progressing nicely. The leg is done and after taking this photo, I started on the heel flap. Usually I do after thought heels, but this sock fits so nicely (I’ve made them twice before) that I follow the pattern.


I have been playing with this sock as I go. I usually knit socks two at a time using one long circular needle with the Magic Loop technique, but I started this one on two shorter circulars half the stitches on each needle. I tried a few rows on a 9″ circular which was okay too, but I transfered the sock to double point needles to do the heel. In the past , I have felt like I was playing with pick up sticks, the kids game, when using them, but this time, I found the rhythm and I think I may be a convert. Unfortunately I can’t comfortably use metal needles and a size 1 bamboo needle is so thin it looks fragile. Bet I break a few.  Perhaps I should lay in a supply of them.

We ended yesterday with a 2 1/4 mile walk on the Huckleberry Trail.  This is an attempt to get us both back in shape, to improve my strength and try to help Mountaingdad with his balance issues.

Loving life on our mountain farm.

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.

Critters and Weeds

We had almost 2″ of rain yesterday.  The creeks are roaring and the low spots are soggy.  After a few hours of dry out this morning, I attacked more of the garden, prepping it for seed and baby plants within the next couple of days.  It amazes me how quickly the weeds grow.  Just a few weeks ago, I dumped a tractor bucket of compost into one of the beds to spread it around and build up the bed where it was dumped.  This is what it looked like today.


Lambs quarter, jimsonweed, oxalis, wild geraniums, Bermuda grass and these two I can’t identify but they are generous contributors to the disarray.


This is what a couple of hours of work have accomplished with muddy knees and grubby nails.


Ready for an assortment of hot and sweet peppers.  A bed that wintered covered in straw wasn’t as bad and the few weeds that did emerge were dispatched and will be planted with carrots, bush beans, cucumbers and summer squash tomorrow.  The tomato bed was also covered over the winter and needs only a little work, but there are still 2 1/2 paths that need effort.  In another few days, the garden will be cleaned up, planted and just maintenance required until harvest.  I have pumpkins and winter squash seed, but can’t figure out a place to put them.  Maybe they can be planted on the edge of the grape bed and trained into the adjacent path.

My efforts kept Mr.and Mrs. Bluebird upset and I had to keep moving away so they could feed their littles,


but I did sneak a peek before I left the garden.  I can’t tell how many are in there, it is too high to peek in.  One time when I walked away to let them feed, I went over to collect eggs and stumbled on this fellow.

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I encouraged him to move on.  I like them in the yard, but not quite so close to the coops.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.