Thursday, November 26, 2015


 This is about as good a picture of our Thanksgiving turkey I could get this year because a certain unnamed party had already started snitching pieces off of the side you cannot see.  (Sigh.) If you've ever seen the movie A Christmas Story you'll know what I mean when I say that the ghost of Ralphie's dad must have been hanging around my kitchen. My Dad came over to eat with us and he is looking good. My sister and some of her children were going to stop by for a short visit, but the weather quickly changed from freezing drizzle to snow, so she called to say they were going to stay home. I don't blame her. It was a nice day and we'll eat for a couple of days on the leftovers.
 Here is a picture of the railroad knitting blanket I made. The blocks are a log cabin pattern with each block segment highlighted in outline stitch, and the blocks are connected in rows of single crochet.  The blanket is much heavier than I expected and it is very warm. I used up quite a few of the little balls of yarn scraps in my yarn bin, but I still have some more I can use up. I am thinking about making some Christmas ornaments, small animal toys, or working them into some knitted Christmas stockings. We'll see.

Well, there are many projects on my to-do list and I'll keep you posted as I get to them. Right now I'd like to thank all of you for reading my blog. I am grateful for your company. I hope that some of the things I do give you both inspiration and encouragement as you carve out your own homestead. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. We all have much to be thankful for.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 -- Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


It's cold, wet, and bone aching miserable outside so I put on my nice grey sweater that I finished last year

and am spending my time making a blanket in railroad knitting (a/k/a Tunisian crochet) with all of my yarn scraps. It is taking me longer to finish because I decided to embroider each section on each block in black outline stitch. It was a good decision because the colors are nicely highlighted by the outlining and the blocks are reminiscent of stained glass windows. I'll take a picture of it for you when it is finished.

Yesterday (speaking of yarn) I picked up my share of wool yarn from splitting the costs of a fleece with a woman I know in Phillips who used to go to the Phillips Farmers Market. She had the fleece spun at Blue Hills Fiber Mill and it is gorgeous. The wool is grey and the natural color of the fiber. I received different fiber thicknesses so I will make me a nice warm shawl (I have a thing for shawls), Ed gets a good warm hat with ear flaps, and Lara will get some nice warm socks.

The reading bug has hit me again, too. I am nearly finished with the totally awesome Gulag Archipelago and have finished The Forever WarI'm half way through A Canticle for Leibowitz. This book is excellently written. It is a shame, but I think only someone raised as a Roman Catholic in the pre-Vatican II, Latin Mass era, can fully appreciate how that type of upbringing strengthens the cultural nuances of the story's core and makes for such an enjoyable read. ("Eat! Eat!" You have to read the book to understand why I was bug-eyed when I reached that part. . . .)

I have received the fabric to start Ed's Hobo quilt, so I expect to at least get that project started before the end of the year.

Elsewhere I have six chickens butchered and another six to go. My sister Mary had one chicken that "got away" when she butchered her flock so she said I could have the hen.  I retrieved the hapless one when she was asleep and back in the hen house that night and put her in with my flock. Since she is a hen I'll keep her for her eggs. She has adjusted well. I knew she would because she is bigger than my chickens who were extremely put out because of the stranger in their midst. It only took about three days before calm descended in the coop once more. I have scrubbed, scraped, swept out cob webs, and otherwise cleaned out the coop and "winterized" it with about six inches of fresh wood chip bedding. I had to take a scraper to the window because it had not been washed for a couple of years, but it looks great now, and the chickens can sit on their perches this winter and watch the snow fly.

I still have some fence work to do and the cutting back of weeds. Tom and I are waiting for good weather to go up on the roof and clean out the gutters now that most of the leaves are off the trees.

Twice already we've had snow fall but so far nothing has stayed on the ground.  The birds are busy at all the feeders though so I expect we will freeze up pretty soon now.

Since it is Halloween, I thought I'd leave you with a fun link to the complete broadcast of Orson Welles' famous radio program from 1938. Be safe Everybody!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Summer's End

The Autumn leaves were beautiful this year and stayed a long time on the trees, but today the wind and rain came and blew most of them away. I fear Little Luke's Summer, that last sweet spell of summery weather that occurs around the Feast of St. Luke (October 18), is over. I need to finish up the last of the yard work soon as snow will not be long in coming now.

It's been quite busy here. Look at these lovely Fuji apples I bought at the Feed Store. Do you believe they were selling these as deer apples for hunters? I bought two boxes of them for $12 a box and promptly put most of them in the dehydrator. I can hardly believe that this is the first time in 10 years that I've not gone to Bayfield for apples.

The cabbages were wonderful this year and I had lots of them, both red and green. I put all of the red cabbages in the freezer and made sauerkraut with most of the green. I also used a 6.5 gallon plastic fermenter I bought from a brewery supply for the first time and it worked out great. It was much easier to handle and clean than my heavy pottery crocks. I canned 42 quarts; good thing we like sauerkraut!


Working on Dad's wood pile was a family affair. Gosh, what a job! Tom and John cut the logs; John, Mary, and I split it; and Tom, Ed, and I stacked most of it. There is only one small pile left to stack, and after that, all that is left to do is to rake up the bits and pieces to add to Dad's stove wood that is already stacked on the porch.

The pile of wood in the foreground is what is left to be stacked.

