Woodturning

I realized if I’m going to include some of my artwork here I needed to also include Dave’s woodturning. He’s been cranking out the bowls like mad. They are beautiful and he is learning as he goes.

I’m trying to find different ways of using the bowls. Here I have fabric scrap triangle I’m accumulating while making a star quilt.

Just had to include this photo of Dave and Duke at the vets.  Blood work was good so Duke can continue taking his pain killers.

Ice Storm

On November 15th we had a full day of sleet and freezing rain. We lost power around 3:00 in the afternoon.

Reading Mendelwitz’s Guide to Drawing by candlelight. It got very windy that night. Dave said he could hear the popping of tree branches.

We woke up to an icy landscape and more branches on the ground than I’ve ever seen. The above photo is the front yard. Somehow my photos have gotten out of order so bear with me.

You can see the icy tops of the white pines as the sun is coming up.

Our poor siberian elm in the back yard took quite a hit.

Branches everywhere…and leaves. Many of the trees still had leaves so when the ice clung to the leaves it was just too heavy and caused so many of the branches to break.

Above photo is looking toward the front yard from the back path to the house. That is the sunroom.

The pine is sagging from the weight of the ice. That building is the garage/cottage.

Ice on the asters

Dave is cooking french toast on the woodstove.

These branches fell on the fence – totally crushed it. This building is what we call the shed. It is two stories and is where we store most of our garden equipment.

Looking toward the house from the backyard.

So many big and small branches – and a deep layer of leaves. We are still cleaning it up.

Duke is having a hard time getting around with so much debris in his way.

Looking toward the orchard from behind the cottage.

The cable we had installed in this siberian elm in the front probably saved this tree.

A big pine branch fell on the power line to our house (seen in the photo above) so we were without power for 3 full days. Our neighbors lost power for 2 days.

Colin helped with the apple pie for Thanksgiving.

A branch fell on the fence in the front too.

You don’t get to see Smokey very much. He always moves around too much when I try to photograph him. This is about the best I can get. He likes to rub up against the dogs. You can see Dukes legs behind him. Smokey is ready to dash outside. He doesn’t come in the house but does come into the mudroom to eat and sometimes to sleep. I think he usually sleeps in the barn – even on frigid nights.

Fall Color

Here are Len and Duke. This cuddling is all Len’s (the beagle) idea. I’ve probably mentioned that Len has thyroid cancer and Duke (the goldendoodle) is 15 years old and has arthritis. I’m not sure they will make it through the winter. Sad to see them in decline.

I enjoyed the fall color of the columbine in our native garden. I read that severely wet weather can dampen the fall leaf color but I noticed that this year was the best year for fall color since we’ve moved to the Shenandoah Valley. Other years have been very dry. I’m hoping for a year of average precipitation evenly spread out for 2019!

Frida

I’ve been consumed with a desire to draw and paint these past few months. I’m very frustrated with my rudimentary abilities. I know that it will take lots of practice and I just have to be patient. I’m trying! I ordered some better paints, brushes and paper than what I have and I’m acting like a kid waiting for Christmas. The paints and paper should arrive this Friday and the brushes must be on the slow boat across the Atlantic. The little tracking icon has shown them “in transit” for a week now. Actually, the little icon is an airplane so I don’t understand why it is taking so long. See!

These are leaves from around the house.

And here is my watercolor of same.

Len Len waiting for a treat.

Dave has been chopping wood from the ash tree we had taken down. That pile will be there – just off the patio-  for a while. He was trying to decide where to move the wood and we decided to save ourselves the work of moving it since we will just have to move it back to burn it in the woodstove. This will be good for the winter of 2019/20.

Where Have I Been?!?!

Well, it’s been a busy summer with four sets of visitors over a five week period. I have been taking photos so I’ll finally share them here. These first several are from mid July.

We stopped mowing a wet section of the field (on the left) last summer. The section on the right we stopped mowing this summer. It is interesting to see the difference.

By the front porch. The lone daylily looks pretty with the beebalm.

In front of the sun room.

We noticed a volunteer sassafras tree under the mahonia last year. The japanese beetles have been hard on it but it’s hanging in there.

