Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Still Rainy

We continue to experience higher than normal rainfall amounts for this time of year.  Our creek, which is normally dry from late May until October, has rarely been dry, and no sooner does it dry up than we have a deluge and it is running once again.  This has not boded well for cutting and baling hay, which needs to be done.  But starting today, there is a 4 day forecast of dry weather, sunshine, and low humidity, so Sam is mowing hay. The temperatures are supposed to be lower than normal as well, so maybe it will be a bit less uncomfortable for baling and stacking this weekend.

The garden is doing all right, though many of the tomatoes are rotting before ripening.  I have been able to can 5 1/2 quarts of home made marinara sauce, but we will not get anything like the harvest we had last year, which I think was exceptional.   Last year I made sauce and dried tomatoes and tomato jam and even ketchup and Sam made salsa.  I don't think we will be that lucky this year.  

 My garlic crop was nice, however.  I got a couple dozen nice bulbs of various sizes, some of which will be designated for planting in October for next year's crop.

Our corn has been disappointing.  The ears are very small and while it tasted good, there was not very much.  

I think the cucumbers may have finally stopped coming on.  There were SO many.  Sam made lots of refrigerator pickles.  We still have lettuce and I am about to plant some more and some kale.  And the squash and pumpkins continue to expand their territory.  I planted sweet potatoes for the first time this year, and they seem to be doing well.  I hope I get at least a dozen.

Last time I posted, Grover and I were getting ready to go to Dayton for a 2 day agility trial.  We had a fabulous weekend!  We had 4 runs for the weekend and we Q'd on every one of them.  So our QQ total is now 10, which means we are halfway to our goal of 20 needed for a MACH!  However, we also need 750 speed points, and we are not that fast.  We have 336 points at this time, so are not even half way there.  Most likely we will get our 20 QQs and then just need to accumulate the rest of the points.  We will be attending one trial day in late September and then a 3 day trial in October. So we have a little time off.  It is just working out that way. 

 This is the batch of dog food I cooked yesterday.  It includes about 7 pounds of venison, 1 pound of liver, 2 cans of salmon, 10 eggs with the shells, broccoli, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, a little white rice, fresh ginger, turmeric, and kale.  This will last about 10 days.  Rowdy is getting 10 oz twice a day with some supplements added and Grover is getting some mixed in with his dry food.  I have a 40# bag of dog food to use up and then I may change Grover over to 100% homemade as well.  I will go through quite a bit more at that time, but Sam is going elk hunting this October and then he should be able to get a couple deer as well.  I have talked to the local butcher and I will be able to source some organ meat through them once they get busy again next week, and of course I will ask all the hunters in the neighborhood for livers and hearts again like last year.  Ghoulish, I know, but it is a lot better for my dogs I am convinced.  And if I can do it. I will.

I am in preparation mode now for two events, the first being our Labor Day Weekend party.  This will be the 20th one.  It started very small, with just family the first year we were here and became a yearly get-together with friends, family and acquaintances as years went by.  I think we will have at least 11 people staying over Saturday night, but family will start to arrive as early as Thursday and stay until Monday.  It is always great fun and then when everyone leaves on Monday, I realize summer is really over....

And then in mid-September, I will be a vendor once again at the Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  So I have been inventorying my yarn and dyeing more yarn.  I also updated my online Etsy shop with the yarns I have on hand for sale  Straightfork's Etsy Shop  
 since I no longer have a farm website.  I have dyed this:
 And this (though the color is much more blue than this photo shows):
And this most recently:
These are all my newest yarn batch, spun just this June.  
And check out my studio.  The deck now has railing on it.  It is really almost finished.  I had to get some more stain to finish up one spot on the back of the building, but in essence all it really needs now are gutters and downspouts.  I do plan to put weed barrier and stone under the deck, but I may not get to that until later this fall or possibly spring and of course I need to clean up the construction scraps underneath.  I am so pleased  with how this has come out!

 Sam has been busy cutting wood for winter.  This is all wood that comes from trees that have fallen, usually across a farm road or into a field.  I will cover the stacks with tarps in October in an attempt to keep the wood dry.  We use a lot.  We don't heat our house entirely with wood, but our woodburner is in use pretty continuously from mid-November until April.

With all the rain, the mushrooms and fungi of various types are thriving.  Here are some mushrooms that popped up under the pine trees next to the creek a few days ago.  The bigger ones were about 6" in diameter.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Trip Out West and Suddenly It Is August

Rowdy is doing all right.  He doesn't move around a lot anymore, but yesterday he walked down the road to go see the sheep that are being pastured in our unused alpaca fields.  He is now on 100% homemade food and that has helped with his water consumption, as in he is no longer drinking huge amounts of water.  His food now has the moisture in it required to digest it.  Food for thought on feeding dry dog food....

