ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
I woke up thinking about dehydrators. I gutted a pumpkin the other day. The seed was too wet. At the time, it was over 80° outside. Then came days of rain. So needless to say, the seed did not dry well. I wanted to be able to plant it, not oven toast it. So maybe a food dehydrated was on my mind. Ours broke down a while ago. When I trolled Youtube for a video, I ran across an inspirational homestead. I had seen it before but got more out of it the second time around. It takes place in LA. https://youtu.be/lyteA1jYLno

And with one thing leading to another, I followed up looking for a website when the guy makes bread. The bucket says root simple. So here is their blog chocked full of bread recipes and lots of useful book titles. So I'm looking at making German Rye Bread today. I wish I had a brick oven. http://www.rootsimple.com/2012/12/how-to-bake-a-traditional-german-rye-bread/

This is actually the original video I was in search of on food dehydrators https://youtu.be/U-Gyr4dMbH0
I need to get at my wood working projects. Today is cold though. I don't have a shop, just a back porch. I have soda cans. Removing the bottoms is not as easy as he makes it out. I am going to try rubbing the cans on brick or concrete to remove the bottoms. Sanding them off makes your arms numb and takes forever. Other projects on the back porch include a bat house and a 6' shelving unit.

So bread then sanding? Covered in flour and then sawdust? But what about SAFF? Will I find time to play with dye? I leave on Thursday for Asheville. I have much to do. And it is now cold outside. 80 and then 40 is a cruel thing to do to an old lady. Brrrr! Bread first I think. I'll let it warm up a bit. Stay tuned.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
It is immensely more helpful to have charged your batteries BEFORE the power grid goes down. Sitting in the dark. Second outage today. Theoretically it will be fixed by 3 am. To the east, all lights are on. To the west, it's pitch black. G'night folks! There will not be a soft electrical hum tonight.

Oh deer!

15 Oct 2016 08:21 pm
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
I have been busy working odd jobs to make ends meet. I get up, shower, dress, setup the solar oven, pack my lunch and leave for six or so hours. It was so sunny this weekend. On Friday, I roasted organic honey butternut squash, which I carefully saved seeds from. My family keep an eye on the solar oven and kept it in the sun and at the correct angle. Today we had a glut of small juicy Czech tomatoes. I cut them up, tossed any excess seed into an area of the garden where we hope they will grow next year, and put the tray into the oven with some EVOO and a clove of garlic to cook in the brilliant sunshine. When I came home to put away the table and oven, there was a huge pile of deer doodoo right next to my clothes post. Right in broad daylight! Come on guys, just cuz I have no dog, doesn't mean you can hang out in my yard. Broad daylight, geez. That pile was not there when I left for work. They have no shame!
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
It is that time of year. Time to cover what's worthwhile in the garden, harvest what you can (green tomatoes), and give up on the rest. The carrots and Swiss chard got a cover. The Cherokee tomato got a cloche. The pumpkins and sunchokes have to fend for themselves. I am looking forward to the frost. Once the vines die back, I can harvest the sweet potatoes, regular late season potatoes, sunchokes, and pumpkins. We weighed all the produce this year. The yield was really low. The crops that did well were rhubarb, eggplant, sunflowers, and pumpkin. I need to run another soil test to see how the coffee grounds are impacting the garden. We did get an abundance of Brussel Sprout seed, carrot seed and parsnip seed. Unfortunately I do know know which type of carrot that the seed is from. We had Dragon, Caliopy and Danvers. Email me if you'd like some.

Harvest Bounty

I have been watching and learning from other folks on youtube. To stabilize my backyard terraces or hugel beds, I should grow brassicas in front of them. At the season's end, bend them over and bury the tops. The stalk becomes a post to hold up the logs. I really like that idea. I also learned that while the wood is still rather solid, vining crops like melons, cucumbers and squash work really well. The fellow who grew them was based in SanFransisco. They also know hills but his yard was flat.

Unknown seed

I picked up another book at the library, called Miraculous Abundance by Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer. It is a permaculture farm on one quarter acre. They have proven that working by hand can indeed produce as much as conventional chemical farming. Permaculture gives you the toolbox you need with polycultures to produce in large quantity. A movie was made of their journey, Demain, making its debut at COP21 in Paris. Their farm is called La Ferme du Bec Hellouin. I hope to learn even more. At the present time, it takes 10 to 12 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of food. This is not a sustainable situation. We need 10 earths to support the existing population. Since the population is expanding and the arable land mass is shrinking, we got us a serious problem. Food is going to have to come from city rooftops, backyard gardens, and small scale farmers. Predictions vary greatly as to when we will be in crisis. By 2050 though, push will definitely have come to shove. This is why so many are looking to colonize Mars by 2030. We definitely have a problem.

Kumi kumi reverting to parent

I was inspired by Eric Toensmeier who wrote Carbon Farming, http://carbonfarmingsolution.com/bio It gives hope for the future. Also, it looks like Geoff Lawton is back in Jordan with another go of Greening the Desert, the sequel. If you haven't seen the first one, you really should! Here's the link https://youtu.be/2xcZS7arcgk
There is an orgaanization focusing exclusively on climate change. They also had an article which gives hope, http://www.joboneforhumanity.org/ask_a_macarthur_genius_could_elusive_deep_sea_microbes_help_fight_climate_change We still need to curb our appetite for fossil fuels, but at least some people are working on a solution. It is so easy to focus on the negative. I prefer the positive and enjoy learning new techniques and hearing from people who make a difference.

