Thursday, July 31, 2008

phenological events July 2008

phenological events

July 2008

1st - Gypsy moth males appear
9th - Japanese beetles arrive
10th - Female Gypsy moth lays eggs
Day Lilies blooming
14th - harvesting snow peas and broccoli
16th - string beans set blossom
20th - squash sets blossom
22nd - Black bear spotted
28th - green frogs start singing in evenings
29th - Crabapples ripen

walk with me wednesday, the path

Photobucket Stargazer Lily

I have no photograph to show you of the large rattlesnake that was in the path. It was at least a yard long. It was fat. And it was on it's way to the river. The image of it is in my memory.

My walking partner suggested we kill it. I disagreed. It was in our path. When something is in your path, you must decide what to do. Do you remove it? (if you can...) Do you choose another path, go around it? (if you can....)Do you stand there, indecisive, and allow it to deal with you?

Life hands you some pretty difficult choices along the my mind, it is all about how you choose to deal with what is in your path.

Photobucket Skipper

Rattlesnakes are protected around here. Besides the fact that I wouldn't go against the laws of the land, rattlesnakes have their place in the universe. Not wanting to upset the balance of the universe, I wanted to leave well enough alone.


Years ago, my walking partner and I came across another rattlesnake in our path. It shot venom at us...from six feet away. We did kill that one...rattlesnakes were not protected in those days.

Yesterday, the rattlesnake that was in our path, slithered away and into the weeds, on his own path...down to river. I figure, we are even now.

Monday, July 28, 2008

linum usitatissimum

It was a very good day, when I walked out into my garden and saw this...


My flax is beginning to flower. This year I am growing "Marylin" seed that I purchased from the Landis Valley Farm Museum. It is a Dutch variety. 100 days. Flax should be sown on the 100th day of the year, and harvested on the 200th. I was late getting mine in, so it will be late getting it out. I am relieved to finally see it begin to bloom. It has such a delicate flower...unassuming ....yet gorgeous in it's own right.


I planted my flax over by the corn patch this year. I sowed it thick, to avoid side branching. I am happy with the progress it is making...and hopeful about the harvest and processing.

I've grown flax before, but have not been successful with the retting process. A few years ago, I purchased a variety called "Veralin" from the Mannings Handweaving School, in Adams County Pennsylvania. Veralin is a variety from the Netherlands, and was bred in 1999 from the parents Torshok and Lidia (which I think are Russian varieties). It grew to maturity for harvest, but was very fragile, and did not ret well at all. It was good for fire tinder.

The seed I am raising this year, is far from the cultivar that my great grandmother grew. Commercial breeding of flax started around the end of the 19th century, it is being bred for the end user, and there are many legislative barriers in place surrounding the distribution.


There is one other variety that I have not tried, and it is available from Richters seed company. It goes by the name of Evelin, and I think it is a Dutch variety. If anyone has any other variety available ...or information as to where it can be purchased...please leave a comment or contact me in a private email. I would love to try an old variety if it were available. All the seed that is for sale these days is treated. An heirloom fiber flax seed would be very valuable.

Monday, July 21, 2008

the midsummer pause

The cicadas started to sing a few days ago...six weeks till frost.
Taking some time to pause, and notice summer in her finest moments...


This years fawn is sleek. Hard to tell if it is a buck or a doe yet. Is that a small bump I see at the base of the ear? Is it a buck?
The buckmoon is waning. Always a puzzler for me, buck moon..... seems like that should be during our hunting season, but if you think like a native American Indian, you will understand.


The bees carry yellow saddlebags of pollen. They remind me that I have to pack for a trip away from home.


In the morning, the pond lily opens...
and in the evening, it closes again... Photobucket

reminding me to notice the fullness of these midsummer days. If you don't pause to may miss something...


Friday, July 18, 2008

pisum sativum


I've been wanting to tell you about my peas since I planted them this past April. I have been photographing them along the way...since they were few inches high. I am now harvesting them!

Almost ten years ago, there was a little seed company called Shepards Seeds. They were brought out by Whiteflower farm, and do not offer the same vegetable seed variety that they once did. I used to order from Shepards, and one year I brought a small packet of seed that was marked Norli.

The Norli is a nice snow pea, tall growing, with a purple flower. I saved the seed from it. I'm glad I did because I have had trouble finding the same seed in catalogues and I'm not sure why more growers don't carry it. The closest I can find is something called carouby de Maussane.

Anyway...this year I had decided to grow the Norli pea again, to replenish my seed bank which was getting low. I will enjoy some fresh picked for eating, but mainly this crop is for seed.


Because Norli is a tall vine, I needed supports. I take a walk in the early spring and find and collect branches from the river birch that have suffered from winter kill. I have used black nylon pea trellis that you can buy in the store...but I really don't like the way it looks, and I hate taking it down. With the branch method, I can pull up everything when the peas are finished out, and toss everything into the compost.


The branches are placed in the soil, next to the peas when they are about 2-3" tall.


I don't even have to train the vines, the tendrils seem to know exactly what to do.


Pea flowers are amazing to me. They pollinate themselves. The pollination is complete before the flower opens. Bee-less.

Mendel used them as his specimen for his published work Experiments in Plant Hybridization.

I'm trying hard to understand the down side of the self pollination, which I think might be that sooner or later genetic errors will be passed down, and the plants will weaken. I figure I have planted at least the 4th generation of my Norli, and so far they look pretty good.

So, having now enjoyed the first harvest, I will pick with discretion, and save the rest for the bank.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

historical demonstration, or never a farby be


Last weekend, The Greene-Dreher Historical Society hosted an open house, and Grace Hatton and I were demonstrating and speaking about spinning, spinning wheels and general topics related to the craft.


It was the first time I "dressed" for an occasion. My ensemble included a pinner apron, and the Lacy Winged Shawl that I knit from linen.

I carried a authentic reticule, and wore a pair of antique spectacles that worked just fine. While doing some research on what I should wear... I was enlightened when I discovered that because my skirt and blouse and shoes were from the wrong century, I was deemed to be a "farby" in certain circles.

"No one really knows where the term "Farby" originated, but most people believe it started when "thread-counters" (ultra hard-core reenactors who have an eye—and a mouth—for authenticity) would spy something wrong and say, "Far be it for me to say anything against what you are wearing, but that pin/brooch/fabric/plate/whatever is not period (i.e, correct) for the early 1860s."

A salesgirl from a dress shop in Gettysburg emphasized to me that "no one wants to be called a farby." No matter, it was all for fun.


Grace wore a costume too. Her ensemble was less farby-ish. She is pictured here spinning on her Londonderry New Hampshire Wheel. What you cannot see from this photo is the beautiful petticoat she is wearing, along with a pair of pantaloons that she made.

I've enjoyed learning about period dress, and will continue to explore this area. There are many ways to learn, but the easiest is to just look at old photographs or paintings, and take note of the styles.


Soon after we had arrived, the secretary of the historical society informed us that there was a Great Wheel in the upstairs portion of the building. She was wondering if we would like to take a look at it.


It was a lovely wheel that was in very good condition. It had barrel tensioning, and a wheel head like I have never seen before. Fred noticed that the accelerating wheel had a wooden post on one side, and on the other, a metal thread with a bolt at the bottom that could adjust the head, much like the maidens on my wheel would. It was very interesting. If anyone else has seen a wheel head like this, I'd welcome your comments and any information you might have about it. It had no markings on it, but it looks to be a Denio wheel head.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


It is tedious work, but finally the currents are picked and jarred.


It isn't as fine as Bar-le-duc jam...I don't have any spare goose quills with which to de seed my I smash 'um up with my potato smasher.

After a trip through the jelly bag, the sugar is added to the juice...(it is best if you warm your sugar first) ...and bring the mixture to a rolling boil for exactly one minute.

Pour, wipe rims, top with sterile lids and rings, and process in a hot water bath, for about ten minutes.


There was satisfaction today as I admired the translucent jars on the counter...there was also lip smacking of the taste tester.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

just for a day


The day lilies lined the roadsides all the way down to Gettysburg where we spent a few days over the holiday. They were also waiting for me in the garden when we returned home.


A hot spell, humid and still, has been replaced by breezy fresh air today. The day lily blooms with the bold oranges and reds, that catch my eye and hold it. I studied them.


At dawn, a bloom opens to catch the sun, captures it for a nightfall the blossom withers.


As much as I am tempted to pick and eat them in soup or salads, the fleeting beauty convinces me to let the bloom stay on the stem.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008



A few weeks ago, we shared the company of a childhood friend, who had traveled East to help celebrate an anniversary of the elementary school that we had attended. Upon arrival, my husband was presented with the very thoughtful gift of a Fuchsia. (more about my gift at a later date).

We have never owned a Fuchsia before, though both of our respective mothers had. We talked about how we had always admired them, but had heard that they can be "fussy"...requiring special conditions in order keep looking as spectacular as they did when you first purchased them.


I have heard them called Lady's Eardrops or Dancing Ladies. It is easy to use your imagination and understand why. In the past few weeks we have pampered it, and it seems happy to enjoy the cool mountain air, as well as the humid nights along the riverrim.


I have been spinning a braid of Wensleydale roving that I purchased at Rhinebeck last October. It had a tag on it that read "Cranberry". "Deep Fuchsia" would be a more appropriate name for the colorway....or "5RP" according to Munsell. ...wouldn't you agree??


Did you know that Crayola replaced the name "Violet Blue" with "Fuchsia" in 1990?? I didn't. For years I thought that violet blue was my favorite crayon I can answer "deep fuchsia" when someone asks...btw...what is your favorite crayola color??

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