31 May 2012

more gardening

Mr. Fuzzy laboured in the large garden nearly all of Monday and Tuesday; re-tilled it entirely (the weed regeneration was spectacular), set out seedlings and planted seeds. He was struggling to beat the forecast rain on Tuesday, which would have defeated tilling, and would aid and abet the seeds/seedlings. The much forecast rain arrived in a timely manner - yielding almost precisely one inch of ground softening water.

The 'Quickie' corn which was planted last week is well up. Territorial Seed says about it: "64 days. Sweet corn season can't come soon enough for many of us. Just the thought of that first, crisp bite of summer's fragrant, crunchy, succulent corn-on-the-cob can make your mouth water. Fortunately, we've discovered Quickie, an exquisite, extra sweet and tasty variety that's possibly the earliest sugar enhanced corn that we have grown. The 7 1/2 inch ears are packed with glowing, bicolor kernels that burst with creamy, luscious goodness. Plants grow 4 1/2 feet tall." Mr. Fuzzy has never seen a corn plant just out of the ground with so many leaves.

Next to the corn is a patch of Patty-Pan squash, something which is supposed to flourish here in Floyd County.

Set into the ground were two types of pickling cucumbers, "Edmundson" and "Alibi." About the latter, Territorial Seeds says "50 days. You can expect Alibi to be a very dependable producer. It rated near the top in trials for yield and disease resistance. Alibi loads-up heavy with 3 inch long cucumbers that have excellent fresh eating qualities, in addition to desirable brining characteristic."

 Mr. Fuzzy has chosen to try a number of kinds of sweet peppers this year. The Royal Black description was just too enticing to pass up: "88 days. (purple > red with purple-black stripes) Tasty, hot, and elegant. [Introduced in 1995 by SESE. Original seed sent by Carolyn Male.] 'Royal Black' makes a beautiful backdrop for a bed of flowers. For culinary use, the red fruits make a convincing and long lasting impression on the palate - definitely on the dark side of the "Force"! We use the fruits (both purple and red) in colorful hot vinegars. The foliage and stems are dark-purple, almost black with an occasional variegated growing tip of green, purple, and creamy white. The undersides of the leaves are green with purple venation. The red fruits add a further accent, appearing like crown jewels on a botanical tapestry of deep purple. Bullet-shaped fruits measuring 1/2" wide by 1-1/4" high, are borne upright on 3 foot well-branched plants, Foliage has an oriental quality." Certainly the leaves are unusual for a pepper.

Among the Vidalia onions that were planted as sets about a month ago, are appearing numerous volunteer sunflowers from the patch that was there last year. They required thinning to not choke out the onions but for their beauty many were left in place.

29 May 2012

Memorial Day weekend

Mr. Fuzzy left the farm for the weekend; Mrs. Fuzzy stayed behind as she had a recital performance on Saturday (she promises to blog about the experience soon).

The weekend was spent at Natural Tunnel State park, near Duffield, Virginia, way west int he very tail of the state. Mr. Fuzzy never saw the tunnel, however, as he was living in the 18th century in another part of the park; more will be posted about his anon.

The two mornings there debuted with heavy fogs laying in the valleys betwixt the numerous ridges. Saturday morning's sunrise is attached for your viewing.

21 May 2012


Dearest Reader(s),
Yesterday Mr. Fuzzy posted his labors in the garden; today he planted the first corn, "Quickie" - and less than three hours later, the Creator brought 0.50" of gentle rain over an hour or so. As if to add sprinkles on top of the ice cream, at the cessation of precipitation, a glorious double rainbow appeared in the eastern sky.

The old man feels blessed.

20 May 2012


The first pass - breaking the ground and loosening the weeds... and finding all the big stones.

Last summer's compost spread on the freshly turned soil.

Compost worked into the soil

The final step before seeding - smoothing and leveling. It took almost five hours to ready this 9 x 25 foot patch - and Mr. Fuzzy is feeling his age right now... will save the seeding until tomorrow when hopefully he will still be able to bend over.

Mycelium in the compost which will greatly enhance uptake of the nutrients in the soil and generally aid plant health.

Chillington hoe from Uganda on the left and a normal American hoe on the right. The heft of the Chillington hoe breaks through the hardest clay like a knife through butter. The long and stout handle provides plenty of leverage to pry out the infamous Floyd county white quartz and weeds with deep tap roots such as burdock. Mr. Fuzzy only uses the standard hoe for "garden variety" weeding..

18 May 2012

the Raid at Martin's Station

A photo from last Saturday's night raid, which recreates the 1775 Cherokee attack.

Mrs. Fuzzy will write more about it and Mr. Fuzzy will illustrate her text.