Long Island Cheese Pumpkin

So I can't help notice all my neighbor's decorations. I pulled corn stalks out of the garden. They purchased corn stalks for decor. I have sheets covering plants from frost. They have sheets on bushes for ghostly decoration. I have squash and pumpkins on my porch curing for winter storage. The skins need to get thick to store long term. The neighbors bought pumpkins for decoration. Is Halloween just an echo of farming except in the city, forgetting its roots?
ursulas_alcove: My favorite doctor (c is for civilized)
(In Autumn). St. James Court started out rainy and cold. Setting up an EZ up on a slope is tricky but I remembered to check Construction Junction, our resale building supply store. I snagged two cement blocks for 75¢ each. What a difference! Our neighbors were jealous. Next year we need to use sand bags to keep the tent down. Staking is no longer an option because they laid in gas lines for old fashioned street lamps. Friday we arrived to find our tent roof had blown partially off, soaking all our chairs and table cloths. We finally got everything back together and composed ourselves about an hour after opening. Nothing quite like a disaster to start out a show.

With the weather bad, attendance was down as well as sales. Since Friday is usually our busiest day, our spirits were discouraged. Add to that empty bank accounts and all sales via credit cards. Our bank accounts would be full on Monday but no cash right now to buy dinner with. This was a problem I did not anticipate. We did bring a cash reserve with so dinner was had. It wasn't the best on the menu but The Exchange in New Albany offers great food at many different price levels. Our waiter was a delight and cheered us up. Food always changes your mood too. We booked a very resonable Air B'n'B nearby the show. The Victorian house was lovely. There were many extra personal touches. We setup a workshop on the huge dining room table. We made felt flower and leaf pins each evening. I hand carded and wet felted the material and then cut out the designs. Chronographia beaded and embroidered each pin. During the show, she stitched the pin backs on each one. With the weather, her arthritus prevented her from doing her normal needle felting on mushroom berets.

We met our sales goal for Saturday. Huzzah! We even had one cash sale, so yay, cash for dinner! The weather got better and Sunday was great. Sunny and warm. People came out and tried on hats. There are six or seven hatters throughout the fair. Because, you know, Derby hats. Yes, the Kentucky derby keeps hatters employed. Our neighbor at the show is also a hatter, different style, but great product. Our other neighbor, the jeweler, is from Atlanta. Her helper volunteers at Dragon Con. We like our peers! So what we learned is that to have a good show we need a great selection of hats. Fifty is bare minimum. Sizes can run to the large, 7 1/2 or better. And at least a quarter need to be suitable for men. And for some very strange reason, only blondes come to the show on Friday. So choose colors accordingly. Who knew? Sunday's crowd was much more diverse. We met interesting people and a few characters. The ladies who arrived after the show ended were still able to score hats and daisy pins to go with their bell bottoms and definitely were in the flower power groove. David, our volunteer host, did a splendid job organizing take-down. We all have to fit in a narrow alley to load out. It's so tight that our vehicle mirrors need to be folded in. We waited our turn and got out about the same time as last year. All-in-all, a good experience.

Driving home exhausted, we got as far as we could and slept at a rest area only 75 minutes from home. Then came laundry, and cleaning, yard work, unpacking, grocery shopping, etc. Having two big events in a row is a little hard on the body, but mostly I just wanted a shower and clean clothes. This week I also had to do training for some events that I am working at this weekend and next weekend. I will be at Dollar General on Saturday, handing out Downey coupons. It's in walking distance of my house. And also training for a Wellness event at Walmart. I haven't had time to work on my own business at all. I still need to catch up on accounting before quarterly sales tax is due this month. The house needs some work before winter too. Yikes! Time's running out.

Sleep. Then to tackle the ToDo list.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
Winter is coming.
The goose is getting fat.
Please to take a look at our fine, warm, winter hats.

If you haven't got a penny,
A ha'penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha'penny,
We take Master Card and Visa too!

I haven't fully unloaded yet, but must put away everything and reload the van. Thursday, Chronographia and I will be headed to St. James Court in Louisville for the art show. Look for us on Belgravia as Strange Hour Atelier. The show runs Friday through Sunday. We've been working hard and should have a great selection.

Booth shot for show apps
ursulas_alcove: Blakes 7 (scared)
It started out with sales being down more than normal. Each event so far has had some drop, some more than others. After discussions with several other vendors, the bottom line is that the media in an election year scares people to increase viewership. "The other side might win, OMG, the end of the world!" This is part of the 24/7 news cycle. It is killing my business because I didn't expect it. Scared people save their pennies. So far I have heard economic fears, "we could become another Greece, you need to stash cash at home" to "there's another derivative bubble and the big banks will fail". Then there is a very real heroin problem locally. Violence is up. Then there's the presidential race, the terrorist threat, North Korea, and a few other loose cannons in the world. Somehow, immigration is the least of our worries, but that doesn't matter to the media. No compassion there.

So I get an email from a gardening leader that I follow. She says one in 80 Americans is now a prepper. Some may call that hitting mainstream. Her advise is something that hits a lot closer to home. Where you live is the most important thing for surviving a system collapse. If the grid goes down, nuclear reactors will overheat. How close you live to a nuclear power plant is very important. The east coast is especially dense in these plants.

