29 June 2010


About this time last year, the Fuzzies went to our local day lily mavens at Wildwood Farms on Hwy 221 about five miles west of Floyd. We were dazzled by the variety of colors and bloom shape. After much debate, the Fuzzies went back to the farm with about ten totally incredible bulbs.

Those bulbs have grown into lovely plants and the first ones are now bursting forth with great vigor, shamelessly competing with each other for the most spectacular flowers. Here are the first three. Astounding, are they not? (remember that you may click on the image for a larger view)

23 June 2010

Girl Power

Those were the days....

First, a little thank you to everyone who has commented, e-mailed, called, or stopped me on the street to give me their condolences on the loss of my father. I'm grateful for your kindness.

Life on the farm has been blissfully dull but blessedly busy. Mr. Fuzzy spent three very intense days erecting an electrified fence around the far garden. The deer have completely bounced back after a good hunting season and a starvation winter... which is to say, they ate all of our first plantings of peas, beans, and sunflowers plus most of the first planting of corn.

This fence couldn't happen earlier because the field needed to be hayed before Mr. Fuzzy could haul the locust logs across the field, debark them, and whatnot. It was a poor hay harvest so every blade left undisturbed was an important blade! Now we have a very pretty fence that has kept the deer out.

The new fence means that I, Mrs. Fuzzy, have been out weeding and planting nearly every day since Saturday. Another planting of corn, peas, sunflowers, and several kinds of beans was done plus a planting of carrots, summer lettuce, started leeks, and flowers for our predator bug friends. There is a whole lot more to do in order to fill up this goodly patch of ground but the Creator saw fit to answer my request for rain within an hour of my making it today (thanks a bunch!) The plants got 1/4 inch of good, penetrating, rain. Rocky and Rufus and I got a cold, cold, shower.

In the evenings I've been working on the never-ending "get the studio usable" project and another of my quick demolition-restoration projects. Namely, pulling up the disgusting bathroom carpet and figuring out what to do about the mildew I found underneath. Although the now-exposed OSB is ugly it's a world better than the ancient, wrinkled, stained, mildewed, and peed-upon carpet. Note to all: do not install carpet in a bathroom and do not house a stressed cat on such a carpet! How ever could we not smell THAT? Anyway, these problems seem to have been successfully addressed and it's time to Kilz the floor.

18 June 2010

1/1/1936 -- 6/18/2010

Thom & his girlfriend Lucrecia

Some of our dear readers will know that Mrs. Fuzzy spent most of the month of May in Tucson helping care for her dad and get him moved into a "long term" care facility. He had not been well for many, many, years and elected to forgo all treatment except minimal palliative care about two years ago. To say his doctors have been gobsmacked at his ability to survive as long as he did is a grand understatement.

Today, his illnesses finally got the better of him. Or, rather, he finally decided to let go. That's how his family does it. We hope he's 25 again and dancing away with Marilyn Horne at the big jazz joint in the sky like he always wanted. In respect for his wishes, there will be no funeral or fuss, but his ashes will be returned to his favorite mountain in Maine.

Thank you to everyone who has let me know I'm in their hearts & prayers. It is a true blessing to know you are there in whatever manner you are able. Just your condolences is enough to lighten my heart. May the Creator bless you all.

16 June 2010

Seasonal Rhythmn

There is little doubt, most dedicated reader, that despite the date on the calendar, summer has been at Stratheden Farm for a month or longer. It has settled into a repeated cycle of still nights with lows around 66F, humid mornings with temperatures that reach 83F by noon or thereabouts, and then, most mercifully, a tiny thunderhead parks itself above the farm and one thunderbolt at a time, relieves itself of its liquid burden.

Most of those 'precipitation events' yield only a 1/10th of an inch or so but even those are enough to encourage seedlings (and alas, their weedy competition) in the gardens. Tuesday was a bonus day, however, with storms at 1:00 and 3:30 p.m. which produced 0.95 inches, enough to have significant, positive impact on the gardens. The timing is excellent as the tomato plants are setting fruit in a most prolific manner.

There were several tiny showers today but the consequence was not the rain per se, but a superb rainbow right as the sun set. The clouds simply lit up tonight in Maxfield Parrish colors (Mr. Fuzzy can hear the skeptics - sure, those colors are done in PhotoShop. Nay, Sir! These images are straight from the camera without so much as a "levels" adjustment). And unlike most of the small rains, tonight's evening rain dropped the temperature to a delightful degree which should encourage a sound sleep this eve.

A quiz, for our readers - panic not, there are no grades and no one will know the result - how many of you remember how we raved about the Seminole pumpkins last autumn and winter? Raise your right hand if you do - Well done, I say! The seed catalog advertised them as "good keepers" which is an understatement; Mrs. Fuzzy prepared some for dinner last night and they were nearly as delectable as when fresh in October. remarkable these heirloom plants.

15 June 2010

Oh, my, it's been more than a week again! We Fuzzy's have been alternately busy and lethargic with this muggy weather we've been having. The air is always near saturation it seems. YUCK! Even the dogs would rather just be sleeping.

Our issue with escaping chickens seems to have been solved by removing the upper fencing around their pen. It had 6" openings and I think the cluckers were flying up, roosting, and getting out that way. We've had four successful returns of chickens (never the same individuals, mind!) but lost two banty roosters before the escape route was removed. I'm sorry to have lost them and pray they've just decided to live as ferals but it's highly unlikely. Rumpy, one of the Dominiques, sustained a minor injury when she escaped but with a little iodine spray she' has healed well.

