Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wow, Today it Feels Like Fall!

Yup, it was 42 degrees down in the holler this morning.  Yesterday was gorgeously sunny with some wind and a high in the 70's.  Quite a change from just a few days ago.  It is most welcome, though we have yet to  turn any heat on in our office (or at home) and I think it is around 60 in here.  But I am wearing a nice warm wool poncho that I finished knitting a couple of weeks ago.  When Sam took this photo is was about 80 degrees outside.  Today it is much more comfortable for the wearing of wool.

The bounty from the garden has continued, though I think it will sadly come to an end soon.  There was a comment on last week's post about making tomato jam with a link to a recipe:
smoky spicy tomato jam   that I decided sounded really good.  I made it, though I made a bigger batch and I ended up with 3 pints.  Boy is it yummy!  And so much easier than ketchup.  It is kind of like a ketchup with texture.  Thanks Karen, for that suggestion.  I also made another double batch of pesto and divided it up and put it in the freezer.  I am glad I did because the basil won't last a lot longer now that it is dropping into the 40's overnight.  I have lots and lots of butternut squash still on the vines and just a few sugar pie pumpkins, including this one that is growing on the fence.  And there are still oodles of tomatoes in the garden....

 The studio is coming along nicely.  Sam has run electric and gas lines to it and I am trying to figure out lighting.  There will be a central ceiling fan with lights, but I think I may want more lights.  It's hard to visualize at this point.  

My small loom is now warped and has 1 scarf about 3/4 of the way woven on it.  I will get 2 on this warp.  I plan to start warping the big loom today for a couple of baby blankets.  They will be pink and white.  No special reason except that I have a huge cone of peach-y colored cotton and I want to use it.  I figured since I have a blue baby blanket in my stash I might as well do a pink one (or two).

I did some charity knitting recently.  I made these 2 bears for the Mother Bear Project, which sends them to Africa and distributes them to children whose lives have been affected by AIDS, usually having lost one or both parents.  They are fun and quick to make, so I will  likely do more in the future.  They are about 12" tall.

I don't recall if I mentioned that I took a class in pastels at the Arts Center back in August, but I did.  Here is my resulting picture.  I really liked working with the pastels and I hope to acquire some in the near future.  I have tried to do drawings of Grover and Rowdy, but pencil just does not do them justice.  I think they would be much nicer in pastel.

There is not much upcoming on the farm.  This past weekend was nice with nothing on the schedule.  I managed to fill the time, however.  Never a problem there.  October comes in on Saturday, already.  Another quiet  weekend seems to be in the works and I hope for some really nice fall weather.  Bow season for deer started last weekend, but it was much too warm for Sam to think about hunting.  He may get out this weekend.  Then Mom will come the second weekend in October to pick up her dog, Luca, who is here with us while she travels.  Grover and I have an agility trial in Zanesville Oct 21, 22 and 23.  The month will be gone before we know it. 

The trees have yet to start to change color, but in the woods, the undergrowth has died back and the unmowed fields are full of goldenrod.  Change is definitely in the air.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Up Before the Chickens

Rowdy seems to love to nap in this position.  Maybe it is cooler for him.

Summer is really hanging on here.  I am not complaining, really, I'm not.  We have had above average temps, upper 80's, during the day for the last week or so.  And yet the sun is rising later and setting earlier and I am generally up and out before the chickens are even stirring in the coop.  That will change once it is cold in the mornings, though.  But for now I will continue to be up before the sun.  

The extremely warm weather made for a hot weekend for me at the Wool Gathering.  Storms were forecast for Saturday and while there was a big gust of wind at one point and very dark and ominous skies a good part of the day, there was minimal rain, for which I was grateful.  I do think it kept some attendees away as sales were a little slower Saturday than on previous years, for me anyway.  Sunday was just plain hot and humid.  But in general I would say it was a successful event.  I have not decided whether I will attend next year.  I should.  But I really hated missing the agility trial this past weekend.  I need to see if the 2 will coincide again next year.  I fear that they will.
 Meanwhile, back on the farm, the garden continues to pump out tomatoes like crazy.  Sam made a huge batch of salsa on Sunday, which I canned most of on Monday.  So far, we have a dozen quarts of marinara, a dozen quarts and 7 pints of whole romas, a dozen jars of salsa, 2 pints of ketchup, and 2 pints of dried romas.  Plus we have had BLTs, pasta with fresh sauce and even fried green tomatoes.  It has truly been a bumper year for tomatoes.   Monday I made a double batch of pesto and I think I will make more this weekend as I have a lot of basil.  I have also frozen basil in ice cubes, which is nice for cooking in the winter.   The pesto was wonderful on some cheese tortellini.

I still have sunflowers to harvest seeds from. I have been giving some of the flower heads to the chickens since there are way more than we can eat.  There are still 3 large flowers waiting to be cut and several smaller flower heads.

I am glad this gal chose to make her web on a sunflower stalk from which I had already cut the flower.  She seems have no trouble securing a meal.

I have lost the weakest of my 3 bee hives.  I will take it apart this coming weekend and see if I can determine what happened.  They never really got up to speed over the summer.  The other 2 hives however are doing very well.  I may harvest some more honey this week.  There have been so many bees on these yellow flowers that grow wild at this time every year.  We will stop next to a big patch of them on our walks and stand still for 30 seconds and soon realize the entire patch of blooms is in motion with honey bees.  It's pretty neat.

