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Friday, July 21, 2017

Summer has turned hot

Time marches on, and here it is - the HOT season.  The mercury hasn't fallen below 70 for almost a week.  Daytime temperatures are in the high 90's.  Thankfully, we had a lot of rain earlier in July, so the plants aren't baked dry yet.  But we'll have to start watering our sad little garden soon.  We are getting tomatoes & cucumbers (and eggs, of course), the zucchini and squash are growing.  But the weeds have taken control.  Josh took the weed wacker to the garden, trying to at least get some illusion of control.

Last year, I put newspaper and wood chips around each plant.  That worked fairly well.  This year we didn't have a large pile of wood chips, so I just used newspaper.  That did NOT work.  The weeds grew right through.  Oh well, at least the plants we want are growing too.

Joshua & I took grandchild Ariel back to Ellijay, GA.  We visited for a week & returned home this past Monday (7/17).  We had doctors appointments on Wednesday & VA Dental yesterday.  Today, I can finally get back to work on the Hobbit House.

We went to a few interesting place while in Georgia.  Here's so pictures of Amicolola Falls.

And we visited an interesting farm store.

Lastly, I'd like to send a big Thank You to the Poplar Bluff VAMC.  The Dental Clinic staff helped me out yesterday & arranged for all my dental needs to be resolved in 1 day!  Amazing!  Thank you so much!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Early morning ramblings...

Quite often, I find myself wide awake at 3:00 AM.  Why?  Sometimes it's because I fell asleep in my big, cozy chair at 7:30 PM.  When I snore myself awake, I go to bed.  But I usually wake up very early the following morning.  Like this morning.

My grand daughter is still asleep, so I'm trying to be quiet.  She normally can sleep through anything.

I could blame my crazy sleep cycle on my back pain.  Or on my Parkinson's.  But the truth is, I've sleep like this since I was a teenager.  Back then, I used to get dressed & go out an sky watch. I love looking at the stars, the moon, satellites passing overhead.  I enjoy listening to the birds and other night sounds.

When the moon is full, you can see the bats flying.  Watch the lightening bugs.  Listen to the roosters crowing.  The dogs barking.

I don't go out sky watching as often these days.  My home life is calm & cozy, so I don't feel compelled to "escape" to the outdoors.

I like to read, and often my wakeful early mornings are filled with reading.  I'm more prone to watching YouTube nowadays.   I like to find interviews or other videos of people investigating ancient mysterious ruins or sites of megalithic construction. Sites from antiquity that have been covered in mud for thousands of years. Artifacts that are obviously made with high tech tools that are thousands of years old (or millions). Those things that just do NOT fit with the versions of history we learn in school or on the multitude of "scientific" programs on TV.

I've read Velikovski's books.  I think he was correct about ancient planetary collisions.  I've read many, many books about past cataclysms. Sahara green glass, vitrified rock forts, radioactive ancient cities buried in mud, giants, Baghdad batteries, crystal skulls, Fortean artifacts, Rock Wall Texas, the Mahabharata and other Hindu scriptures, the Old Testiment of the Bible, ruins on the Moon & Mars, sacred geometry,  genetic studies of animals and people, star maps, ancient Earth maps (like those studied by Charles Hapgood), the many pyramids all over the globe, cave paintings, ancient legends, other religions (I was raised Methodist), spiritualism, hauntings, UFO's.  All these subjects interest me.  My ex-husband called it my "weird shit".

I believe that truth is strange than fiction.  I believe we have stories of gods who flew through space because they DID fly through space. I think we went to the moon LONG before the Apollo missions (think 12,000 or more years ago).

I have always felt that something terrible happened to our planet at the end of the Ice Age. Horrible, deadly & destructive.  And there is now scientific proof that the North American continent (and other sites around the world) were destroyed by a comet hitting the ice shelf.  Causing instantenous melting & horrible floods.  Destroying everything with a huge increase in sea level (abut 400 feet). Flash freezing and burying the mammoths and other animals under feet of mud.

And these are the things I think about at 4:00 AM.  What was that civilization like?  How high tech were they? How far did their influence (or lack of) extend?  Do we have long-lost cousins out there in the cosmos?  Do they ever return?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Early June rains & mushroom picking

Well, June is finally here.  That means it's chanterelle mushroom time.  We are blessed with many patches of these yummy mushrooms.  I looked on line this morning & the going price is $100 a pound!  Wow!

