Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Digging Dirt

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.~Mahandas K. Gandhi

I tend to forget everything while digging in the dirt and that is what I did for a couple of hours today. The man finished tilling the garden about 7 pm Monday night. This morning I was up at 5 washing windows as the nose prints from three dogs made it hard for light to get through. By 7 everyone was gone and I was in the garden. Heaven is.My sister and I raked an area for corn and planted 4 - 30 foot rows. She took mom for a Dr appointment while I continued to plant. I had raked out an area for tomatoes, made holes, filled them with water and was planting them when #1 daughter came along.

After the tomatoes, we planted cabbage and after that broccoli. All the plants that had been in the greenhouse were planted so we called it a day. We had planted 94 tomatoes, 76 cabbage and 34 broccoli. I did have some extra cabbage plants (of which I kept a few to see if I can fit them some where) and then gave the rest to a neighbor.

The rains have come and it is giving all our plants a good start. We still have to seed in cucumbers, beans, LI cheese squash, zucchini and sunflowers and plant the potatoes. The radishes and beets we planted Friday are coming up. The peas, carrots and lettuce we planted at the same time should be up soon with this rain.

In fiber news I finished the shrug and went to work knitting the baby smock coat. I dusted off the triloom and started weaving a shawl for #2 daughter to wear to her formal on Friday. My sister and #1 daughter made her dress, all I had to do was buy her shoes and weave her shawl...I got off easy! I will get pictures after I am done recharging my batteries that #2 son took from my camera to use in the Xbox 360 handsets.

In other fiber news I washed two more fleece. The spinning group had recently had a discussion on washing in cold water so I tried it. Of course the rain is good for the garden but not drying fleece.

And so tonight as I sit here (in pain) I am very happy. Today was the topping on a long weekend filled with work, night fishing off the pontoon boat for the guys and getting reaquainted with friends we had not seen in years. What more can one ask for?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I gave in

Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired. ~ Erik H. Erikson

And so it is with the frost and the garden. Earlier in the week they were talking about frost and freezes. Luckily we missed them but not by much. I am hoping we are done with them because I was sick of waiting. Last week I wanted to plant but I was told to wait and then the rains came. We had lightning hit so close to the house that my brother called to see if we were okay. We walked up into the woods the next day to try to see where it hit but couldn't find anything.
Finally I couldn't take it anymore so Tuesday and today, I spent planting the greenhouse garden. It has plants for 2 different types of squash, seeds for watermelon, lettuce, osaka purple mustard, 12 tomato plants, 21 pepper plants, 10 ground cherry plants, dill plants, basil plants, seeds for soup peas, celery plants and carrots. Now I just have to mow the grass so I can mulch the garden. We will not discuss the large garden as it will only make me cry because it is not even rototilled yet. The tiller worked fine to till the greenhouse garden but now it won't start.

Walking continues. We see strange things, like this maple growing a pine cone. Genetically modified or just stuck there?I can't say I notice any physical difference from the walking, except I go to bed a lot earlier. I have also fallen into the habit of getting up earlier and earlier. Today it was 5:15. I let the dogs out, put food out for them and the cats. Then I get my coffee and go sit to spin or knit or just listen to the birds. Very enjoyable but I don't want to be waking up any earlier than 5 as I do still need alot of beauty sleep.

The KnitPicks catalog came Tuesday and I fell hard for the red smock coat by Debbie Bliss. My mom has the book (where it is done in black and is no where near as pretty) so tomorrow we go to buy the yarn for it. I frogged the shrug, decreased one pattern repeat and I am reknitting it with larger needles-almost done. I finished one bobbin of the heathered blue and plyed it back on it's self and then have 1/2 of another bobbin done.

My sister is teaching #1 daughter how to sew. They are making #2 a dress for her formal. As practice my sister had #1 make this reversible apron. Pretty darn good and it is purple (her fav color) so she is happy. They are talking about learning to quilt....anybody want to discourage them? No? You enablers are awful. But then again I would love a quilt. Hint Hint Hint.

The roasters are getting big and annoying, The 6 " teenage" chicks got into my garden and ate the lettuce right before I was ready to transplant it. The baby chicks are almost fully feathered as are the turkeys. The turkeys do much more foraging and are a blast to watch when hot on the trail of a flying bug! The pigs are pigging out. They love the biweekly produce we get for them. The sheep and goat are out in the pastures enjoying all the green grass. Life on the farm may not be laid back but it sure is interesting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Last Frost Date?

FROST...A deposit of minute ice crystals formed when water vapor condenses at a temperature below freezing.

We have been having frost warnings for days now. I run around closing the greenhouse and covering plants that I have outside hardening off - and nothing happens. So yesterday I ignored the warning, thinking it was the little boy who called wolf. Then during the night as I was sleeping with the windows open, I had to reach for another blanket. Of course it did not dawn on me that there might be frost. I looked out the livingroom windows this morning and no frost. I leave to go for my morning walk and as I am walking in front of the garden what do I see?... Frost! It seems to have only hit the dips in the yard and only where the grass was freshly mowed. The car windows, greenhouse etc had nothing. Boy was I lucky!

And the man was lucky. He got the rototiller working this weekend and didn't have to take it in to the shop. Last night the ground was dry enough to till so he did the greenhouse garden. I did find time to sneak into the greenhouse and transplant 32 more tomatoes, 25 cabbage and some squash. Hopefully today I will start to get things into the ground, like the broccoli and cabbage which won't mind the frost so much if we do get more.

On Monday, #1 daughter and I moved the baby chicks outside to a coop with a small run. They quickly started exploring their new world with gusto. Some even flew up on the little roosts we put in there for them. Last night I bet they were off the roosts and cuddled up under the light.

