Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring has Sprung

 Spring has sprung.  it was actually 66 F the other day.  Took my sweater off, opened all the doors and aired out the house.  Hung laundry on the line outside.  Whoopee.
 And, of course, the spring work has begun.  Joel planted out 540 little lettuce plants.  They are under a cover of Remay to keep the golden crowned sparrows from eating them and to give them a bit of extra warmth as the nights are still cold.  That was about a week ago and they are 3 times that size now.  Yay!!  Can't wait for the first salad.  We do buy the occasional head of Romaine from the grocery store but are mainly eating purple sprouting broccoli and kale these days.  Good stuff but the first fresh lettuce from the garden is like an elixir.
 Daffodils and hellebores and the first tulips, grape hyacinths, early plum blossoms and forsythia are blooming.  The grass is green and even needed to be mowed yesterday.
 I'm cleaning marigold seeds that I saved from last year.  I never fail to be amazed by the bounty of nature.  All these seeds from a handful of seed pods.  If left to their own devices most would never get a chance to grow but would either be a gift to seeds eaters like birds or bugs, or be reabsorbed back into the soil by bacteria. 
All winter I have been weaving and knitting up a storm.  Now I have to get everything hemmed and fringed and ironed and finished and tagged.  The first Farmers Market is April 12.  We won't have a lot of vegetables yet but I will have lots of rugs and potholders and tea towels.

We're off on another year.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Last Breath of Winter (We Hope)

 Just about the time we are really thinking about spring, the seed orders are here and organized into boxes for planting, the snowdrops are about at the end of their bloom,
 and the daffodils are poking their heads up and their buds are swelling.......we get 8 inches of snow.  This isn't the first blast of winter this year.  We've had two episodes of the dry cold NE'r we get here as icy cold dry air streams down the Fraser Canyon in Canada from the Arctic and blasts us with high winds that freeze and dry everything out.  And a previous short term snowstorm, but so far we haven't had any really serious snow.  Until yesterday when it snowed all day and just kept snowing in spite of weather predictions that had it turning to rain in the afternoon.  Which it didn't do. By evening it was a winter wonderland of trees covered with snow, fields white and beautiful.  We went for a walk down to the beach in a virtual winter fairyland.
 Today it is clear and sunny and above freezing.  But it is going to take a while to melt all that snow.  One of the chickens has had enough of cold feet and flew up into a rose bush to get off the ground.
 Joel went out several times yesterday to dump the heavy wet snow off the hoophouse roofs to keep them from collapsing.
But....inside one of them we have planted peas and sweet peas.  It may not be toasty in there but it is warm enough for them.  It gives us hope of spring.

Friday, December 20, 2013


We don't get snow all that often here so when we do I have to rush out and document it.  This is what we woke up to this morning.  This would normally be a harvest day for Market but knowing it was supposed to snow we did all that yesterday.  As we are harvesting mainly root crops they hold really well and won't be  hurt by the extra day.  It is supposed to turn to rain any minute now so we're enjoying it while it lasts.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


When we go to England there are several typically English foods that we have to eat: Cream teas, Ribena, (black currant juice drink), draft hard cider, fish and chips, English bacon and....marmalade.  You can get English marmalade here but you have to hunt a bit for it and there are so many more brands over there.  In the olden days before terrorists plots in shampoo bottles we used to bring back a bunch of it with us.  Now I have to make my own.

I get my bitter Seville  oranges from a place in California called Ripe to You who specializes in unique citrus varieties.  My favorite recipe is one from David Lebovitz.  I've got the first part of the first batch simmering on the stove right now.  I'm all out of last year's batch so I can't wait. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hunkered Down

 Almost every winter at some point we get a NE'er.  Arctic air from the interior of Canada flows down the Fraser Canyon and swoops down upon us with its icy blast.  We rarely every manage to get snow first as this air is very, very dry so without the snow to mulch and protect plants we have been hustling around mulching vulnerable things like the dahlias.  In this climate dahlias can't survive unprotectd but a good thick mulch of leaves has brought them through winter after winter and it is much easier than digging them.  I will dig them every 3 or 4 years as the plants get so big we can't get between them to harvest the flowers.

