April 27, 2010

Last week was busy and tiring. I was away on a course all week, commuting back and forth. This week I get to start the projects associated with the course and try to get back into my routines!

The greenhouse goodies are growing well! During the day, the greenhouse gets so warm that I need to vent it. I was putting plants outside during the day but there have been some cool days and they dry out quickly in the sun and wind. Being inside the greenhouse, they may get warm, but it is humid enough that they don't dry out excessively. They aren't leggy and look strong and green! I don't have any paste tomatoes growing though, but a number of other varieties. The Brandywine reds look fine. I have a number of mixed heirlooms, although I don't know exactly what varieties, there are at least 3 different leaf types in that batch. There is a tiny yellow pear tomato which I'm not sure about. I bought the seeds on a whim, after a bit of a run in with a vivid imagination. Imagine pasta with pretty little yellow tomatoes, tossed with a bit of garlic, olive oil and fresh basil. That is what led me to order those seeds! I hope it tastes as good as it looks. There are a few seeds left to start early, mainly the curcurbits - cucumbers, pumpkin and squash, which really only need to be started a few weeks before the planting date.

On the wheel is more of the fawn Shetland. It seems to be taking forever to spin this, not because it's difficult to spin, but because I'm distracted as all get out. Between the course and making space for an herb garden, which is currently filled with hostas, spinning sometimes gets put on the back burner. I couldn't believe that last week, when I got home, I was actually too tired to spin!

On top of it is the little baby chooks. No they don't take up masses of time, although they do need to be checked on at least twice a day and have their feeders filled and water changed out. They are however mesmerizing to watch. I hate to think of how many times I just went out to check their feeders and brooder temperatures and found myself jarred back to reality half an hour later, after watching their sweet little antics, or watching them sleep. They are changing quickly. Yesterday I took this piccy but today, most of the little white meaties are starting to get tail feathers! They've been posturing and spreading their wings and looking oh so strong and brave. My little layers though, are starting to run circles around them. I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon! On the other hand, I'd forgotten how much I actually enjoyed doing barn chores.

April 23, 2010

Colours of April

April is one of those in between months. We can have lovely, spring like weather. We can have snow storms or rain. This April has mainly had spectacularly wonderful weather. We've gone from barely green grass at the beginning of the month, to flowers and leaves just a couple of weeks later. Spring is here!

We've had some interesting clouds. This was early in the month before things starting greening up!

Pretty Daffodils.

Tulips, about to open!

The Plum tree is flowering. The plums are small and didn't really ripen last year, but it's still pretty.

Such a sunny colour!

April 21, 2010

Early Garden and Spring Chicks...

Look what I found! The early garden has been planted under a hooped frost cover. I had meant to switch over to plastic, to get the heat up as really, the white cloth doesn't do that. It does let in the rain though. In three small rows, allowing for multiple plantings, are Arugula, mixed leaf lettuces, radishes, spinach, green onions and something else that I can't remember. I meant to put in little row markers, but obviously didn't get around to it.

Look at my babies! Aren't they cute? The black ones are layers and the yellows will be a dual purpose meat bird. There are a couple of odd ones in there; a brown and a striped one. We'll have to see what they grow into. The black layers are New Hampshire X Barred Rock crosses. The store didn't have red heat lamps, so we'll have to go back for one as I don't think I like the white one. I'm hoping we can keep them warm enough for the next few days. I'm away during the day at a course, so can't keep checking on them. The weather is supposed to be getting cooler for the next few days so I'll be worried about them all day. Once they're a week old, it will be much less stressful!

April 15, 2010

garlicky garden and wool

There are things growing! The garlic I planted last autumn is looking very happy! I'd done a bit of research before planting the cloves. Several places said the most important aspect to planting garlic was to make sure the root end was pointing down, so as to not make the plant wind around when growing. Of course after I'd planted it, a bit more reading also said that you must have all the papery skin totally intact and that there must be a bit of root left on each planted clove. I was a tad worried because I know that some of the cloves didn't separate properly and that on a couple of them, the root end just popped off completely. I'm thinking that the latter instructions aren't quite so important as the first ones. It looks like pretty much all the cloves of garlic that I planted have come up, regardless of minor imperfections.

The rhubarb looks pretty happy as well. I'll have to find some yummy rhubarb recipes as I've never actually had a rhubarb patch before.

The Feverfew is starting to run amok. It's very pretty and of course useful I guess, if I harvested it for it's medicinal uses. However, it is fairly persistent as a weed. I've also found the poppies are running rampant and there is a cat nip patch, that I want to get under control before the lawn and flower beds are just bits of colour peeking out between the catnip. It's in the mint family and has similar growth habits.

I spun some white Shetland rovings for some dye sampling that I'll be doing next week. I'll admit that I don't normally like to use hand spun yarn for general dye sampling. It seems to be a little overkill and a waste of time. However, in this case, getting 100% wool would have meant a trip to a city. I really had no other errands to run to make it a worthwhile use of gas and time, so I spun it up myself. It certainly seems like it will do the job, regardless.

April 09, 2010

Just a quick update..

