S|NO|wpocalypse ’17

We were so hoping for a snow day. They’d been calling for a foot or so for us, and everyone was out in force yesterday clearing the stores of eggs, milk, and bread (not to mention the liquor store).  I had no appointments or places to be the next couple days, and was prepared to give the kids a day off from school to play in the snow and enjoy our one and only day of winter.

We got 4 more Pekin ducklings a few days ago, and I  beefed up their bedding and made sure they were good and cozy and the heat lamp wouldn’t be affected by ice or snow.  We have gallons and gallons of kerosene in reserve for the heater, just in case. In short, we should’ve known.

This was our glorious snow storm:

03.14.17h

SO DISAPPOINTING.

It looks like winter has passed us by this year, and we may as well keep on our path to spring.

03.14.17b03.14.17c

So what do you do when you’ve lost out on your much-needed snowday?

First I put together dough for cinnamon bread and made a good strong cup of coffee.

03.14.17a

Then I worked on cutting some pieces for quilting.

03.14.17d

Of course, Widget wasn’t going to allow that to last without some “help”.

03.14.17e

I can’t resist him. I’ve put away the quilting supplies and moved on to transferring some of my seedlings out of the starter kit that Widget keeps sitting on and trying to eat the sprouts out of.

03.14.17f

It was a decidedly NOT snowday thing to do.  It did, however, make me happier about the impending spring and summer weather. I can’t wait for those  juicy tomatoes, fresh off the vine (if I can keep the deer out this year!).

I did make the kids do their schoolwork today, as well. They didn’t mind, since there was no snow outside to frolic in. Plus they were all gathered around the table once the cinnamon bread came out of the oven.

I’ll be making a giant batch of Bolognese sauce and knitting more hats the rest of the day while I resign myself that winter is pretty well done.

Someone better tell my hens it’s time to start laying some eggs!

03.14.17g

 

 

Still Waiting

Waiting for winter, waiting for spring, waiting to see if my ewes are bred. If they are, they’re not telling.  If they aren’t, they are getting pretty fat anyway.

02-20-17a

02-20-17b

02-20-17c

02-20-17d

02-20-17e

02-20-17f

02-20-17g

02-20-17h

02-20-17i

I’ve been organizing my lambing supplies and ordering what I need, just in case. I’ve also been trying not to bother them too much, though that isn’t as easy.  I want to keep my hands on them to make sure they’re gaining enough weight, and checking their mucous membranes for signs of anemia. So far, everything seems okay, but one thing I’ve learned is to never count on it staying that way!

Last year’s baby chicks are finally starting to lay and/or crow, and I’m dreaming of ducklings now. I won’t order any chicks, but if one of our hens decides to go broody, I’ll put together a little maternity ward and hatch some eggs that way.

Signs of spring are definitely everywhere. The buds are really popping on the trees, and daffodils and forsythia are blooming everywhere. Mine are a little bit behind, owing to our little micro-climate in our hollow. It’s tough not to be out every day prepping the garden beds and getting the seeds started, but it’s only February.  Winter has been known to come back and smack us hard in March, so I’m not counting on this warmer weather to last reliably.  I have been out covering over troublesome weed areas with cardboard and feed bags, though. The war against weeds knows no winter!

I’ve also been cleaning up my beehive components and getting them ready for new occupants.  For Valentine’s Day Paul ordered me a new colony set to arrive in April from a local source. It’ll be so good to have bees again! I’m debating moving them a bit closer to the house and away from the neighbor who sprayed bifenthrin all over their property the summer before my previous colony failed. They haven’t done so since, and I’m hoping they won’t again.

On cooler days I’ve been trying to catch up on making stock from the leftover chicken carcasses from dinners. I’ve been keeping them frozen until I had a chance to let them slow cook, and whenever I can, I put them on the stove in my giant  pot and make up gallons of stock. It’s one of the most satisfying things to make in your kitchen!

Despite the warmer temperatures, Pussy Hats have been flying off my needles. I’m on my fourth at the moment, and keep getting requests for more. I’m more than happy to oblige, though I realize I could have finished my Chimney Fire sweater a few times over by now!  It is gratifying though to have smaller projects that work up quickly and are portable enough to bring to appointments during the week.

Maybe my sweater will be done before winter is, but it’s not looking like it. Secretly (or not…), I AM still hoping for one good wallop of snow before spring.

Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

The End Of August

This is it, folks. The last day of August. Summer is coming fast to a close. Tomorrow is the start of my most favorite time of year, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  The kids are enjoying their last full week off before school starts. The animals certainly look ready for cooler weather, hiding out in the shade all day being lethargic.  Even inside,the cats have been favoring darker, cooler spots under beds during the day.

