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 . . . .