Just out of curiosity, I looked it up. An old national map from 1998 shows three in our area. Afterall, Westinghouse built the dang things and they are based here. But I thought Beaver was decommissioned. It is right at the end of the Pgh Airport runways. If a plane misses, kaboom! Yes, not well thought out. So I looked it up. Turns out, one out of three was decommissioned. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaver_Valley_Nuclear_Generating_Station

And our cash strapped government gave permission to frack at the airport, see http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/12/business/energy-environment/frackers-trove-under-airport-in-pittsburgh.html?_r=0

We don't have an injection well anywhere near there at least. No earthquakes. Oh wait, there is a Class II injection well. It's location? South Beaver. Does this sound like a recipe for disaster? So you can now watch my blood pressure go up. We are about 35 to 45 miles away. There are still sirens along some of the roads around here. So of course my government is going to protect me. Here is what they have listed for evacuation http://www.pema.pa.gov/planningandpreparedness/Documents/Beaver%20Valley%20Power%20Station%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

It turns out that we are where the people in Beaver will evacuate to when things fall apart. Our county has two schools that will turn into decontamination centers and folks will stay at the county fairgrounds. Interesting. I would still feel a whole lot better if they shut Beaver down entirely. Those are very old reactors. They are still too close to the airport and fracking operations. I think a bugout bag is a good idea but where would I go that wouldn't be in worse shape? Well, there's nothing like fear to sell a product. Hmm. Now how can I apply that to yarn? Be afraid! Be very afraid! Buy yarn now! It could save your life! Why? I don't know, but it could save your life! Visit http://UrsulasYarn.etsy.com
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
Seems like there is never enough time. The website needs an overhaul. I need to code and write copy. I need to dye yarn while I still have plants to dye with. Then there's winding balls of yarn, reordering product, accounting, unloading the van, repacking displays, and on and on.


I did get a few things done this week. Starting with oregano, how to explain? I live on a steep hill. The front terrace keeps my yard from sliding into the street. Snow and weather detriorate the wood. I need to seal the wood against weather. I do not want to use nasty chemicals near my food plants. There was a recipe I saw for a natural seal using beeswax and oil, linseed or something. Can't find the recipe so I made up my own. I tried it out on my windows. Worked ok. Needed more oil. So back to the oregano.

oregano kettle

Oregano really likes my yard. All it took was one seed which I planted years ago. Eventually the oregano took over the grass. Adding to that an herbal class I took where we were sent home with garlic chives, well I don't mow grass, I mow pizza. Anything I have in that adbundance gets tried for natural dyes. The oregano was blocking my work on the terrace. It was time for a haircut. I've used oregano for many years now. It gives a nice colorfast dye.

Oregano dyebath

I recently redid the yard into a food forest. I gave oregano the nasty strip next to the driveway. It has its own country now where it can thrive for dyebaths only. The food stuff is under the lilac and the original plant is still in the garden. Rabbits built a warren in the oregano earlier this spring so I didn't harvested it. It stunk of bunny. The dyebath was a success. Today there could be lemon balm. Lemon balm country lives under the mulberry and the buckeye tree. It tried taking over the tarragon and had to be cut back. I did tarragon last week. It's color is not as strong and tends to fade a little over time. If I had infinite yarn and more time, I'd trim back the black raspberry canes and dye with those too. The yarn tends to be light gray when done, high tannin in that one.

I'm pleased with the oregano. I used Pennsic water. Yes, I know I'm weird. I refilled all my empty water bottles with Pennsic water to take home for dye experiments. Pennsic water has a high mineral content that gives some amazing colors when dyeing. Yes, it has iron in it but something else too. The colors really pop. I donated my yarn and some dyestuffs to the fiber tent last year. Fiadnata graciously gave me some samples afterwards. I was really struck by how different they were. I had mordanted them myself at home. The only difference was the water. Wow. So here we go, oregano:

oregano 2016

Back to work. The accounting won't do itself.

I'm baack

14 Sep 2016 01:28 am
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
Always lots to do after a show. I enlisted my husband's help to evaluate the website and figure out what needs to be done to improve it. There is a lot. I was disappointed with my service provider too. They changed their billing setup twice this year. It's not user-friendly nor is their customer service helpful. Plus I need a shopping cart feature. Hard to do with Windows 98 and dialup. My husband is mapping the links first. He has a real computer. I have too big a learning curve to catch up with Windows version 10. I prefer an apple but cannot afford one. We are looking at Shopify and a few other programs.

Next comes restocking displays. More yarn to be wound. Unpacking the van is also on the agenda. I have to go through publishers next. Too many publishers got sold or just plain went out of business. My supply of how-to books is way down. Today I paid bills but tomorrow I need to restock/reorder after running to the bank and hardware store. The dye cook stove is out of propane. I have oregano soaking in a kettle. I have several skeins to dye before Shennandoah Valley Fiber Festival.

On the weaving front, I finished the Neopolitan Ice Cream scarf and am starting on a similar colorway, but more in the chocolate malted milk color range. Neopolitan is a Saori style warp, randomly pulled colors and textures in the yarn. Malted milk will be a set pattern of stripes. I got to play with my colored pencils this morning to design it. Pictures soon!

