Tuesday, September 21, 2004

ivan was here

Hurricane Ivan visited this mountain region on Friday and Saturday, and caused a near emergency evacuation for us. It was expected that this storm was going to go north and west of our area, and rainfall was predicted to be a little over an inch. That was not what happened.

My rain gauge was overflowing at six inches. I have never seen the river so high. We were getting reports that the flood levels were going to exceed the "Flood of 55", the last deadly flood to this area. I watched the river rising higher and higher, faster and faster. It was a powerful force. Logs and limbs and whole trees started to flow by. Down on the road, the water was almost hitting the bridge broadside. I walked down to take some pictures. The speed of the river was awesome. I was hypnotized by the swift water. I stood there as the rain started to drench me to the skin. My clothes were becoming wet under the rain gear, and one leg from my knee down was completely saturated from the puddle I had stepped into on my way down to the river. I stood very still and all I could hear was the roar of the water, and the rain pelting against the hood of my raincoat. My river was in a mood I had never witnessed before. I watched a water heater go by. I watched living room furniture go by. There were children's Fisher Price Toys, lawn chairs, garden sheds, and even a dock with a boat still tied to it. It made me feel very sad to watch pieces of peoples lives....bobbing along at a ferocious speed, tumbling over waves, being tossed about, at the whim of the river. I just could not look away. I saw countless propane tanks from bbq grills speed by. The river took canoes and rafts from the local liveries. It swept up whatever was in its path...even wildlife...I saw a dead deer, and heard a story from a local cop, who saw a dog still tethered to its dog house, fighting to stay above the water. He said he wanted to shoot it, but there were people nearby, and he did not want to start a commotion.

At one point in the evening, they started to evacuate those folks who live on low ground. Then we heard from the fire department, that a crack had been spotted on a local dam at the head waters. They said they did not expect the dam to hold. The television continued to report local evacuations and I was beginning to accept the fact that we may loose the bridge. The water was expected to crest between midnight and two in the morning. I did not sleep well that night.

Thankfully, the dam held, and so did the bridge. The waters have now started to recede, but the process is gradual. I feel blessed that we did not suffer any damage other than washed out roads and loss of electricity, and I keep all victims of Ivan in my prayers.

Friday, September 10, 2004

jacks first

I have been playing around with some of the first clippings that I got from my new Angora "Jack" son of Countrywool Liebchen. I blended it with some unknown breed of sheeps wool that was given to me by a friend from my spinning group. First I blended it on the drum carder, and then split it and passed it through a second time. Then, I spun it thick and thin and slubby. It is very soft and cushey! I'm thinking it will make a nice hat.

Last week, Jack became a daddy. The doe kindled early in the morning on Tuesday. She had 5 kits when I checked on her. They were all licked very clean, and there was no afterbirth, so she knew what she was doing. However, only one kit was alive. I distracted the doe with some fresh broccoli clippings, and then removed the poor little kits that did not make it. When I came back to check on things a little later, I found she had delivered another kit, and was just finishing cleaning it off. It was not alive. So, we only have one little one. I guess the still born kits could be due to the fact that my doe is almost 5 years old already. But she is being a very good mama. The kit is growing fast, and fat! I will have some pictures soon.

This weekend I will be going to the 1st Annual Pennsylvania Endless Mountains Fiber Festival. I am looking forward to it and hope that they get a good turn out. I know they were trying for this last year, but it never got off the ground, and so I wish them luck.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

you say tomato

The common tomato, from the natural order Solanaceae and the genus Lycopersicum...also goes by the name Wolf-peach, Love Apple and Pomidor. I have been spending many hours with this South American Fruit. I am glad that another season is coming to a close. I am tired of tomatoes, but I know I will be glad that I did this. Months from now, when the snow is blowing, I shall open a jar of summer goodness, and make plans for next years crop.

Overall, this was not the best year for tomato growing. We set records for rainfall, and cool temps..and because abundant and unobstructed sunlight is essential for the development of quality "maters", I have had better results in years past. A bad growing season also makes it difficult to determine the success of the individual varieties that I tried for the first time. But, I shall do the rating anyway.

Burpee 4th of July
Was not ready by the 4th, more like the 21st. Small and tasty, and the first garden tomato of the season. Not growing this next year.

Roma VF Hybrid
Very meaty, but small. Taste was OK. Good yields..not growing next year.
Thai Pink Egg
A big disappointment! They were slow to grow, small and tasteless. No go for next year.
Blonde Kopfchen
A big success! This was a beautiful size and flavor. Nice color and grew like a champ even in the poor conditions. The roma type grows in a cluster vine like the six pack. Will be saving the seed and growing this next year.
Monte Verde
Successful plants that just keep producing nice large and firm table tomatoes. Not a one of them split, even will all the rain.
Golden Jubilee
Beautiful plants and bright dark yellow/orange fruit that looks better than it tastes. Very attractive on the plate alongside other heirlooms.
Now I know why these are endangered..no one wants to grow them. They have very almost mis-shapen fruits with splits and stitching. The inside is a red flesh, but rather bland taste (could just be all the rain.)
Juliet Grape
Very tasty, abundant flowers and fruits...almost the size of a roma.

One last note here ...about yields. This year I was way below normal. I grew over 50 plants, but only managed to harvest about a bushel and a half. A bushel weighs approx 53 pounds, and I should be harvesting about 120 pounds (or close to 2 bushels) from the 50 plants. This averages out to 60 quarts or 15 gallons. This would be the amount needed for one person to have 1 cup of sauce (or juice) 7 times a week for 36 weeks.

So, I have pulled the vines, and put all the canning equipment away for another season, and stocked the pantry shelves (schwew)..and hey, I have my own supply of lycopene to last the winter...and I could not have done it without my SQUEEZO!

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