Friday, December 30, 2011

The beginning of winter

Time to put everything to bed.

Jeannie and Malinda came to clean up the beds and put in a new strawberry bed. The garden is almost cleaned up and new compost is enriching the beds. The small orchard of espalier apple and pear trees has been pruned and the raspberries have been thinned out and moved revealing all five of the blue berry bushes.

The chickens have a night -light, but they have still cut back on their laying. The Americana Chickens are laying an egg every three days, the Cochin Banties are not laying, and so I am getting about two eggs a week. They spend school days in the coop, but weekends they get out in their little chicken yard and get some cracked corn.

I had an awning built for the beehive, hoping to winter them over. Here are some of the cleaned up Gardens and the awning for the bees.

The worms have been moved inside and the mason bees will be brought in and cleaned up for their early work when the fruit trees bloom.

The deciduous trees have lost their leaves and we have come inside and work on winter projects. I have knit quite a few things and here are a few…

Here is the Birthday Dress I knitted for my one year old Grand Daughter.

Here is one of two hats knitted for my youngest Grand.

Janita and I went together to knit four sweaters for the four girls. Janita knit one for our 4 year old. It had a lavender button band and edging. Below are two of the three that I knitted

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall Pumpkins and Last fall harvest

Jeannie brought me some pumpkins from her farm. Here is the traditional one. It looks big in this picture, but is is a scant 12 inches. Here it is sitting on one of the child chairs to my children's table set. this is really a "sugar Pumpkin" for making pies. I will do that in Nov.
This is the other pumpkin. Yes it is green and warty and sweet and orange inside, as you can see by this cut.
This is what I canned. There are 9 pints of pumpkin, and I had some more tomatoes to can. Finally in the plastic are the roasted pumpkin seeds.
This is my apple harvest. My mini orchard is in it's second year. I have two espalier pear trees that did not produce anything or even bloom. BUT the two espalier apples did and so did one of the columnars. I have gravenstine, goldens, and liberty (my favorite for eating).
Halloween found Jeannie and me picking the last of the veggies as we were expecting (and had) a good frost. Here is a mix of red and green tomatoes, a butternut, and a few unexpected tombocini - zuchinnis.
Finnally Jeannie brought a winter squash which will hang out in the garage until January. It is a Marina de Chioggia. It is famous in Itally for ravioli---
Make a filling with squash, crushed amaretti cookies and parmesian
or you can just prepare and eat... Jeannie says "Cut it in half with a big knife and clean the seeds out. You can bake it like this or cut it into a few pieces. I bake them at 400 for at least 30 minutes but maybe as long as an hour. Check it with a fork. " And eat..which is what this garden is all about...good healthy eating.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Airedale was buzzing?! And other garden insects

My Airedale was buzzing?! And other garden insects

One dark morning! Yes fall is upon us and clouds overhead intensify that feeling. Trevor Airedale went out for his morning constitutional…. One sniff and he took off for the corner of the yard near the beehive. His barking signaled an intruder…. it was raccoon and this time they quickly left. They went along the fence in the neighbor’s yard complaining of …bark, bark.

I called Trevor in to check that there had been no contact with his enemy. He was fine, but when opportunity strikes; he needed to go and secure the corner. After his third trip, he came in biting at his chest and lifting his paw. As I came nearer, I could hear an insect buzzing, but I could not find it. I looked in his ears, tried to check his chest. It felt like fifteen min. of searching. It occurred to me how delightful it would be for me to call the emergency vet or later his vet with the news that my dog was buzzing. Slicker brush in hand I started brushing and indeed a bug fell between us. I never identified the bug as Trevor quickly ate that. It most likely was not the honeybees as it was too early in the morning though it could have been a drone kicked out of the hive preparing for winter. I had already killed most of the available yellow jackets, but to be sure he would be ok I did Benadryl Trevor. He went to doggy daycare groggy, but fine and lively by pick up time eight hours later. Here he is reating after his adventure.

Parts of the garden are not allowing things to grow. Jeannie suggested symphylans, which are tiny white centipede like bugs that move down into the soil.

I was directed to buy inexpensive potatoes (I had already harvested my red, white and blue potatoes) and plastic cups. Cut the potatoes in half and place them white side down and cover with a cup to cut out the light.

On 10/3 we checked and found that they were there. Jeannie had brought food grade diatomaceous earth to put down. Hopefully this and a few more applications before next Spring will do the trick.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Predators to the backyard farm

Yellow jackets! Yikes… I am allergic and they are trying to invade the beehive. I understand that they can ruin the hive.

I was stung the other day and the following day the single sting in my finger was exceedingly painful a looked huge black and blue and blistered. I well I needed more traps for my “pay back.” Here are results.

I used two commercial traps this is my “kill” for one day…so satisfying. These work on a pheromone attractant but since it is fall and the yellow jackets are looking for protein for their larva for winter I added bacon.

I happen to have two glass bottle traps.

Here is my favorite. I am unable to find more of these.

Here is my other bottle trap. It is only four inches across. This has been my most dependable performer in the past.

Last night I left it on the ground as yellow jackets were there looking for wataer. It was knocked over by the Airedale as he ran at our morning predators.


When Trevor and I awoke he went out the door with a growl. I heard hissing and howling, but it was not Trevor. It was two raccoons after food in the garden. Trevor kept after them until they finally left over the fence. They were really unconcerned at my showing up with the flashlight, but Trevor did not give up and they left.

That is an Airedale for sure. Here he is looking sweet as ever.

