Thursday, March 8, 2018

Circles and Such

 I'm still spinning. Combing, dizzing, and spinning are calm activities.
Plying, dying and wrapping the yarn into skeins are exciting activities.
These two skeins are in an avocado dye.
 On the other side of the stove my homemade chai is reducing.
 Instead of throwing out this celery stump, I'm growing it in the windowsill. I did one last fall and now have a large celery plant, waiting to be transplanted into the garden this spring.
 I can't take much credit for the Bee Balm that is my small business's best seller. Everybody loves it and wants more. I'm shipping five tubs off to New York City today.
 The concoction below, however, is a new product: Healing Herb Ointment. It's a bit greasy, and it smells earthy. But oh-my-goodness ... is it full of good stuff!
 In addition to all these lovely oils and butter and wax, it's infused with plantain, yarrow, and dandelion.
My baby thyme plants are growing.
 One more circle from my house -- this large plate. My mother gave it to me. It was gifted her by an elderly lady whose parents were missionaries in China long ago. The plate came from them, and who knows how old it is and where it came from before that.
 If you don't follow my other blog, here are a few shots of the nearly-finished kitchen. All the shelves are up on the stove-side!

 One more long shelf will go up on the sink-side (below). But the shelves are full now, and the kitchen looks homey.
 Our local thrift store is rearranging for spring, but I found these jars amid the chaos. Those are 1/2 gallon Mason jars, at 50 cents apiece. I was chuffed, as the British say!
Otherwise, farm life is slow now because it's still cold. Freezing temps (just barely) at night, and windy during the day, and cold. I'm eager to put all these herbs in the ground ... but not yet. Not yet.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Inklings of Spring

Look what appeared this morning!
I have a handful in the yard. Hopefully I'll remember to cut them and take them to church on Sunday. Fresh flowers in the sanctuary are so welcoming in February.
Our outdoors look like this right now:
See how green that field is across the road? And today's high temperature is supposed to be 80. 80!  I can hardly believe it.
I've started some herbs in trays on the front porch/greenhouse: dill, parsley, basil, thyme, stevia, and sage.
My plants that overwintered on the porch have survived. On the left are some mint plants, plagued by bugs. I'll wash them off today. On the right is a mass of tomato plants, bless them.

Left: forsythia. Right: Japanese magnolia

Everything is eager to burst forth!
That includes Adam. He burst forth into the garden yesterday and started digging. He moved the tomato trellis from this bed and turned it over/cleared it out. Then I planted spinach, kale, and lettuce into it. This morning we also have our first asparagus spear up. So exciting!

The window above is the kitchen window. It used to be longer, a standard window. A massive bush obscured the view, so Adam chopped it way back, as you see.
Below is our fig tree, which has been reduced in height over the past 3 years. Now we'll be able to reach all the fruit! The blooming daffodils appeared beneath it this morning.
I decided to let my young flock of chickens out to free range in the yard yesterday. I'd never allowed them to do that before. I supervised them. I'm worried they will flutter into the dog yard or wander into the road.

They were happy to hunt and peck. You'd think they'd want the greenery, but I'm convinced they spend all their time pecking for bugs, little carnivores.
In the photo above, you see the 3 chicks born a month ago. The one on the left is a little cross-beak. Her beak doesn't close properly, and she has difficulty eating and drinking. I don't want to hand-raise a chicken in the house, but I'm trying to help her out. She's smaller and always hungry. I give her some of our mashed sweet potatoes each morning, which she can eat more easily.
And I got a special waterer for her. Hopefully that will help. She may never lay, but she may survive and have a happy chicken life.
Well, the pasture will soon be covered with blooming clover and buttercups. I found the first one:
Some of you are still facing ice and snow and all that entails. I hope this gives you come cheer! 
When our daffodils are gone and our mosquitoes have arrived, you can then share your daffodils with me, and reciprocate the cheerfulness :) If you want to read about our kitchen remodeling, click over to my other blog. There's a link above on the right, on the picture with the sailboats on the river.
That's it from the farm!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Ripping It All Out ~

Today began the Great Kitchen Redo. We started with the great emptying of stuff:

 We'll be living with chaos in the dining room for a while.
Then we continued with the Great Ripping Out:
Apparently these cabinets were brand new in 1986!

The only thing we actually ripped out today were the two lower cabinets on either side of the oven. We figured that indicated serious commitment, haha! Adam wants to work from the floor up; we'll be putting in a plywood floor, either painted or finished with epoxy.

It didn't take long, but it was exhausting! The kitchen is by far the ickiest room in the house. We've threatened to do this redo for months, and we knew if we didn't give it a good start, we'd put it off again until after the wedding (in June) and after summer, and then after Christmas and .... yeah.