So yeah, I took a quick trip out west to Oregon to visit my older son, Ian, who is going into his final year in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University(Go Beavers!).  My Mom went out with me and we had a really lovely trip.  We stayed in a very nice little 2 bedroom AirBNB apartment right next to campus.   Corvallis is a lovely town and is surrounded by beautiful farm and forestland. Ian gave us a guided tour of the OSU Campus and the downtown area and we also visited the restaurant where Michelle works which was very nice.  We hiked in OSU's research forest, which like most places we went in Oregon, is very dog friendly.  I don't often see off-leash walking being allowed.  But when you consider there are bears and cougars in these forests, you may want to think twice about how good your dog's vocal recall really is.

We also visited Mary's Peak, the highest point in the coastal range at just over 4000 ft, which was about 1/2 an hour from Corvallis.  It was hard to get a photo that did the view justice.  And that is Mt. Hood in the center, over 100 miles away.

There was record breaking heat in Oregon while we were there.  Triple digit temps were forecast for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so Tuesday Ian and Michelle took Mom and I to the coast where it was in the 70's with a stiff breeze.

We saw some lighthouses, including this one at Yaquina Head near Newport, where we had lunch outside on a deck overlooking the bay. We enjoyed dinner in a town farther south on the coast called Yachats after visiting Seal Rock Beach and a state park with a spectacular view.  We didn't return to our apartment in Corvallis until after 10 pm.  It was a wonderful day.

As Mom and I were driving back to Portland on Wednesday afternoon for our flight out early Thursday morning, the thermometer in the car got as high as 107.  We stayed in our air-conditioned hotel all night.

Oddly, I came home to much cooler temperatures after torrential rains again on Friday.  We have had highs in the 70's and low 80's since then.
I am afraid this weather has not been good for my tomatoes.  There are a lot of tomatoes out there, but they are not ripening and many are rotting on the vines.  The ones that have ripened do not have the flavor I think they should have.  However, the lettuce and cucumbers have done quite well with all the rain and the squash and pumpkin plants are now taking over.

They are literally moving into the agility field.  The corn is disappointing as well.  According to the local meteorologist we have had over 19" of rain here since May 1st.  It's just too much.  


I caught this little guy and one of his siblings in among my squash and pumpkins and relocated them away from the garden.  He's pretty cute, but I really don't want him eating my lettuce.  I just wonder how many I did NOT find.

A few weeks ago, some nearby neighbors approached us about using some of our empty pastures for their sheep.  We agreed because we have already had to mow said pastures twice this year and it was about time to do it again.  So we now have a flock of Tunis ewes in one pasture

And their weaned lambs from this year along with 2 six month old Pyrenees puppies in the field across the road

Darn it those puppies are cute!

I haven't been brave enough yet to venture in with them.  I have a feeling it will be a slobbery experience.

In addition to everything else Sam does, he has been weaving hammocks from "mule tape", which our friend Lee has brought us in large quantities.  My understanding is that the electric companies use the mule tape to pull cables through pipes and conduit and then discard it.  It is fairly indestructible.  Both Sam and Lee hate to see things go to waste, so Lee brings some of it here.  I think Sam is working on the third hammock and is still trying to perfect a hammock chair.   

I have been weaving as well.  I have some potholders made from loom waste on my loom at home.  There is always waste when weaving.  This is the second time I have made these potholders.  The colored parts are the loom waste from towels I have woven.  The ends will eventually be hidden inside a binding.  I save the waste (called thrums) until I have enough to do a batch of potholders.  And they match towels I have made, so it is nice to give them to people to whom I have given towels.

I am warping my big loom to do a couple rugs.  I sold a rug through the Arts Center in June and the woman who bought it wanted a second one just like it.  I had to wait until the pillow covers I was weaving were finished to start that.  But I'm now working on it.  The pillow covers are just waiting for me to find time to sew them and they will be done.

 I also did some more yarn dyeing this week.  I tried another new to me technique and while I didn't really get the result I was looking for, the yarn came out okay.  I kind of like it.  So someone else will as well.  I have the Wool Gathering coming up in about a month over in Yellow Springs Ohio and I need to dye several batches of my newest yarn to be able to offer it for sale there.  

And speaking of upcoming events, Grover and I will be in Dayton this coming weekend at a trial held by the Gem City Dog Training Club.  We have attended this trial once before, in 2015.  So we will be staying with Mom for a couple of days.  We need a few good runs.  But however the runs go, we will have fun!