Zinnias from the garden. I love this little vase our daughter made for us last year. I told her I wanted it to mimic tree bark and she delivered.

The orange coneflowers in our native garden started blooming in mid July and the flowers still look beautiful six weeks later. These photos are from July.

Dave bringing in the onion harvest on July 21.

These bitter melon are ridiculous. We could pick this many each week. I still have some in the freezer from last year. I gave some of these away. Dave took another large basket full to a coworker last week. I’ve frozen some and might freeze more. We learned from our daughter that you can take some of the bitter taste out by blanching them in water with a tablespoon of salt and baking soda.

These photos are from July 27.

I went to Polyface Farm on July 28 to purchase some meat and took the above and below photos on my way home. Polyface is in Swoope – just west of us..

Poor Len. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I hope we are keeping him comfortable with meds.

The only photo we got of our visitors. I’m on the right with my sister Melissa and my niece Mary.

Such a pleasant surprise to find these volunteers on August 11 at the base of the spruce tree between the house and the shed – an impatiens and a coleus.

I harvested these peppers on August 14.

I think it was back in July when I took some bricks and defined the beds around the plants in front of the shed. I think it turned out pretty nice.

Joe Pye Weed in the native garden on the morning of August 15.

Making our yummy tomato sauce on August 19.

I’m so sad that we have to take down this beautiful ash tree (on the right). The emerald ash borer has gotten to it so it can’t be saved.

$3000 poorer and down one beautiful shade tree. I will probably spend most of the day they take it down elsewhere.

Don’t like ending on a sad note, but here we are. I hope I keep up my posts with my photos as we enter the fall. It has been a very wet spring and summer. A little on the cool side, too. I’m hoping the valley will have some spectacular color this fall. Hard to believe it is almost September!

Native Garden

Here are some photos I took yesterday of our mostly native plant garden that was planted by The Natural Garden of Harrisonburg. Above is a little Fringe Tree. It’s showing a lot of flirty blooms and new growth.

The purple blooms in the left background are wild geraniums. The white blooms in the foreground are woodland stonecrop. The mass of green in the middle is bleeding heart. I read it doesn’t transplant well but this did. I think you can still see some of it’s white and pink blooms.

Most of the rhododendrons are doing well. There is one that was planted right next to a stump that is dying and TNG is going to replace it. Some of the rhododendrons are have a bloom or two and showing new growth.

Smokey takes a walk. I love this stone. I was really impressed with their stonework. That is a creeping thyme between the walkway and the stone. Most of that survived the winter. TNG replaced what didn’t when they were here on Wednesday. I wonder if it will ever cover the entire area between the walkway stones.

That is strawberry that covers the ground around the redbud tree. It has a lot of berries and blooms. We have to decide if we want to remove it. It is being a bit of a bully. Otherwise, we will have to keep cutting it back. We already transplanted some of it last fall. That, too, is doing well.

Spring ’18

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted because I broke my left wrist. I slipped on some ice in the driveway. It has slowed me down quite a bit. Good and frustrating at the same time.

Above is a spice bush we discovered back in March. I’d been keeping an eye out for one. This poor thing was engulfed by honeysuckle vine and bush. Dave came to it’s rescue.

You can see where the honeysuckle vine was wrapped around it’s trunk in the above photo.

It has a pretty little bloom.

A bloom on one of our Paw Paw trees.

The chokeberries we planted last fall finally bloomed a couple weeks ago. I was expecting more pollinators enjoying it. Instead, the ants seemed to love the blooms. Will have to investigate if that is normal.

They had a faint, sweet scent.

Samantha and her boyfriend, Luca, helped us unearth these willows back in February and March. I showed a photo and mentioned identifying them in my Feb 20 post. Fortunately, the honeysuckle that was on the tree hadn’t reached strangling proportions but they had to beat back a lot of it to reach the tree itself. Here, I caught a photo with it’s new leaves. A pretty yellow green that we can now identify in the distance when we look out the family room window.

On one of my walks around our property I found some blooms reaching out from a honeysuckle bush that I knew wasn’t honeysuckle. A couple days later Dave came to the rescue again and freed this Blackhaw Viburnum.

A beautiful white flower. I can’t wait to see this in bloom next year.

