Follow by Email

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dark Moon Approaches

12" exterior
Welcome to the week's musings!  To the left is the 12" Welcome hex sign that shipped this week, to NY. Also on their way, today, the Protection and Earth Star Flower signs. It's been a busy week in the cycle of the hex studio!

All of life is cycles. Heck, LIFE is a cycle... and in an effort to keep things rolling along, I have adopted, some time over the past months, a cycle of release, of de-junking, re-homing, of clearing out cob webs and making room, passing along heirlooms that were only taking up space and using the cycles of the moon as a rhythm and timing for the hauling of trash and recycles.

And Saturday the Dark Moon cometh, so this has been the week of release. I passed along a tote full of video game systems and games, which had been given to me by a friend for just this purpose, as she re-homed the odds and ends collected as part of a messy divorce. She wanted to be free of the residual energies and I had offered to act as a clearing house (in many senses) for her extra stuff. The tote was handed off to a young family with three kids, a hard working dad and a stay-to-home homeschooling mom who struggle with all of the issues that I know well from walking in those shoes -- and who, also, enjoy the same blessings that my family did during those days. It was a great joy to be able to help.

Additionally, as I shut down my design business, I have been collecting an amazingly large quantity of "business stuff" that I no longer need... file folders in massive quantities, odd-size envelopes by the dozens, odd bits of this and that... which might prove useful to someone and most of which are still in pristine condition. These odd ends have been collecting in a box for several weeks as I have been putting the new workspace back together and being joined by some other odds and ends, made up a full, huge dog food bag to be carried to the charity store. Of course I KEPT all the paper. You realize that means reams and reams of it, is sizes from half sheet stationery to tabloid size for the printer... and various specialty papers as well as ink jet t-shirt transfers and the like. Having grown up in a house where Dad brought paper home by the ream and the stash often included large heavy sheets designed for drafting (which he taught) and even Mylar, a house without an abundance of paper is a very scary place to be, in my world at least!

Now, the collection box sits empty, awaiting the next month's load and the blessings have been passed along.

Since the local dump and recycling center is only open certain days of the week, today will be the day to carry the small load of recycles and trash to that facility. If you have been reading this blog for very long, you likely know that I despise waste and have been hard at work on "waste minimization protocols" for many years. I feel like there is still much progress that I can make, despite having far, FAR less to haul off than a typical household. The fact that we can easily haul our trash to the dump in the back of a Subaru, monthly would be incomprehensible, I suspect, to those living in many of the homes I pass on my trips to town. I see that much trash -- or more -- piled in bags at the curb on trash day every week at some homes.
I am still set on my course to minimize, and hopefully eventually eliminate, the collection of containers that are not accepted for recycle here. My center takes only plastics of the #2 variety, which eliminates all of the clear plastics, which are so abundant on the grocers' shelves. This week, I bought a gallon of mayonnaise, which is the smallest size that is packaged in #2 (the small quantities that are sold in glass jars at the health food store are outrageous in price) and we will see how that works. If it will keep well enough, even in the winter when we use much less of this condiment, this will be a solution. If not, I'll have to either make a commitment to making it or buying the expensive glass jars. Making would be my choice, since when I use it, it's usually as an ingredient -- in tuna salad for example. However, Tractor Guy often uses it as a spread, on hamburgers, other sandwiches, etc. which would not work terribly well with have to make even a one-egg batch each time. But time will tell. At this point, I have not accumulated too much non-recycleable plastic... maybe a big dog food bag full... and the quantity will decrease more when the last two large plastic bottles of lemon juice are used up and I begin buying actual lemons for TG to use in his tea. I am thankful that he has gone back
home of the Frigga fires
to drinking iced tea -- as opposed to lemonade -- for his go-to beverage, both on ecological and economic fronts, though I do wish that he could just drink water. I guess I was raised funny and I know I see the world really differently, but it just never has made sense to me that one should need to have flavor and sweetness in EVERYTHING.

