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Blue Skies and Garden Firsts – 6/27/17

The past week went so fast having eldest grandson here for a visit.  He spent his first years here as we watched him grow from 9 weeks to Kindergarten before they moved for schooling for Mom and Dad.  I see him more often than Jim as I will go up for days or a week or so at a time to help out with care.  He is so big now, soon to be as tall as I and he just turned 12.

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Many activities were planned, a day trip to Smith Mountain Lake Dam, a play day at the Frog Pond (a local pool with slides, basketball, and shallows for tiny people), basketball, ping pong , and a movie with dinner evening with Jim, lunches out, books to read, and lots of good food at home for a growing kid.  His Dad, our eldest, came Saturday in time for dinner and ping pong with the young one, and Sunday, son climbed the 28′ extension ladder and got a good portion of the very exposed west wall of our log home re-stained.  They left after dinner Sunday to return to their home for a work and camp week.  Son is returning alone this weekend with hopes to finish that wall and the south upper dormer.

Friday night, daughter’s family returned from their vacation and resumed their house hunting, possibly finding one that will allow their kids their own bedrooms and a start of the school year in their new home.

For the next few of weeks, the grands are in our care during the day with some swimming lessons scheduled soon, transport twice a week to Taekwondo to meet parents.

The weather has cooled and dried out for the past few days.  This morning, a much needed garden session was done with some tomato brutality as I cut suckers that should have been cut before now and the plants tied to their stakes.  Last year there was a huge mess as a new support structuring was tried and failed miserably with many lost tomatoes as they were on the ground for the pill bugs to attack and hidden for purposes of harvest.  This year, there will be only one main stem per plant, determinate varieties, and tied regularly to garden stakes until they reach their full height.  The process revealed many small green tomatoes and one that is already ripening.

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Tied and before the cut stems were removed.

Today there was a first sunflower set against the prettiest blue sky.

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I’m not sure that any of the sunflowers that I planted are going to produce.  The two volunteers may be all we get unless I can get some seedling going soon.

Last night, preparation for the two days of camp that I will be teaching was begun.  One day will be a plant walk, herbal medicine discussion, and making of an herbal salve to take home.  The other day, with my friend that worked with me last year, we will again teach some fiber arts with homemade drop spindles that they get to keep, a chance at using one of our spinning wheels with help to make a necklace with “their” yarn, and a chance to weave a few rows on a rigid heddle loom.

The haying for this year is done and the hay scattered around our fields like big sedentary buffalo.  Farmer Jeff came by as I was mowing a few days ago to pick up a piece of his haying equipment and it always amuses me to see his behemouth tractor with my tractor beside it.  Mine looks so small, though it is a full size, but small tractor.  Pictures of them together in the header.

I love summers in our mountain home.

A Crisp Late Fall Day

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The morning is crisp, actually right around freezing right now, but the sun is warming the day back to normal fall weather after our Arctic chill of the weekend. Even on days like this when the sun is out, the little alcove on the south deck is toasty, sheltered from the NW breeze. The view from the porch swing is stunning, though most of the leaves are gone now and the trees bare until spring. It is a great place to sit with a cup of tea and watch the chickens free range and look out for deer and turkey or listen for the hawks call.
The morning chores are done, fresh hay in the coop, chickens fed, their water and the garden hose thawed. I guess I should bring it in for the winter though that makes chicken chores more difficult as I then have to haul the 5 gallons of water from the yard hydrant to their run.
In spite of the shortening days and frigid nights of late, I have another broody girl. She has plucked her breast feathers as the weather chills and I fear for her winter health. She isn’t being allowed to sit eggs, I am removing them several times a day from the coop instead of just at lock down time. I’ve tried removing her repeatedly during the day, set a bag of ice under her, removed her to a perch at night, blocked off her preferred box (she just moves). Today I will dip her backsides in cold water if the temperature rises enough and put her in the meat bird pen alone for the day.
Romeo has nearly finished his molt and doesn’t look nearly as ragged as when he arrived. His neck feathers are glossy and darker than the hens and his tail feathers are coming back in. He isn’t as beautiful as Cogburn was but still a fine looking rooster and calm and nonaggressive toward people.
The greens in the garden perked back up, a mess of them and a roasted pumpkin are on the menu for tonight.
The reknit of the sweater is progressing and last night I ordered yarns for grands sweaters for Christmas.
It looks to be a good first half of the week, perhaps I’ll finally get the garlic planted or there won’t be any next year.
Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.