Thursday, September 17, 2020

Painting the dresser

Back about six years ago we scavenged a free dresser off Craig’s List. It was in great shape and was actually really good wood...but I wanted something fun for the studio. I used it, as-is, for years and finally got around to painting it. And boy did I make it fun!

Stripes! Dots! Dragonflies! Bees and butterflies! And lots of color. The purples match the supports for the work table and the greens are the same as on the armoire. The pinks are simply pretty.

The knobs are antique thread spools that my Mom gave me ages ago. I chose ones that had stamped ends then painted the sides with coordinating colors.

An antique hand-embroidered table cover to protect the top and it’s now full of linen and weaving supplies. Great storage and happy to look at. Love it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

So many eggs!

Remember those itty-bitty chicks I got in the Spring? They’re all grown up and laying already. They started laying way earlier than any chickens I’ve had before too. I expected to start getting eggs haphazardly starting at 25 weeks-which is two weeks away. Instead they’re laying frequently and I’m getting good sizes most of the time. Of course they are pullets so I find tiny eggs too!

That’s a cherry tomato for scale

Compared to a Bunty egg

Bunty laid a double-yolker 

So many eggs!
So I now have 10 hens laying almost daily. That’s a lot of eggs for two people. So what do I do with all those eggs? Mostly we scramble them for breakfast but I’ve been trying some new recipes too.

Scotch eggs!

Fresh pasta

Cherry tomato sauce on handkerchiefs

Of course there are lots of frittatas, quiches, cakes, and what-not. I think challah is coming soon too.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Wrapping up the week

What absolutely glorious weather we had this week. A mix of gentle rains, sunny yet mild days, and cold (56 degrees!) nights. Completely ridiculous for August. 

The garden is doing great. I’ve had to perform more squash surgeries but am now harvesting mini tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, cabbage, garlic, and tomatillos. I’ve got ears forming on the corn too. The greenhouse tomato plant is starting to ripen but the peppers in there have no flowers or fruit. Not sure why as I know pollinators get in there. The peppers planted in the big garden are fruiting though.

Chris finished a gift for friends who are getting married this fall and began rebuilding the cabinet that will be a window seat in the upstairs studio. The rebuild has been complicated by the fact that someone did some really bad repairs sometime in the past. They used a variety of glues (including hot glue?!) that just destroyed the dovetail tenons. Anyway, his progress means I need to get moving on planning a cushion. I’d like to weave the fabric but am not sure I can get that finished in a timely manner. Gotta give it some thought. I worked a bit on the sleeveless top I’m sewing but mainly maintained the household and garden. That seems to take most of my time in the summer. 

I found a couple of small batch canning/fermenting guides and am excited to give sauerkraut a try. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time but the quantities in most recipes were just crazy. Theses books give instructions for a half gallon or less of most things. Shoot, some of the recipes make just two cups. Awesome!

Sunday, August 2, 2020


Sunday-lightly raining, pleasantly cool, a perfect day to cuddle in and read a good book.

 George agrees

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Big garden update

Always fun to capture a snapshot of the garden progress. Mainly because I always complain that “we’re way behind last year’s development” and the photos always prove me wrong. So much for my memory I guess.

I’ve been battling three-lined potato bugs on my tomatillo plants all summer. I think I’ve finally beaten them though. How? By either squishing the slimy, disgusting slug things or cutting the infested leaf off completely and sealing it in a jar to be thrown away. Cutting off the leaf had the added benefit of getting rid of any eggs. So the plants look pretty healthy, I’ve got a decent number of tomatillos, and I’m hopeful for many more as I’ve got tons of flowers yet.
Three plants but fruit on only one despite flowers on all.

The corn is tasseling and it’s really tall this year. Looks healthy too despite being blown over earlier this spring.
Cucumbers up front, corn behind.

My cucumber trellis is a old bed spring frame. Works great as the gaps are large enough to let the fruit hang down for easier harvest. In the fall, any dry vines still clinging to it are easily burned off. Nice!
Spreading nicely.

The first cuke 

My cabbages were planted too close together. Totally my fault. Just messed up.
Crowded but heading up

I’m once again fighting squash vine borers. I got off my schedule of spraying caterpillar killer and they took full advantage. So I’m reduced to performing vine surgery to remove the disgusting things. On the plus side the chickens love them.
Yes, this is post surgery. Ugly but alive,

Despite the vines looking terrible, the plants are thriving. I’m getting lots of zucchini.
They are also putting in new roots so all may be well.