Another Blackhaw underneath honeysuckle. We’ll go after this another time.

Can you see the Blackhaw behind all this honeysuckle? Another that will have to wait.

These beautiful mushrooms arrive earlier last week.

Among the flowering Woodland Stonecrop

Len enjoys the cool grass on a pretty morning.

We’ve had a lot of rain this week. It started off with a bad storm Monday evening when we got over 2 inches of rain in an hour. The next day Dave noticed that our brick wall had finally tumbled. Fixing the driveway has just become a priority. It’s a good thing the plasterers finally came on Thursday and replastered the parlor ceiling and one wall in the front guestroom and patched up the walls in the dining room.

Three Layers of Wallpaper in the Dining Room

I just couldn’t take it any longer. Last week we started taking down wallpaper in our dining room. I knew there were at least two layers and we found that there were actually three layers.

Wallpaper doesn’t hide cracked plaster.

Seeing this 1920’s wallpaper for the first time.

We found a razor blade stuck to the wall beneath the chair rail. I’m confidant this chair rail isn’t original and it isn’t going back up.

I made the first rips and then Dave got out his tools and got to work.

We’ve filled many bags.

Isn’t this gorgeous. It is a block print. The ink runs as soon as we spray it with the warm water and vinegar solution.

Some evidence of plaster repair over this paper.

circa 1970?

There used to be a stove here and they did an awful job of patching. The area around it bows out noticeably. Fortunately, we have a plasterer coming out this Friday about some other work so we will show him this too.

doggie break

This is a good pic of all three wallpapers. I think the top layer was circa 1990.

Just as I suspected – the crown molding wasn’t original. We can tell because the first two layers of wallpaper go to the ceiling, but the last layer stops short. It seems to me it was around 1990 that chair rails and crown molding became popular again.

I thought the crown molding was overkill with these beautiful french doors.

This wall needs a lot of love.

Fashion might not be the only reason they put up the crown molding. Looks like they had to do some plumbing work here. This will have to be patched because the crown molding isn’t going back up.

Dave uncovered some patterned wallpaper on the ceiling. I think I’ve seen that patterned wallpaper is back in style.

I’m excited to get the walls repaired, primed and painted. I’m going to get a test pot of paint called Tomato Cream Sauce – a little bold for me but I’m going for a warm, cozy color as this is the room we gather most often with family and friends.

Photos of the Week

I’ll just lump these last several photos into one post. Good to get caught up!

Love the color of the leaves on our little chestnut oak planted a year ago in front of the barn.

Dave was away this week visiting his mom in South Carolina. Len missed him and would whine for him every so often. I’ve learned to ignore it.

Early morning frost on elderberry leaves.

A very old Norway Spruce.

It grows between the house and our two story shed.

Eggs and Chickens, Chickens and Eggs

Here is our eggs collection for today. Given that we have close to 20 chickens this isn’t very much. And it is actually a good count. For quite a while now I’ve only been collecting 1-3 eggs. That little brown egg is the first from this years pullets.

The chickens have presented a challenge for us this year and we’ve kind of just thrown up our hands. They were breeding like rabbits and we quickly found we had too many for our coop. They are free range so that is good but it was causing a problem at night. The young birds started roosting in the nesting boxes and then the hens didn’t want to lay in there because of the poop. I wasn’t good about cleaning them out and so the hens started laying elsewhere.

At one point we had more than 40 chickens. We sold some and gave some away and were down to about 35 chickens. Then last month I saw a fox after them. Did a count that night and found we were down to about 23 chickens. Boy, were we not paying attention. Then the following week Dave saw a hawk after them. Today I saw a hawk fly away as I took some melon rinds out to the compost. I saw something down in the pasture. Went to investigate and it was a dead hen. Why couldn’t he/she have gotten a rooster! We butchered 2 of the roosters last weekend so now we have 20 chickens or less.

Not sure my numbers are adding up right (or subtracting). The bottom line is we aren’t getting many eggs considering the number of chickens we have and we have a predator problem. Looking on the bright side – we no longer have a problem with too many chickens in the coop at night and I found the pullet egg in the coop – on the floor and not in a nesting box, but that’s okay!