And, to round out the week of release, will be my Frigga fire tonight, which uses up the odd bits of accumulated paper and wood which will burn in my outside fire place as I sit with the Ladies.
Maine Grains 40# oats, L
50# sifted whole wheat flour, R
On a totally different note, we spent Wednesday on a road trip to Skowhegan to acquire 50 pounds of flour and 40 pounds of rolled oats from a business I have been wanting to support since its inception, Maine Grains. Local grain, locally processed, organic (not certified) and hopefully the large quantities will last 6 months or so, and make the trip worth it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Spinning my Wheel(s) and Being Productive

The week started with a great digression from the big project at hand -- that being the yearbook for the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center in North Carolina -- as I had previously committed to a stint as a volunteer spinner doing demos for the much closer Page Farm and Home Museum at the University of Maine in Orono. Silly me, though, when I volunteered to do the demo at the Harvest Festival, I thought this was an event AT the university/museum... It didn't even dawn on me when I heard an ad for the Maine Harvest Festival that I would be working this large, popular event. Instead I wondered at the wisdom of the University scheduling their event on the same weekend! Fortunately I DID get a clue Friday night and though I was a bit panic-y at the thought of having to brave getting my stuff to that venue, I was committed so off I went.

Now, a bit of explanation... the Festival was being held at the relatively new Cross Center, which replaced the old auditorium in Bangor, and I had previously been to only one event there... a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas concert last year. At that time I was highly UNimpressed with the layout of the auditorium, parking and traffic flow. To say the I expected to find Saturday morning to be a massive "cluster-beep" is vastly understating my expectations. And my previous venture into the world of the presenter was at the MOFGA Common Ground Fair this fall, which was a most stressful day.
I am happy to report that, for this event at least, the Cross Center had it under control. I easily found a place to park the truck, it was a short haul into the auditorium with my stuff -- I was allowed to bring some hex materials to display along with my wheel, which tied in on account of the hex design painted on it -- and they had no problem with my using the small cart, dirt and manure in the wheels to boot, to move the stuff.

I spent a wonderful 6 hours spinning and talking to many folks who came through the event about fiber, history (though I do need to bone up a bit!) and hex signs. I even gave away a few business cards... hoping that some orders come from it!

The next day, though, it was back in the trenches with Core Sound, and with a few long evenings, I was able to send the book off to press in record time on Wednesday! Under two weeks to complete the layout of a 54 page book -- with all of the content being delivered in bits duirng those two weeks -- is not only a record for our collaboration, but made more so due to having been out of contact for 4 days after the nor'easter that took out our power!

During the time I am working on the book -- always a short deadline project -- pretty much everything else gets left undone. I did manage to squeeze in a round or two of laundry -- an essential chore that must be dovetailed with the weather during the winter especially when one prefers to "hang out." But having started the readjustment of work spaces at the end of the power outage -- but not having it complete -- has made for ever more domestic chaos during the week. I am looking forward to beating THAT into submission in the week to come.

Hex painting, too, has had to take a back seat, although a bit of progress has been made. I should have a small Welcome ready to ship Monday and the next to signs in the queue are halfway primed at present.

I did get the garlic planted yesterday (the latest it has gone in the ground EVER) though it still needs to be mulched and we dug most of the carrots. Carrots are waiting in the big cart in the garage for me to go through them, brush off the (hopefully drier) earth, remove tops and gather them into a storage container.

Frigga's Day snow, early morning.
Stormy explores early morning snow --
not as deep as the nor'easter brought, though.
This week coming should allow me to beat down the house work and complete some of the pending outside chores. There is mulch to be laid and I need to make a couple of pallet-and-tarp poultry houses. I have been moving the tent that the young layers occupy a bit closer to their final destination each morning and after the houses are assembled, we will move the turkey pen around back as well. Fowl pens will occupy the space to the right of the lilac bush in the pic to the left, for the winter and we will store the grain on the back porch.

I love the newly fallen snow when it blankets everything and still clings to trees and brush. And I am very glad that Boo, the Subaru, is back in the lineup, with a new starter.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Big Snow... or Upta Camp Without Leaving Home

Fire place in the snow
We ended the week in a mad dash to beat a major storm that was predicted to hit Sunday, with large amounts of rain and/or snow - the forecasters could not make up their minds - and accompanying winds. Our main focus was to continue moving the two tents of young hens north -- outside the electric fence, but closer to the main flock -- and give the free ranging turkeys and guineas a place to get under shelter, should they want to. After moving the two tent structures and turning so the both opened to the south, with a bit of space between them for the other fowl, we laid a couple of chicken wire and wood fence panels from tent peak to tent peak and covered the whole thing with a huge tarp, doubled over as it is really, really big, and pegged down with step in posts. We rigged a few more of the white plastic posts along the south, to form a opening. The whole thing was just tall enough for me to duck under for opening and closing the fowl tents and to feed and water. The turkeys and guineas explored the space at once, and though they did not occupy it the first night, they did take shelter there once the storm began. The chickens, did not have to be rounded up, but the first night some of them did hunker down outside their tents, by the doors, but under the tarp. Surprisingly, the second night they all bunked together in the Yolander's tent. I am very glad that I had already taken the time to band each flock so I can keep track of who is who! They all have reddish coloring... As a quick throw it together project, we decided to try to put a few pieces of spare wood and some old window frames together to cover the fall lettuce as a cold frame.