The potato tower is doing well. No bugs, the plants put out flowers, and the leaves are dying back. I’ll be harvesting the top layer soon.
 My potato tower

All the tomato plants are doing well, although I am seeing signs of blight on the lower leaves. I trimmed all those back and we’ll see how they do with the increased air flow. 

I planted many pepper plants. Sweet, mild, hot, extremely hot; they’re all mixed in there. Getting some flowers but no fruit yet.
Sea of peppers

The sunflowers look great. I lost two so have two bare posts but the rest are growing like crazy.

Another shot of the corn field plus two more tomato plants 

My weeping mulberry is looking a bit tall. This was just before we tied water bottles to the branches to train them to droop. I’m getting berries but not enough to harvest at one time. Instead I knocked some off for the chickens. Unfortunately they quickly learned to grab a low branch and jerk it to knock them down on their own. Argh.

Mulberry before training aids were added

More sunflowers, Veronica, and Cooper (and the tall mulberry)

Cherry tomato 

Large cherry tomato? Gotta look this one up in the journal.

The kitchen herb garden is doing great. The adjusted location gets much more direct sunlight. Back row, left to right: cilantro, lemon verbena, parsley. Middle row is basil and lettuce. Front is young chamomile.

I planted a bunch of flowers in one quadrant because they’re pretty. No other reason needed.

I’ve got mammoth dill and frond dill growing in the back right corner, plus marjoram, spicy oregano, thyme, and regular oregano.

That’s pretty much everything. Not pictured was the kohlrabi (almost all harvested now), the carrots (doing well), and the garlic (nearly ready for harvest). 

Hope your gardens are doing well too!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Broadfork, greenhouse, and corn tassels

Chris made me a broadfork! In case you’re unfamiliar, a broadfork is used to break up and aerate soil without actually tilling it. 

Given that “real” broadforks cost way more money than we want to spend, Chris decided to construct one. He took the handles off a broken hand-truck, the tines from a small York rake, and the bar from same. The tines were arched and about an inch wide, too wide to easily cut through the soil. So he was going to cut them into more of a blade until he hit on the idea of twisting them. So out came the mini-forge, the anvil, and the torch. 

Bar and frame from rake

Heating the bar for twisting

Before and after

Once he got it all welded and bolted together I gave it a try.

Before pushing into soil

Tines buried, cat helping

Pulling back to lift
Admittedly, I put it onto fairly light soil, but it worked a treat. I think it’ll be great this fall in the garden.

My corn is looking awesome and I’ve actually got some tasseling. It’s nearly over my head already.

Look closely for the tassel
The greenhouse tomatoes and peppers are growing well. No flowers on the peppers yet, which surprises me. The cherry tomatoes are fruiting and climbing like crazy. I’m training them to the trellis but am not sure the fruit will dangle. It seems to want to head upward. We’ll see.

Tying to the frame
My zucchini plants are now producing full size zukes and we’re getting creative with our use. Chris even made zucchini spears on his own (this is a big deal-he doesn’t usually cook). Just cut zucchini into spears, coat with egg, dredge in seasoned Parmesan, and bake for 20 minutes or so. Came out great.
Good use of that zucchini glut

I’ve got to get out there and take a full photo spread of the gardens. It’s nice to have pictures to support your recollection of what the space was doing. Maybe tomorrow morning during my weeding time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Carl the Randy Rooster

This is my third flock of chickens, but my first experience with a rooster. I had no idea the shenanigans he would get up to. Nor did I know how quickly he’d start them.
The culprit 
He’s only 15 weeks old. 15! And yet he’s already grabbing the girls neck feathers and trying to mount them. They, also being only 15 weeks old, want no part of this. So they scream. Loudly. The first time I thought a fox had got one. Nope; just Carl.

Oddly, he makes zero effort to woo the older hens that would be all too willing to entertain a strong young stud. At least I assume they’d be willing as they squat and quiver at the least encouragement. Basically, wave a hand over one and she’ll assume the position. Maybe they intimidate him?

I’ve requested a Storey’s book on chicken raising from my library. Hopefully it’ll provide some insights.