As I was out trimming back the oregano for the dye pot, a gentleman stopped to tell me about his recent experience at the bottom of my driveway. He was walking along the sidewalk, texting. When he looked up there was a young buck blocking his path. It was eating my garden from the bottom of the driveway. The buck was just starting to grow antlers. Seems the deer felt threatened and reared to scare the man off. I think the deer won. The poor guy knew there were deer in the park but had never seen one quite so close before, especially in a residential area. I told him our buck has ten points on his antlers and a harem of three does. Sounds like there will be another group before long. Think I'll be planning fences soon. As the garden is mostly weeds and a barberry bush at that point, no damage was sustained. The young man confirmed my suspicions that the deer are tormenting the poor yipe dog up the hill. When it barks, I should have stones to throw since I can't shoot in the city. (Add gravel to the shopping list).

Well, to bed. Tomorrow's chore list is already long enough. At some point, yardwork and winterizing the house need to be done. There is never enough time in fall.

French Bread
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
This coming weekend I will be headed to PA Endless Mountains Fiber Festival or as I like to call it, the endless fiber festival. Information is on the website. http://www.endlessmountainsfiberfest.com

I am still desperately winding balls of Zephyr yarn to restock in time for the festival. I have some great fall colors that just came in from Jaggerspun in the Green Line organic wool. More are on the way as well later this week. Unfortunately, the hemp couldn't ship in time. So I will be busy working on my displays this week. The weather is forcast to be perfect. Hope you'll join me!

I also worked on show applications for next year. To that end, a lot of time was devoted to photographing. I decided to take Grace's advise and go for a February art event called Better Than Bling. That means building up inventory of what I do best. So the looms are being warped. I have six works in progress. (Or is it seven?) I need to reorder yarn to finish a purple scarf. Brown just went onto the other 10" loom. A shawl is in progress on the 24" loom. Another spring themed shawl is on the triangle loom, Columbine. And a blanket is being warped on the 46" loom. A purse strap is on the card loom. I need to find and then finish lining a sadle bag. A failed dress may be reworked into a shawl and matching bag. So much to do! I need to figure out if the local Holiday show is worthwhile. It's been a while since I've done it.

Besides showing my work, I had to do some additional photos which I didn't have before, like showing my design process.

Starting with stash

Current weaving
Who wants ice cream?

Proving I do my own work

Booth Shot
Booth shot for show apps

Glad one application is on its way. One more to go! Chronographia has been busy too. She will be at the Pittsburgh Night Market and the PCA Open House during A Fair in the Park. Combined, the two of us finished six hats this week. Those are felted and on the hats blocks, drying. Also coming up is the Shennandoah Valley Fiber Festival, followed by St. James Court in Louieville, KY. Look for the hats on Belgravia. Autumn is a busy time.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
coral bells

kumi kumi squash

happy worms

pumpkin takeover

movable cage

ursulas_alcove: J is for jelly baby (pamper thyself)
Last night was difficult. A bat got into the furnace register system and made its escape into the house at 4:15 in the morning. Problem was, I was laying on the floor in front of the fan. Temperatures had reached 95° during the day. We have no AC. It was hot in the house. The bat emerged a couple feet from my head out of the cold air return, startling me something fierce. Everybody got up and soon all the doors were closed so that only the first floor was available to it. Bats are fast. Chronographia tried to block it from the living room with a blanket. No luck. The doorway was too wide. It got up into the rafters of the open ceiling. Since it was so close to dawn by now, we all went to bed with doors closed. Fortunately it had cooled down.

Today was another hot day. I used the solar oven to cook corn outside. The roaster holds 5 ears. Although I slept in, I managed to wind more yarn to restock while it was still cool. Bookkeeping followed on the attic computer. A walk to the post office with orders and bills at noon got me a good dose of Vitamin D. Lunch was simple fair, cheese, bread, pickles and carrots. Then off to town to get groceries. The parkway was open and no sports games were scheduled for here. Groceries successfully obtained, we headed home to make dinner. Tonight featured a recipe by Smitten Kitchen, flatbread with onions, goat cheese, corn and swiss chard, right from the garden. It was delicious. https://smittenkitchen.com/2012/08/leek-chard-and-corn-flatbread/

I have been trying to plant fall crops. Most of the Mizuna was planted in the shade under the upper mulberry. It's suppose to like shade. Tonight I planted beets in a couple locations. Fingers crossed. I am hoping the pumpkin will protect it from the rabbits. I made a slaw out of carrots, bok choi, and radishes for tomorrow. The window box continues to produce beans. Tomatoes will be coming in soon. We ended up with several San Marzanos sprouting from tomatoes we purchased. There are not many but we will supplement with ones from the farmer's market. I bought more Leek seeds today. Hopefully, they germinate better than the ones did this spring. I need more leeks on my flatbread. Apparently, I went around all day with parsnip seeds in my hair. Hanging carrot seeds to dry along with parsnips on the porch will net you wrens and a mess.

The acorn squash were attacked by something. The plants withered. We pulled out three baby acorns that still need to mature a bit. The sweet potatoes look good. The long island cheese pumpkin vine has taken over the back yard. The neighbor threw out some useful furniture on Friday which I turned very quickly into a tomato cage. We have a very stylish backyard. The maple tree in the front yard needs to be cut back badly. Lots of dead limbs. I don't have a motorized saw. It would make good firewood.