The storm began on Sunday, maybe there was rain at first, before dawn, but from the moment I arose to see a dusting of white on
...and it begins... early Sunday morning.
the landscape, there was no stopping the white, fluffy, frozen precipitation! Between the falling and drifting snow, and the considerable wind, chores were interesting and more so on Monday. Though the snow stopped, the wind continued and the power had gone out. And the shovels were all in the garage! I had guessed a minimal amount of snow would
Later on Sunday, more than a few inches
fall, and boy was I wrong enough that possibly I have a potential retirement career as a TV weather girl!  LOL  I grabbed my sled for doing chores... and a shovel to dig out the gate and tent doors and I should have searched out the snowshoes, too. Drifts were well to my knees... over the top of my muck boots in more places than not. I got the backyard fowl tended...the new tent was rather weighted down by the accumulation of snow... and slogged back around to the original turkey pen, home of Tom, Lady Grey and Little Bit, and was I in for a shock!   Not surprisingly, the bird netting that Tractor Guy had strung over the pen, to keep airborne predators from snatching the final baby turkey, had accumulated snow and sagged to the top of their tent, and to the ground in many places, pulling the cattle panel fence in at crazy angles. I spotted Lady Grey and then shortly thereafter, Little Bit but Tom was nowhere to be seen. I fought my way in and began tearing at the former covering, fearing Tom was buried under the snow but fortunately there was a bit of an opening under the covering between their tent and the nearest fence corner (which was where I spotted the first two birds) and a walkway under the snow covered netting and the fence, which never quite leaned enough to touch the ground. Tom had been walking there, and soon called to me from an opening I had made near the gate. I was very relieved to see they were all ok, and set about tearing the cover mesh and righting the fence as best I could as I went along. The mesh still needs to be removed, and the fence fixed, but since we plan to move them out closer to the other fowl, we will do that all as one project, hopefully during the coming week.
blowing snow from the north added insulation to the back door

It was actually a pretty restful and enjoyable time, much like an enforced vacation and like I imagine many of my fellow Mainers experience when they go to their camps "to get away" for a bit... except that I didn't have the hassle of hauling food and gear anywhere. Having lived off grid for quite a few years, the lack of electronic entertainment and electric lighting has never been a problem for me. Not having a stream nearby from which to haul water, on the other hand, was somewhat vexing. And I never had to figure out the water issue for flushing the outhouse, either!  LOL  We do store water, and fortunately have a relatively nearby neighbor who was wiling to run her generator to power her pump for us to refill the jugs once. Tractor Guy did have a good idea, late in the outage, of shoveling snow into canning kettles to melt on the stove for flushing and washing dishes. I DID add a bit of bleach, on general principles. And with that idea in my head, I also shoveled a bit of snow into a cooler to sit on the porch for the milk and meat that we bought on our town run on Wed.

Two days melt!
I had determined not to open the two freezers... one with meat and one with veggies... though we did use from the fridge freezer. Even the food in that one did not totally thaw, and operating on the principle that if it still has ice crystals, there is no issue with refreezing it, I am sure we have lost no frozen food during the event.  We did, however, loose the large picking of lettuce that I left outside Wed. night... temps got to freezing.

We also will have to repair one of the fence panels... at least... that was used to support the extra tarp over the fowl tents. As the snow melted, the "roof" began to sag badly, and I did not get the ice, snow and water removed before the concentrated weight of it broke at least one of the wooden members. Also, it seems that the cold frame has issues as well. The side supports bowed just a bit and that was enough to make solid placement of the windows iffy. Either they broke or fell in... today will tell.

