25 June 2012

Picture Sizes

I should like to apologies for the mean size of the photos I often post. If they follow the text it means they are something I've photographed with my fancy new phone whilst going about my daily business. I have no control over the size, placement, or order of the photographs when I then take a break from laboring to write to you via this miraculous device.

Posts with pictures interspersed with the text, such as the Martin's Station post, are written on my 'big' but hugely annoying laptop. (It has gotten very creaky.)

If I carry my regular camera I will forget to share these things with you so I hope you will appreciate my intent to share things as they happen even if the photos are dinky.

21 June 2012

Frog Eggs!

Our anemic pond which refuses both to hold water or completely dry out so we can line it has been showing signs of amphibian habitation. Most nights we hear a frog or two chatting with the ones on the near creek. I have even heard the distinctive "plunk!" when they jump into the water to evade chickens and cats.

Today Mr. Fuzzy's keen eyes noticed a mass of eggs at the water's edge. There is rain in our forecast so perhaps there is hope for the tadpoles survival.

The birds sure would like that. They love eating toads

20 June 2012

Lettuce Eat

But before we do, photograph it.

Garden Workhorses

When you get into the organic gardening groove you begin to see things a little differently.


Planting outside a fence is especially precarious business when you have dozens of chickens marauding about in search of a new place to dig worms. My previous solution was to use ugly garden mesh held up with hrade stales but I have since found 24" prefab picket fencing. I think it looks nice enough and the chickens think it looks impenetrable. The mint in the photo below was almost gone six weeks ago.

This morning, when I opened another roll of fencing from the stash I keep in the garden what did I find but 100 newly hatched spiders still in the fluff that surrounds an egg case. Now, you all might be thinking "eek!" but my first thought was "more pest eaters!!!!!"

I will post again when this new bit of decorative planting is complete.

19 June 2012

gardens in full swing

The decorative garden around the patio and the food gardens are in full swing with these hot (81F today) summer days. The heavens have been merciful and yielded rains just when needed. Yesterday a brief downpour was a delight for the plant life.

This corn is a rare heirloom developed by the Cherokees, "Hickory King." Our source, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange says "85/110 days. [Pre-1875.] In the hills and hollows of Virginia this corn is still appreciated as a roasting and hominy corn. It is considered the best variety for hominy because the skin of the kernel is easily removed by soaking. Also good for grits, corn meal and flour. Makes a nice roasting corn (the old fashioned way of eating corn on the cob)... This variety grows extremely tall. Our stalks reach 12'. Some people use this variety for providing support for pole beans. Produces about 2 ears per stalk. Ears have very large, flat, creamy white kernels. Husks are tighter than most varieties and give excellent protection from beetles and earworm. Has good tolerance to northern leaf blights (H. turicum) and southern leaf blight."

The "Alibi" cucumbers, which were transplanted only The "Alibi" cucumbers transplanted just16 days ago are already blooming. Their neighbors in the garden, "Tender Grey" squash, are beginning to bloom as well (photo to the right). The Fuzzies planted "Tender Grey" a couple of years ago and it was a runaway success. The instructions said to let the fruits reach 24 ounces or more before picking; and indeed, they were correct as the flavor develops with size. Some of the tastiest weighed over 32 ounces. Mr. Fuzzy planted them last year but they were overwhelmed by insects, alas, We hope for better this year.

A few of the "Espanola" chile plants are also blooming even though the plants are still only four inches tall. Ah, how we long for fresh New Mexico chiles on the table...

The patio gardens have been under Mrs. Fuzzy's watchful eye and are stunning the eye with beauty.

16 June 2012

baling out

Ah, the time has come, the bales have dried after Monday night's rain and the farmer who buys our hay is loading it up right now; looks like we may have exceeded last year's yield.

The forecast is for rain on Monday night or Tuesday so Mr. Fuzzy will set out the remaining sweet and bell pepper plants this afternoon. Most of the seedlings transplanted last weekend are doing well; the cukes and squashes planted a fortnight ago have grown very nicely, thank you.. One Edmundton cucumber has a bloom on it today.

