Thursday, October 31, 2013

phenological events October 2013

4th red shoulder hawk

22nd harvest flax

22nd harvesting carrots

23rd harvesting peppers

24th non mast year

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Learning a new skill takes concentration, patience and understanding. And a good teacher. Many thanks to Greta, for her time and materials and friendship. I'm wandering down the rosepath....playing with extended point twill...and overshot...learning about wefts and tromping combinations.

First efforts are off the loom, small samples to study and note what worked, and what did not.

By the end of the warp, I was starting to feel like I was beginning to understand. There is so much to learn, discover ....and enjoy.

Out of all of the samples, this last one pleased me the most. It is very exciting to see how my handspun behaves as weft. The tabby is woven in commercial cotton, and the pattern threads are my handspun, a merino tencel blend.

Obviously, there appears to be lots of room for improvement. But, I am encouraged. I've wanted to learn to weave for a very long time, so finally seeing it start to happen ...well, hard to explain in words. It is more a feeling of understanding. Finally understanding. And when the ah ha! moments come, the ideas fall down like so many dominoes..each one taking its turn and falling on top of the other.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

pick a peck

One of the virtues of this October, has been an unusually long growing season. And that has provided us with an abundant pepper harvest!

Thinking back to last February, when these peppers were only eight little seeds on my windowsill, I am grateful to pick them and place them in my basket. I have to admire each one. Peppers take a long time to grow and mature. Normally, around here, the frost comes just as they are starting to produce. This year, I've managed to pick a peck or two. If the frost stays away a little longer, my little pepper patch might produce a bushel. The plants are still flowering. The red hot cherry peppers came from a friend, they were labeled simply, "Daves Peppers". So, I think of Dave, and thank him for the plants. They are a good performer in this climate.

The small test plot of Hungarian Flax from the USDA Germoplasm Bank was pulled this week. There was some lodging, but overall, the plants did well. Compared to the Elektra cultivar, the Hungarian flax did not grow as tall or erect. There won't be time to rett it this year, so I will dry it and store it until next summer.

Planted in June, these plants are showing nicely developed seed bolls at 150 days.

This October also brings two and sometimes three whitetail fawn that come by to visit. They look healthy with sleek coats. I wonder if they will stick around after the frost. Despite the wonderful growing season, it is a non-hard-mast year, there isn't an acorn to be found anywhere this side of the mountain. For that matter, I haven't seen a single turkey.

The masting of trees is a natural phenomena that continues to elude scientists.
While looking for information about it, I found an interesting article that ties Lyme disease to masting. Here are a few excerpts:

The first question is why individual trees regulate their nut production in a boom or bust manner; the masting behavior of an individual tree is called variability. The second and more profound question is how masting trees manage to coordinate the same cycle with other trees over a large area; the group behavior of masting trees is called synchrony.

The masting of trees is an important phenomenon in the ecological balance of the forest, as the food chain becomes distorted with a surfeit of nutrient resources. For example, high mast production promotes rapid expansion of the populations of predator acorn-eating mice and deer. The white footed mouse is a host for the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi which is the cause of Lyme disease. The larvae of the black-legged tick frequently feed on white-footed mice and thus become vectors for the spirochete which they impart to deer and the occasional human. Thus a mast year can also be a year with a high black-legged tick population and a concomitant high incidence of Lyme disease. Predators may be satiated or starved and the trees may or may not efficiently distribute their pollen according to the efficacy of the mast, which must occur at the same time at the same place for it to work. Its synchrony is apparently caused by the climate; the impact of a changing climate on masting may be just one aspect of the larger problem, but it is a compelling one.

To read the entire article : click here.
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