Protection Hex Sign, painted by kero lamp light
On the hex front, I did discover that while it is possible to paint a hex by kerosene lamp light, it is not easy. I will be working like a mad fool to catch up on orders as the week ends.  On a good note, I did get the PayPal buttons on the web site to work, thanks to a tip from my server guy, that using the " for inches was what was making the new button code not work; replacing the " with the word inches was not a long or hard process and not only is the code working, but I have received the first order from the new set up.

With the coming of the full moon last night, and the astronomical cross quarter, we are into the days of transformation as I call the period between the end of October and the Feast of the White Haired One (the spirit of Winter) on the 11th of November. This is a time when I typically look for major changes to settle in to... physically as well as spiritually, following the As Above, So Below maxim. That, and seeking something to occupy Tractor Guy during the past week, motivated me to move forward on a plan to relocate my desk and work station in the former living room and to move our easy chairs and the TV to the former office/computer room. This was something that Tractor Guy actually proposed and I think it will work well... it will move the TV from the center of the house to the fringes and put it more in his domain since he is the major watcher and will allow me to consolidate my digital work, art work and fiber craft in one location. Being able to do this while the power was out and complete it as the power comes on, will both enable and motivate.

Tractor Guy will want the TV and I need to get my work station up and running ASAP as the unexpected vacation will have - as vacations often do - put my project with the Waterfowl Museum into overdrive/panic/behind schedule. The power was  restored Thursday. As much as I have enjoyed the time a bit farther from the world at large and the relative quiet (when one can ignore the neighbors' generators) I am rather peeved to have heard that the electric rates will be rising exponentially over the winter.

Our conversations, musings and blue sky rambling over the past few days have brought to the forefront several hopefully low cost alternative energy experiments that we do plan to implement, including playing with wind energy (initially to power and light a "kinetic art piece" in the spirit of the Tibetan Prayer Flags) and some beer/soda/vegetable can passive solar heating devices. Anyone in the area who has cans they would like to contribute to the cause is welcome to contact me. I will gladly pick up small quantities on my trips to the Bangor area and will be willing to pay 7 cents for each aluminum beverage can that was purchased outside of Maine and is therefore not eligible to be legally redeemed. I have stepped up to the plate with a case of Woodchuck hard cider in cans, to contribute to the cause!

On the health front, I visited the dentist Thursday found out I qualify for their sliding scale... apparently they needed me to sign something that allowed them to check with the unemployment office to determine that I am not drawing unemployment, since they are assuming that I am still "in the workforce" even thought I have SAID I retired, and I am drawing social security.  They also needed to see the letter from DHHS about my food stamp and MaineCare status, which fortunately did arrive and has confirmed that the case worker did perform his job, unlike the one I saw in August. Everything is effective again as of Oct. 1.

I am looking forward to squeezing out the time to plant my garlic in the coming week, though I do plan to set aside some of both the stiff neck and my newly bought soft neck bulblets for spring planting, just to see what happens if I can keep them that long. I may also "store" some in some moist earth on the back porch. This has surely been an odd garden year and I guess it's not over yet. There should still be kale and cabbage to harvest and I need to get the carrots out of the ground.... or mulch them well... as there are many freezing nights in the forecast.

And that is the news from Fussing Duck Farm and the hexeri for this week.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

...and what a week it was!

Frigga's day got away from me before I could write an update, so here goes...

Abundance and Prosperity
Poor Frigg got the short end of the stick yesterday, as I spent the entire day rewriting all of the web pages for the hex web site And, it appears, to no avail.... for the shopping cart is now more broken than ever. My server guy had thought that some malicious javascript was the culprit, so I killed off all the java but no go. I am planning, now, to just move away from PayPal and explore the store option that the Square company now has.

Earlier in the week, I shipped off a 24" Abundance and Prosperity hex sign and began working on a small Welcome sign, with a sign for Protection next on the list.

Much of the early part of the week was taken up with errands and appointments, many of a medical nature. I had to accompany Tractor Guy on his typical very early morning every-other-Tuesday this week, as he needed my input at his second med. appointment of the day and it makes no sense to drive an extra 40 miles just to avoid having to get up before dawn. I have to admit, though, that this single return to my previous workday schedule left much to be desired.

