Tuesday, July 31, 2007

phenological notes July

phenological events July 07

1st pea harvest
5th broccoli heading
7th elderberry flowers
8th milkweed flowers
9th sweet clovers
11th harvest broccoli 12th blueberries blush

Monday, July 30, 2007


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Navajo Blackberry Thornless

The harvest has kept me very busy. I leave the basket by the screen door. Trips to the garden are made just as soon as it dries out from recent thunder storms. Hours are spent, picking and packing. How can one begrudge the bounty?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The broccoli is starting to back off, so I am harvesting the side shoots, and the beans have reached the summit of their yield. I am averaging 5 lbs every 3 days. A pound of beans averages a pint in the jar. I have packed 20 lbs so far. This might seem like a lot of beans, but if you do the math and figure I need maybe a pint of beans per week, I still have a ways to go before I can pack enough to get us from fresh pick to fresh pick. I lost count of the broccoli, the majority of it is now downstairs in the deep freezer. It is midsummer, and there is ripeness everywhere.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

In the mornings, the only songsters are the fledglings, and each day the songs dwindle....a sharp contrast to the spring concerts of May. At mid day, the katydids and the cicadas trill, and their song fills the wood instead of spring peepers. The turning point has come, the apex of summer is upon us.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

While waiting for the canner to reach temperature, I doodle ideas on paper. Slowly the project takes shape. The beans have inspired me to make a bean bag.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

which came first?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Lately, I don't know why it happens, but my yarn seems to resemble whatever vegetable I am processing. It happened earlier in the year with the Pea Harvest.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I started to wonder about which came first, the veggies or the yarn. It was the roving that caught my eye a few weeks ago when I was in Gettysburg. This is more yarn that is from the Drafting Zone. I love the way it is prepared. It spins easily on the Great Wheel. That is why I purchased it. I was not wild about the color, but the shop only had a bag of this golden color, along with a bag of hot pink. I couldn't imagine looking at a 1/2 lb. of hot pink slipping through my fingers, so I got the gold.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This is green bean, nickel, baby gourmet (of which the chipmunk ate 2/3 of the planted seed) so I am mixing it with Goldito, baby French wax.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Now, my mother reads my blog, Hi Mom!, and I am sure she will be examining the liquid on the head space in those jars (as will some of the other crackerjack canner's who read this blog). You all will probably notice that it is below the recommended 1/2 inch. I plead guilty to this, and have only one explanation to offer--I was spinning while the processing was taking place, and it probably reached temperature too quickly. My mother is not the type to criticize...she would simply give me that sideways glance with a wink, and say, "Just be sure you use those jars up first." Note to self: You probably should not try to multi-task when one of the tasks involves canning.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

the garden rules

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth- plural

Yesterday, I spent the entire day in the garden. When you spend a long time in the garden, you see life happening, up close and personal. It is beautiful. I pulled the peas (and saved the purslane for Judy's pigs). I planted carrots and turnips for fall harvesting. I saw the reason my blueberries are not turning blue.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

So many different birds are bringing their fledgling's to the bushes....as if to instruct them as to where they can get a readily available food source. It is no wonder I don't get to sample a ripe berry. I will have to cover them if I want any.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

By the time I was ready to go in, the bees were already sleeping on the coneflower. I thought I would just walk over and check in on how the string beans were doing.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I picked beans for at least another hour. I will need to can these right away. The garden takes precedence over everything. Projects languish--suspended in time. There will be no delay in harvesting and processing a vegetable that I have nurtured to its prime. The garden rules. Let the canning begin.

Friday, July 20, 2007

walk like an onion, egyptian that is

Knock knock....

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Did you stop by for a walk on Wednesday? Yea, nobody was home. It was raining anyway. I try to walk and post on Wednesday, Judy of Smatterings started it all. I think it is a good idea. I tend to walk more in the winter time, and leave the woods in summer for the bear, snakes, ticks and other critters. I miss the woods, but I have been walking down to the river and out in the garden.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

My apologies to the Bangles...

All the old onions in the field ~ they do the sand dance ~ don't ya know?

If it rains too hard ~(Oh-A-Oh)~ they're falling down like a domino...

And they break their necks ~ set their tops ~ soon the bulblets start to grow...

They waste no time ~ (Oh-A-Oh)~ set their root ~ then they multiply.