Tom and Ed
 Greens and cabbages grew best in this year's garden. The tomatoes were pretty prolific, too. I planted Chadwick Cherry, Aunt Lucy's Paste Tomato, original Abe Lincoln, Vintage Wine, and a very old commercial variety called 1884. All did well though they seemed to come on late in the season. I attribute that to the odd weather we had. I would say I was most impressed with 1884. For going into the ground late (July!) it grew like gangbusters and produced some real nice large sized fruits. None of the tomato varieties were bothered with insects, but I did have problems with blossom end rot, and again I attribute that to our cold nights. Vintage Wine was a second year trial. When I first planted it, it did not do well at all and I only saved a few seeds, but when I planted it this year, boy, did it grow. And for a tomato it is a pretty plant; I like its leaves, and the fruits are pink with yellowish striping. The name is justified. Aunt Lucy's Paste Tomato produces mountains of smallish red fruits. It is a real work horse of a tomato. It did extremely well when I first planted it in a dry year, and it did just as well in this year's hot/cold/wet weather. I also liked original Abe Lincoln. A very pretty red slicer with great taste. Perhaps the most finicky for me to grow is Chadwick Cherry, but I like to freeze the fruits whole (like berries) and add them as I want to soups and stews.

 While the garden's bounty was limited, I was able to gather a lot of seed due to the long season. No garden year is ever the same, and the learning experiences always differ. I love this life!

Now, for the chickens . . . .

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Wind and Rain and Time Warp

Everyone I talk to is having the same sort of year. Not enough time and no matter how many chores you finish it seems as if you are always behind. Time somehow feels warped.

For sure I have been busy. I added mint jelly and blackberry jam to my list of jams to sell at the market. A gallon bag of Green Arrow shell peas is in the freezer. The onions and garlic have both been pulled and cured. The seed garlic is in the frig waiting to be planted, and the onions are in a bushel basket in the kitchen ready to use. (No onions for the market this year. We eat too many to spare!) I have fermentation vessels everywhere. Yogurt and kombucha are bubbling in the kitchen. Cucumbers are fermenting in brine in the living room, and about 12 gallons of cabbage are fermenting into sauerkraut in my crocks in the laundry room. (Even Tom is getting in the act by brewing beer in the basement. Can't wait to try some of that!) I said bye-bye to a couple of roosters and added them and some good broth to the pantry. Put up 15 pounds of beets I bought at the farmers market. And yesterday I worked all day cleaning up and amending three garden boxes. Since the moon was in Scorpio I figured that if I wanted to put in a Fall garden I had better do it now, so I set aside one box to put the garlic in and planted the other two -- one with Purple Vienna Kolrabi, Scarlet Nantes carrots, Summertime and Paris Cos lettuce, and Detroit Supreme beets; and the other with Egyptian Walking Onions, Newburg onion seeds, Lisbon Bunching Onions, Forellenschluss lettuce and leftover unnamed onion sets from those I planted this Spring that I bought at the feed store. With row cover and plastic I'll see how long I can keep the garden going. I need to pick more beans and check the tomatoes. Tom's Swiss Chard and collards need picking again, too.

The farmers market last Wednesday was our best day yet. My jams are selling well and I had someone tell me they would like to see my knitted dishcloths in more colors. And everybody loved my Copenhagen Market Cabbages! I should have taken a picture of them. They were truly beautiful little cabbages. I sold all my Tuscan Blue Kale and some of the Portugese Kale, all the Italian Parsley I brought, and most of the cabbages.  My special customer received her bushel of Provider green beans. I will have to start bringing cold weather outerwear for Lara and me to wear because the wind is beginning to switch around and come out of the North. Lara said she was ok, but I actually got cold.

I have been making extra effort with respect to my seed saving skill and the effort is paying off. I'll have lots of herb seeds, peas, spinach, mustard greens, bush and pole beans, summer and winter squash seeds, cucumber, and tomato seeds. Hopefully I'll do better at overwintering the biennials than in the past and will get seed from them next year. Among them I hope to get cabbage, collard, kale, beet, and parsnip seed.


Today is windy, cold, and rainy; a good day to stay inside and rest. It is a day that heralds the coming of Autumn. I expect I'll start seeing the leaves turn color any time now.  Soon I'll be able to get back to my fire zone upkeep, and we will go over to Dad's and finish splitting and stacking his wood pile.

Sandy's Favorite Place

Till next time, Be Safe and Be Well!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hot and Humid

I have to admit I'm a wuss about hot and humid weather.  When the day temps start reaching into the 80's I go in the house and whimper. Cold drinks, a wet kerchief around my neck; I turn into a crab and hide in my shell.  I feel ill in hot weather and have a hard time breathing, so I elect not to unduly exert myself. I am grateful that I do not have to be out in such weather.

Late last evening I battled mosquitoes and waded through the forest garden to check on the melons, pie pumpkins, and winter squash. The sad truth is that of the three only the winter squash -- Blue Hubbard -- is even growing. The melons and pie pumpkins look like they were planted just yesterday. I can't understand it, but at least the big squash is happy. I think it is because I planted it in my hugelkulture bed.

I picked the last of the black and red currants to put in the freezer, and the handful of raspberries I gathered I added to a cup of nice homemade yogurt. It was a good snack. I will watch the raspberries closely as I have a feeling they will ripen pretty much all at once this year and I want to be sure I pick at least a gallon of them. The flavor of wild raspberries is hard to beat.

I pulled out one of my new books to read. I heartily recommend it if you are interested in saving your own seed. The Organic Seed Grower by John Navazio is the best book about growing for seed I've read since Suzanne Ashworth's Seed to Seed. This really is a must have book for your library shelf. This year I am going to try to overwinter beet, carrot, and rutabega roots, kale, Swiss chard, cabbages and collards to plant for seed next year, and I'll try to gather seed this year from just about everything else I can. If we are lucky and have a long Autumn, I may be able to harvest a lot of seed.

Lara and I did well at the farmers market again. We sold enough of the jam I made that I think it is worth the effort to make more to sell. I am going to make some different jams to add a bit more variety to the selection. We sold all but one of the spring cabbages we brought, too, so that was good.

Hope you all are staying cool!

Wild Tobacco