While he was at his first appointment, I hauled myself over to the DHHS office to try to straighten out the Medicaid (MaineCare) which was supposed to have gone into effect once again, retroactive to the time of my retirement. It hadn't, though the case worked had said the documentation would take some time, though the effect would be retroactive. Didn't happen... and on Tues I discovered that the office that I thought had opened at 8 actually did not begin seeing walk in folk until 9. I was thinking ahead, at least, and had my knitting and it was not that uncomfortable to sit in the car, listening to MPBN on the radio and knitting until time to queue up and become number 1 in line. I was seen rather quickly after 9, the proper adjustments were made and I was back picking up Tractor Guy in time to run some errands before his next appointment.

The next day I had my first meeting with the doc who, hopefully, will be installing my bionic knees soon. I am quite satisfied with the recommendation of physician given me by an RN friend. I especially like that Doc has a a good scattering of grey in his hair and his nurse is an RN. Unfortunately I have to have a clean bill of health from my dentist before the surgery, which may be a make or break event... all depends on how much work needs doing and if I can afford it in the next couple of months. I see dentist this coming week so I should have a better idea soon. If those numbers look good, I'll proceed to research the medical insurance numbers aspect, and if those numbers also are affordable, I will have both my knees worked on the third week of January.

That should, number once again willing, allow me to acquire the Livestock Guardian Dog puppy -- now named Moose (Moose Spirit of the Penobscot for long) that is growing and learning in OK with its doggy mom and dad and human mom and dad, my friend Michele and her hubby. We are exploring having K's daughter and son-in-law do some of the transport if they can and will, as well as options for us to tag-team drive both ways and for me to fly out and drive back Flying a pup is an outrageous expense!

Most of the rest of our energies this week have been spent on Boo, our Subaru, who is still not running nor giving up the bolt that needs to release for the starer to be removed. So, as winter threatens (and it is indeed threatening early this year...normally our first snow fall consists of a few subminiaturized snowballs that drop unexpectedly about this time of year... this year the weekend forecasts and bantering about various numbers of inches of snow accumulations!) we are preparing to batten down the hatches and see what happens.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Harvest and Seed and Changes, Oh My!

This has been a very busy, productive and satisfying week.

In the hex world, I completed and posted this lovely sign, a 2' Welcome sign that headed off to Ohio. Now on the painting table is an Abundance and Prosperity that should be completed soon.

Putting the garden to bed and completing the harvest have been high on the priority list, and continue to be though the protracted rain of the last few days -- which finally did turn into a reasonable nor'easter storm with heavy rain and wind, as we had been promised in the forecast -- put a literal damper on outside activities.

Not cranberries, asparagus seeds!
 After getting the ornamental shrubs and the cherry tree in the hedge row mulched, I picked up the weed whacker and attacked the weeds on one side of the strawberry bed and started on the asparagus. That was when I spotted the abundance of asparagus seed! The odd spring had me out of sync with the growth pattern of he spears, and I ended up letting several of them get way too big to harvest much earlier in the picking season than I usually do, since I love "speargrass" and do not think one can ever have too much of the stuff. But it appears the plants rewarded me with many many seeds to plant and plenty to share as well. This little plastic cauldron contains what I picked from only the first of several rows of plants. We will see what the nor'easter has left me this coming week!

I also picked the first half of the last of the parsley. Yes, still more of the stuff to come. This batch is getting dried. I eventually put the trays into a very slow oven as they were NOT drying well otherwise and fear I will have to do the same with the hanging bunches. The last picking, this coming week, will get frozen. I also got Tractor Guy down off his machine for a little "down in the dirt" harvesting fun/help with with celery and leeks. Unfortunately the
celery had gotten too hot and dry, apparently, during our week of summer and will have to be used in soups, stews and cooked dishes, as it is too tough and woody for eating raw. Celery is one of my challenges, and I shall try again this coming year. We have a plan in mind for a new duck pond, and my thought is to drain and refill it at least every other day (ducks are really foul fowl) and pipe the dirty duck water directly to the celery patch.

During the rainy days, I have been focusing on a continued mission to "de-junk," clean and organize the house, which has been neglected for... just about forever! Working in town, even part time, as well as running my business and farming left little energy during the summer and last winter... well things just got lost in the fog, I guess. I am thinning out stuff that I no longer use or need, and will be boxing up heirlooms, such as some of my old film cameras, to send off to the kids. Every month, in the days leading up to dark moon, I carry yet another box or bag off to the charity store in addition to offering things on the online free lists all month long. This week's focus was the kitchen/dining room and I am just about done. There is one cupboard that needs attention and the cutting board's accumulation of stuff... but the table has been clear for several days (in between being used for a baking marathon and processing food to store, that is), and the floor has been scrubbed. This process will continue until done, though when the weather cooperates I still have a massive amount to do outside. 

