Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Gardening Has Begun

I've finally been able to get out and do some work in the garden.  Friday I spent a few hours working in the asparagus patch.  Even though I had to wear a down vest and hooded sweatshirt (and that was with sunshine), it felt great to be starting garden work for the season.

This was the jumble of dead asparagus ferns from last season I let form a bit of insulation for the roots over winter.  But now they needed to be cleaned up before those first, little asparagus shoots started showing their heads.

The patch isn't done yet, but I've made a good start on it.  Ferns removed and small weeds dug out and removed.  Yes, underneath all those ferns I found healthy, green weeds already taking hold.

Now I have to till in between the rows, put a little compost on the rows and then mound about 6" of loose soil up on the rows.  I'll post a picture of the finished bed when I get that done.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Addemdum To This Morning's "Business" Post

Thanks to all of you who commented regarding either having or not having problems leaving comments on my posts.  It was good to hear from each of you.

My technically-inclined, way-smarter-than-I-am daughter spent a couple of hours today doing some research and checking out the settings on my computer.  Following are some notes she left for me to share with you.

 ~  We've removed the CAPTCHA (I'm not a robot) confirmation previously required before posting your written comment on my blog.  That *should* help.

~  Google+ users have also been having problems posting comments on Blogger - go figure.  (This according to Blogger with no fix offered.)  So if you are using Google+, this could be contributing to the problem of your comments "disappearing."
 ~  Comments disappearing before being posted *IS* a common problem that Blogger is not addressing!
~  You can also make sure that your browser is set to ENABLE (stop filtering) "third party cookies."  That setting has a known affect on Blogger commenting.
Bottom line, there doesn't seem to be any easy fix for the problems you may be having commenting on my blog or other blogs.  Frustrating, I know, but at present this is all I can offer.

* * * * * * * * * *

I have heard from Pam Malone, the winner of the crocheted rug, so it will be sent out to her p.d.q.! 

Taking Care of Business

Calling Pam Malone, calling Pam Malone!  Hey, Pam, on my blog post of Wednesday, April 18th, I drew your name as winner of the crocheted rug I offered as a giveaway.

I asked that you send me your mailing address so I could get the rug off to you, but I haven't yet heard from you.  If you're still interested in receiving the rug, please go to the "Contact Me" button on my right hand side bar and send along the needed information.

If I don't hear from you by this Thursday, April 26th, I'll draw another name to receive the rug.  Hoping we can make the connection.

Another bit of business:  One of my blog readers, wisps of words, is having one heckuva time commenting on my posts.  She starts typing her comment, but gets no farther than it half written when . . . poof! . . . the incomplete comment disappears.  She has asked if I would check with the rest of you to ask if you've been having anything similar happen when you comment on my blog.

I'm having difficulties, also, when I want to reply to your comments on my blog.  I click in "Reply" and then have to wait (each and every time) for two to three minutes (arrrrgh) before the box appears in which I can write.  This makes commenting a long, very frustrating, time-consuming task.

Someone suggested that when I want to comment (to your comments on my blog), I just go down to the bottom comment box and write all the individual comments to each of you all grouped together in that box.  Having tried that I find I get my thoughts written to about two of you when the whole thing disappears.  Arrrrgh, again.

I'm thinking both wisp of words problem and mine are connected to Blogger rather than our individual computers, but I certainly could be wrong.

So, I'm asking if any of you are having trouble commenting on my blog or having other difficulties that you think are connected to Blogger rather than the system settings on your computers.  What say you?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Outdoor Adventures and (Lotsa) Exercise

Last Thursday, Papa Pea and I strapped our newly purchased crampons to the bottoms of our boots and set off to hike up the ice-covered creek near us.

You may remember we attempted this trek a week or so ago, but the mission had to be aborted because we didn't have any kind of "grippers" for our boots and the whole creek was one solid sheet of smoooooth ice!

