Tag Archives: wildflowers

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.

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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.

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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.

Wildflowers -4/13/2017

 

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Virginia Bluebells
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Pig Hole
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Wild violets
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Elderberry
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This area was clear cut last spring and summer and is being made into grazing fields.
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House in the hollow.

An evening walk was in order on the end of yesterday’s beautiful day.  This senior body has been too sedentary this winter and is in need of daily exercise to make the garden and fence work a bit easier on it.  More walking, more stretching.  We live in the perfect place to walk.  Our road is .8 miles of dirt and gravel with several steep inclines and declines passing through woods and farm fields that are laced with cow paths through the thickets.  The hill to our west holds a large cave, open at the top (the second photo) with a fence around it for safety.  It’s name comes from the remains of a pig that was found deep in the cave on a ledge.  The cave sinks deep into the hillside and turns east with a second enclosed and locked entrance that I understand requires some agile moves and no fear of claustrophobia to enter.  I don’t want to do that.  The Virginia Bluebells bloom in profusion at the open mouth at the top behind the fence. Up on that hill, you can look down into the hollow and see our farm, our log home, the coops and gardens.  This early in the spring, walking the fields is a pleasure, the grass through growing quickly is still fairly low, the invasive stickweed has yet to show, the ticks still at a minimum.  In another few weeks, the fields will be hard to traverse until after hay mowing in early June and after that, our fields and the fields east of us can be walked again.

The wildflowers and flowering trees abound on this walk.

Today is another beautiful day and my plan is to walk up through the woods to the highest meadow on our cattle raising farm neighbor’s property.  From there the view is amazing, above the tree line miles to the east and to the west.  North and south blocked by ridgelines much closer.

This is a beautiful part of the world.

 

Family Outing and Chicks

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Tropical depression Bob descended on us around 2 p.m.  With SIL’s mom visiting for the weekend, we wanted to take her on a hike one that the kids had not done before, so after the morning Farmers’ Market run we set off up the mountain to a nice 2.6+ mile loop trail that has a gorgeous rock outlook about halfway through the hike. It has a 180 degree view that is totally unspoiled, not a road, power line, nor structure can be seen.  The easier part of the loop goes through a forest that once was home of American Chestnuts before the blight destroyed them almost entirely.  You see Chestnut Oak there now, but not native Chestnuts.  There are some medium sized Hemlocks that have not succumbed to the Wooly Adelgid that is destroying them as well.

The last Mountain Laurel and the first Rhododendron of the season, wildflowers, bird’s nest, interesting fungi, fern fields, cool breezes, shade were all present for a delightful walk.  On our way out on the more difficult part of the loop, where the elevation drops many hundred feet on a series of switchbacks to a few hundred feet of creek crossing and walking through a Rhododendron thicket, the lost elevation must be regained a bit more gradually, but still challenging.  As we were beginning the ascent, the thunder began and we kicked into overdrive to get back to the car before the storm descended on us on the ridge line.  Granddaughter, the 3 1/2 year old was a super hiker, being carried only part of the way in each direction, especially when we had to really kick up the pace.  As we settled in the car and started the drive back the 12 miles across the ridge and down the mountain road back to the house, the rain began.

Yesterday, Momma Hen 3 hatched a trio of her 9 eggs, but 2 of them did not survive, the remaining chick has settled under Momma Hen 4 in the next nesting box.  The remaining eggs should hatch by Monday from both hens.  We now have 8 chicks a few days old, 2 that are 4 weeks old and still waiting to see what else might emerge in the next day or two.  I fear we may not get as many chicks as we had hoped for flock replenishment and meat for the freezer.  I really don’t want to have to purchase chicks and raise them in a brooder and hope that we may yet have enough chick hatch this year to make this a viable experiment.

Farm Life as Summer Approaches

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The 90 hp behemoth at work.  There are 47 bales done and they are working to beat the rain on the lower field.  He will bale by headlights tonight.  The hay is beautiful and thick.  That tractor always amazes me, our little tractor is only 28 hp.  It would pull the tetter or the hayrake, but the sickle bar and round baler require too much power.  We can easily mow with a 5 foot brush hog, power a post hole auger and if we could figure out how to use it, pull the small plow we store in the barn. I am not a short woman and my chin would rest on the top of the back tires of that beast.

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Bales in the morning sun.

Jeff has equipment that is modern with CD players and A/C and equipment that is older than my kids.  It is always fun when he is working here as he brings one tractor, then another, a hayrake, a tetter, generally he doesn’t trade out the equipment, he just changes tractors for the next job.

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In the midst of the chaos, today I found a new wildflower/weed in the front yard which is green, but seems to be more wildflowers/weeds than grass.

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This afternoon when I went to pick peas for dinner, I realized that there were still garlic scapes in the garden.  I harvested as many as I could hold with the egg basket full of eggs and peas.  I was able to make 7 half cup jars of garlic scape pesto and blended the other half of the scapes with olive oil to make a garlicky paste that I dropped in 2 Tbs. plops on foil to freeze for use as fresh garlic in sauces.

I was hoping to get some peas in the freezer for winter, but we are enjoying them fresh so much it is hard to put any away.  Peas picked, shelled and cooked within half an hour are a whole different vegetable than even “fresh” peas from the Farmers’ Market.

It has been a productive day on our mountain farm.