The socks are done! Off the needles, ends sewn in and they just need blocking, except of course, I rarely block socks. Generally I just wash them and either lay them flat to dry or hang them on the line. That won't happen for a day or two more because it's been rainy and cold!

The shetland yarn is plied and off the wheel. It's not really super soft yarn and I need to spin up a bit more of it to have a useful amount. I don't however have an immediate plan for it, just the need to spin something. Now there is some white shetland at the top of the queue. It's somewhat coarse fibre, but since it's for dyeing samples, it will be perfect. Normally I don't like to spin yarn to sample with as it just seems to be more economical to buy a skein for $5 instead of spending 10 hours spinning enough 2 ply to sample with. I'm doing it this time because I don't actually have a convenient place to buy any before I need it and really don't want to spend half a day running into the city for a skein of yarn!

The seeds are starting to sprout. The Marigolds won the race for tray one, followed closely by the English Thyme. The Oregano and Summer Savory tied for third and the Borage, Winter Savory. The various tomatoes, Brandywine, Yellow Pear, Misc. Cherry tomato and mixed Heirloom tomatoes are just starting to show and the Lovage is in dead last place, for germination speed.

I direct planted a bunch of woad into the garden on just before we had a few days of rain. Yesterday we had a river in the backyard because of the amount of rain, which of course ran right through the woad bed. If it doesn't show any sign of growth in a week or so, I'll presume that the seeds have washed down across the yard and into the neighbour's bean fields.

April 05, 2010

Lots of garden, little bit of fibre

It was a busy weekend, with glorious weather. Really, the weather dictated the activities... outside ones because I really couldn't justify hiding inside. The blueberry bushes got planted. That required digging holes... a trip to town to find the one store which actually had composted sheep manure already in stock - and it was on sale, and then planting, realizing they were going to get run over by a lawnmower because they are still very small, hunting for sticks to mark them with and then being forced to drink cool drinks in the shade because it was 24C and sunny. The only disappointing part of the blueberry planting was the number of white grubs I found and killed while digging the holes. I think we might need to get some nematodes and treat the lawn.. not because I really care about a perfect lawn, but because I hate the damage they do and even more, I hate the June Bugs they become... shudder...

We pruned the pear trees or tried to. Better late than never I hope. It doesn't look like the trees have been pruned much if at all. The one had two limbs which we removed which was easily within the 1/4 - 1/3 maximum of limb removal recommended when pruning pear trees. One branch was going to to die anyways in the next few years at the previous own had tied nylon string on it and the bark had grown around it and was cutting through. The other was a centre branch, which will now hopefully allow more sun to hit the rest of the tree. The second tree is older. We hadn't noticed before just how bad it is. It turns out there is almost no heartwood left and there are large openings in several places on the trunk. We're going to have to removed that tree and will hopefully replace it with something else. Not another pear tree though... maybe apricot or apple. The kids suggested a cherry tree, but I think you need two different varieties for germination and I've no idea where we could put a second one.

I got most of the seeds planted... 2/3 is most right? I still have a couple of herbs, the blue dye and yellow plants to start. All the flowers are started though. They will go in the perennial beds, to replace the volumes of oriental poppies and odd green, non-flowering filler plants. The onions and leeks have been started in milk cartons, mainly so that I can add a bit of soil to the leeks as they grow and start the blanching process while their seedlings. The onions were just victims of circumstance, since I had a milk carton handy when planting them. The flowers are in peat pots which can be divided in half when planting and the madder seeds are in peat pellets. Before they are planted properly I'll have to rip off the netting so the roots can grow unconfined. I forgot to do that on one plant before and it had the most weird, twisted root system, which was intertwined with the netting..

The chicks are ordered, the building of the coop room has begun. There's nothing like a deadline to speed up a progress of a project.
The new socks are coming along nicely. So pretty and my worry about the pattern being a tad too floofy was totally unjustified. It's beautiful and comfortable.

April 01, 2010

Happy April

Today I started a new pair of socks using the Christmas Sock Yarn. Because it was special sock yarn.. indie dyer, really nice, soft, smooshy yarn, I wanted a special pattern. I chose Cookie A's Monkey. It's a lace pattern and requires a bit more thinking to keep the pattern flowing. It's definitely not mindless knitting, though it isn't difficult. I needed to go with really tiny needles though as the yarn was too sproingy for the gauge. I cobbled a set of 5 dpns together from different sources as there were none that tiny in the local area stores. Did you know that size is also useful for making tiny viscose ringlets for tiny porcelain dolls?

There is some blue merino on the Ashford Traveller. It was roving dyed with Dyer's Knotweed. Possibly some that was dyed in an Indigo Sig Vat - urine reduction process, because when moving, it all went into one bag. Right, like I really thought I could remember which was which.. ha!

On the Kromski is some natural coloured Shetland. This is a two ply. There are two half bobbins left to ply up. I didn't use the Jumbo bobbin as I didn't feel like changing out the flyers.

Our weather has been insanely mild and sunny for April. The spring bulbs are coming up and I noticed today that the birch tree is blooming. Some of the trees look like they're about to leaf out already! I found these under a patch of leaves. I thought we hadn't any crocuses here, but I was wrong.. not many though. This fall I will plant more.