All the plants near the growing space say: ~(Onion-Onion-OOO-AAA-Onion)~ "Walk like an Egyptian..."

I cannot help but sing this song when the Egyptian Walking Onions fall over. I think my variety is of the Catawissa Strain, believed to have originated near Catawissa, PA. They are sometimes called tree onions. They are such fun. And don't they look great in a bouquet?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The onions I picked today will soon be walking their way to Judy (heads up Judy, they are ready now!)

Lorraine has nominated me as a Rockin' Girl Blogger! Thanks Lorraine! Since Meresey likes to rock out to Big Rock Candy Mountain she is my first nominee...(see Meresey, you are not the only dork! I too admit to dorkdum!)

now I'm off to walk down to the Post Office.... Line your feet astreet, bend your back ~ Shift your arm, then you pull a clock!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

rare treat

Once in awhile, the blogosphere spills over into real life.

So it was, that I received a nice package in the post.... ..from the UK.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It contained a sample of Balwen wool from Jessica's Balwen sheep. You can see a picture of them if you go here. I like the way they look like they are wearing white socks. Balwen Sheep have previously been listed by RBST as "at risk", but are now classified as "vulnerable".

According to the Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep Society: "Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep originate from one small area of Wales - the Tywi valley. Because of this, during the disastrous winter of 1947, the breed was nearly wiped out. The breed was at its lowest ebb, with only one ram surviving. During the 1950’s and 60’s a steady increase took place, and in the 1970’s people outside the valley began to take an interest in the breed. The Balwen Welsh Mountain Breed Society was formed in 1985."

It was a good learning experience for me to have the opportunity to work with the wool. Difficult to photograph, the color is a nice blend of browns and blacks. There was also some kemp, which added to the character of this interesting wool. The staple measured approximately 3 inches. The wool is graded as 'soft/medium' with a micron count of 32.3.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

After scouring the wool, I spun up a few different samples...some I will keep, and some I will send back to Jessica so she can see what her wool will look like when turned into yarn. I also saved a little bag to share with some of the spinners in my library group, so they could examine it as well.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I found the Balwen fleece to be fairly coarse, and somewhat wiry. I spun it woolen, so it was a bit fuzzy, and it still shows a luster. The yarn produced is strong, and would certainly wear well. It would make a wonderful outer garment, but I would not make anything that would be worn next to the skin. I also think it would be great for felting. I have set some aside for that purpose.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

While I was working with this fleece, I was thinking about the sheep in the field over in the UK. I found little bits of moss in the fleece, and wondered about the pasture where they grazed. The Internet is a great tool. Without it, I probably wouldn't have "met" Jessica, or her sheep. Who knows if I ever would have had the chance to spin up a little Balwen? When I took the class about Spinning in the Old Way, we discussed how a spinner living (lets say the 18th century) in America, would have only spun the wool from just a few breeds of sheep, because of the availability. They were pretty much limited to what the farmer was raising. I am not limited. With the Internet, it is possible for me to experience spinning wool from a sheep that grazes in a pasture half a world away from me. I like it when the blogosphere spills over into real life.

Monday, July 16, 2007

some assembly required

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The broccoli is starting to come in. I find that if I try to pick and freeze just a little bit every day, it is not such an overwhelming task.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

About 3 pounds a day is just right.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

They do look like little trees, don't they?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The collar is now finished on the Jawbreaker Cardigan. I still have to sew in the sleeves and side seam. And sew the button on. This is the last project that I will ever do using Jacks wool. It is somewhat sad to be finishing it. The wool feels wonderfully soft and cushy.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

loud hummer

There are so many motorcycles on the river road every weekend. I can hardly hear myself think! I was making a movie of the hummingbirds on the bee balm, and the motorcycles drove by...but they didn't seem to bother the hummers! When I watched the movie, I had to laugh ~ boy, that humming bird is LOUD!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

to weed ~ or not to weed

I had to go out of town for a few days. Any gardener knows that even a few days away from the garden in the middle of July can spell M-O-R-E weeding.

So, upon my homecoming, and the many weeds that were waiting, an article from slashdot caught my eye. It was about a Hortibot.

The article explained that a Hortibot could "manually pick weeds, spray, or remove them using flames or a laser". Hummmm. The Hortibot could be trouble. I have a hard time letting my husband weed, let alone a robot. After all, the definition of a weed is:

A plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one growing where it is not wanted, as in a garden.

