29 August 2012

Hear, ye! Hear, ye!

Mr. Fuzzy continues the slow post-pneumonia mending process. He is amongst the living for most of a normal day now. God bless antibiotics! The rest of the day finds him exploring screen-based mass culture.

Day 2.5 of crazy ear issues is drawing to a close. The spray our MD gave me is helping keep the pain down to a mere annoyance and the general reduction in inflammation means I don't feel like I have the flu anymore.

"It's just extreme ragweed allergies."

Somebody send me a bottle of Allertonic! Debilitating allergies are outside the scope of my identity, thank you very much.

The good news is that I now feel well enough to concentrate on practicing some new violin tunes. Unfortunately, I'm having a little trouble tuning with these periodic ear throbs. All the off notes sound the same.

Happily, Mike showed me how to use the body of my instrument to evaluate a note. Using my tuner to tell me how off a string is, I am now able to tune up as well as, and faster, than before. Playing is a little more difficult but through the magic of music, I seem to be doing reasonably well learning these lullabies. The proper tones feel good and the off ones feel like a train wreck... so I'm just trying to keep everything on the rails. We will see how I have fared at tomorrow's lesson.

27 August 2012

Flu Update

Mr. Fuzzy's pneumonia seems to have responded to antibiotics and I seem to have contracted the underlying bug from him. Having a lifelong interest in medicinal herbs, I have decided to put a little of this learning to use with plants growing here at Stratheden.

My diet now consists of water, chile-infused foods, and rosemary-coltsfoot tea. The rosemary is from plants we grow on the deck and the coltsfoot leaves were harvested and dried last week from patches of the "invasive weed" growing in slightly open damp spots on the farm.

Coltsfoot is useful as an herbal mucus buster and expectorant. Rosemary helps the body reduce inflammation and open up blood vessels as well as tasting nice. Chiles, as everyone who has lived in New Mexico knows, is a classic cold buster. Not much can survive a good dose of capsicum!

If I still feel poorly after a few doses of super hot posole I'll see the doctor, I promise!

**Warning!** I am NOT a medical herbalist. Do your own research before consuming herbs that are not also foodstuffs. Rosemary Gladstar's books are a reliable place to start.

Wild Bounty

The recent rains have brought enough moisture to the land for my favorite mushrooms to produce fruit. Puffballs are easy to identify so there is no chance of harvesting a poisonous lookalike. They have a solid fruit (no gills or stem) and can be sliced very neatly for sautéing in butter or to dry for use in mid-winter soups.

As you can see, the chickens like a bite of puffball too. (This one came from right outside the basement door.)

24 August 2012

The Babies Are Now Young Adults

While we were away in Kentucky the pullets started laying! My beautiful white Americuna hen laid the lovely turquoise egg and a hatch mate laid the olive one.

As you can see, some are already up to saleable size!

22 August 2012

Contemporary Longrifle Show 2012

August is nearly gone, rain is bucketing down like it is September, and Mr. Fuzzy is out with a bout of pneumonia. The rain means I have an unexpected pause in my day to show you a picture or two of things I enjoyed seeing at the CLA show. When Mr. Fuzzy is feeling better he will deliver a proper report on all the excitement of our recent trip.

First and foremost among this year's pleasures was the wedding of Jim and Susie Webb, his long lost sweetheart. Susie made their bridal outfits and has begun making her own versions of the famous Webb bags. We are reliably told that the couple will be making some of the awards for next year. The whole Fuzzy clan wishes them a lifetime of happiness together.

Next, a quilled piece from Shawn Webster. I particularly enjoy the brilliance of the oranges and blues that he is producing.

Steve Lallioff had this funny fiddle on show in hopes that someone might have information on its' origin. The front might be cedar, the back appears to be cherry, and the finger board is Osage orange! A very weird but well constructed piece needing a bit of repair that I had to work very hard not to steal.

This next pair are now in my growing collection of pots and jugs. I have no practical use for them as one would hold a year or two of liquor for me. Yet... How could I let that lovely blue moon pass me by? Her friend may or may not be winging its' way to a friend for Christmas. I'm trying to not let my greed win.

Finally, another purchase that I've been waiting for the horn workers to produce for some time: a hair ornament! This one by Willy Frankfort frames a ponytail very nicely. He's engraving another, larger, one to fit over my braid when I pin it up. I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with for me as my only requests were that it be polychrome and wearable in mixed company.

As always, photos via phone. My computer is too cranky for words.
P. S. for Known Anonymous: Yesterday's photo was taken from an upstairs bedroom in the main house.