So we sit quietly waiting. FB reminded me that I have done this before on the same day in years past, an anniversary of sorts. Doors and windows ready to be opened, brooms and towels at the ready. Now if we could just get my husband to sit still. . . .

End of August, an aerial view
ursulas_alcove: Pink petal hat (Peeking flower faery)
One of the items on my 2016 list of goals was to get some red wigglers and set up a small vermiculture tub. I have watched a University of North Carolina class on why worm castings, how many worm castings to add and how to feed, maintain and house your worms. Let's start with why. Adding worm castings to your soil causes plants to react as if you gave them a growth hormone. Add between 5 and 30 % worm castings to your soil or potting mix. Less than 5% has no effect. More than 30 % is a waste and can actually have a negative effect on your plants. Seeing as my plants seem to have some issues, this is a good idea. Delphiniums should grow about four feet tall, normally.

Really tall Delphinium

So I found a sale and a place that accepts paypal. They are in the same state and the temperature outside wasn't too hot this week. So I ordered my worms from Uncle Jims. Service was good. Explanations and instructions were good. Worms arrived on time alive and well.

Setting up Vermiculture

I happen to have three useless totes that nest. I bought them for the business but the sides are too angled to pack merchandise in them. They have lived a full life and are now being repurposed. The bottom bin is to catch excess water, otherwise known as compost tea. The liquid can be added to water to give your houseplants nutrition, every couple of weeks. The flower pots are to keep the second bin up out of the liquid.

Setting up Vermiculture

The second bin needs drainage holes and air holes for the worms.

Second Tote - Vermiculture

This is how they stack. There is a third tote that will be used later when the worms need to migrate so I can use the worm castings. What are worm castings? Simply put, it is worm poop. I drilled holes in the third tote so it is identical to the second tote. When I need them to migrate, I set the third tub on top of the open second tub and put kitchen scraps and bedding (damp shredded paper) into the third tub. Since there is no more food in the second tub, they move upward to the new food. Then I remove the second tub and use the castings in the garden or in my potting mix.

Setting up the worm's new home

Preparing the second tub: To start with, I placed a window screen over the bottom holes. This keeps the worms from falling out into the compost tea down below. I cut an old screen to size with tin snips. Then I wet shredded paper and laid it down on the window mesh. On top of that, came a mix of coffee grounds and old wood shavings. Then dirt and the worms which were packaged in peat moss. The instructions said to add a half cup of water and cover with damp newspaper. I added a quilted set of towels (3) to act as a barrier to fruit flies. Youtube has some great videos.

Setting up the worm's new home

Setting up the worm's new home

The worms should be active in 3 to 4 days. I did see a few moving around so I know they are alright. Fingers crossed. They do not eat fresh kitchen scraps. Some people freeze the scraps to help the plant cells break down. Others toss the kitchen scraps into a blender. I like this idea better. I never remember to thaw my own dinner a head of time so I'm not likely to remember theirs. But coffee grounds can go directly into the bin and I get those daily so no food issues. The worms get fed every couple of days. They double their numbers in 90 days so in theory I can add more bins. They never overpopulate a bin. Apparently, worms are self-regulating in that regard. They don't need much attention, just temperatures between 50 and 80 °F.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
And for the pantry. I watched a lecture by permaculturist, Peter Bane.


Yes. Our world is in bad shape. Most Americans don't know what food is outside a grocery store or restaurant. Nor could they identify which wild berries are edible and which are not. Should the grid go down or another climate disaster hit, could we survive? How much food does one need? Peter answers these questions in a straight forward manner without the prepper hype. Storing food isn't enough. He covers growing edibles, storing food, saving seeds, energy usage, water and gray water usage, and more. Sadly without funding, I can implement very few of his strategies. Nor do we have a network of local people to tap into.

So I am starting to squirrel things away. The garden yield was relatively low this year. This is the second year where late season frosts wiped a lot of stuff out. Fungus gnats and poor potting soil screwed up my seedlings. My lovely blue cherokee tomatoes were planted in March. They have reached a height of 2" this week and may finally be big enough to put into the ground. Still waiting on the second set of leaves to show. Ya, right. I'll have tomatoes in December. Not without a cold frame. A random tomato plant showed up in my upper tier. It's growing fast but no flowers yet. Once the leaves drop off the mulberry, it'll have a lot of sun. Hmm.

I picked up fair trade sugar for the pantry as well as cocoa and honey. The pantry is not the same as the kitchen. It's for longer term storage. At the farmer's market, I found some yellow heirlooms from the organic farmers. I'm making tomato preserves with them from the Joy of Cooking. It's more like jelly. I also picked up black cherry tomatoes for drying. The seed is soaking on the window sill in jars currently. We use Alton Brown's drying method for now. There is a fan going with 2 furnace filters. Inside those on food grade plastic grid sheets are my sliced tomatoes. (I see a solar food dehydrator in my future, https://youtu.be/U-Gyr4dMbH0 )

So each person in a household needs 150 pounds of food per month. Divide by 30 days and it's roughly 5 pounds a day. Today's garden yield was 3 blackberries, 0.038 pounds and two radishes, 0.121 pounds. That ends up being 3 % of one person's daily food. Not good. We are keeping a log for better accuracy. After the pumpkins and squash come in, the average will be better. I'm shooting for 15 %. Stay tuned. The garden was mostly growing parsnip, carrot, and sunflower seed this year. The sunflowers I planted are for sprouting. Sunflower sprouts go great with the tomato preserves on a sandwich, gouda cheese and turkey on freshly baked bread. I had it at a swanky restaurant once. It's good. And yes, I can make that.