So far, so good. But never count your cucumbers before they are pickled.

08 June 2012

making hay whilst the sun shineth

The hay has prospered this season from abundant moisture as well as abundant sun light. Some farmers starting mowing two weeks ago but the wet weather and dodgy forecasts caused many to await their time with patience. Today it was sunny, dry and 75F - with a forecast for dry days in the immediate future and so Bob came with his sickle mower and made quick work of the large pasture. A day or two to dry and then bale.

Today would have been my father's 95th birthday - but he barely lived past retirement. Pop, I've been thinking about you all day. Thanks for so much.

07 June 2012

fruits of Mrs. Fuzzy's labours

Mrs. Fuzzy has worked miracles with some of the patio plants we inherited with the farm.

06 June 2012

May Reenacting Roundup- Part 1

That should be me in those stocks.
Dearest reader, specifically P of KY, you will just have to forgive me. You see, I really hate using this computer and have not felt up to fighting it in order to write to you. The phone app which I occasionally use to make an impromptu post is not at all convenient to writing these longer, prettier, ones. So.... I avoid this beastly machine until I am forced to get attached to it. 

That said, let me get on to telling you about some of our adventures in centuries past. The day is cold and foggy with intermittent rain so there are few activities more suited to the weather than telling you a story or two about the Raid at Historic Martin's Station, 2012.

Mr. Fuzzy is fond of regaling you with tales of indians and battles illustrated to make you feel as though you are peering into times past.  I find the people watching at these events to be equally amusing, sometimes more so. Here are some scenes from the visitor center. You'll see that Cherokee warrior in context later on but what you should really notice are the funny looks from the visitors. These guys commit themselves to dressing like the people they portray and make no bones about it. Painted from head to toe, they are the number one object of outright gawking. Each year someone who does not understand that this is how native men dressed complains to the site's management about how 'offensive' it is to see these half naked boys running around. Their ancestors probably thought the same thing. I think the guys take such complaints as a compliment.

The overall quality of impression is very good at this event and is constantly improving. The spring raid draws several hundred participants who are all interested in creating a believable backdrop to the primary event. A few hold to old ideas but the "progressive" faction has definitely shamed most into making an increased effort, at least in personal adornment. Camps, however, are mostly set up for the comfort of their inhabitants.

We saw camps with multiple stoves, braziers, storage rooms, and a LOT of furniture. Indeed, people continue to load up dedicated trailers so as to be a little more comfortable over the weekend. We Fuzzys, however, prefer to enjoy the rest of the grounds! In years past, we have traveled with a French style campaign tent suitable to all the historical periods we have enjoyed from late medieval through the eighteenth century. It had bells at both ends, entry from the side, and a twelve foot ridge pole... and it was COLD in the morning... and yours truly couldn't reach anything conveniently hung from that ridge pole. This year, we downsized.
That is our brand new used wedge tent. (God bless you, Maurice!) Not the tiniest one but not too big either. It is just tall enough for Mr. Fuzzy to comfortably stand, has a single bell at the back, and goes up faster than we could get the old one laid out. Being lower, it is also warmer in the morning. In the background you can see the mansion made for two our neighbors erect. They feed half the county breakfast, so I suppose it is justified. unlike most, we do not dig a fire pit for ourselves preferring, instead, to creep into the woods and use the communal fire in the hunter's camp. We not only downsized out tent, but everything we take along. There is great joy in knowing we can pack the vehicle in about 30 minutes if we need to do so.

"We upgrade something every year."

All sorts of people come through the hunter's camp. It isn't all that difficult to find yourself there... a woodland super highway runs right through it. Indians, longhunters, n'er-do-wells, hoards of unruly schoolchildren, and the occasional white woman are all seen from time to time. It is a wonderful thing because you never know who you might meet whilst savoring a morning repast. It is frequently full of people who know something interesting and, if you ask, will expound upon some subject of frontier lore and history. This camp is especially known for two special people: we have the two best, most dedicated, and generous camp cooks one could ever dare hope for in the persons of Tom Black and Carroll Ross. 