In knitting news I finished the baby raglan. I started this shrug for #1 daughter to wear to her bf's college graduation. She found a beautiful strapless dress and just wanted a little something to wear. Very easy pattern to remember but I may rip it out and go one less repeat and use a bigger needle.
But right now I am off to plant.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Looking forward to the Weekend

Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason. ~Author Unknown

And it seems like this is the case with our local township. Last night we grabbed mom and went to a debate, however, only two of six (I knew of 5) bothered to show. Two of the four no shows, were participating in a charitable race. The reason the other two didn't show up is any body's guess "but it is not because they don't care and don't want your vote." Well honestly if they wanted my vote they could have at least called with an explanation.

Political parties aside, of the six I knew for certain of two that I wouldn't cast my vote for if they were the only people running. One has driven me off the road a couple of times and the other I know more about his character than I want to. And to him, I send this quote.... "If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."~Abraham Lincoln

So I went basically to hear what two candidates were going to say. Only one showed up. He is very qualified and very articulate. Is he the best candidate? I still wish I could hear from the other. Some questions had to do with communities inside the township which doesn't concern me so I zoned out because the view was magnificent! Oh come on who can blame me....
Mom started getting tired and the seats were not the most comfortable so we left before the debate finished. She wasn't even interested in the gorgeous moon, all she wanted to do was get home into her recliner and watch her Mets. She has bad taste in baseball teams but we still love her.

This morning I debated going for my walk since my sister is in Jersey. But I didn't feel like hearing her so I walked. I took the farm route and then back up the river. I walk a much slower pace than my sister (who is a good 6 inches taller than I). I figure if I am out there I should be admiring the beauty too.
So, I have the man and kids gone, one load of laundry done, the baby raglan got 6 rows and the animals have all been fed, watered and let out for the day. In other words..."it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood..." bet you sung it....my little brainworm to you for the weekend! Your welcome!!! And to all you mom's, Happy Mother's Day, but seriously, we deserve a week.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Natures Broadcast

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington CarverI am extremely lucky to live right next to the woods. While I am on the computer or sitting spinning/knitting or washing dishes at the kitchen sink, I get a birds eye view of all the forest natives doings. Most days it is deer going back and forth between the river and the woods. Some days the turkeys roost in the trees behind the house and you see them fly up for the night or down to start their day looking for food. And then Spring comes. It puts up a green veil between them and I. No longer can I see the antics of the squirrels. To them I must be a peeping tom but I miss being able to see them in their natural habitat and unafraid.

Of course the green veil hides from my view less pleasant things also. Last year a bobcat ran out of the woods and grabbed one of my chickens in broad daylight with me only yards away. The year before that, I lost some roasters to a fox who just ran around and killed them. By the time I got outside he had killed 9 in one afternoon. I don't mind loosing one because of their hunger but hate loosing them for a foxes amusement.

Before I got dogs, one coyote use to be standing outside when the kids left to walk to the bus. He would scamper away and then go rub up against my hickory tree. So far this year I have lost one duck which I think is to a fox. We heard him the other night. When he started calling in the pitch black it gave my sister quite a scare. Click here to listen to an audio clip of what she heard. I know there is a fox den on my neighbors property as my brother found it while fishing. Of course I do let my ducks, chickens and turkeys free range during the day which I guess makes the forest animals think it is a smorgasboard. But the birds do a fantastic job of keeping down the ticks and bugs around the garden so I would hate to have to fence them in.

And speaking of gardens....we are picking rhubarb finally. We got about 5 pounds so far and with strawberries on sale we whipped up 8 1/2 pints of strawberry/rhubarb jam and a rhubarb cake for dessert tonight.

After dessert, I finished another pair of socks. These are the two pairs that #1 daughter wanted. The purple/brown/green pair has a different cuff. At spinning Audrey had showed us this cuff and I stuck in in the back of the gray matter for future use. I like it and will probably use it again. I now started working on a baby raglan sweater. I will finish it while listening to the birds singing and the peepers because until fall nature will be broadcasting more in audio then video. The present audio clip is the sound of rain falling...bad thing is that it is making me sleepy.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Morning walks

"Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment."- Ellis Peters

My sister has decided I should join her on a walk each morning. I resisted for a while but eventually caved in. The first day I drank a cup of coffee before the walk...I don't recommend it. Subsequent walks are sans coffee until we return.

Although I hate to admit my sister is right (some old rivalries still run deep!) the walk, along with being beneficial to my physical health is also very pleasing to the eye.

We start our walk passing the flowers and currants. Soon we end up along the river where the sounds of the water and birds is pleasing to the ear. The dogwoods are just starting to open. The apples and pears are blooming. I guess somebody decided the sites were good enough for the skull too as they propped it up there to have a look. The woods are slowly turning the complete spectrum of green making it harder to see the natives. One native that we don't want to see on our walks is the bear. These pics were taken by a friend who works for NPS. The bear was dumpster diving at the park. Eventually we wind up back home where the animals are all begging to be fed. We added to the menagerie this weekend by picking up four pigs,four white broad breasted turkeys and two spanish black turkeys. Hopefully they are male and female and will lay eggs next year so I don't have to continue to buy turkey chicks.
So far 103 tomatoes have been transplanted into larger pots. The manure finally made it to the larger garden and today we will plant the peas, beets and carrots.
Of course these early morning walks cut into the knitting/spinning time but I have finished one pair of socks and I am on the second sock of another pair. I have to sneak in a couple of stitches here and there as regardless of how hard we try, the to do list continues to grow. At 9:30 last night, we all looked like this-dog tired! But it is so worth it.