Now that we were prepared, the creek was snow-covered and had a surface we could have walked on without our new crampons.  However, we did get to test them out by walking up all of the several frozen waterfalls we encountered.  Above Papa Pea is standing at the top of one of them.  Without our crampons, navigating these small, frozen rises in the creek would have been difficult.  They worked so well that with them, I think I could have walked up a 45 degree angle.  (Maybe.) 

There were spots in the creek where the ice had been melted and carried away by the flowing water underneath.  Here I'm standing upstream, looking down.  Even under the snow and (mostly solid) ice we were walking on, we could hear water gurgling.  Some places we were careful to stay right along the bank's edge.

When we had gone far enough (never did get to what we could say was the "top" of the creek), we found a spot on the creek bank where the snow was melted, and we could climb out of the creek bed and head for home cross-country.

Clamoring up the bank wasn't as easy as it looked.  My simple point-and-shoot camera doesn't do well on depth perception, but here I'm standing at the top of the bank looking down at the creek (from whence we came) which is the farthest kinda sorta diamond-shaped white spot at the bottom.

Arriving home, we had a quick lunch and then to take advantage of the beautiful, sunny day, drove about five miles from home to hike through a forestry plantation of old red pine trees.

The trees were planted nearly 90 years ago, but sad to say, are not looking to be in very good shape now.  Most of the lower branches have died off, and I wonder how long these beauties will remain standing. 

Nonetheless, this area is still gorgeous and although the hiking was a bit strenuous because of the "in between" texture of the snow, the scenery was worth it.  We took our smaller snowshoes thinking we might need them.  For the first half of the hike we both wore them, then I took mine off for the last part while Papa Pea kept his on the whole way.  I thought it was a little easier walking without them.  But not by much.

Beside the path we came across this Charlie Brown Christmas tree past hikers had decorated for the holidays.  A cheery little spot still saying "Happy Holidays" on a great day in April.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Tree Pruning Has Begun

I'm taking this as a definite sign of spring.  The past few days have been wonderfully warm (up into the 50s in the sun, and that feels warm!), full of sunshine and even making one think winter may actually be over.

Sure, we've still got snow on the ground (plenty of it in the woods), but it's melting each and every day now.

Papa Pea started pruning the apple trees this past week.  Yes, he did.

Notice he's even without the several layers of clothing that he's had to don when working outside for the past many months?  It was so warm he didn't even have a jacket on.  Amazing.

By looking closely, we can even notice there are buds (okay, very small ones) on our big twin birch tree outside the kitchen window.  I think we can safely say spring is on its way in the north woods!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Tale of the Greasy Peanut Butter Feeder

Many long years ago, Papa Pea made me a peanut butter feeder for the birds from a small black walnut log.  It was from a tree in our woods way back when we lived in Illinois.  We've been here in Minnesota for 45 years so that gives you an idea of how old this bird feeder is.

Every winter it hangs outside one of our kitchen windows where we can watch all our little feathered friends who flock to it for snacks all throughout the winter days.

I can't even imagine how many tons of peanut butter I've used over the years to fill the holes to provide some protein for the wild birds. 

This winter I took a container of lard from our freezer that some friends had given us.  It was rendered lard from an organically raised hog and should have been good lard.

However, when I used some of it to make some pie crusts I found it had an "off" flavor that I didn't care for at all.  So I decided to feed the remainder of the lard to the birds in the log feeder.

But first I mixed the lard with some peanut butter and sunflower seeds.  Then the next time the feeder was empty, I put some of this new (lard-laced) concoction in the holes.

The birds didn't like it.  Uh-oh.  What was I going to do with all this mixture I had made up?  I kind of ignored the feeder for a couple of days while I thought about the situation.  Lo and behold, the birds did start pecking at it and eventually decided it was okay to eat.  (Not seeing any dead bird bodies lying around, I figured the mixture wasn't going to hurt them so kept refilling the feeder until the mixture was gone.) 

