May 26, 2011

New soaps (and the return of a couple of favorites)

It poured rain and howled a gale all day (again...argh!) so I stayed inside and soaped as I have done so much lately.  I woke up to crashing and banging, darted out at daylight to check on seedling flats (not washed way, thank goodness!), made coffee, and then hauled out my soaping gear.

Curing or freshly made:
I've been tinkering with a blend to mimic Lily of the Valley, and think what I came up with comes pretty close.  It's tinted with green clay and a swirl of white.  Then there was a fresh batch of espresso scrub (a titch less scrubby than previously, ground the coffee beans a bit finer), one of sweet orange (a simple treat: folded orange essential oil and the deeply sweet scented wax from orange peels; the essential oil and wax provide all the color you could want), a batch of calendula-lemongrass (with calendula infused oil and petals), and a layered lavender/chamomile batch, the chamomile part ended up tinted a bit green from the azure blue of the chamomile essential oil.  As it's cured, the flecks from the chamomile flowers have begun to show up a bit more, tiny specks of gold.  I'm liking the layered look and have a citrus one in mind next.

Tomorrow is prep for market day, and please please, weather, no more squalls?  And especially on Saturday, otherwise we will all need gumboots and sandbags.  Peeking at the island in the river next to where our market meets, I was reminded last week of 'dike patrol' when I was tiny, and seeing roads washing out and barns up to their eaves in water.  Though that likely won't happen again, with the dam and all, and I do love ducks and geese........ still, we've had enough wet weather for a week or so, in my opinion.  I've got buds on the rosa primula, and apple trees in flower, and I know the honeybees are getting restless.

May 24, 2011

Well that was fun. Not. (Email virus).

It's a good thing I run a bunch of different anti-virus and anti-malware software, and that I was lucky enough to see the start of a virus on-screen and able to shut down my net connection.  Last week an email-propagated virus attacked my computer, and the backing hard drive.... chewed its way through the address book and a lot of emails, sent a bunch of spam (including to me! how I found it!  I knew I hadn't just emailed myself).  Several scans later (over 36 hours worth of infection clearing, argh) I was able to access the net again and update my a/v programs and re-scan........seems to be clean now, but I lost a chunk of data, and a swath of my address book, and a pile of emails.  Here in Petticoat Junction, half of everyone I know has the same ISP or email system, and that cursed thing went round and round and round.  So, if you've tried to email me lately, and got no answer, please try again; I didn't dare reply to anyone until today, for fear of spreading the infection.

And a pox on the house of anyone who would write and propagate such a thing, I lost a week of time and reams of communication, and files.

May 18, 2011

Well that was fun.

We had a two-day windstorm (Saturday and Sunday) with a fair amount of rain on Sunday.  The rain was expected to be huge and go on for days--- I thought I'd get some digging in of a last few woody plants, but that didn't pan out, as the wind just would not stop and the rain was only for a short time.  The market was terribly windy, one of those dirt in the face windy days, with vendors putting out extra canopy weights and casting nervous glances at their tents all day.  At the end, one fellow's display of jams got knocked over and smashed, but luckily there were several of us still there to help clean up.

I noticed a bunch of trees down on Sunday morning, but what are you going to do?  Had to wait it out.... and found not only loads of debris everywhere, more trees down in the farm road, but also limbs falling had taken down one of my fences, snapped off wooden posts and mangled wire.  Which made a couple of does very happy... and then irked at me for chasing them out of the garden.  One hung about all afternoon, dog-like, as I rebuilt the fence, waiting for me to let her back in.  Hm-um, no.

I got the broken posts replaced, the wire flattened out and re-attached, and a few of the wooden ones removed. Cedar posts two feet taller than I am, and nearly as big around, are HEAVY!  I'm glad to be switching to all t-posts, as they won't need replacement as often, and I don't love using a post hole digger, either.  But so not how I envisioned using my Monday!

I found another stretch of fence down last night, though on the road not the garden, and there was other random damage, branches down, plants and pots strewn all over (me chasing an upended box of propagating foam in the windstorm must've been quite the sight for the birds clinging to the trees)... near the greenhouse windows, new tender growth was no match for the wind, but in the middle of the house, all was well except for the holes in the plastic letting rain in (and WHY always down my neck?) Haha very funny, Ms. Nature. 

May 2, 2011

The hilarity that is the blogger reader/google reader interface

Recently blogger lost all my entries in my blog reader (and there were a LOT, from science to art to news to science fiction and back to science)....... it's blank, empty, nada, nyet.  Which is fine, I had deleted a lot of them via the google interface (a person can't possibly read that many entries per day, Science Daily alone should be called Science Hourly).

And yet, when I post here the things I've deleted from it, that were on my blogger reading list... come back.

Ghost in the machine.

Snow again/yet/still...

Rain turning to snow forecast for tonight, and snow for tomorrow... this afternoon I was just counting up the days since it had snowed, thinking we might go a week......and....nope. 

This is the coldest spring I remember in many years, and my memory goes back over 50.  I am getting digging done, slowly, as the frost is well out of the ground, but on days when I get 4" of new snow, even if it's mostly melted by dinner, digging is difficult at best.  So bizarre to have a beautiful day like yesterday, sunny and nearly 60, and then back to wearing my down vest all day today even in the greenhouse.  I finally have species tulips in flower, almost 6 weeks behind! 
Things might turn themselves around at any time, of course, but La Niña is supposed to stick around another month at least,

 La Niña will continue to have global impacts even as the episode weakens through the Northern Hemisphere spring. Expected La Niña impacts during April-June 2011 include suppressed convection over the west-central tropical Pacific Ocean, and enhanced convection over Indonesia. Potential impacts in the United States include an enhanced chance for below-average precipitation across much of the South, while above-average precipitation is favored for the northern Plains. An increased chance of below-average temperatures is predicted across the northern tier of the country (excluding New England). (NOAA climate prediction ctr)
and so I am wondering about the growing season this year; here on the farm my average frost free dates are June 11-Sept 5 and if this year keeps up as it is I won't get any tomatoes and maybe no apples...I can grow the former in the greenhouse (and do now; brandywines and paste tomatoes, plus maybe cukes this year)---- but not the latter.  I adored the huge glasshouse at the Morden Arboretum but OY just think of the labor and upkeep!

In adapting to my lessened abilities after the heart infection, I'm tearing down some of the raised beds and devoting some of the space to fruit trees (hah! short season ones preferred!) and some to lavender (as the deer and elk will weed and fertilize those for me and they don't need fencing); the removed materials will be added to a few other beds to raise them for better accessibility, and I've begun collecting cardboard in earnest, to lay in the paths, cutting down on the need for mowing.  This not only saves time and effort I can't spare, it softens the soil underneath, and a few beds will be fallowed with cardboard this season; I'll post results on that, along with results from a friend who is trialling different weed supression methods including that concentrated vinegar and boiling water.

The raised beds were assembled with the innovative stackable hinges from Lee Valley tools which make building a breeze; they will get re-used along with the cedar boards and the hardware cloth which will either add to the height of beds or be fashioned into tree baskets or smaller beds for the lavender (voles have no compunction about eating lavender, sadly.)

(NOAA is by the way, a wonderful weather forecasting resource, here is the link to the 30 & 90 day forecasting.)