We have a Roof!

We had the first significant delay of the building project. Rain caused the roofers to fall behind on the job before ours so they arrived four work days later than scheduled. They started yesterday and should be done by the end of today.

The crew consists of several men who are installing the roof panels and two who run the machine that forms the panels on site as needed. There is a picture of the contraption below. We had no idea that standing seam roofing could be made to order in this manner and are delighted to know this part of the project will produce virtually no waste.

14 August 2012

fine colours

Near to the farm house is one tree which is always the first one on the farm to turn leaves red as a harbinger of autumn. It is already at work doing so - perhaps stimulated by the recent night temperatures around 55-59F. Generally other trees begin to follow in 15-20 days. It would appear there will be an early autumn; pray there is not a commensurately early frost.

The peppers of all sorts are ripening at last, the cucumbers are nearly gone, the first two watermelons have just been picked - we will see if the timing was good, and the deer helped me decide which muskmelons were ready to eat. Here was today's blessing:

10 August 2012

Rain at last (yes, that title has already been used once!)

It has hardly rained at all in the last month. Some sprinkles of 0.1 to less than that but all they did was raise the humidity. It seems contraintuitive but the morning dews have frequently been heavy enough to drip off of the tree leaves but yet no rain. Mr. Fuzzy has been carrying water, 25 gallons at a time, to the big garden for several weeks. In the last week, the ground had begun to crack. Last night, a small rain after bedtime but then a good soaker this afternoon for a precipitation total of about an inch. The trees in particular would enjoy another couple of inches but that seems unlikely.

 The garden, as is true every year, has been a mixed bag. The great success this year was the yellow pattipan squashes which were attractive plants, with high, erect leaves, prolific huge gorgeous blooms, and extremely fast growing fruits. Tasty? Absolutely. The "Alibi" and "Edmunton" cucumbers were also superb performers although both are now dying with blight (common here). Mrs. Fuzzy is very bored with transforming cucumbers into pickles.

The Hale muskmelons are just about ready to harvest and the Moon & Stars watermelons also may be ready. This rain will plump out the younger fruits for both... the Indian tobacco has done well even with almost no water. Perhaps not quite as tall as previous years but just as many leaves and they are of good size. They began blooming about a week ago and are in profusion at the moment. Various pepper plants are also maturing; Yesterday, Mrs. Fuzzy cooked posole seasoned with Espanola Improved chiles to consume with our Montana friends, Jon & Suzanne, now visiting. Those chiles were not as large as Mr. Fuzzy expected, however, their flavor was excellent. Worldbeater sweet peppers are almost ready to pick.

Tonight is forecast to be 55F. If the night insects (the ones that are nearly deafening after dark) are correct, the first major cooling of autumn should fall about September 10th. Stay tuned.

08 August 2012

Is that you, Autumn?

They say you can't predict the weather but as far as I can tell the old fashioned farm folks around here can predict the seasons as well as any meteorological institute. They have taught us how to predict the onset of autumnal weather, how snowy a winter will be, and when the last frost has passed. Recently we even learned how to tell if there will be rain later in the day.

All these things are, of course, hyper local. What is true on my farm may not be what's in store on yours and what works in these hills is unlikely to work in Oklahoma or Lithuania. What generations of mountain people have observed is that one phenomena precedes another in a predictive way.

And that leads us to Autumn knocking at our door in the non-heat of August. Right now should be stinking hot and yet we're already on the gentle slide toward Autumn. Mr. Fuzzy and I expect to feel that distinctive crispness to the night air about September first, which is very early. How do we know? The late summer / autumn bugs began to sing about the 18th of July which indicates a seasonal shift in about 6 weeks.

We also know that we should be having early snowfall, perhaps by Thanksgiving, and regular snow at least in the first part of winter. How? The late summer fogs started ten days early, have been good fogs, and are coming at regular intervals. Count the fogs in August and you have the number of snows in your location. Last year I noted that fog intensity seemed to correlate with how heavy a snow storm was so I'm tracking both.

We have added the Hillbilly Rain Predictor to our skill set now that it is abundantly clear that storms tend to split and leave us dry whilst nearby areas wash away. It's a very simple tool we use except that you have to activate it first thing in the morning. All you do is walk outside and see if there is dew. No dew means "rain today." We've had a lot of dew this summer. :(

And finally for spring, because I mentioned it, and the confirmation of last frost. The tree peepers and the ants emerge. You might need to give a little protection if you plant before both have emerged but you are unlikely to get a killing frost if just the peepers are out.