Unfortunately my battery charger for my camera has died, so the pictures in this post are all from my phone.

image

Little Poppet, who is almost a year old now and still impossibly tiny.

image

I started working on my sweater again for the first time in a few months. I realized that Rhinebeck is not actually that far away now, so I’d better get it done!

image

A portion of the garden’s output this year. I may have been robbed of my tomatoes (stupid deer), but boy my pumpkins have come through!

image

Asters and mums!!!!

image

There’s still plenty of goldenrod all around as well.

image

Flapjack and Charlie have become something of an item. He follows Charlie wherever he goes, and Charlie shares his food with him. Normally, Charlie will snap at anyone who gets in on his food (the chickens, the goats, the dogs, Churchill), but for some reason he doesn’t mind Flapjack. Must be love!

image

While Flapjack is following Charlie, Charlie is generally following me. He loves having his ears scratched!

image

Of course, I think he also is always hoping I’ll have a treat for him.

image

Morning glories! You know what that means………my birthday is just around the corner!

Jamming in the Summer

Lately I’ve been craving jam. A lot. I think it *may* have something to do with my friend Sarah in Canada who keeps posting pictures of all the delicious jams she’s been making the last couple of months. But, as I don’t at the moment have a ready supply of fruit to use (some people around here keep eating it all before it can be used for anything…..), I turned to what I DO have: tomatoes. Tomato jam is incredibly delicious. You can use it in place of ketchup, or slather it on some french bread with chevre  (the yumminess!).  I also wouldn’t judge you for eating it out of the jar with a spoon.

The recipe I use comes from the fabulous Food In Jars by Marisa McClellan. Chopped tomatoes get cooked down with cinnamon, cloves, red peppers, lime juice, ginger, and sugar to make a zesty, sweet/savory, tomato-y jam that will deliciously haunt your dreams forever.

08.24.16a

08.24.16b

08.24.16c

I can’t wait to put this on everything!

The downside is how wonderfully fall-like it made the house smell, what with the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. We’re struggling hard to enjoy every last bit of summer before we have to close the pool and pack up our sun dresses and sandals for the year, but the light quality is already changing and the nights have gotten noticeably cooler. Enjoy this last bit of summer, everyone. It won’t last long.

Escape!

There have been several escapes going on here lately. Firstly, the unintended escape from this blog I apparently had!  I have no real excuse, other than it’s summer, and busy, and yet somehow lazy at the same time.

I’ve also started working very part-time for friends who opened a new business downtown. It hardly feels like work; being in a fun place with your best friends makes the time fly and feel more like you’re socializing than working. It’s my next “escape” that’s been going on: Cville Escape Room. Have you ever been to an escape room? I never had. There are three rooms so far, each with a unique, completely immersive theme. When I’m there, I’m typically greeting people and re-setting the rooms after a group has “escaped”. It has gotten me out of the house and downtown a bit, which is my favorite part of Charlottesville.

My third escape? Book club weekend in Virginia Beach! Believe it or not, my camera didn’t come out with me this time. I felt the pictures were getting redundant, and I always worry about sand and saltwater getting in it and mucking it up. But, I do wish I had captured a group image this year, because we have two new members: Victoria and Maddie. Maddie! Yes, she’s finally official, and finally legal to come with us. And I couldn’t be happier, because she’s recently made an escape of her own. She and John moved into their own place up near D.C., where they’ve both got wonderful jobs. I’m so proud of her and how far she’s come.

But what about farm life, you ask?

The garden has done quite well this year, despite the massive amounts of rain drowning everything.

08.12.16g

Bumper crop of cucumbers, anyone? Before the dreaded wild morning glory weeds choked them out while I was away, the cucumber plants went mad with production power. So much so, that I have more pickles than I will ever need, have been eating them daily for lunch, and didn’t care when they were finally taken over.

08.12.16A

A mere fraction of what is in my fridge.

The zucchini and yellow squash didn’t fare quite as well; the squash bugs made a comeback mid-season. But, I did get enough of both to make it a success anyway.

The tomatoes have been the real disappointment. We had hundreds of fruit set on the vines and then we had several damaging issues. First, deer jumped the fence and trampled the plants, stealing many of the green tomatoes right off the vine. Then, the rain came and made the ground super soggy, causing a lot of wilt. And third, tomatoes in general are very late this year for everyone. So although I still have several healthy plants, the tomatoes are still very green and not wanting to ripen. I’ve gotten a mere handful of red ones.