17 May 2012


The image says it all. Thank you, Virginia Department of Forestry for the recognition.

07 May 2012

Colonial Trade Fair at Fort Frederick, Maryland

Orange boys

The bed is occupied day and night; humans at night, felines in the day. Here are the three orange boys taking an after breakfast nap: (l to r) Chetworth, Buster, Freddie.

06 May 2012

We have lost a friend and a treasure of the commuity

Albert preserved farmland for future generations to see

The former Floyd County educator, who died Saturday, preserved some 250 acres.

Thanks to Nola Shelor Albert, there's a good chance that a century from now, children will be playing in the creek on the 150-year-old Floyd County farm she helped preserve.
A fixture of community life in Floyd, Albert died unexpectedly Saturday morning of complications from surgery. She was 84.
"She was a wonderful person," JoAnn Maberry said. "We are all just crushed to hear it."
Maberry said she worked with Albert for more than 20 years in the Floyd County school system, where Albert shaped the minds and habits of generations of children.
And now, thanks to a vision for the future that included preserving the best of the past, at least 250 acres of the land Albert loved will remain to remind all who see it of the importance of rural heritage and culture.
Albert worked 43 years as a business education teacher and then a guidance counselor at Floyd County High School. To the end of her life, former students - some of them getting on in their own years - would come up to her on the street to talk.
"People knew her," said Chris Thompson, who worked with Albert for nearly a decade through the Community Foundation of the New River Valley. "She was a really terrific lady."
A dedicated community volunteer, even into her 80s, Albert was known as forthright, and even opinionated. But in a good way.
"She always told you what she thought," Thompson said. "She was totally out there, and you could be totally out there with her."
And the community respected her opinions.
It took diligence and courage for Albert to place a conservation easement on 250 acres of her farmland in 2009, said Elizabeth Obenshain, former director of the New River Land Trust.
Voluntarily devaluing large tracts of land in a growing country can be a hard sell to landowners. But it was worth it to Albert.
"She was so concerned about Floyd County losing its farmland and seeing it partitioned off into small lots," Obenshain said.
When Albert took that step, it saved her land from the threat of development. But, Obenshain said, it did more than that. It made persuading others in Floyd County to conserve their land a little easier.
The old Shelor homeplace where Albert lived off Canning Factory Road was built on the bones of the original cabin that her great-grandfather James Floyd Shelor moved onto the property in the 1860s, according to a piece Obenshain wrote in 2009 for the land trust's newsletter.

Preparing for the 18th Century

This time last year we were at Historic Martin's Station for their spring reenactment and I felt rather poorly dressed. It wasn't that I didn't have a beautiful, correct, and appropriate gown... It was that it didn't fit any more, my shoes were too narrow for all day comfort, and I had no idea how much the standard in women's clothing had progressed on the decade or more since I assembled my kit.

So, I swore to loose some weight and fit myself into that dress by autumn's event. HA! That was a total fail. Now it is the start of another reenacting season and the dress still doesn't fit, despite loosing 15 pounds, but it is close enough that I can rework it for use. And that, dear reader, is why I have sprouted a needle in my right hand and spent every possible moment mending and improving my kit. Two new gowns are in the works, my shifts have been modified to reflect new research (thanks to Andrew Gaerte at Fort Pitt Museum for the education,) and small items are being replaced for a more pleasing experience.

Photos will be coming in future posts, K. and P., but to start things off, here are some showing my most significant impediment to getting the work done. The object in contention is an apron made of old linen I picked up in Scotland. Miss Lilly seemed to think it needed antiquing.

04 May 2012

a sure sign of SUMMER

Its hard to believe but the Fuzzies saw fireflies tonight. No, neither had been imbibing in distilled spirits... and it is not the end of the first week of May.

Mr. Fuzzy trusts that you are not expecting to see a photograph of the fireflies in operation.

02 May 2012

Its too bloomin hot!

Yesterday in Blacksburg, Virginia, the closest weather reporting station to Stratheden, a record high low temperature of 59F was set. Although cooler here due to the higher elevation, the difference was small. The days are above 80F already. The drought of several weeks ago has been broken with several rains (although it is time for another); the county south of us has received considerable rain in the last few days and although we can see the clouds and perhaps hear the thunder, we do not share the rainfall.

Some dogwoods are miraculously still holding their blooms. And new species, such as locust, are now in their floral dressings. Mr. Fuzzy has never witnessed locusts with so many blooms (see photograph).

Likewise the cultivated flowers are performing well. The clematis improves every year, responding to gentle care. The heat has brought the poppies into a very early bloom, ah, they are so gorgeous.