Chicken Moving Day

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Chickens

140915 Coop in Garden

Yesterday was moving day for the coop and chickens.  The vegetable garden is pretty much done although there is a lot of stuff still in there, overgrown and rotting.  The fall chill is in the air and it was time to begin the fall to winter preps.  The coop had been over by the garage with the fencing including a huge old apple tree surrounded by jewelweed.  The chickens loved it there although they had pretty much cleaned the area of vegetation.  I figured the garden would be a great spot for them to clean up and fertilize at the same time.

Moving the coop is always stressful.  It is so heavy that the tractor will only lift if off of the ground by about a foot.  We managed to get it over to the garden.  I then moved the fence.  I let the chickens roam around thinking they would be easy to move with some sweet little snack.  I was wrong.  They spent the majority of the day around the apple tree and although I coaxed them over more than once they had no interest in going near the strange spot their coop was in.

They finally left the tree area at the end of the day and wandered over to the garden but had no interest in going into their new area.  I got out the big guns – a pumpkin spice english muffin.  The rooster and hen happily went into the garden fence but the other 9 hens were nowhere to be seen.  It was getting a little late in the day and I was getting a little nervous.  I called and called and finally saw their little heads coming up over the bank to the back forty on the other side of the yard.  Apparently they had gone on a little adventure.  Seven more into the enclosure.

When the head count was done Bill and I had to search for the last two.  They were snuggled in among some rocks over the bank and were not going anywhere so I had Bill flush them out.  They ran for the coop, one of them tangling herself in the fencing (they still think they are small enough to go through it).  Once all enclosed they discovered what a wonderland the garden is.  Bugs, seeds, berries, a veritable smorgasbord for chickens.  They stayed out until dark which is unusual, they usually go in at dusk.

About nine o’clock Bill went out to lock the shed door and heard a chicken clucking over by the apple tree – an escapee.  He held the flashlight and ran interference until I finally caught her and put her in the coop.  I did another head count and all were there on their roost.  Finally all was right with the world – at least mine.

Minor Miracle

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garden

140908 Clivia Sprouts

These tiny little sprouts are the beginning of a few Clivia plants.  The miracle part is that I have been trying to get them to sprout since last March.

It started early last spring when the Clivia I have blossomed profusely.  I bought the plant from White Flower Farm about 10 years ago.  It was just a mere shoot that came in a pot in the mail.  It is now huge, completely pot bound and grows a new shoot about every other year.  It’s the most common variety with orange blossoms with a yellow throat.  I really thought this was the perfect plant – it really thrives on neglect as long as it likes the window it’s in.  This one is sitting in front of a window that faces northeast.

I decided to search for a new variety but found that an established plant was really cost prohibitive.  In my search I found seeds for different varieties on eBay.  They were only $6 plus shipping so I figured there wasn’t much to lose so I bought two different varieties.  The kicker – they come from China.

A month or more later I received two packages in the mail, each with 6 and 8 seeds respectively.  The seeds of the Clivia are really tiny little bulbs.  They are related to the Amaryllis, so unless they are dried to a brown little husk they are viable.   These were beautiful little bulbs and I figured I was golden.

I did a lot of research on the web about how to start them – there are issues with fungus, everything needs to be sterile, start in damp perlite, blah, blah, blah.  Yup, I did all that.  Soaked them in a solution of peroxide, planted them in a sterile medium, covered to prevent bad things from happening and to keep them moist.  I waited – and waited and waited.

After about a month I noticed there was some mold around the nubs on the end of the bulbs.  I soaked them, changed the medium, started over again.  This I did in April, May, June . . . what the heck?  The bulbs still looked viable and I decided that at this point I had nothing to lose so I filled a large pot with regular potting soil and planted them around the edge.  I hadn’t covered it and honestly neglected it as I do all of my houseplants when the gardens are in full force during the summer.  Last week I figured I’d better water it and give them another shot.  I didn’t even poke around to see if they were doing anything.

Yesterday I watered again and saw one little green shoot – woohoo!  Today there’s a second.  Apparently all that coddling that the websites professed I needed really lead me astray on this one.  The plants start out thriving on neglect right from the beginning.  Now this is my kind of houseplant!