Well, almost gone.  As I think you can see from this close-up shot of the log there still remains lard that dripped down the feeder when the sun was shining on it.  Since then the feeder has been an ooey, gooey, slippery, greasy mess and I have to practically wash my gloves every time after wearing them to take it down to fill (only peanut better for the last couple of months and from now on) and then put it back up on its hook again.

We store the log feeder back in a shed over the summer months, and I sure would like to get that mess cleaned off of it before then.  I think I'll have to leave it up until the days are warm enough to melt off most of the remaining lard . . . and then probably pour boiling hot water over the log to get the residue completely off.

Bottom line:  No more messing with lard mixtures for the peanut butter feeder.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Short Post - Announcing Rug Winner!

Thanks to all seventeen of you who expressed an interest in winning the crocheted rug I offered here on my blog.

I numbered the names as they came in,

put slips of paper with each number on it in a bowl, blindfolded Papa Pea (not really, but he promised not to look), 

and had him pick one piece of paper out of the bowl.

He drew out #11 which corresponds to the same number on the list, which is:


Congratulations, Pam Malone!  If you will e-mail me with your mailing address, I'll get the rug off to you asap. 

I've got to stop offering giveaways.  I'm tickled that Pam's name was drawn but feel so crummy that everyone else's wasn't.  If only I had the time and yarn, I'd get busy and make sixteen more rugs!  Honest.  I really would.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Crocheted Rug Giveaway

I just finished making a crocheted throw rug from the remainders of skeins of rug yarn I had used in other rugs over the past couple of years.

It's a hodge-podge, helter-skelter design and is colorful, to say the least.  Although Papa Pea says he really likes the multi-colors and the way it turned out, we have plenty of rugs so I'm offering this one as a giveaway here on my blog.

The rug yarn used was a combination of cotton and rayon and 100% polyester.  I've used these two rug yarns together many times before, and they make a sturdy rug that wears like iron. 

The rug is completely machine washable and dryable and reversible.  The size is about 35" (including fringe) long by 21-1/2" wide.  Depending on the surface on which you use it, you might want to pin a rubber rug backing on the floor side to avoid any chance of slippage.  (I sure don't want anyone to end up on back or bum or possibly causing injury to oneself.)  When I use these rugs in areas where they seem they could be the least bit slippery, I cut a piece of rug backing slightly smaller than the rug and pin it in place on four corners with medium-sized safety pins.

If you're interested in being put in the drawing for this rug, please let me know by this coming Tuesday, April 17th, by 9 p.m. when I'll turn off my computer for the night.  I'll draw a name sometime Wednesday and announce the winner then.  (I'm sorry to say I have to limit entries to folks in the contiguous United States for this one because of shipping costs.)

Anyone interested?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Seedlings Are Popping Out All Oh-Oh-ver!

The first broccoli seeds I planted on the 4th of the month started popping up two days later.  Then the cauliflower joined in.  This morning I saw the first little sprout of a cherry tomato seed (also planted on the 4th) pushing through the soilless mix.  No peppers yet, but I'm hoping they start soon.

A veritable forest sprouting forth.  Moreless.

Puny in size yet, granted, but where there's life, 
there's hope for greater things to come.

* * * * * * * *

Lots of sun  was shining down upon on us Sunday afternoon when Papa Pea and I decided to go on a hike to get some exercise and fresh air.  There's a nice creek that runs on the far west side of the property that abuts ours on one side.  It comes out of the woods and runs into a big culvert under the road in front of our property.  We knew the creek was still frozen so thought it would be easy to hike up it a ways.

Yep, the creek was certainly frozen solid, but we mistakenly thought there would be a good snow covering on it which would make it easy to walk on.  Wrong.

The whole creek was one totally shiny, slick, smooth ribbon of ice.  It looked just like a manicured skating rink, perfectly flat sloping slightly downhill.  We thought we might be able to walk up it by staying on the side in the snow, off the ice, but the banks were way too steep so that proved impossible.  We hiked through the woods alongside the creek hoping to find better footing on the creek as we went up the hill toward the ridge in back of our place. 