My studio is coming along.  This photo is from last week and since I took it, the rest of the OSB board has been put on and the windows have been cut out the rest of the way.  The deck is also on, but there are no stairs as yet.  Sam put his back out last Thursday, so he spent most of the last weekend taking it easy, which is hard to get him to do.  I know he is suffering when he sits in his chair all day.  But at least he got to watch football.  

I finished this sweater a while back, but finally got Sam to photograph  me in it a few days ago.  It really has not been sweater weather, and still isn't.  I also just finished a hooded poncho I have been working on and I love it.  I hope to get Sam to take a photo of me wearing it when I get home this evening.  It will be kind of warm to put on a wool poncho with a hood, but I have to take advantage of opportunities for photos when Sam is home (and I am not in grubby farm clothes) when I can.

Both my looms are empty right now and I have no big knitting projects going.  That's how busy the canning and gardening has kept me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Unofficially Fall

While it won't officially be fall for another 2 weeks, Labor Day weekend is now behind us and I think that is pretty much the end of summer to most people in the United States.  Kids are back in school and the days are getting shorter and the weather should be getting cooler.  Should be.  It is still quite warm here, though the weather Labor Day weekend was ideal here in this part of the country.

Which was nice because we had our annual party once again on Saturday.  I think there were fewer people here and definitely fewer kids than in past years, but it was a good turnout regardless.  Lots of food and homebrew on tap.  It was a great way to spend an afternoon and evening at the end of summer.  

Meanwhile, work on my studio has made fabulous progress.  I helped Sam get the second half of the roofing on and he got some of the sides on all before party weekend.  It will still be getting rough sawn exterior siding which I will need to stain.  Now he is getting ready to put the front porch on.  I dug post holes for that yesterday.  It is really coming along well.

 I thought I was done canning tomatoes over a week ago.  I had done 5 quarts and 6 pints of whole roma tomatoes, along with a dozen quarts of marinara sauce.  But the tomatoes keep on coming on and yesterday I picked enough romas to do up 6 more quarts of whole tomatoes.  Sam made salsa for our party and plans to make more.  We have had spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce 3 times  recently and still, there are tomatoes in the garden.  I will likely can again Friday.  I am not complaining, but it is either feast or famine.  We have had several poor years for tomatoes and this year is making up for it!

I also need to harvest sunflower seeds.  Most of the flowers are bent all the way over and drying on the stalks.  They look so sad now.  I probably have 8 or 9 big flowers like this, 12" or so in diameter, all ready to be harvested and roasted.

I am also going to have a good crop of butternut squash, though I have found only 4 sugar pie pumpkins so far.  They are difficult to find among the vines and leaves until they start to turn orange.  They are not large.  I had a few more than that last year and actually just used the very last of my frozen puree to make a pumpkin cake this past weekend.  Yummy.

I grew a bit of sorghum up by where 2 of the bee hives are and it has gone to seed heads.  Hopefully it provided a bit of nectar for the bees and I will likely try to make some sorghum molasses with it in a couple of weeks.  I don't have a lot, but this will be just an experiment to see if we can do it.  We will save at least one of the seed heads to re-plant and the chickens will likely enjoy the rest.

This weekend we are taking a road trip with the dogs to visit friends in Indiana who we have not seen in several years.  They have a big party every September as well and it just happens that this year we are able to attend.   The last time we attended Rowdy was only 2 years old.  I am very much looking forward to going.

The weekend following that, I am vending at the Wool Gathering just outside Yellow Springs again.  I missed it last year due to a delay in Sam's hunting trip plans, and while I am missing an agility trial to attend this year, I am looking forward to being there.  Here is the link to the event:  A Wool Gathering  It is by far my favorite "local" fiber festival.  I still have a lot of yarn and other alpaca products to sell even though most of my alpacas have moved on to other pastures.  I will be staying with Mom and she will help me out on Saturday and on Sunday I will bring her dog, Luca, home with me because she is off to be a tour guide in Italy once again.

Most of my time at home lately has been spent on canning and preparing for our party, so I have not finished any knitting or weaving, though I do have 3 rugs ready to be taken off the loom (which I need to do before the Wool Gathering),  and a woven scarf that only needs to be washed, pressed and have the fringe twisted in order to be finished.  I have a poncho on the knitting needles that is about 2/3 of the way finished and should be done by the time the weather will allow it to be worn.  No worries, there will be a lot of spinning, weaving and knitting weather coming before too long.  

The fields are full of color right now with bright yellows and purples.  The undergrowth in the woods is starting to die back and the evening light is becoming golden.  These are all things I love about this time of year.  I don't love the multitudes of various burrs that my dogs carry home in their coats and then pick out and leave all over the house.  Grover also gets seasonal allergies this time of year which seem to be particularly bad this year.  We have him on a new allergy medication which seems to be helping.  He is no longer scratching out all his fur.  Rowdy had some skin issues for several months but I am happy to say that a second round of antibiotics seems to have finally cleared that up and he is no longer scratching out all his fur. I think he will be happy when cooler days arrive.