phenological events December 073rd river snow daily
4th duck weed still green
10th ice storm
25th redpoll sighting
The snow storm that blew in on the 31st, took a huge limb off of our old Maple that grows just outside the kitchen window. The Maple my husband built the swing in. The Maple that holds a soft spot in my heart. That swing was swung on nearly every day. It holds many dear memories.
Pictured above, is only 1/3 of the tree that came down. Note the red arrows indicating the wires that it pulled down with it when it fell.
I woke up before dawn- to see a flash of light outside my window. I've seen transformers blow before. I nudged my husband.."did you see that?" "yep...transformer.", came the reply. After that we lost power...and went back to sleep. We didn't realize that the Maple had taken out the transformer until we got out of bed and went downstairs to make a pot of coffee...
Help arrived after several calls to the power company, and the insurance company... trying to hammer out whose responsibility it was to take care of the damage. The tree even yanked the wires off the house, breaking the old ceramic rings that are mounted into the side of the cabin.
It was really a beautiful day, and I wished I could take photos of the beauty, but was busy recording the images of the repairs. But the photos made for a good analogy in my mind...encouraging me to focus on what is really important.
Noticing the soft blue sky that was starting to show through the clouds, it whispers hope for the coming year. One has to remain optimistic in this day and age. Best wishes to all in the coming year!
A long time ago, before I had a virtual notebook on Ravelry, I kept a spinner's notebook. The year's end seems like a good time to update my spinner's notebook, as I'm in the midst of cleaning up bits and pieces of past projects...and re-organizing my stash, and writing a TO DO list. Out with the old, in with the new. Cathy has been doing a clean out too. We seem to be on the same cleaning schedule, previously~ we were both washing windows at the same time.
The notebook was a gift to me from my SIL, a non-spinner, very thoughtful person. She found it on eBay. It is handmade from mat board and handmade papers, bound together by ribbon. I record my scribbles about where I brought the fiber, as well as technical spinner speak notations...receipts or business cards...and other flotsam and jetsam I find noteworthy.
As I was adding the PG yarn to the notebook, I remembered that several people had emailed me wondering about the outcome of the shawl that I made with it. I had posted the finished project to Ravelry, in my virtual notebook, but didn't post it here...didn't want any peeking going on, as it was a gift.
I had success with the hand knit border, which was hand sewn to the shawl with a mattress stitch. Then the entire shawl was fulled, and the take up of the weaving and the knitting was pretty much equal and did not present any problems of rippling (which I feared could occur).
So, virtual notebook updated, natural notebook updated, and blog updated... Sheeze...seems redundant. For all of the years that I have been keeping notes, I find that I don't often refer to them for anything really important other than curiosity or a trip in the way back machine. Am I missing something here? Spinner's, what say you?
Saw my first Redpoll ever!
There are many birding sites for the enthusiast these days...I have added a few links to my sidebar so I can keep up with things.
I went looking for information about the numbers of redpolls seen in Pennsylvania in the area that I live, and found this:
We are experiencing the biggest winter finch irruption since the"superflight" of 1997-1998, when many boreal finches went well beyondtheir normal ranges. The cause is the largest tree seed crop failurein a decade across more than 3200 km (2000 mi) of boreal forest fromSaskatchewan into Quebec. Today in Toronto, I had a Pine Grosbeak,Evening Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins and Purple Finchesmigrating along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. Boreal winter finchesare being reported in many areas of southern Ontario and the UnitedStates, where some species such as Pine and Evening Grosbeaks haven'tbeen seen in years. There is no telling how far south this"superflight" will go.
Unless you are a birder, you may not understand the thrill of getting to add a bird to your "life list". It made my day.
To view more data on the Redpoll numbers in PA, go here
They noticed me first. I wasn't paying attention to what was in front of me. One of them stomped her foot and snorted ...warning me that I was getting to close. It startled me.
I stopped walking and looked at them. They looked at me. I was closer than I have ever been to one, about 3 feet away. The whitetail are beautiful. So I just stood there - admiring them. The biggest one made a sort of bleating noise I had never heard before. Almost like a sheep, but very brief, grunt like.
The whitetail have taken to walking in the road. These last two storms make walking the paths difficult. The snow and ice are hard to traverse. Walking the road is easier for them. They tolerate my presence. Not wanting to navigate the berm of the road where the snowplow has heaved up icy mounds, they allow me to walk along with them. We walk in single file, I fall in step.
There were four of them, the fifth decided to run up the berm and follow along on the deer path that runs parallel to the road...it lagged behind, and then would run to catch up to us.
I followed them until I had to take a different path, back to my world with a clock and things to do. But my spirit thanks them for the interlude.
How can I not love a creature that leaves a footprint in the shape of a heart?