No such luck, and the going through the woods was so thick with evergreen trees and underbrush that it was difficult walking.  

In the woods, the snow was not so deep that we couldn't make it, but we would have been better off with our snowshoes, although again, the thick brush would have made snowshoes less than ideal.  

Eventually, we kind of gave up, found a place where we had to literally slide down the bank, very carefully shuffle across the creek like a couple of old crogglers, climb up the opposite bank (no easy task) and head home through the woods.  All in all, we still got a lot of exercise and fresh air so it was a good outing. 

* * * * * * * *

Chicken Mama and Gilligan will be here for lunch today so I made a rhubarb pie first thing this morning.  (No, not from fresh rhubarb but from a bag of rhubarb pie mix I had in the freezer from last summer.)  That for dessert along with a main meal of chicken squares, chicken gravy, cranberry sauce and green beans (boy, do I still have a lot of green beans from last year's garden in the freezer) and all involved should be happy.

Papa Pea and I hope to put in some work on next season's wood supply today.  Our back wood working area is usually too wet and muddy this early in the season, but because of no great amount of snow for us this winter, it's already dried out nicely.

We felt a real heat wave this morning upon arising when we noticed the thermometer read 24 degrees.  A bit of a change from the single digit numbers we've been having.  

The sun is shining again to it's gonna be a good day.  Hope yours is, too!

Friday, April 6, 2018

How Much Excitement Can I Stand?

Oh, ya, for sure this has been an exciting day.  First thing this morning I took my very life in my hands by heading out in 18 degree weather with 40 mph wind gusts (I kid you not) to drive to the dairy for fresh milk products.  No snow was falling which was a good thing because there were spots on the way where the wind was picking up the snow from old snow banks and blowing it across the road making near white-out conditions.  (What month is this, anyway?)

Returning home I got a batch of cottage cheese started and finished that up just after lunch.

Then down into the basement I went to sort through the remaining stash of onions.  They are really keeping remarkably well, but I did find about six or so that needed to go directly to the compost heap.  Ish! 

I should have plenty to last until this year's onions are ready.  You can see I have about twice as many red ones left as I do yellow ones.  The reason?  See if you can follow my convoluted reasoning.

Prior to this past season, I've always planted three 4' x 8' raised beds out to yellow onions, and one to red onions.  And no matter how I tried to portion out the red ones, I've always run way short of them.  So, in an aha moment (duh), this past year I planted two beds of yellow ones and two beds of red ones.  (How smart am I?)  But, being so used to having to go easy on the use of the red ones (which I prefer in many instances), I think I did the same thing this year and . . . there you have it.  I find I now have an over-abundance of red onions.  Make any sense?  It does to me and maybe one of these years, I'll learn that I now will have plenty of red onions and can use them as freely as I wish.  (Oh, the difficulties I do make for myself.)

Yesterday I got the first of my seeds planted and under lights.  There are cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers.  Nothing has sprouted yet.  Just kidding, it's way too early.  But that hasn't kept me from peeking several times today.

You'll all feel better knowing I got the Easter decorations put away today.  Papa Pea wanted to know what I was going to put out next.  I said, "Spring, of course."  He commented it might be more weather-appropriate to go back to the winter ones.

Lastly, the really exciting thing that happened today (no foolin' on this one) was the package I received from your bloggy friend and mine, Susan at e-i-e-i-omg.

A beautiful pair of socks she knit for herself, but alas and alack, found them a titch too small for her footsies.  We corresponded and thought they would fit me . . . and they do!  She was so very kind to send them to me.  I'm blown away with her even stitches throughout and just look at that tiny, intricate little cable running up the outside of each sock.  I am surely one lucky little ducky to have received this pair of socks crafted with her talented hands.  Thank you, my friend.