08.12.16h

Better than nothing, right? I do still count them as a success, because I managed to do everything right: the soil, the mulch, the diatomaceous earth. If not for deer, rain, and mother nature, I’d have more than I could handle.

Then there’s the pumpkin patch. It’s gone insane. HUNDREDS of orange pumpkins. I needed the tractor to carry them all up to the house. Then I spent two damn days washing them in bleach solution to keep them preserved. In addition, I’ve pulled a dozen giant white flat pumpkins, several blue jarrahdale pumpkins, 6 big, beautiful butternut squash, and 2 giant acorn squash. The squash bugs and vine borers got to the field mid-season as well, and since the squash flowers were blooming and buzzing with pollinators, I didn’t want to treat for pests.

08.12.16b

The pigs have enjoyed quite a lot of pumpkins that I couldn’t save from the bugs.

The dogs, sheep, and goats are trying their best to fend of the humidity and the flies. Despite many generous applications of fly repellent and ointments, poor Sabine’s ear is rather raw. She’s gotten squirrely on me now, and if she sees me with anything at all in my hand, she won’t let me near her. She’ll be happy once fly season is done.

Piper is recovering from getting her foot stuck in the joint of a tree trunk. She’d been stuck there all day when I found her, and it took some doing to get her freed. Her skin above her ankle tore down to the bone (it’s very thin there anyway), but she was patient as I cleaned her up and got her sewn back together. The wound itself is now cleanly healed, though she’s had some secondary swelling in her hoof off and on. She’s walking just fine again, regardless.  My main concern is flystrike for everyone, though, so we’ve been keeping a vigilant eye out. I still get no shortage of enjoyment out of seeing them out there every day, and coming to the fence to beg for treats.

And, of course, I can’t help but try to infect everyone else with my enthusiasm for my fibery babies.

wooltags

Enjoying Summer

It seems I took a longer break from this space than I intended!

We spent a week in town for the kids to attend theater camp with Missoula Children’s Theater – they performed Alice in Wonderland this year – and then they brought home terrible colds for us all to share. In other words, for the past two weeks we’ve been either rushing around like mad or spending our days feeling like grim death. Not a single marshmallow was roasted, nor a single swim taken.

But today! We are all on the mend, and the weather promises sun and warmth. Today we begin our summer vacation in earnest (well, you know, aside from the farm chores that never end).

07.11.16a

The garden is producing plenty of summer squash and cucumbers. Today I’ll be working on pickling the cukes.

07.11.16b

07.11.16c

There are dozens upon dozens of pumpkins in various shapes and sizes in the pumpkin patch. I couldn’t resist grabbing a few of these little guys.

07.11.16d

Only about 10 corn stalks made it, but they are taller than me now.

07.11.16e

07.11.16f

I’m crazy happy with the army of sunflowers I have growing out there among the winter squash.

07.11.16g

Churchill

07.11.16h

Charlie

07.11.16i

Darby

07.11.16j

Perivale

07.11.16k

Lyra

There’s plenty of work to be done – the dogs need a good brushing again, and there’s a crazy amount of weeding that seems to never make a difference – but I’m also finally finding time to relax with some reading or my knitting. I’m hoping in the next few days to find my way back to the sewing machine as well!

At the very least, there are marshmallows with Oona’s name on them, and she’ll make sure they get taken care of this evening.

Sun – Drenched Solstice

Happy (officially) summer!

We celebrated with fresh-picked peaches, berries, our first pesto of the year, and s’mores.

06.19.16a

Aren’t they just little globes of sunshine?

06.19.16b

Speaking of sunshine…..my sunflowers are starting to bloom!

06.19.16c

06.19.16d

The berries are really starting to come in now. I’ve been putting at least as many directly into my mouth as into the basket as I pick them!

06.19.16e

Maddie brought Twyla along to pick peaches; she had a blast meeting new people and smelling new smells. The poor little thing completely passed out from all the excitement in the car and slept for a few good hours afterwards!

06.19.16f

06.19.16g

06.19.16h

Peach slushies are a must!

06.19.16i

We brought home 25 pounds of peaches, and I went to work to preserve those that weren’t going to be eaten right away.  I couldn’t wait to put up a batch of this peach salsa from Marisa McClellan’s  Food In Jars, which is among my favorite cookbooks ever. While cooking, it made the house smell heavenly!

06.19.16j

Post-dinner wine for me, s’mores for the kids.

06.19.16k

We stayed out and played Mad Libs while waiting for the full moon to rise. The temperature was perfect and for once it wasn’t too buggy. I can’t think of a better way to have spent the longest day of the year!