So, Ariel and I get out our boots, long pants, and tons of bug spray.  Now we are ready for mushroom hunting.  And we head out...
Ariel & Cricket head down the driveway.

Peanut comes along too!
We found a good amount for the first day.  We saw many small ones too, so we'll go back for them in a few days. Here's our first day's haul.
Mushroom & a crawfish cast carapace.
Notice the crawfish carapace?  Ariel found this at the edge of the pool where the spring starts.  I was very happy to see this, because I'd never seen any crawfish or minnows in the spring.  Since this one is rather large, that means our little spring is a viable ecosystem.  I feel very good about that.  Since our spring doesn't flow all year long, I assumed the crawfish & minnows were only located further down stream.  I'm glad to see I was wrong.  

We've also been working on the interior of the Hobbit Housse (now christened Underhill). We're using a faux painting technique.  As the cement is rather rough, we wanted a smoother finish.  So, we are applying tissue paper to the walls & ceiling to give it a more finished look.  I like it, it's rather like the look of finished plaster.  Here's a Youtube video on the technique.

Tissue paper wall texture technique.  Here' how the first step is looking.
Sleeping alcove with tissue paper on the walls
 Rather green, I know.  But this is NOT the finished color.  The alcove will be a deeper sage green.  The sitting room will be a rich, golden color.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Family visit, grand-daughter is here for the summer

Our daughter, Tammy, and grand-daughter Ariel arrived last Thursday from Georgia.  Tammy will be leaving today or tomorrow.  Joshua & I will be taking Ariel back to Georgia sometime in mid-July.

While we're all together, we been having wonderful "family time".  We did some shooting....
My family

Peanut LOVES shooting.  She is wondering where the critters are...

Ariel and Cricket investigated a large tree that came down during some wicked wind we had...

We had a nice cook-out on Memorial day... No pictures.  Duh!

Yesterday, we did some dyeing. It was a lot of fun.  Friend Gena came over.  We dyed, ate, talked & dyed more.
Gena and Ariel

Gena, John & Joshua checking out the water tank (with tadpoles)

Tammy and Ariel collecting flowers for sun dyeing

We each did a silk painting.

Tammy's lily

Gena's koi fish

Ariel's interesting lady smelling flowers

My steampunk White Rabbit
Then we did some sun dyeing (it's really sun "painting", but heck, I don't name these products!).
Ariel's shawl
Ariel's second piece of the day

My rectangular shawl

This is a fun technique.  Wet the item to be dyed/painted.  Apply the desired colors.  Lay it in the sun.  Place leaves, flowers, branches... whatever on the item & leave it in the sun for a few hours.  The shadow of the objects leave an impression in the color intensity of the paint.  Allow the paint to "set" for 24 hours, then iron with a hot iron (no steam). We got our sun dyeing supplies at Dharma Trading Company.  In fact, all the silk scarves, clothing, silk painting kit & sun painting supplies came from Dharma.

Then we played with our favorite technique.  Microwave dyeing.  Again, wet your item to be dyed.  Lay it out & sprinkle dye powder on it, randomly or in stripes... whatever. Roll it up or crunch it up or wad it up... and place it in a ziploc bag.  Add a small amount of water.  Now put it in the microwave for 3 minutes.  IT WILL BE VERY HOT WHEN YOU TAKE IT OUT!!! Add some cool water to the bag. Now, swish it around.  Pour it out & refill the bag with cold water.  More swishing & refilling until all the excess dye is out.  Hang on the clothes line to dry.  Our results...
My yellow shawl

My blue shawl

Ariel's rectangular shawl

Another rectangle by Ariel

My greenish-yellow wrap

Tammy's tiered skirt

Tammy's dress
Dyes for these items were purchased from The Woolery.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fermentation experiment, cheese making, chicks...

As promised, here's the follow-up post on my carrot experiment.

I found a recipe on fermented dilly carrots I thought sounded good.  Here's the link. Dilly carrots   I cleaned & sliced up 2 pounds of carrots.   I added the dill, garlic and brine.  Not difficult by any means.  The jars are now sitting in an out of the way, dark place.
Dilly carrots with pickle puck & pickle pipe in use.