A jovial meal in camp.
In the evening the camp dogs are called to supper. Sometimes we are joined by honest to goodness canines! If you enlarge the picture you will surely recognize a few faces, P.

Mr. Ross and his conspirators are responsible, also, for the melodious ballad singing that erupts once night has fully taken hold. Other camps dissolve into the singing of more modern songs as the night wears on but I am happy to report that this camp stays in the 18th century by mutual consent of its residents. Even the most timid person who knows but one song is welcome (encouraged!) to sing. Yes, these rough woodsmen have a soft side too and are known to trill forth with the saddest of love songs, murder ballads, and ancient tunes played upon whistles.
Telling tales, some might be true!

Yes, it is the camaraderie of the evening hours that renews us all after a long day of teaching school children and half interested adults about life on the frontier circa 1775. Superstars like Mad Anne Bailey turn into their gentle, unencumbered, counterparts such as Mistress Susanne, caught enjoying the company of a still green reenactor. Mrs. Bailey reliably appears on the Saturday to tell the dramatic story of her life on the frontier, her sorrows, and her lifelong mission to bear the news of fallen soldiers home to their widows.

At the blacksmith's shop.
Throughout the day, visitors and participants alike are treated to scenes from the lives of the common sort of folk as they gather together for a rare fair, of sorts. The blacksmith has set out many useful items and around the corner there is an itinerant writing master who has set up shop in hopes of gaining a position- and much needed lodging -over the winter for he and his young wife. There is a washer woman, a party of surveyors looking to replace some men killed by savages, and the children of the fort have been given leave to amuse themselves once their chores are completed. 

Indeed, the whole place was swarming with children from a few months old to those on the verge of being admitted into the ranks of adults. This lad remains amongst my favorites. He diligently stocks the camp woodpile in the morning and afternoon so the cooks may never worry about its provision. The rest of the day he scouts for unfriendly indians. Alas, he has, like so many, been wooed by their romantic ways and prefers, now, to fight with the red men rather than his own sort. Still, the boys are honest, brave, and forthright children who always return safely. How, we do not know.

View from the edge of encampment toward the fair.
Women and men venture into the stalls of sutlers to see what might be had. There were cloth merchants, hide dealers, potters, clothiers, indian traders, and even a stone carver for those wishing to memorialize a loved one. I, of course, could not sneak many photos whilst the public milled about, as I too was "in character." (As the lazy servant wench.) Here are a few sights around the event, many from my resting place in the stall of one Lisa Jo Crews, potter and purveyor of excellent delftware and the finest southeastern indian pottery.

Mr. Ross escorts the future Mrs. Delp.

Looks like he is recruiting.

Friendly native.

Ms. Crews and her wares.

Women of the fort take shelter in the shade.
Dolly portrays the lower sort, with Marty Cat.
A new bake oven and shelter in the fort.

Painters set up in the visitor's center.

You never know what you may find.

A kind longhunter.

Making butter.

05 June 2012

Baby Time

One of our Basketball Birds has successfully incubated two chicks and four more are expected in the next day or two. Here is a picture of the first chick. We don't have any light colored chickens so it must be from a Red Star hen as their heritage is very mixed.

02 June 2012

weird weather etc.

This very morn the temperature was 46F at sunrise. Now nearly 2:00 in the afternoon, it has crept up to a sultry 61F. This time a week ago it was stinking hot... and yet due to get even colder over the next few days.

Mr. Fuzzy feels like a proud father- virtually every kernel of "Quickie" corn has germinated and every seed of patti-pan squashes has followed suite. Huzzah. Now to see if the rains continue or another drought like last summer plagues Stratheden and its inhabitants.

Wishing you a fine weekend.