In other farm news:
The three baby chicks are fine. I've named one Applesauce because she has a cross-beak.
Adam has begun cutting down unwanted crepe myrtle trees along the road front.
This tree is now removed.
 And he's building a new fence to divide the pasture in half. It's a natural fencing technique from England in the Middle Ages, used to keep pigs contained.
 A double row of low posts, filled with woodland debris, becomes a thick barrier.
He'll leave a wide gate on the right-hand end and a small gate on the other end by the garden.
Adam has trimmed one pear tree and begun cleaning out the garage too. Much must be done before the wedding in June -- we'd better "get a move on"!!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Triplets in January!

Okay, so I'll go back to December 23. That's the day that Sylvie decided to be a broody hen.
Sylvie is on the left and Lady Grey is on the right. Eventually they decided to co-mother, and they went broody together.
If fertilized eggs began being set on December 23, they should hatch 21 days later, or on January 13, the day of my daddy's funeral. Needless to say, I was long gone to West Virginia by that time, and baby chicks were the last thing on my mind.

Honestly, I didn't think any of the eggs were fertilized. I hadn't seen either Bernie or Arthur pay any attention to their hens of late. I was willing to have Sylvie (and later Lady Grey) set on eggs because I wanted them to be broody. I wanted broody hens in April. I figured when I came home after the funeral, I'd take them off those tired, old eggs, and we'd call ourselves done.

I returned from West Virginia yesterday evening. Adam had lifted both hens from the nesting box on Monday, and seen 4 eggs. I found one of the eggs rejected (one of Ethel's eggs from the other flock). So on Monday morning, there were 3 green eggs under those hens.

The green egg above is Autumn Hen's egg. I put some of hers under the 2 broody hens.

In the end, the broody silkie hens rejected their own eggs because they weren't fertilized. But Autumn's eggs were kept and set upon because Autumn is Rooster Arthur's favorite hen -- so her eggs are fertilized!

This morning, quite unsuspecting, I found three baby chicks in the coop, peeking under their two broody mamas!
 Can you see the little one? The mamas are very protective. Sylvie pecked my hand.
 There are three of them, all black, like their daddy. They were not there on Monday, so they were born sometime Tuesday, January 16. 

I am thrilled, of course! I did not expect chicks this time of year, from such a young roo and young hens. With two mamas, the chicks have a good chance of survival against cold, and they take care of all the instructions - how to eat, how to drink, where to hide. Arthur went in today to see his babies. He seemed pleased.

For the first time, I've had success in increasing my flock - finally!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Thank You, Canada!

Here comes the Arctic blast! Are we ready?
*Put straw in new chicken coop for insulation and to eliminate drafts
*Build door on farm dogs' barn bay
*Install heater in farm dogs' barn bay
*Cover eucalyptus tree with hoop house plastic
*Give Sylvie more straw under her broody eggs
*Close off spare rooms in the house and crank up those space heaters!

Yessiree, the cold air is acomin'! Monday night's low will be 16 degrees, but it will feel like 7 degrees. I know that's nothing unusual to some of you tough Northerners, but to us wimpy Southerners, that's bone-chillin', teeth-chatterin', move-me-to-Arizona weather!

On the front porch greenhouse, I eat a little cherry tomato nearly every day. My 3 tomato plants are quite happy.
I zoomed in to photograph this female cardinal outside my window.
 Then Adam hung two bird feeders there, so I can see the birds better, take their pictures, and perhaps include them in future stories.
 Isn't he sweet? All I did was say something about watching birds, and boom! Two bird feeders appear.
The cold weather gives Beau some staticky hair.
 I started my Winter Journal. I tried stitching a snowflake on it, but I'm not quite sure it's a snowflake ....
 I painted this mouse, just for practice. My new story is about a mouse family.
 Speaking of stories, I mailed out three copies of the Punkin story today! I'm so, so excited. I now have 13 copies promised to friends. It's just so fun to share one's creative pursuits.



Finally, I'm weaving again. I warped in a selection of gray/blues and deep reds, with some sparkly yarn thrown in. The weft is a smoky blue. The photos don't do it justice -- this one was a surprise. I pick out yarns, and I load the loom, and I begin weaving ... and that's when I find out if my selections were mediocre or magical. This one is magical for some reason. It is brighter, sparklier, and more rustic than the photos.

Well, stay warm out there, folks. This next week promises to be a doozy. We will be inside, eating soup, thrusting our toes toward the heaters, and going a little stir-crazy. Cheerio!