This weather is hard on the animals..I noticed the deer sleeping under the pines as I went out to check on the hens this morning. There is not as much snow on the ground under the pines...a good place to find shelter.
As I open the henhouse door, the glare of first light catches the frost on the panes of glass.
Beauty in unlikely places.
The chickens did not appreciate it. They took one look at the snow and ice, and decided to stay inside today. I have given them some squash and pumpkins to peck at - to keep them entertained. Chickens are very busy creatures, always scratching, looking for something to eat...they get bored easily during snow storms. I also gave them warm milk soaked bread with a few raisins.
I finished the mittens, they will be given to charity. They are nice and warm and soft. I put the angora trim on with the crochet hook, and I'm not happy with the results. Next time, it would be better to start the cuff with the angora, perhaps knitting a few rows of garter stitch in it first.
The first winter I lived in this cabin was when I learned about ice dams. The husband was still living and working in the city during the week, and I was alone with a toddler. The snow was piling up, and the icicles were growing longer each day. I thought they were pretty...like gingerbread on a house...icicles on the eves of a cabin in the woods looked like a picture out of a storybook to me. What did I know about the perils of ice dams?
I remember a certain phone call one day back then. It was after I had come home from shopping, to discover water running down the log walls inside the house. There were large puddles of water on the floor. I panic. I went down to the basement and turned off the water. I called my husband and explained the trouble. The conversation went something like this....
me: "There is water running down the walls...I think a pipe must have burst!"
husband: "Where is the water coming from?"
me:"It is coming down from the ceiling and running down the walls!"
husband: "Well, it can't be a leaky pipe, we have no pipes in the walls upstairs, all the plumbing is on the first floor!"
me: "Then where is the water coming from?!!"
husband: "...you must have ice dams"
I had to wait 3 days for him to get here and fix things. Three days of mopping up water. I wanted to move.
We no longer have to worry about the water coming in. We have replaced the roof, insulated and added a membrane to prevent that. But the ice dams still happen because we have an eve where the ice can build up. If we don't remove the snow, the ice dams will form ..this seems to happen when we get a sizable snow storm- followed by a fast melt...If the ice dams get to big they will pull the gutters off. There are special electric cables that you can run to melt the ice...just flick a switch and presto, melt! Or there is the good old fashion way, get a roof shovel, and shovel it off.
.....think I can convince him that it is about time to install those cables?
More weather, more beauty, but at the same time, it makes "getting around" a bit difficult. I worry for those that are ill, and need to go out in the weather for care. So far, I think we have about 8 inches.
The plow came down the road once today.
It is a good day to be inside. I made a pot of soup on the wood stove, so the house smells inviting as you come in from shoveling and other outside chores.
Today, I decide to trim out a pair of mittens with a touch of angora...but discover that I don't have enough. I find the basket of clippings and dive in. One of those times I am glad I'm a hand spinner..so I can whip up a little yarn in no time! Angora trim- makes an otherwise plain mitten- into something special. If I have enough time, I will make a hat to match.
It was easy to see how the predator was trying to find a way in. There were tracks leading out of the stream bed and over to the gate. From there, it went to the left and traveled about 10 feet. At that point, it squeezed under the fence to the garden. The area was only about 3 inches high, and about the same in width.
Once inside the fence, it made it's way through the kale bed, down to where the potatoes had been growing, and where the fence separates the garden from the chicken run. This small gate is how I have been letting the chickens into the garden to browse since the bobcat has been hanging around. And yes, I also saw bobcat tracks, but they were not around the chicken run.
The varmint dug under the snow in what looked like an effort to slip under the gate. The hole was big enough...why it didn't go inside the run puzzled me, but there were no tracks inside the run this morning.
From that spot, it ran over into the old corn patch looking all along the fence for a way out. After circling around several times, it backtracked and went out the same way it got into the garden, and exited into the stream bed.
A mink has 5 toes...sometimes toe 1 is the smallest and does not register reliably...so
I'm guessing a mink. A weasel doesn't like the water much. I've seen mink fighting with muskrat over riverbank territory...so I surmise that perhaps it followed the stream up from the river. Also, the only thing that was consumed of the poor Cochin was her brain. I know this sounds gruesome ...believe me, it looked worse. Besides, I cannot think of another critter that would be so small and so vicious. Anyone care to weigh in with a guess?
The snow has fallen a little bit every day for the past four days. Slowly, as winter begins to arrive, there are the last traces of fall. Autumn becomes winter...we begin another transition.
And we are not without our troubles here. I discovered my poor Blue Cochin, dead, decapitated, feathers everywhere, just outside the hen house door. There was a struggle, that is evident. It is either a weasel or a mink, and I don't know how it got into the run. At least it didn't go on a killing spree. There were no tracks in the snow...but the hen was pulled up tight to the stone foundation, leading me to believe that whatever got her is still under the coop. Now I have to lock the little hatch at night..to keep the weasel away from the door. I guess we will have to set up some kind of trap, as the predator can get into the run. I've got my work cut out for me, figuring out what to do.
By mid-afternoon I finally put on my boots and ventured out. Chickens and rabbit were tucked in for the storm yesterday....yes, now I only have one rabbit...my old grey doe passed away overnight a few days ago. It was time, she was blind and becoming lame. She lived a long life, and it was hard to say goodbye. She was the last of the rabbits that I had raised here at the riverrim. Here is a photo of her in younger years...
It stopped snowing in the middle of the day, but they warn the storm is not yet over. Ice and rain are promised. So far there is about 5 inches. We swept it away, choosing not to reach for the shovel ....yet.
Outside, the only sounds one can hear are the river, and an occasional brave chick-a dee-dee-dee. It is quite cold. The world seems black and white.
The color is inside these days, where the light is, where the warmth is, where there is a certain sense of calm just snuggling in to my rocking chair and knitting on the border. I have attached one side to the shawl, and have a few more inches to go on the other side. Yawn. Here kitty, kitty!
I've started to use the dried ears of sweet corn that we grew, to feed to the chickens as a treat. They enjoy it. We ate the choice 10 inch ears this past summer, so the ones that I saved for drying are smaller, and some not fully formed. In the morning, when I let the chickens out to range, I grab a ear or two of the dried corn. I twist the cob in my gloved hands to release the kernels, and the chickens gather around my feet to snatch them up as they fall to the ground.
I am left with a clean white dry corn-cob. I have been wanting to use a corn-cob on my Great Wheel spindle, to serve as a bobbin. Quite some time ago, I had read that this was a common practice. I didn't reference it, and I'm sorry. However, I did find this from Project Gutenberg:
When the corn was shelled, the cobs were not carelessly discarded or disregarded. They were stored often in a lean-to or loft in the kitchen ell; from thence they were brought down in skepes or boxes about a bushel at a time.
The yarn might be wound directly upon the wooden spindle as it was spun,
or at the end of the spindle might be placed a spool or broach which
twisted with the revolving spindle, and held the new-spun yarn. This
broach was usually simply a stiff roll of paper, a corn-cob, or a roll
The yarn might be wound directly upon the wooden spindle as it was spun, or at the end of the spindle might be placed a spool or broach which twisted with the revolving spindle, and held the new-spun yarn. This broach was usually simply a stiff roll of paper, a corn-cob, or a roll of corn-husk.
It worked rather nicely! There were no problems winding on, and it slid off easily. I did have to use a piece of husk as the base because the spindle didn't grip the inside of the cob. This would be a nice touch for folks to see at historical demos. I will save a few nice cobs for just such an occasion.
In the meantime, I think I will use up the ones I have because I am running out of dpns to hold the other cops in shape until I am ready to ply. I have a bit more to go before this pound is spun.
the woods don't usually make me fearful, I love the woods. How can you be fearful of something you love? I guess I'm fearful for what is happening in the woods... today, there is danger involved.
I heard a few cars go up the mountain early this morning. The hunters around here are good people, good neighbors. They are careful, respectful people. I worry for them in the fog, and the rain. Will they be able to see what they are shooting? I am as worried for the hunters, as I am for the hunted.
Fear makes a heart pound. I know the deer are fearful today. They sense the impending perile, the hunters in their woods. The air is as thick with anxiety as it is with the fog. I can imagine the heartbeats and and hear the hoofbeats as they run past. Adrenaline flows. There is stress.
All day, I wonder about my friends in the woods. I hear no shots. Good. Just before dark, I see a sign. I am glad, he's still here, a bit far away, but he made it and I can now try to relax and not be so fearful.
no time for the outdoors today, but I'm doing lots of walking in the kitchen. It is time to make THE PIE. I love making THE PIE. I get to use my neat little nutmeg grater...it has a handy spot to store the nutmeg!
I've been saving one of the best pumpkins for this pie. It is one of the Amish Pie Pumpkins that I grew earlier this summer. It is a beauty. It is LARGE. All the Amish Pie pumpkins were large. This would be a good pumpkin to grow to sell.
It is pretty tough to cut into this pumpkin...and remove all the nice meaty seeds...
... but once I do, I hack it into chunks that I will steam until they are soft. This takes some time, about 45 minutes...
it might be a good idea to work on my border for the edge of the shawl that is still resting on the loom. I worked on a pattern that I found in Nicky Epstein's book, "knitting on the edge"....it seemed like it would be perfect, except, somewhere, I wasn't quite paying close attention, and I flipped it! Argh! The price paid for multi- tasking!
As for the pie, it is starting to smell very good right about now... I'll let you know how I like the Amish Pumpkin Pie tomorrow...
phenological eventsMarch 2017
5th in like a lion