Along with the de-junking, hauling off trash, recycles and redeemables this week was of course time for the dark moon ritual. I held my ritual a couple of days early, as I wanted a fire and knew with a nor'easter in the offing, that it would be impossible at the proper time. Did some working for a friend, and successfully pulled the strings the way they were needed, so it was a good thing!

I did take one of the non-rainy days for an away mission... off to a friend's house to rake and collect leaves for mulch. I still have more I can do there, if I get the chance. The winds decided they wanted to play with me and I was not able to make the kind of progress I had hoped in raking and collecting, as I had to pretty much gather up and bag each rake full as I got it... and even then, many of the leaves made a break for the neighbors' yards.

We did, finally, declare the heating season to be open and connected up the propane wall heater and serviced and filled the portable kero, which has been used a few mornings. The wall heater is set to come on only when it gets really cold, as thus far I do not believe it has lit.

After my delightful "week at home" last week, this one has been characterized by running here and there, mostly for medical stuff. Now that I have changed medical offices, my new primary care provider is wanting to get a base line on just about everything and I have agreed to some of it. Had a bone density test and blood work this week, and have an appointment today as well. Also planned to go all the way to Bangor on Tues to pick up an Rx for Tractor Guy and carry it to be filled, along with picking up other meds and a few staples for the pantry, so I could take in a session of the spin and knit group that I have been hanging out with, but my town visit was cut short by a call to the knit shop from TG. There was an urgent situation with our dog and he wanted me home. He had tended to it by the time I got here and all is well, but I still missed out on the "carrot" I had been using to get me through the shopping trip. On a positive note, though, I can report that slowly... very slowly.. I am getting the hang of this knitting thing once again. The tiny yarn and associated tiny needles still feel strange to me, but I no longer struggle to get through a round of knit knit purl purl and completed my last round yesterday in what seemed to me to be amazing time. I still have a few rounds to go on the ribbing, then I will have to pull out the pattern and watch the video to see what comes next!

Still more changes -- simplifications not of my doing... My second computer monitor died this past week. I have been using two monitors for years to give me the screen real estate that makes it easy to work on big projects with multiple content streams, but no more. Since I have closed the design business, I have only one big project, other then for my own work, and I'll do that by swapping windows like I used to. Not having the extra monitor allows me a window to the yard, garden and fowl-o-vision! It is great to look away from the screen and see the chickens, turkeys and guinea flocks ranging back and forth.

As the days shorten and the cooler weather comes in, I am drawn back to the hearth... to spinning and knitting and soon sewing... but the cleaning and outdoor work also must be done. Each year I hope to be ready for the winter by the end of October and thus far, each year, the work continues well into November . But one has to try!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A "Reprieve" from Fall

Once again, Mother Nature has decided that it's not quite time for fall to arrive and stay and the temperatures rose to such that I am glad I had not yet put all the warmer weather clothes in storage. Once again some will get a "final wash" come Monday (which is predicted to be sunny) and this time I shall move them to storage.

Lots was accomplished this week, but as always, more remains to be done. I culled two of the first lot of chicken hatchlings...two roos that were getting very big and were hogging the layer pellets. I processed them as roasters (plucked, not skinned) and they will be transferred from aging in the refrigerator to storage in the freezer today. We have been letting hatchings 2 and 3 loose to forage during the day. The #2 crew usually end up back IN their tent, ready to be closed in against the predators however the #3 crew end up roosting next to, or on their tent but going out after dark makes "capture" and returning them to safe quarters easy... UNLESS they decide to roost under the forsythia which they did once this week. We did loose two more baby turkeys. Tractor Guy decided to rig 6 strand electric fence around the turkey pen and after that, even though he has slept more at night, we still have the remaining poult... thus far.

"House plants" - the
best kind - edible!
On the Great Door and Window Project, the majority of the work is done. Insulation has been installed and the curtains re-hung. I even hung my "The Witch is IN" sign yesterday and the basil, epazote, stevia and marjoram plants installed on a shelf unit in front of one of the windows! Hopefully, drywall will be up soon.