So on the last day of Pennsic teardown, these adult ladies walk by with a child's wagon full of beer bottles that they were giving away. The home brew was amazing. We had a nut brown ale, and a sour wheat. The last bottle is an American brew which I was thinking of making beer bread with. Here's the recipe I was looking at: https://smittenkitchen.com/2012/02/cheddar-beer-and-mustard-pull-apart-bread/

It was a long day, mostly driving. You could say I go a long way for my garden. I drove to Columbus to pickup an entire truck full of woodshavings from Egill. I left at 9:18 am. The highway was closed due to an accident. Eventually I got there, got my shavings and headed back to PA. I reached the bank around 4:30 to get cash for the farmer's market. Got to the market at 5. It runs from 3 to 6 pm. Many vendors were already out of things on my shopping list. Got home at 5:35. Unpacked and left for Starbucks to get my coffee grounds at 6 pm. Then pulled together dinner. I turned yesterday's pork roast into BBQ and added a fresh tomato and my potato onions. Also had corn on the cob from the farmer's market, a pickle and fried potatoes. It went real well with the Sour Wheat beer. Lord William, whoever you are, thank you. The beer was wonderful! Dishes are done. Garbage is on the curb. And that's enough for today. I shall fall asleep under a full moon listening to the brown bats and crickets.
ursulas_alcove: My favorite doctor (c is for civilized)
Two less than optimal days. It's easy to get caught up in Facebook and other social media. Add in my husband and the entire day is shot. He has a traumatic brain injury. I was gone to Pennsic for two weeks. My daughter was home at that time. Now she is off to WorldCon. It's my turn at husband care. I made sure he was bathed and hair washed. I got him involved in activities like putting away silverware, folding clothes, and minor chores where he can participate without losing his balance. We are working on stretching his muscle-bound legs so he can bend. It is a wonder that his legs aren't breaking with muscles that tight. I get to play physical therapist until medicare is reinstated. Hopefully, soon. So two loads of laundry, mowing, unpacking the truck, washing a backlog of dishes, grocery shopping, cooking, vacuuming, and so much more awaited me upon my return to civilization. No work has been done for my business at all. Today that changes.

I had to train my husband not to interupt when I am working. This is hard since he needs human contact. I still need to process orders, give customer service, and register for shows. Some yarn did get wound. New product was added to the website. I managed the post office. The coffee ground bucket went back to Starbucks after a hiatus. Weeding, bill-paying, and straightening still need to happen too. I rearranged the garage as I unpacked the truck from Pennsic. That was a start. As clothes are cleaned, I am re-evaluating the garb trunk. Some need to find new homes. Others are worn out or never really fit. It is nice to see a neatly folded pile of clean, dry clothes in the trunk.

Currently, walnut rum granola is being made. It smells wonderful. Then on to knitting another hat. I need 50 by Arisia (January) It takes 3 to 4 days to finish one knitted felted hat. If I knit too long at one stretch, I injure myself and cannot work for 6 weeks, so slowly it goes. The pile of not-quite-right hats is waiting for design embellishments to fix them and make them sale-able. First I have to find them all. Hemp and linen need to be skeined and dyed. Orders compiled for the next show in September, which is PA Fiber Fest. The webpage needs an overhaul. So much to do! Now if I could just find the battery charger for the digital camera . . .

Solar Cooking
ursulas_alcove: Woodcut from Robin Hood (Spock's Raised Eyebrow)
It was a hot and humid war with a few heavy rains, where upon we discovered the tent seams all leak. Kettles and buckets were strategically placed. We did survive to tell the tale. It was good to see everyone again. After SCA 50 Year and WW, I suspect my market was truly saturated. With regard to SCA 50 Year "not affecting Pennsic in any way", I beg to differ. With folks travelling to two colossal events scheduled so close to one another, they had no money at all to buy the usual fiber supplies or other trinkets. Ask any merchant or musician, sales were way down. In the case of musicians, tips were almost nonexistant. It will be a tough month without money to pay the bills or buy food for many of us.

After a brief lull in July, the second half of gardening season has begun. I spent the day reacquainting myself with the yard. Much looked weedy because plants went to seed. I started tidying up. It's going to take a while. The deer found the corn. The ants move in after the deer take a bite. There are baby acorn squash, Long Island Cheese Pumpkins, a butternut, and a few undecideds. The cuke climbed a sunflower. Still waiting on the cuke to flower. There are a few of the Russian paste tomatoes, still green, on the vine. I cleared the weeds out of the back porch bricks. I dug potatoes in the rain. And don't ask me about bindweed. The neighbor's fence had two rails rot out. I wonder if she is just going to let it go. It's purely decorative. And they do not use their yard in any way. I was thinking of moving the skirret along the fence to make a hedge. I think it'd make a nice border. Skirret thinks it's a bush anyway. It is so good to have dirt under my nails again.

