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Friday, April 3, 2015

It's been a slow week at the sign of the Fussing Duck...

Necessity almost always wins. I had planned to talk with my knee surgeon about getting on snow shoes again but not having made my appointment, having missed the scheduled one -- and having broken through the snow multiple times while doing chores on Friday -- made the donning of my big feet pretty much a no-brainer without medical approval. K injured his ankle Friday night, hurrying through the dark and breaking through the snow to check on the fowl after Moose alerted us to the presence of a skunk ( yay Moose! Good guardian dog!)  and glowing eyes shined back at us in the beam of a flashlight shined from the back porch.  When he got to the area where the eyes had been, nothing was to be seen, thankfully. But having injured his ankle, and being pretty sure of being able to do chores with my big feet on now that the snow has melted enough to allow the gates to open wide enough to snow shoe through, off I went. It was pretty much like always, did allow me to move about more easily AND with seemingly less stress on the knees and legs.

Friday, after breaking through and needing assistance to get un-stuck, I iced the right knee for a while (long enough to knit 4 rows on my hat...dunno how long in clock time that is, but I am not an especially fast knitter) and took a dose of Tylenol. Knee felt pretty darn good all day, so I decided to do the icing again today, even though I did not feel especially swollen or painful. We will see if that becomes a routine.
Been trying to focus on being a better steward of our abundance, a department in which I fell far short this winter. Pretty much our entire crop of carrots will be compost; we did not even get them all dug and what was dug and put into bins did not get moved out of the back porch (which freezes solid even in a more mild winter) and into the back bathroom as I had planned. They all froze and are now thawing and rotting.

Saturday I processed two of the varieties of garlic for the freezer. One was pureed in olive oil and the other just frozen, loose, as cleaned cloves. I have one variety left, which seems to be the best keeper thus far; unfortunately I have forgotten who is who. Since I cannot currently get to the deep freeze, which is blocked my indoor laundry drying racks, the garlic and several packs of slightly beaten egg are in the fridge freezer for now. I had hoped to be able to begin hanging laundry as soon as I was able to get on snow shoes again -- and way eagerly eying the warmer, sunny day forecast for tomorrow -- but then I realized that when we quit hanging, it was because the lines were failing and need replacement.  Put that on the list for the coming week, along with another shop light for the
Something like what we plan to install for line drying!
grow rack. We are planning to replace the clothes poles this year with "Maine style" wooden "goal post" ends and relocate it, as part of our updated farm plan. We are looking ahead to relocating the fowl houses and pens in such a way as to maximize "snow drift voids" for the future and our current plan will occupy the space where the clothes lines now stand. But until we get there, new line will at least give me outdoor drying capability again. I hope that Mallside has cotton clothesline rope, otherwise a dedicated visit to Reny's will be in order as I have seen it there on every visit.

Sunday brought the MOFGA seed swap, a chapter pot luck and my first long solo drives, which went quite well. I enjoyed the swap, though I missed one of the friends who was coming there to give me some seeds and thoroughly enjoyed the pot luck, though this time I went solo. Brought back some fruit and a couple of large bags of bagged chips that will be food for us and the fowl. My hosts gather post-consumer food from schools and other institutions for their pigs and often get donated unopened bags of chips and uneaten fresh fruit that is not even close to being past prime, which they set aside for people food and share. This is our second "helping" of chips; we thoroughly appreciated the single serving size packages of the varieties that we enjoy and the fowl have fun picking on the rest. Last time we got several bags of pork rinds, which Stormy has been enjoying, a few a day as a high-calorie treat, as we try to put weight back on our sickly pup. While I was gone, Tractor Guy made short work of the dishes and cleaned the stove for me. I am most appreciative! Now I am thoroughly motivated to get the rest of the kitchen shoveled out to begin making soil blocks to start a wide variety of tomato and pepper seeds. That, and working on the hexen in process will be the projects for the day.

Weather-wise, it looks like we are once again back on a more spring like warming trend. Though the lows remain below freezing, the highs look to average around the low 40s for the next week or so, which should bring and end to the basic snow cover. The massive piles, however, will of course take longer.

I have installed the new 4-tube shop light on the grow rack and made seed blocks for many types of tomatoes ...
tomato - cosmonaut volkov - f - 2012
tomato - bonny best - p - 2014
tomato - glacier - f - 2012
tomato - nova - t - 2013
tomato - mortgage lifter - p - 2014
tomato - oregon spring - p - 2014
tomato - saucey - t - 2013
tomato - heinz 2653 - f - 2012
tomato - san marzano - - 2012?
tomato - peacevine - hm - 2010
tomato - long keeper - t - 2013
and from wintersown:
Liz Burt ND 70-75
Marmande DET 67
Gloria van Mechelen IND 72
Manitoba DET 70
Livingston's Gold Ball IND 70
Golden Jubilee IND 72
Ace 55 DET 75
Brandywine Red  IND 75
Grot DET 65
Coyote (yellow cherry) IND 65
and a few pepper varieties which include some "rat turd peppers" from the MOFGA swap, a hot pepper assortment and a bell. I am hoping that the overnight temperature stays moderate enough that they will germinate without added heat, as our wall propane space heater is out of fuel and I have made the executive decision to hold off filling a big tank until closer to when the cooking fuel will run out. It is chilly, but not overly cold thus far when I get up at sunrise and the kero heater warms the place sufficiently until the solar heating takes over (which by the look of the forecast, we will NOT have during the coming week...) Also soaked the remainder of the asparagus seed that I did not take to the swap, and I shall plant it today. Really wanting to increase the bed, and slowly beats expensively!

12" Mighty Oak hex sign shipped this week to Ohio
I shipped a small hex (left) and have begun working on a couple of Livestock Protection signs, one at 12" for beef cows and a 36" ones for horses. We no longer are getting large piece of cardboard from signage shipping from my former place of employment, so I am looking for a source of good clean cardboard in pieces up to  50" square. If you are in central Maine and have a source for such, please let me know!!

Meanwhile, the temperatures continue to be above freezing in the daytime and the snow is receding. At this point, about half or more of my garden is brown -- but frozen still -- and our driveway is mud and ice. When I went to ship the hex on Thursday, Boo made like an icebreaker!

I am hoping to connect with the replacement clothesline rope this coming week, but am not in a terribly big hurry as it appears we will have rain, snow or some combination every day but one in the 10 day forecast. "April showers" bring mud season!