I have been attempting to re-work the shopping cart for the Dutch Hex Sign web site. I will be closing the account that the orders have been associated with and have a new bank account to associate with a new PayPal account, but the buttons steadfastly refuse to work. I am considering a Square store (though setting it up will require a lot of rethinking of format, on account of shipping issues). I do not have, nor want, a merchant account at the bank in order to accept credit/debit cards on line. I have seen, as a result of working with other businesses, how expensive that can be in the "off months" and would rather pay a somewhat higher amount per transaction over a monthly fee. If anyone reading this has a suggestion for an online store system that includes credit card processing, please email me at the.hexenmeister(at) with info!

Hedge row cleared of weeds.
I also have begun attacking the standing weeds with the string trimmer and applying my cardboard and mulch hay surrounds to them.  The cherry tree, forsythia bushes and a few odd trees have been readied for winter, short of adding the "rat wire" cylinders around the fruit tree trunks for protection from mice during the winter. I got started working around the strawberry and asparagus beds, and have collected a large quantity of asparagus seeds, with more yet to get. Hopefully, this coming week will allow me to complete the weed whack/mulch job on the perennials, or at least make a good go of it. I discovered that it is much easier to cut the very heavy cardboard (3 or more layers) with my jig saw over a knife, so have been making short work of the heavy recycled stuff for the trees and bushes.

Fourth planting of lettuce and late spinach have been making
wonderful salads.
The fall crop of spinach and lettuce is doing great! I did a bit of cultivation and weeding this week and a light picking. Plans are to surround this bed with a cold frame, eventually. Meanwhile, we have been enjoying salads with spinach and the last of the tomatoes.

I cooked an "end of season vegetable soup" in the crock pot and have some in the fridge for later... the very last of the 'maters, some onions, leeks, carrots, celery, peas, green beans and herbs from the garden. Yum!

24" exterior hex sign
In the hex sign world, I shipped a 24" diameter Welcome sign yesterday and cut circles to sand, prime and paint for two more 2' signs and three 12" ones. I am hoping that the orders continue to come in and that folks don't wait until the last minute to order for the holiday gift season. It does take time to complete an order when each work of art is painted to order and paint takes longer to dry in the winter. And, to complicate matters, I am not only planning to have knee surgery late this fall, but also to take a long road trip to bring back a much needed "livestock guardian dog" puppy from a friend out west.

I have been thoroughly enjoying this week, with my commitment to stay on the farm as much as possible. Next week, though, will have several trips to the doctors office (thankfully most of them are at the office in town and only one requires me to head to Dover-Foxcroft and the hospital for a test.) No, nothing is especially amiss... other than the knees... this is a new provider getting a base line from services covered bu Medicare. I will be glad when this running week is done. It is, however, the week of the dark moon which means for me that taking the recycling and trash as well as carrying the results of this month's de-junking to a charity store, are in order as well. This will mean one trip to Bangor, which I hope to schedule on Tuesday afternoon so I can spend some time with the fiber group at One Lupine.

With the attention I have been giving to de-junking and waste minimization, and not being able to  recycle any plastic beyond #2, I have committed to seriously minimizing purchase of products packaged in other types of plastic and producing at home those products that I cannot find in appropriate packaging (#2, glass or metal). I have already made my first small batch of pancake syrup and have a plastic bottle (#1) of commercial stuff to return to the store (bought by Tractor Guy the same day I made some).  Research shows that I will also soon begin making mayonnaise and ranch style dressing on a regular basis. I did find small quantities of each, packaged in glass, at my local health food store, but not at prices that make sense to me.

And that's life in the slow lane...

Friday, October 10, 2014

It's Been a Week!

Wood pile to the extreme upper right is ready for use!
I did not get to help out my fellow farmer, as planned, at the end of the week last. A fox, which plagued us earlier in the year, returned the continued loss of birds every time Tractor Guy manages to get a halfway decent sleep, is not acceptable. So the de-nailing of the piles of recycled barn wood got moved to top priority and I attached that straightaway Friday morning. I managed to get about a quarter of it processed before I came in for a lunch break and discovered a phone call from Tractor Guy, who had gone to town on errands.