I am catching up on my Youtube channels and Podcasts. I learned how to interpret the harvest weight data I have been collecting on the garden from Stacey Murphy's garden hacks. My numbers look so sad. But you can tell which week things came into harvest and have a basis for comparison for next year. My potatoes were shaded by the skirret and they hit an impenetrable layer of clay underneath. The strawberries crowded out the blueberries. The berry patch needs a bird net for protection. No money for the garden this year. The chop and drop strategy to create free mulch is working well. It helped cut back on watering and has created richer soil. The Garden Hacks said 2" of new compost is needed per year. My woodworker friend has provided me with shavings to add to the garden. The newer sawdust kills plants as it sucks nitrogen from the soil. Later, after it has decomposed a bit, it helps the soil hold moisture and releases the nitrogen. So I apply the new stuff to to garden paths after I rake up the older stuff and move it into this horrible clay. The paths stay clear of weeds. The garden benefits from the partially decomposed sawdust.

Where the sawdust ends

Stacey's tips https://youtu.be/cvImVYsw-5s

My favorite German gardeners https://youtu.be/yyI_AYYh3xI have been busy doing amazing work. I am interested in the bean pole for scarlet runner bean which is a perrenial. The marigold and swiss chard complete the circle. I also am going to put boards under the squash because the slugs are annoying.

Today I dyed a blue jean jacket pure black for a display. The new black has a purple undertone. I hope the linen and hemp pick up that highlight once I start that process again. My Pennsic linen is totally gone as in sold out. I'm eager to see what people make out of it.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
Pennsic begins. Rain is probable. Going to take it slow loading in on Saturday and Sunday. Costumes by Loren's is at Confluence. She will load in Monday after the convention. Monday, I have more doctors to coordinate and a meeting about the new property tax assessment. The car went through state inspection. Going to cost a small mint. She needs two new tires and has a cracked fog light deflector. Parts won't be in until Monday. Great. So I get to drive a car with expired tags. The fine for this is $375. Yes, I have paperwork to prove I am waiting for parts. The parts for the car are over $500. Ouch.

I found a doctor in network who can deal with my husband's shunt. His staff knows what questions to ask. I got release forms to his Oregon doctor so we have the original shunt setting. Now to make sure information is received on this end. Then I have to check back with social security to make sure they reinstate Medicare. Still no idea why the system canceled him. It appears to be an internal thing. Then Xray, MRI, and another Xray to be scheduled after Pennsic. There is more bloodwork required too. Hopefully someone can figure out why he is having balance issues.

Today linen and hemp hit the dyebath. Experiencing color shift issues. A jar of dye will do two batches of yarn. The first dyebath gives great colors. Yay! Now just try and repeat with the same yarn and the same dye. Nope. Not a snowball's chance in hell of duplication. Today Golden Oak gave me a nice orange. It's really close to the nice orange I got from Butterscotch. Apparently we are having a hard time creating yellow. But trying to duplicate Loden, a nice solid green, I got this pukey looking green with way to much yellow gray. I color corrected by adding navy to it and now have a forest green instead. But I just did a forest green. I wanted more of a grass green. So I have two really close oranges and two really close forest greens, but no yellow or Midrealm green. You never know what you are going to get out of a dyebath. That's why I like it. It's a mystery.

And then the custom hat was finished and one of the previous hats was ripped to fix the crown depth. The van was loaded. Rhubarb wine was racked. Bunches of yarn wound. Lists compiled so I don't forget important things like ropes. Oh yes and dinner was cooked. All in all a productive day. Rest before the madness begins.
ursulas_alcove: Robin of the hood woodcut (Rock On!)
The rubber seal on the freezer is broken. It tends to ice up a bit. Accidentally, the door didn't close while I was away. All the frozen fruit on the door thawed. Oops! So after a long day with very little sleep, I pulled the necessary items together and put up two gallons of rhubarb wine. Ten cups of sugar gone just like that. Need to buy more sugar next time I'm at the co-op. I hope to get mulberry started soon too. This year it will be wine instead of melomel. The black ants have discovered our honey jar. Hundreds died so that their brethren could climb on the backs of the dead to obtain the ambrosia. It was not a pretty sight. Gotta get the DE (diatomaceous earth) out and dust where the ants are sneaking in.

Looking at establishing a worm bin. Need to drill some holes in a tub and we should be set. My soil needs help beyond coffee grounds. Worm castings will help. Today, we head to the woodworkers to pickup sawdust. My garden paths need to be defined again. I've been raking the old sawdust and adding it to new beds as compost. It's mostly decomposed at this point. The woodworker says he has 14 garbage sacks of it.

The mega shipment of yarn came in for Pennsic. I will be winding my arm off over the next week. I miss my electric ball winder. Everything I sell is hand wound on a simple ball winder. More naturally dyed wool should also be skeined. The tarragon turned out nice. I've lemon balm dyed wool in the sink now. It needs a quick wash and then re-skeining before it gets a photo opportunity.

Russian Tarragon

A quick garden update so I can remember what to do next year. While I was away, so much happened in the garden. I lost most of my coreopsis during SCA 50 Year. It bloomed early. I tried drying it. It turned brown and went to seed. It freezes better but I needed to try drying to learn. Next year . . .