A friend shared the name of a local dairy farmer who sells raw milk.  Hurray!  Andy Birdsell has been a dairy farmer most of his life. Joshua & I took a trip over to his place & got 3 gallons of milk.  $12.  Not bad for raw milk.  Friend Gena Stout took 3 half-gallons jugs, leaving me with 3.  So, I made some creme cheese.

I like making cheese.  It's not difficult & it tastes great.  I know I've discussed making cheese before.  I've discussed making Feta and Ricotta.  Here's some images from yesterday's session.

Bringing the milk up to temperature
The required culture

Here's how the curds looked after setting at room temperature for 12 hours

Suspending the curd to drain the whey
While the curd is draining, I had to decide what I wanted to make with the whey.  I usually use it to bake bread.  I wanted to make something different.  So today I chose to bake a cake.  I found the recipe on Pinterest. Farmhouse buttermilk cake recipe   King Arthur Flour is one of my favorites brands. I can always find that special item I'm looking for in their catalog.  And I buy their flour for my regular use.

I substituted whey for buttermilk.  Otherwise, this is the recipe I used.

Friends Karna & Gena & I have been dyeing lately.  Mostly indigo dyeing & shibori for them, hand-dyed skeins for me.  Gena will be making a presentation on natural dyeing for the Master Gardeners.  We had a good time taking pictures & dyeing skeins for that event.

Skeins just out of the dye pot are green. 

Skeins turn blue with exposure to oxygen
Indigo & cochinal dye pot

Our source materials
 Three weeks ago, I set the incubator up. I loaded in 30 eggs.  Over the past few days, chicks have been hatching out.  There are 10 little fluff balls running around in the brooder.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Arkansas flooding & disaster preparation

This past week we've received 9 inches of rain here at Big Rock Farm.  Thankfully, we haven't suffered any water-related issues.  We had standing water in the yard for a day during the heaviest rain. And we had standing water again yesterday.  This really doesn't cause us any difficulty.  We have to manage our water usage - our septic tank can't drain in such wet conditions.  There's no where for the water to go.... But once the standing water was gone, we're back to normal.

Many people in our area are not so lucky.  The town of Hardy had flooding on Monday, April 30th.  Here's a few pictures.
Hardy AR. Located on the Spring River

Hardy is located on the Spring River.  This is not a record level high for the river.  The bridge you see here in the center of the picture was built in 1983, after the previous bridge was washed away in a flood.  That was "the" flood.

Our friends live along the Spring River in the town of Ravenden.  Their yard gets flooded several times a year, but the house has never been wet.  Here's a picture of the water level sign by the bridge near their home.
Water level sign in Ravenden, AR. Located on the Spring River

The Spring River flows into the Black River.  The Black is in serious flood mode right now.  The towns of Pocahontas and Portia are being seriously fit.  People have been evacuated.  The local highway is closed.  We can't get to Jonesboro due to the flooding.
Pocahontas, AR. Located on the Black River

Road sign near Portia, AR. Located on the Black River  
 The White River is also flooding.  Batesville is also being evacuated.
Batesville, AR.  Located on the White River
Thankfully, our circle of family and friends are all safe and dry.  Many people aren't.  Having emergency supplies and a family plan are vital.  All the preparation in the world does you NO good, if you don't have a plan for using them.

My friend Dixie Gordon told me about Smart911 on Wednesday. I'd never heard of this service.  Local 911 personnel can access the data you've entered regarding you family, home, vehicle, medical issues & any animals/livestock you might have.  Here's the link:

My friend, Gena, and I had a booth at the local Ren Faire.  It rained the first day and was very windy the second day.   I think we earned enough to cover the cost of the space.  Just.  Anyway, we did talk to many people.  I enjoy showing people my spinning wheel, explaining how it works & how textile really effect our lives.  Most often, the kids think of Sleeping Beauty.  The men who stop by want to know how the wheel works & the women usually ask about colors & dyeing.  We pass out business cards & invite people to contact us if they're interested in learning spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting or dyeing.

Me, in costume, spinning at the Ren Faire