Seems he had just filled up the car, which then totally refused to start and refused to give up a clue as to the problem. So my productive day got derailed into a rest-of-the-day rescue mission, which bled over into the next day as well. Fortunately there was an out of the way place that the car could stay near the station overnight and equally fortunately we have friends with BIG toys!  LOL We borrowed a friend, his BIG dump truck and equally BIG flat bed trailer to haul the poor car home where it is, as of now, not yet giving up any secrets as to what is wrong. Not that we needed yet another "gotta get done before winter" project, mind you.

A less than exciting thread of endeavor is also proceeding. After our "doctor" (actually a PA) left the

practice we had been using, I decided it was high time to move to an associated practice much closer to home (the original office was in the town where we first landed in Maine, over a hour away). I had my first "meet and greet" appointment with my new PA at the end of last week and we talked about how to proceed. My main health goal is to get my knees "fixed" so appointments for xrays and a referral to the surgeon of my choice were put on the list, as well as an appointment for my annual wellness exam. I am surprised and pleased at the speed with which this office processes stuff! The x-ray was scheduled for Monday and in just a few minutes, actually, I had a CD of data from both this visit and the previous one in 2011, to carry to the surgeon. They also had the referral visit scheduled within the week as well. That will happen the end of the month, though even if he agrees surgery is in order, I won't be able to have it done until much later in the year.

I am planning to go to Oklahoma early in December, to pick up a livestock guardian dog pup from a friend's dog's bloodline. A good working dog to help spell Tractor Guy on guardian duty is essential now that the predators have found us, and even though it will take a few years for the big guy to grow into his duties, I am excited about the prospect even though it means any potential surgery will be delayed a bit.

Here on the farm the harvest continues. I picked the last of the green beans, hoping they are ripe enough to make seed, though the pods are mostly not totally dry yet. I also found our few, struggling, sweet potato roots, and also found that some of the vines were not totally dead yet. I am going to try rooting them and over wintering, to see if I can get (a) an earlier start with them next year and (b) more "free food!" There are tons of carrots out there, a good lot of celery and leeks... all of which need to be dealt with. The parsley is still producing, so I need to pick a final time to freeze and dry and mulch the plants in the herb garden. There is a lot of mulching to be done, in general. Boy, do I need to figure out how to clone myself!

On another line of thought, I recently realized that on my trip to visit my friend who just moved into the state, as well as on the recon visit to her rental house in advance of her arrival, I passed through the town in which the Maine Grains mill, and their associated local retail outlet, is located. In my quest to use more locally grown food, I have been hoping to go to locally grown wheat flour, and I discovered that they do rolled oats as well! Somewhat expensive stuff, but if I can get money ahead to pick up 50 (or in the case of oats, 40) pound bags, it will be doable. Just need to get money ahead...

Tractor bucket makes an
adequate scaffold.

 On the hex sign front, I completed and posted this 36" diameter Heart Chakra sign this week and am on to working on a smaller Welcome, also for outside display.

And, finally, the last bit of electrical work has been completed on the window and door project. There is a flood light on either side of the window and door array, lighting the front area brightly when needed. And I DID need it last night, as I heard a kitty yowl and figured our "guard cat" was on duty. We had just run a skunk off in back so I was not sure what I would find when I lit up the front. No skunk, just the skinny feral cat that we saw leaping from the chicken pen last week. The growling was coming from our kitty and she and I ran off the invader.

Tree nursery
 Last project of the week was potting up the baby maple trees that had sprung up in the garlic patch. Garlic had been mulched with several large bags of maple leaves, and I guess the seeds were carried along in the mulch. Since we are committed to planting trees along the property lines and trees (usually) don't come free, these 23 volunteers will be nursed along for several years and then set out with the pines and oaks we have been buying. There is one more volunteer, growing right next to the foundation, that I will add to the collection soon.

Turkeys and guines come up for a treat ... and get underfoot when I try to do anything. Thanksgiving (left) and Christmas (right) are slated for holiday suppers. Their guinea friends will be lost, I fear, without them... but we didn't raise these birds as pets.

With the passing of this month's full moon I do feel some changes taking place. Things are beginning to FEEL more settled, even though there are still many "get ready for winter" projects in process, pounds of food to harvest and process and little visible progress has been made on the general level of chaos. After far too many weeks, it seems, of running here and there -- all for good purpose of course -- I am looking at a week with no scheduled excursions. Oh, I may run to our little town grocery or have to get tractor fuel or maybe, finally, a bit of kero for the heater, but I am actively looking forward to a whole week with nothing to focus on but home and farmstead and hex.