Drying parsnip and carrot seed

There has been a brief rainstorm almost daily. The rhubarb became enormous. I shall have to run another dye bath with rhubarb. Skirret turned into bushes that were trimmed back, making sure it doesn't flower. I may just move them in fall along the fence line. I think they'd make a nice border. Garlic was harvest before SCA 50 Yr. Potato Onions and Brussels Sprout seed were harvested before WW though I have one more patch of onions to go. Parsnip seed, Daikon radish seed, pea seed, carrot seed and bean seed were harvested for next year's planting and are currently drying. Black dahlia flowers were also snipped and frozen for a dye bath. As I write my homestead report, I am nibbling on anise basil biscotti ice cream. Yum! Thai basil provided the anise taste. Lots growing in the herb spiral. Other herbs were chopped and harvested while I was away. Instead of drying all the herbs, some are minced and placed into the ice cube tray. Once they are frozen into a block, the herb cubes are removed, bagged and labeled. Parsley, basil and thyme cubes await winter cooking to remind us of what fresh tasted like.

Mulberry Currant Jelly

While I was away, peas and beans were harvested. These were frozen for later use. We didn't get that great a yield. The rabbits ate any beans and beets that poked up. We resorted to planting beans in the window box. The peas were fine and are growing all over the yard. They are such great nitrogen fixers. I missed the entire black raspberry and strawberry harvest. They ripened over SCA 50 Year. SCA 50 Year was too long an event for my garden. Ten days plus travel time and setup. I missed too much and harvesting. My daughter bore the brunt of caretaking and harvest. I think there are two containers, 2 cups each of black raspberries in the freezer. Not enough for wine or jelly. Probably will combine those with other fruit to make something later. Strawberries were eaten outright. Nothing to store for winter. Mulberry Currant jelly was made before my travels.

Methinks it twar a good year for horseradish

There will be horseradish this year. Got to look up recipes. I harvested more onions this morning. They need a couple of weeks to dry out before I weigh them. Once the green tops are totally dry, they will be chopped off. The final product will look like this:

ursulas_alcove: Blakes 7 (kicking ass)
I've been attempting to help a friend move. I say attempting because she experienced a series of unfortunate events. Her buyer renigged twice. She had a new house all lined up to move in to, contingent on the sale of her existing house. Her buyer committed fraud because it was a cash sale to a developer. He provided a bank letter, proving he had the cash. He used the cash on a different purchase. This is illegal. Another investor of his was killed and that guy's money is tied up in probate. Not our problem. There will be a lawsuit. I won't say more. Twice she brought me down to Texas to drive her moving van. The first time, the developer waited until the last minute and asked to reschedule. Furious, she asked for money to insure he was serious. That money was to cover her expenses she incured as a result of his rescheduling the closing. I took Amtrak from Sturtevant to Dallas. She housed me in a hotel and flew me home again. There were many other costs as well. I also lost three days of prep time for Pennsic.

Train Trip

The second time: My friend rented two 26' vans each with a tow dolly for her cars. Her mother just passed so there was one truck for her stuff and the other for her mother's better possessions, as well as plants. Lots of plants. A loading crew was hired, vans rented, utilities cancelled, mail forwarded, guys to build a fence at her new house, unloading crew, you get the idea. The second time, the vans were already loaded when the buyer cancelled the closing, less than an hour beforehand. There was a second buyer waiting for the chance. That buyer is reputable. The bid was less but okay. New closing scheduled for August 5th. Despite pleading with the owners of her dream home, they refused to allow her to rent the house before buying it. Two weeks would have netted them a thousand bucks. But no. They may cancel the sale. We still don't know. She has a backup property in mind if they cancel the sale. I drove one 26' truck plus the car tow dolly behind from Dallas to Wisconsin. It was exhausting. It took two long days to get there. She drove the other truck. The next day, cars were unloaded. Dollys returned. Storage rented for the 2 full trucks. The plants will die except for the prickly pear cacti, unless they cook inside the trucks in this heat. It saddens me.

Train Trip

My friend then turned around to head back to Dallas with her three large dogs in a Honda CRV as she had to borrow money to store the vans. What a royal pain! She had to be there for the new closing anyway. For my part, I flew home from Milwaukee. I met folks from Wisconsin and New Orleans and had great conversations! Nice way to pass the morning. We talked about rail and the transportation industry, climate change, human cloning and mapping the genome, robotics, self driving cars, family, and so much more! Glad to be back.

Fraley's Robot Repair

Fraley's Robot Repair
ursulas_alcove: Robin of the hood woodcut (Rock On!)
I finally got the courage up to open the instant indigo dye and try it. I used rain water, not tap water so no chlorine. It dissolved in the water and was not anything like what was described. I did not have the characteristic grey/green water with blue at the top. It was blue all the way through. When dyeing, all the color washed away. This is the third time I've tried indigo. Each time was a disaster. Thank goodness for Youtube. After poking at instructions and videoes, the conclusion was that I needed to heat the bath on low heat and add sodium hyposulfite, ie RIT color remover. Then I needed courage to go to the grocery store. I wasn't sure if the parade was Sunday or Monday. The road to get there is closed for the parade. Guess they will hold festivities Monday although fireworks were Saturday. Confusing. Anyway, I took my meager cash from my business cashbox. The RIT was only $2. Score!

It worked well. I did multiple dips. The green I got from overdyeing rhubarb is nice. I may play with it some more tomorrow. We picked a lot of coreopsis today. I should probably dye with that before it fades. Rain is headed our way and I need to pack for WW. So much to do!
Page generated 27 Oct 2016 10:38 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios