Wednesday, July 31, 2013

phenological events July 2013

phenological events

July 2013

1st harvesting snow peas

2nd harvesting red raspberries

3rd cucumber beetles on squash

7th blueberries blush

8th catbirds and phoebes on

second brood of summer

14th harvesting blueberries

17th retting pool start

22nd harvesting greenbeans

23rd red fox at screen door

24th flax retting complete

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

now come the greens and blues.

The garden continues to produce a good crop of both! Every other day, I must make time to pick, prepare & pack. We also enjoyed a meal with our first potatoes of the season. They were small and gourmet style, yummy.

Gathering the equipment, setting up and actually canning the produce is not my favorite chore. Once it starts, I know the kitchen will be set up for preserving for another month or so...soon the tomatoes will come, and then the cucumbers. Pick, prepare & pack. Some will be frozen, but most will be jarred.

During the heatwave we had, the retting pool was set up for action. Flax that had been dried and then stored was added to the pool and weighted down with rocks.

It didn't take long, just over a week. It is drying now, and still has a way to go before it will turn into linen. Meanwhile, the flax growing in the garden is starting to flower. With a little luck, I will get a small harvest of Elecktra and the Hungarian Variety. Enough to sample. Doubtful that I would have enough time to ret this season, so it will have to be stored until next summer.

I've been spending a lot of time in the garden, not only working, but taking a moment or two ...looking. observing. enjoying. Morning and late afternoon hours are the best. I like to to take the distaff and spindle with me, dressed with Hemp these days. Standing and spindling while I watch the bees and hummingbirds provides time to pause. admire the beauty. the abundance. the peace.

With cooler weather on the way, and the subtle change of light, I am reminded that we are moving into late summer. The Queen Annes Lace is in full bloom, Joe Pye Weed and Golden Rods point the way to the next season. There are times I feel ready to move on to autumnal pleasures, past all the work of picking and cooler nights and cozy sweaters.... but I catch myself, and make the effort to linger in the summertime a little longer. Grab an empty basket, the beans need picking again!

Monday, July 15, 2013

beads and berries

Grace gave me some clay to play with. I had forgotten how much fun I could have, and what a mess I could make. Rolling the soft clay between my hands and playing with different shapes made me feel like I was a child.

My inspiration came from the clay bead whorls that I've been reading about. Most are very primitive, simple in design. I wanted to make a few different shapes and see for myself if one shape had any advantage over the other. As I roll the clay between my hands, I worry about wobbles and whorls being off balance. I thought and thought about ancient civilizations, and those who made crude bead spindles before me.

My bead whorls, set out to dry, look like kabobs on the skewers.

The clay whorls still need to be fired. I'm reading about pit firings and gathering fuel. We are heading for a heat wave this week, so I doubt the pit firing will happen anytime soon.

I cannot resist trying out a few of the whorls..and decide not to wait, I grab a handful of some fluff to tie to a distaff, and start spinning. A smile on my lips, I am delighted to discover that I have made an excellent spinner! Such satisfaction! A bit of clay and a bamboo skewer, and I have a fine tool. No wobbles! I spin off the point of the bamboo skewer, in-hand style.

As I build the cop, I decide to cover the bead whorl. I've read about and seen some of this on display in (virtual) museums. It makes good sense to keep spinning without removing the whorl.

Once I made the jump (with my yarn) to the other end of the bead, I had to build the cop on the other side.

Several lengths of spun yarn had to be drawn before the cop was built up sufficiently to cover the whorl. At this point, the added weight of the spun yarn on the spindle is giving me added spin time from one flick of the shaft.

Soon the cop covers the bead whorl completely! Time to leave this task, and pick up another.

Thankfully, we have had a bit of sunshine to help ripen the berries. I'm getting good yields, and the chore of picking and freezing has to be done on a daily basis. While I'm picking, it often seems like I turn my back on a berry for moment, and it ripens. Red Raspberries are fragile things, when they are just right, the fall from the cane into my outstretched hand.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

agelenopsis pennsylvanica

It has been hot and humid around the riverrim. There is a fog mist on the mountains at sunrise. I woke to seeing the lawn covered with many webs from the agelenopsis pennsylvanica (american grass spiders). They had been busy the night before.

Their webs looked to me like so many silk hankies, scattered about on the lawn, just waiting to be collected and spun.

The bite from agelenopsis pennsylvanica is not harmful to humans, because the spider's Chelicerae are too tiny to pierce human skin....and the web itself is not sticky...

..I wonder..if...

I reached for an empty spindle to try to spin the web. Living in the wood without neighbors to watch me attempt this task, saved me the embarrassment of having to explain what I was trying to do. Well, I did have to explain to my husband, but he has become rather understanding of my ideas.

My attempts were unsuccessful. I was not able to spin more than a few inches at best before the webs broke. Maybe they were too wet, or just to fragile, but I did have fun giving it try.

I love to watch the spiders spin. I wonder if they have success and failures. Do they spin a perfect web every time? Being a spinner, I've gained a great deal of respect for the other spinsters. There is a special comradery that exists between those that know how to spin silk ...and other fibers.

I took my own spindle and distaff to the garden, and wondered if the spiders were watching me, but web spinning spiders cannot see well at all, despite the fact that they have several pairs of eyes, they navigate mostly by sense of touch. Maybe that is why they are so very skilled at what they do.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

black-caps and white tails

She thinks I don't pay attention to what she is doing.

But, I see her, and I know what she has in mind to do.

During a brief moment of sunshine today, I noticed her. She dropped off her fawn for a nap in the meadow on the hillside.

... and then she takes a little nap, too. After a time, she decides she wants to eat a little snack.
The Black-caps are starting to ripen...they will do just fine.

Yum-Yum! That is what I named her.

Yum-Yum has been snacking on almost everything in my yard. I think she likes the variety that is available.

Don't forget to close the garden gate.  Yum-Yum has been leaving hoof-prints all around the fence!
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