Mr. Fuzzy identified a beautiful bush on our deck as a Nanking Cherry. We now have nearly 4 pounds of tiny cherries in the freezer. Anybody have a recipe? They're nicely tart. I think he's working on another food post. (I saw him photoing food yesterday...)

So, no news is dull news. How about a link to a feature article from the Sunday Roanoke Times about our little town? It has lovely pictures and a schematic of South Main Street.

06 June 2010

The bounty begineth

Most inquisitive and gentle readers, it is summertime here at Stratheden. The daytime temperatures have hovered about the 80F mark and the grasses and trees all are bedecked with their verdant splendor. The land yieldeth healthy and delectable foods for those of us planted and transplanted on the farm.

The gardens are almost completely planted; in a day or two a second planting of corn, beans and peas will be made. The harvest season has officially begun today with the harvest of 12 pounds of cherries (yes, that is a LARGE punchbowl!) which Mrs. Fuzzy will soon gently cajole into new forms of earthly delights such as jams and wee pies. The apples are forming well although the MUTSU apples which were so prodigious last summer are clearly resting this year - thankfully the other types of apples are stepping up to fill the void. The first tomatoes are formed and growing in the lower garden.

Ornamental flora are delighting the eye in the decorative gardens in the front and rear of the house. The lilies are bursting into their spectacular display but are challenged by the clematis for the title of most amazing display.

Even at night, there is beauty as the fireflies perform their aerial peregrinations in the dark, moving through time and space with their glow like tiny meteorites streaking through the night. Might they reflect the long departed Native Americans who once resided here?

Mrs. Fuzzy's chickens are prospering - and looking much like adults despite their youth.

05 June 2010

Good Dog!

After nearly a month without his people-mama to remind him of his manners our Stevens' Mountain Cur has developed a few bad habits. Not horrible, nasty, habits but ones that need reversing nonetheless. He's also matured a little more. This seems to happen in spurts.

One place this has happened is with the chickens. After a day of watching him I decided that he didn't seem to consider them food... just potentially fun to chase. Last night he herded an escaped dominic into a corner and backed off so I could put the frightened bird back over the fence. I then herded everyone into the coop and closed them up for the night.....

Not realizing that my favorite chicken, Salvadore, wasn't inside. He often hangs out under the bigger chickens so when I saw a little eye and beak poking out I presumed it was him. This morning I opened the door and realized he was missing. Oh the agony! Later, I thought I heard his peculiar call so I had a tiny hope he would reappear. A very tiny hope!

Then about 5:30 this afternoon I heard one heck of a kerfuffle at the coop and went running to see what was the matter. It was Rufus, orange bird in mouth, running around the corner of the workshop. Boy was I angry! The moment he heard me yell the poor creature was dropped but he was determined it would NOT leave the spot. Lying on the ground, in a state of great panic, was little Salvadore! His wing feathers were a little mussed up but- despite his wild ride in Rufus' mouth -there wasn't a scratch on him!

Sal is back amongst his brethren, enjoying the feeder bucket, and undoubtedly telling stories of "camping out" for a night. I have my favorite little rooster back.

03 June 2010

It's been a long, happy, week....

Mr. Fuzzy and I got home from our respective trips within a couple hours of each other, ate a lovely pizza from our local Italian restaurant, Mickey G's, and promptly collapsed. The next evening our friends from Vermont arrived for a five day visit while Brian taught a weekend blacksmithing class at the Jacksonville Center. .... A class which both the Fuzzy's had signed up for and one had completely forgotten said factoid. That would have been me, Mrs. Fuzzy.

Laussanne and I got a little gardening done before the weekend (how can I ever begin to thank this wonderful woman????) and on Monday we ran off to hike the Buffalo, our local mountain. It was an all-girl affair... humans and dogs. This is Laussanne, her little dog and our foster girl, Lady, at the summit.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. There was the weekend... which found your authors covered in soot and turning little rods of iron into very functional spoons. On day one Mr. Fuzzy made two spoons while remembering how to do things. I created scrap, learned that iron sparklers are not a "good thing," and all the truly basic basics of blacksmithing. On day two I made two spoons while Mr. Fuzzy made two more spoons and a fork. I am now trying to decide where to erect our soon-to-be-built forge. This was the most pleasurable craft I have ever tried and I'm chomping at the bit to do more! Thank you, Brian, for opening up a whole world of possibilities for me!

And then we were alone with a garden quite overgrown and 26 young chickens in way too small a space....

We have our work cut out for us trying to get the gardens under control but after a few good hours of work I got the chicken yard erected. The fence is a combination of U posts, reinforcing mesh, and poultry wire with a piece of scrap for the gate. It's so ugly it's pretty.... just like the coop! I'd never used a circular saw before, can't make an accurate measurement, and am no good at planning things out so this whole building venture seems like a minor miracle to have it all done.

We now have some very happy cluckers. When I put them away for the night I could hear them excitedly telling stories of their individual adventures, of the menacing cats, and that terrifying black dog that barked ever so loudly. No doubt they have moved on to discussing the finer points of catching ants and their glorious subjugation of those other two dogs.

Notice the 'peeping tom' up in the corner?