More Krokbragd

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Craft

140828 Krokbragd (4)

The problem with learning a new structure is my unbridled enthusiasm.  It’s a problem because I just jump in and figure things out as I go.  This can be good but at times it’s not so good.

140828 Krokbragd (3)The mat that I’m weaving comes from an older weaving magazine.  Although I had spent a couple of weeks reading up on the process I neglected to actually read the instructions of the project I was weaving.  I had yarn, in various colors, I figured I was good.  I figured I’d just wing it, decide as I was going along.  Uhm, yeah.  That worked until I realized – four colors in – that some of them repeated and I was going to have to make it all work when I got to the center and worked my way back through the color scheme.  I thought there were 9 colors in the pattern but it turns out there are only 6.  What I had with me for yarn was not going to work.

I spent some time during my last session going through the yarn available.  I’m fortunate that the last two colors don’t really require a lot of yardage so I picked two skeins from Pam’s stash.

140828 Krokbragd (2)

I’m pretty excited about how I envision it looking at this point.  It also showed me how much planning has to go into the weaving of these Scandinavian treasures.  I didn’t plan at all and now realize that maybe I should have.  I guess that’s what class is all about for me, learning what the important things are for each particular structure and dreaming about the possibilities.

Reprieve

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dogs

Moving Rocks (Large Ones)

 

Taking care of an aging dog requires patience and an ability to stand back and look at your animal with a certain amount of detachment.  There are many times when I wish they could talk, let me know how you’re feeling or what hurts.

Buddy has been declining over the past couple of months.  He had declined to the point of me finding a vet that would come to the house to put him down.   Amanda and Cait were both here yesterday at the appointed hour.  We waited with Buddy outdoors for the vet to arrive.  When he did Buddy ran to him with enthusiasm (we haven’t seen him run in days, maybe weeks).  He eagerly took treats from the vets hand, patiently waited through the exam, cheerfully sat with us all while we discussed his fate.

This new vet, what I can only describe as a classic country vet, arrived in his Prius and removed his bags to the driveway.  As Buddy barked and wagged his stumpy tail we all introduced ourselves and talked about what we had seen happening in the past couple of weeks.  He listened to his heart and lungs, felt the lumps all over his body, checked out his legs and feet (he’d recently broken a nail and had been limping badly – this was a case of adding insult to injury).

It started to rain so we all went into the shop and used a woodworking bench as an examination table.  His recommendation was to do a few tests to check his kidney function, thyroid function and rule out things like Lyme and Cushing’s disease.  With his symptoms we all decided to rule out things that could be resolved easily with minimal intervention.  The vet’s opinion was that Buddy probably had a little more life left in him.

I have to tell you that we were wrecks at the thought of losing Buddy.  It’s never an easy decision to make.  You think about his life, the dog he was and the hole it is going to make in your life.  At the same time it’s just as difficult to watch a once vibrant, active dog struggle for a breath, whine in what seems to be pain, refuse to go for his favorite walks.   As Amanda said – he made us look like fools for thinking he was too sick to go on.

This is the first time in decades that I have had a veterinarian that I felt had the best interest of my animal at heart.  He was objective, said flat-out that being in the position of deciding an animals fate is the most uncomfortable position he finds himself in.  He answered all of our questions and said he would only check him for things that were easy to deal with.  In other words he wasn’t going to recommend dialysis, chemo or heart intervention.  This is something the vets that have seen Buddy over the years would probably not hesitate to offer.  Animal medicine has become a close relative to the medical system we all deal with in this day and age.  I always feel it’s all about the money, whatever it takes.

For Buddy this was the best possible scenario, he was thoroughly checked out, in his own environment by a really nice guy with treats.

As the doc readied to leave he took the two vials of blood and placed them into the centrifuge on the floor on the passenger side.  Plugged into the lighter socket it quietly spun.  He assured me he’d call today with the results and with an idea of where we go from here.  I thought to myself that this is the kind of thing that makes me so happy to be here.  This is what makes living in a rural area work.  The people around you get it.  They do their jobs with the understanding and sensibilities that we have grown up with far from the influences of urban life.

 

Reunion

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Uncategorized

140831 Reunion

We spent the greater part of yesterday at a high school reunion.  This one was a little different, the first 10 classes of Mohawk Trail Regional High School gathered at the Charlemont Fairgrounds for a festival of sorts.  It felt like a small fair with the food vendors and class tents.  Bands played from the past all day long, whisking us back to youth with the power only music has on one’s memory.  There were activities, group photos, reminiscing along with a table of yearbooks and photographs that did and didn’t make the cut back in the day (how those survived 35+ years is beyond me).

This is the kind of thing that reminds you how close our communities are.  As I have said in the past, each town that sent kids to this regional school was a small town.  My class from Rowe consisted of four people (including me).  In school you make your lifetime friends I believe but for those of us that grew up in such small communities our town friends become our family.  Having the reunion encompass so many years, with my class right in the middle allowed us to not only visit with our classmates but reconnect with people we wouldn’t have otherwise.

In this age of social media we are fortunate to be able to stay connected with some of our favorite people with a touch of a few buttons.  It is an amazing world.  When I arrived at the reunion it was good to see so many of the people I talk to so often, it felt comfortable.  Then there were a few of those OMG moments. Those occurred when I recognized someone I never thought I would see at an event like this.

Good moments, moments of recognition, hugs, warmth, familiarity.  These were moments spent with the people I have known since I was 5 years old. Moments talking about age, family, life.  It was a time, however brief, when I felt like I was surrounded by the best parts of my family.  These are the people who know you so very well.  The interesting thing is that many of them I have not seen in a decade.  It’s the situation you find yourself in where you just pick up where you left off.

I read somewhere a long time ago that people who know each other from their youth always see each other as they were when they were young.  A trick of the mind.  So all of that graying hair, weight gain or loss, baldness falls away as the conversation begins – you are really seeing their soul in some respect, their essence. You see them as you know them and always have.

For me, that’s the amazing thing about these reunions.  While part of it always serves to remind me how quickly time passes I am quickly reminded that even with the passage of time we all are essentially still teenagers in our minds.

Weaving Wednesday – Krokbragd

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Craft

140819 Krokbragd

I started weaving camp last week.  This is a short course for the month of August on a technique of my choice (although it was really with the help of my instructor Pam that the decision was made).  We decided to do a rug technique since it is something new to me.  This will be a 24″x 36″mat done in  Krokbragd, a Norwegian rug weaving techniques known for its color and design.

I don’t know what my problem was the past week but getting this project warped has been an exercise in frustration.  It’s 4 doubled epi, so it should have been quick.  Between threading mistakes and a heck of a time sleying the reed (missed all kinds of threads, did it over TWICE) it took me about 8 hours to get to the point of throwing a shuttle.  8 hours – to wind and warp – there must be something wrong with my brain that doesn’t allow projects to happen in August.

Finally, towards the end of class yesterday I began to weave.  I’m using Harrisville Shetland yard so it doesn’t work up as fast as it would with a thicker yarn but oh, is it beautiful.  I chose Shetland because of the colors that were available to me (and I had a lot of it).  I have to say I’m very excited about the possibilities in color and pattern for this.

Another woman in my class woven a runner over the summer and brought it in last week for me to photograph.  It is stunning.

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She started out with a couple of muted tones and then took off with color.  It’s so much fun to look at and so exciting to think this is something I can do that isn’t terribly complicated.

I love it when I’m learning a new structure.  The drive home from class is always filled with thoughts of how to use this new-found technique.  I’m thinking of color combinations and patterns the whole way.  I can’t wait to get back into the studio with a serious block of time devoted to weaving.  Let the magic begin.

The Body Can Take Only So Much

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garden

140818 Patio Garden

Ever feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew?  That’s what I’m feeling today.  The photo above is of the stone patio on the southeast side of the house.  There is (was) a perennial garden that ran around the edge of it that has been there since the beginning of time, I swear.  It had irises, phlox, peonies, various herbs and enough daffodils to populate the sides of every road in town.

I have been thinking about digging up this garden for a few years now but every summer it has been just too hot to do it.  With all the other gardens I’ve dug so far this summer I figured I would tackle one last one.  The decision was made earlier in the year when only a few of the irises blossomed.  They were too crowded.  The daffodils were insane every year for decades but this year there weren’t quite many blossoms as I’m used to seeing and I took that as a sign as well.

Today was the perfect weather to spend outdoors doing anything.  Blue sky, breeze, cool.  I started digging at 8:30 and finished around 3:30.  Well, I stopped because I couldn’t dig anymore, my body wouldn’t let me.  I dug and divided oregano, three huge clumps of iris, three huge garden phlox, a sedum, a patch of chives about three feet in diameter, a small peony and hundreds of bulbs.  I must confess I divided the first phlox and planted six good size plants in the front garden but the other two I dug up went out to the compost heap except for a small piece that I gave to a neighbor.  Other things were moved to other gardens but the rest of it is in buckets waiting to go back into the ground.

I have a very large bucket full of bulbs, it weighs over 50 pounds and the digging is a little over half done.  Those daffodils started out as a forced pot of six in 1978 – a gift sent to my sister during a hospitalization.  My mother planted them in the spring and for the last 36 years they have been expanding exponentially.

The interesting thing about this garden is how it has gotten higher up on the wall as the years have gone by.  The lawn has gotten higher and the garden seems to have gone along for the ride.  In digging this side out I have been able to expose more of the wall of the patio.  I think this is due to mulching the grass where it’s cut over so many years.  It creeps up on you and always comes as a surprise to me when I start digging.

The plan is to finish digging the rest of it in the next day or two and plant everything that’s staying by the end of the week.  Fortunately most of the heavy digging is almost done, I have about a third of the garden to go but I have to tell you, the way my body feels right now getting back out there tomorrow morning is making me wish for rain.

Preserving

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Food

canada-waste-not.jpg.644x0_q100_crop-smart

Even though the garden is nowhere near what it should be right now I have spent the majority of the day putting up what has been taken out of it.  I had a large basket of tomatoes ripen on the counter that I wanted taken care of before the fruit flies were out of control.  I picked more to ripen this morning but have a feeling piccalilli is in my future (not that I mind, I haven’t made it in a few years).

I canned what few green beans I have harvested this year.  The yellows should be coming in mid-week.  They’re a month behind – mind you I had to plant them 3 times this year due to cold weather.  You can’t always go by the calendar when it comes to gardening.

I also dug some potatoes and it would appear that this will be one of my best years ever for those.

With the spoils of the garden waiting on the counter I decided to make a five mile meal.  Shepherd’s Pie made with fresh dug potatoes, newly pulled onions, fresh corn, newly cured garlic and beef grown in Heath by our good friend Russell. Now I know Shepherd’s Pie is sometimes considered a lowly meal but is a favorite of some of my family members and making it with ingredients this fresh takes it to heights never achieved with corn coming out of a can.  It’s five miles to the corn stand, hence the name.

I also made backyard sauce and canned that as well.  Everything grown here – even the herbs.  Heaven.

There’s something about the feeling you get knowing you have grown everything you are eating.  There’s a sense of pride and a feeling of security that grows a little each year.  I can also send food home with family and friends and know they’ll eat and enjoy not only something good, healthy and local but also made with love.

 

 

 

 

Where Did Summer Go?

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Uncategorized

140813 Rainbow LomoI woke up this morning, before daylight, to the sound of rain on the roof.  My first thought was  “Are you kidding me?!?” I went back to a restless sleep and finally got up to a rather cold house.  When I looked at the thermometer it was 48 degrees.

I picked up a brochure for the Heath Fair last weekend at the local farm and garden center and the woman at the check out said, “Yup, next weekend, marks the end of summer”.

To me this has been the summer that wasn’t.  We had a handful of days in the 80’s, very few days in the 90’s.  All of the fans have been taken out of the windows so I can close them at night against most of the cold air. The window in my bedroom will stay open until November – in part to keep the fresh air coming in but also so I can hear the owls and other critters at night.  The garden has been so so.  I look back at records of past years and realize that everything is 2 weeks or so behind except for the garlic.  It will be a miracle if I get beans at all – they love the sun and heat.

This past Wednesday was a complete washout (and the only day I really had to work in the gardens).  It was warmer but pouring and brought in the cooler weather.  There was a rainbow to mark the end of the day and the rain.  It also showed me where my pot of gold resides. There is such beauty here. Every day gives another opportunity to see it and share.

Today the chicken fence goes up and they will venture outdoors for the first time in their lives.  Although I have so much to do with the summer ending I will move my lawn chair to a good vantage point with camera in hand and watch the chicks take in the fresh air and sunshine.  What better way to spend part of a late summer day.