It does not appear that they were after the chickens that were tucked into their coop for the night. They are only allowed in the chicken yard when I am home and can check on them I notice that when a crow or jay flys over them, Abby the largest of the chickens opens her wings making her appear much larger.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baby Chicks - Broody hen cured

Audrey was broody. A friend brought her some fertile eggs on July 23rd. She did her chicken growl when the fake eggs were removed. Audrey almost purred as the fertile eggs were placed underneath her. Sunday 8/14 was to be my annual family picnic. My Grand Daughters (age 6 and 3) had not seen the chickens.

Picnic day arrived and the girls were delighted with my small flock. Phyllis allowed the girls to hold her (she is my people chicken). Amethyst had an egg in the other nest for the Grand Daughters to collect. Audrey was bossy and protective about her eggs. Later that afternoon two eggs hatched

When picnic ended, we Grandmothers agreed to bring the chicks to visit four days later.

There were four chicks.

Above is the four day visit.

Above are the chicks at their two week visit.

chick one first day above and at 2 weeks below. They have gone to a farm where they will be able to stay together even with a rooster (above) and hens. They will have a chicken tractor when needed and be able to wander the farm at times. A good life for them.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer 2011 knitting adventures…

The second Sock Summit was held the last week of July 2011, I attended on 7/30. Here are my purchases.I got a two project bags, a new shuttle for weaving that fits my hand and a noste penna for winding yarn that also fits lmy hand from KCL Woods

Com> One of the project bags is from Knit/Purl---that is the pink one. I also got a comic book for knitters, the first in the series – The Knit Princess

The yarn purchase was from our own local Three Fates yarn I wanted that one for a sweater for the next addition to our family due in Sept. I have the Baby Mine pattern from Stephanie Pearl McFee and she reminded me of the yarn weight and needle size. I did not end up using that yarn, but rather another.

The event at the Sock Summit on Saturday was the Flash mob dance. Here is what I saw as I participated.

The next adventure was to join my other knitting guild the Knotty Knitters at the Oregon beach home of Suzanne. Here is my haul from that trip.

I was facinated by the Fliegende Untertasse from Germany. This is the yarn on the spool. It is two fibers dyed together and ready to knit two socks together and at the same time. I am looking forward to starting this on magic loop, this winter.

I had to put the pirates booty in my purchases because we went to the yarn shop in Pirates Alley, the only shop near-by. This was a lovely place with wonderful owners. We also visited Dapper Frog where I got the fusha colored bottle which holds a candle. The wire inside has bees flying in the circle to the hanger.

My beach project!

I worked on the baby blanket for the Grand child due in Sept., finishing on 8/14/11. This is a Jared Flood design in Homespun yarn. Janita found the pattern, I got the yarn in the center, Janita knitted the center square, and I knitted the edging from left over yarn that we had used in blankets for the other grandchildren. It ws hard knitting, but the product is wonderful.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A PHENOMINAL beginning to backyard beekeeping

You may remember my post from May of this year as I talked about my top bar hive. The bees were ordered from Ruhl Bee Supply

Jeannie picked them up and we installed them right away into the top Bar hive from Bee Thinking

This is a company that has been in business in Oregon since about 2008. The popularity of backyard beekeeping and the simplicity of the top bar hive have helped Matt Red and his wife with their business, which grew so fast that they have been able to open a store in Portland’s Sellwood district. They offer classes and support online with tons of information. Well on July 20, 2011, my mentor from the Willamette Valley Beekeepers Association stopped by to see if I needed help. We quickly looked at the bees, but did not have a smoker. So we could not proceed. He did pronounce the bees as phenomenal. The hive was full! Much of it was capped honey.

The following Saturday, Matt Reed from Bee Thinking came to fix a problem with the hive. My mentor joined us. We removed every bar from the hive and found that we needed to remove some honey to make room for the bees. The bees were surprisingly tolerant of his work. Matt Reed found the hive to bee in excellent condition.

We took five or six bars, returning the empty bars to the hive.

Here is my harvest. I boxed 11 four inch square combs, 12 hex jars, 4 pints, and 4 half pints. What an amazing beginning to beekeeping!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Flowers--lavendar wands

I have three rose bushes in the front yard. Here is a small bouquet of my white roses. I love the way the crystal in the window puts a rainbow on this arrangement.

The first owners of my house put in a healthy grouping of lavendar, for it’s beauty, scent and to help reduce aphids on the roses. As far as I can tell there are two varieties. The deep purple is the Buena Vista. It blooms earlier. The second is lavendula lanata, I believe. The bumblebees really like the flowers as well as the honeybees. they let lme know when it is time to make lavender wands.

They take about an hour to make each, so I only make them for family and friends. They are wonderful to enjoy during the cold winter months.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Recital and a fiber discovery

On July 1, 2011 Janita and I had the pleasure of attending our shared Grand daughters’ recital with their parents.

After the recital we went to a lovely Gresham Lebanese Restaurant. As we came out Janita and I saw a sign reading

Andersen Fiber Works

We went in and were greeted by the owner, Jen Andersen.

Here is a picture of the entrance.

Here is Kathy who gave us lessons on drop spindles.

Anderson Fiber Works is at

20 NW 3rd St.

Gresham, OR 97030…Telephone 503-667-6852 or 503-492-6652 or e-mail her at They have only been open for a month. We felt the store was inviting and well lighted with natural light. They even had a delightful children’s area. This store has more fiber for spinning, though they do invite knitters and have some yarn.

Well this all impelled me to get my completed shawl blocked. I had been knitting this for some time. Used two patterns from Knitting Lace Triangles by Evelyn A. Clark a designer who lives in the Pacific Northwest. The yarn was purchased three or fur years ago when Janita and I attended a market at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. We were with Betsy. We got an amazing price on this mohair yarn at the booth of Russ Groft, formerly of McMinnville’s Robin and Russ. The store is closed and Russ has passed on, so this shawl is a memory of him.

I just reinstalled (moved) my clothesline because the shed and chickens have occupied the former drying yard.