Thursday, August 22, 2013

Summer is Winding Down

I have to admit I hate to see summer coming to a close, but in general, I love fall.  Fall weather, fall activities, fall colors, fall light, fall food. But we still have some summer left, even though the weather has been cooler than normal.  We had a morning or 2 in the lower 50's and upper 40's!  Incredible for August, but I'll take it.

Yesterday I spent a great deal of time on the computer here at our office searching for any and all news I could find of the "Rim Fire"  near Groveland California.  This is a wild fire outside Yosemite National Park that went from 800 acres on Sunday to over 16,000 acres by yesterday evening.  My reason for obsession about info on this fire is that my younger son lives and works at a lodge that is only about 10 miles cross country from where this fire was by yesterday and we were waiting to hear if they had evacuated.  He had actually called me 2 nights in a row to let me know what was going on.  Finally, as of 6 pm or so my time last night they did evacuate the lodge and he called around 8 pm to say he was safely in Curry Village in Yosemite Valley (which is another 20 miles or so east of the fire) and would keep me posted as to his future plans.  IF the fire can be contained soon, he will go back to the lodge.  If the worst case scenario comes to pass, the lovely lodge and surroundings will be lost and Zac will likely head on up to Portland, OR to stay with his brother, Ian for a while.  I am hoping for a good outcome for all.

Mike, me, Mom, & Larry
There have been a lot of other things going on this past week.  First off, I drove to southwest Ohio on Friday to join my 2 younger brothers in surprising my mother for her birthday.  Her birthday was not until Monday, but Friday was the only day I could get away and it was a milestone birthday and we could not let it pass.  She really was surprised.  She thought she was just going to younger brother Larry's for dinner and did not expect Mike and me to  be there.  Larry prepared bruschetta with tomatoes and fresh basil I provided, Lake Michigan salmon he had caught the previous week, fresh brussel sprouts and rice and I cooked some fresh acorn squash from my garden, sweetened with some of my maple syrup.  It was a very nice dinner.  Nothing makes a mother happier than having all her children together.  I know.

I had to be home Saturday afternoon to put in the last of the year's hay.  We had one large field and a very small field to do and had about 175 additional bales of second cutting to put in the barn.  The large field is way up by our pond and is accessed by a farm road through the woods which is about 1/2 mile long with 3 "switchbacks" to maneuver.  Needless to say, this can be tricky with a large pick-up and a full trailer load of hay and trees  Unfortunately, as I was coming down, I lost several bales off the front of the trailer, which wedged themselves under the trailer wheels and I came to a complete stop.  So when Sam came down the hill behind me in the little truck, he found me on my back in the mud with both feet on a wedged bale pushing with everything I had to get it out from under the trailer.  But we eventually prevailed and got it all into the barn.  Good feeling to have that chore done for another year.

Tuesday I picked up 8 pullets, or young hens.  My 9 hens were about 2 1/2 years old and I was only getting about 3 to 4 eggs a day from the 9 of them, so I needed some new layers.  These 8 chicks should start laying in a couple of weeks.  Right now they are still too scared to venture very far out the door of the coop and I will not allow them to free range until I am sure they know where home is to go back and roost every night.  For now they are restricted to the chicken yard.

That brings up the question of my old hens.  I struggled with this for quite some time.  Last Thursday, my friend Tari came over and we butchered my old hens.  They are now in my freezer and will make wonderful chicken stock.  This was a hard thing for me to do, but it is the eventual end for layers past their prime unless one wants to keep them around as pets and feed them.  It was a huge step for me as I have never personally killed and processed anything I have eaten.  But I decided if it was going to be done, I would be doing it.  I sincerely thank Tari for showing me how to do it.  I know many people will not agree with me on doing this, but I have been a carnivore all my life, I don't plan to change, and since I am, I need to own it.  I figure these hens probably had a more humane life and death than the chickens wrapped in plastic in the grocery store.
Thank goodness I won't have to do it again for 2 more years. 

The garden is doing ok.  The cool wet weather seems to be affecting the tomatoes and they are not ripening like they should.  And they have a funny bumpy texture under the skin.  Not sure what it is.  Sam's hops are doing well.  To the left is one of his smaller vines.  You can see lots of hop "cones" on it.  I also dug up a couple potatoes the other day and they look pretty good.

The wet summer has been good for the pastures.  Here is the small pasture across from the guest house that I took the 5 females off of a couple weeks ago.  It is looking wonderful.

As for fibery stuff, I have been working (slowly) on some hand-dyed alpaca batts.  I have dyed some blue and red alpaca and am carding in some sparkly purple "Firestar" which you can best see in the blue batt.  My plan is to make layered batts on my drum carder with some silk I dyed purple sandwiched between the red and blue alpaca.  I hope to have these ready for sale at the Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs Ohio next month.  We'll see how they turn out. 
Thomas peering out of the (hay filled) loft

I am still working on my cardigan out of the wool/bamboo blend yarn.  I have finished the body and am ready to do the sleeves.  Maybe I will have a photo update for next week.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Kathy! I will look for you at the Wool Gathering. Merrilee