How does the Hortibot distinguish between a weed and a desirable plant?

Which brings me to this:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Purslane. I have lots and lots of purslane growing. Some would call it a weed. Some would call it food. And very good food, or food that is very good for you. Purslane contains ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) ...that is one of the Omega 3's! It is also very high in vitamin C. But, I have not ever eaten it ...yet.

There are recipes for Purslane. I was recently invited to be a part of a recipe exchange, (as my contacts have discovered!) I don't think a recipe for Purslane Gazpacho would have been a hit.

Today, I tried some Purslane. It wasn't too bad! Sort of salty and sour, like the little yellow clover I used to chew on when I was a child. Maybe I will be brave and make the Purslane Cucumber Salad. Heaven only knows, I will have tons of purslane in the weed basket tomorrow!

Monday, July 09, 2007

easing into summer

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The fawn was here today..it is spending more and more time with the doe. Growth is noticeable, and confidence is apparent. I love watching it run.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sometimes, while the doe is grazing, the fawn will take to having running fits, and race all around.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The hot weather is bringing the summer flowers into bloom. The elder flowers are full, and milkweed's pinkish brown blossoms, fill the surrounding area with an intense fragrance. Sweet clovers open along the roadside, along with the wild daylily.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This is for Cathy. Cathy has cultivated some beautiful daylilies. You should go take a look!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And there has been knitting. I am almost finished with the Jaw Breaker Cardi. It needed one button. I've been playing around with making some buttons. I may settle on this one, shown on the swatch.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Bees....they are worth their weight in gold. I like it when they visit my flowers.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

They are attracted to colors like blues, purples, violets and yellows. They need the nectar and the pollen. They need the protein and the carbohydrates.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It is very simple, really. The flowers cannot visit each other, so they need the bee to transport their pollen in order to reproduce. Mutualism. Pollination. We depend on it for half of the food we consume...or so it has been estimated. Makes me think we are just a little bit dependent upon the bees. Makes me want to plant more flowers.

Friday, July 06, 2007

spinning in the dark

The days are so full of work, it is a pleasure to sit down in the evening to spin. Especially in the dark, with only one light~ shining on the wool. Especially when it involves spinning on a new (old) wheel. Now I understand why a spinner NEEDS more than just A wheel.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Since it has not been used in a long time, it needs some breaking in. Actually, the breaking in time applies to both the spinner and the wheel I believe...but I am enjoying it! This Canadian Production wheel is fast. It eats wool. And oil. I have not "cleaned her up" yet. But I discovered that she purrs like a kitten ...or as Grace would say, like a Harley. Don't believe me? Have a listen....

Sunday, July 01, 2007

pea harvest

The peas needed to be picked today. They would not wait another day. I had started to pick them yesterday, and several days before, but I always got busy doing something else (weeding) and the peas stood waiting. They would not wait anymore.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This is snowbird...not my favorite variety, but they were available and I planted them 3 inches apart in double row that was 25 feet in length. I planted them back in April. Sixty something days ago.

After waiting all that time for them to grow, picking was an enjoyable task, the weather was perfect, nice and cool. Peas like cool. The bed of oswego tea, or bergamot..or do you say Monarda...anyway..there is a big raised bed of bee balm directly next to the peas. The Monarda is blooming, and the hummingbirds were all over it. I hid in the pea patch while I was picking, and watched the courtship pendulum dance of the males.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The females seemed too busy pollinating to watch the males, who were making an increasingly wide arc, until it was almost a half circle. They were dipping and diving and showing their ruby red throats..which looked quite nice next to the red of the monarda.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The first picking of peas yielded 3 pounds and 2 ounces. Not bad, but not as good as I would have wanted. I will not grow Snowbird again. The flavor is nice, and I munched on a few peas fresh from the vine...there are always a few that don't make it into the house. I also gave a bag to a neighbor who happened by as I was picking.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

There was also a bit of spinning this morning...88 yards...spun on the Great Wheel, and plied on the Ashford. It came to me in the form of roving, Judy passed it to me from Delly Delights, but was prepared by the Drafting Zone. It didn't have a name, so I am calling it "pea harvest".

Blog Widget by LinkWithin