Well, with all of this excitement, I'll probably have to go to bed early again tonight.  Shhhh, don't tell that old insomnia bogey man, but the last two nights I've slept straight through with no wakefulness in the middle of the night.  Let's hope I'm on a roll.  A long, long roll!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

"Over the Fence"

I'm bound and determined to get into my snuggly, warm bed early tonight.  (Shall we take bets on if that might actually happen?)  I was awake for about two hours in the middle of the night again last night and my wagon has been draggin' today.

Getting ready for starting my garden seedlings was on the agenda today.  This year, the seedling rack has been set up in the living room.  (What?  That's not where you put yours?)  It's kind of a long story with which I won't bore you right now.

Truth to tell, it will be a very good spot for the seedlings to survive and thrive.  Right in front of a south facing window where they will benefit from real sunshine along with the necessary full-spectrum fluorescent lights.  The ventilation will be good in this spot, too.

To make room for the rack, I had to move one of the living chairs and a floor lamp into my quilt room.  Oh, my poor quilt room.  It's been severely neglected of late as you may note by the unfinished quilt top I've had on my design wall for a couple of months now.

I'll still have to pot the seedlings on a work bench in the heated work shop part of the garage and then carry them through the house in to the rack in the living room, but unless I do a Clumsy Carp snafu and dump a whole tray full on the way, that shouldn't be too big a problem.

Our weather continues to be cool enough to keep a wood fire going during the day.  After the sun goes down, we make a fire in the living room stove for our couple of hours end-of-the-day time there.  Until the weather starts moderating a bit more, we may consider keeping a slow burning over night fire there once the seedlings are in residence.  We would have had to do that in the work shop anyway where I've started my seeds in years past.

Because of still needing to put a bit of wood through the wood stoves, it's necessary for me to clean out the ashes again tomorrow.  We're burning mainly maple again as we did last year, but have found that by removing the bark (as we cut and split the wood before putting it in the wood shed to dry) from the maple wood, we have a much smaller amount of ashes to deal with through the heating season.  That's a great development as far as I'm concerned as keeping the ashes cleaned out of the stoves is my jresponsibility and the less I have to do that yucky job, the better.

Go ahead and call me a slothful procrastinator as I still have the Easter decorations out and about.

I may just start calling them spring decorations . . . think I can get by with that?

Well, if I'm to win that bet of getting into bed early tonight, I'd best get on with what has to be done before time gets away from me.  Again.

Monday, April 2, 2018

This Is What Our April 1st Looks Like

Here's my second installment of how a portion of the garden looks on the first of each month.  I'm going to try to take a picture of the same area on the first of each month to give you an idea of how our climate changes.  I plan on doing this through the end of this coming gardening season.

First, a picture of the view last month on March 1st:

Not much to see other than the heavy blanket of white snow.

And here we are one month later.  Not exactly ready for planting, but we're making progress toward that end.  Although the snow continues to melt whenever we have some sunshine during the day, I'm not hopeful as to how much will melt this week because our temperatures are forecast to be back in the basement.  Mother Nature's basement, that is, as the outside temp isn't going to get out of the 20s!  Brrrr.

I was checking my notes from last April and it seems we were having warmer temperatures then, and I was even able to get out into the garden by the middle of the month to uncover the rhubarb, comfrey, chives, clean up the peppermint bed and do some weeding of the first healthy green weeds starting to pop up.  Somehow, I'm thinking that won't happen this year.  But you never know.

I do know we had one heckuva snowstorm on April 1st a few years back.

Friends of ours were gone at the time and we were keeping an eye on their place.  This is what their deck and entry door looked like the morning of April 1st.  Quite an April Fool's Day joke, eh?  They were due home the next day (they did make it) so we shoveled and shoveled so they would be able to get in their house.

Up here in the north woods April tends to be a very fickle month.  Here's hoping my May 1st picture looks quite a bit different than this current one!