We also through a mulch of leaves over the last of the potatoes and several layers of Remay floating row covers over some of the carrots,
 Joel dug about 175 lbs. of beets and about 50 lbs. of our yellow carrots and put them on a pit with a foot or so of dirt over them.  That will keep them fine for several months.  He harvested a bunch of cabbages and kohlrabi and rutabagas which can be kept just fine in the greenhouse which being unheated just manages to stay above freezing in this sort of weather.  We will sell them at market this month.

Joel's Mom brought us the last bud of her Graham Thomas rose today before the cold weather killed the flower.  Such a pretty thing and it reminds us that spring will be just around the corner.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Last Day of Exploration

 Before we started out again we wanted to explore the village of Haworth a bit especially the church and parsonage, now the Bronte Museum where the Bronte sisters and family lived.  Finding out that the museum wasn't open until 11:00 Siri took off to walk as far as she could across the moors to Top Withens, the accepted site of Wuthering Heights.  As it was a 4 miles hike from the village she ended up turning around before she got all the way there.  I spent the time perusing the gift shop and book store and buying two books by Anne Bronte, a Bronte sister I was unfamiliar with, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.  Both of which I have really enjoyed reading.  I plan on going through all the other Bronte books this winter as it has been way too long since I read most of them.

After we left Haworth Siri navigated us to Malham Cove another one of those wonderful limestone gorges in the area.  Up on top of the gorge was this wonderful eroded limestone pavement.   She particularly wanted to see this because part of the 1992 movie of Wuthering Heights was filmed here.  I took one look at the area and realized that a scene in the next to the last Harry Potter movie had also been filmed there and I remembered that when I was watching that movie I wondered where  in the world that scene had been filmed.

In between the limestone rocks are the most lovely little plants, ferns and wildflowers taking advantage of the shelter the stones give them.  An amazing landscape.

 Then we headed north again to what is probably my favorite part of England (do I have to choose a favorite??) the Yorkshire Dales.  This is James Herriot country where the fictional (and the actual vet who wrote the books) drove over these incredible winding steep roads to visit the isolated farmhouses in the deep dales and top of the high moors.  This country is so beautiful.  I've been here twice before the first time on my very first trip and I keep coming back.

My incentive for dragging us all the way back here to North Yorkshire was a bit part to meet Pat, a woman who I had only known through her blog, The Weaver of Grass.  She writes about the life of her and her husband who she calls the Farmer on their farm near Leyburn.  The idea of meeting these people in person was such a wonderful idea.  When I emailed Pat telling her that we were coming over and suggesting we get together for lunch or something she invited us to come to the farm and spend the night.  We were delighted.  And it was such a lovely time.  We went for a walk with the Farmer around the farm in the late afternoon and Pat cooked us a delicious dinner with lots of local food and enjoyed telling us where it came from and whose farm it was raised on.  We spent the evening talking as if we had known each other for ages.  And well, we had, through our blogs.  I love the internet and the way it has opened up the world.  I am so so much richer for it.
Thank you, Pat, and the Farmer, for your hospitality and friendship and the great dinner and breakfast and all the sandwiches you made us for the train trip back to London.  It was the perfect ending for such a perfect trip.

And then the next morning we drove our heroic car that had survived all those narrow twisty roads, steep grades, all our stuff and muddy feet and Joel's driving on the "other" side of the road to York where we left it and took the train to London.  We found our hotel not far from Kings Cross station where we came in and where we would get our train out to Gatwick the next day.  None of us really wanted to go out and see any of London so we holed up in the hotel, ate the rest of Pat's sandwiches for dinner and watched an episode of Autumnwatch on the BBC.  And then we went home.  And started dreaming about going back.  I love England.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Peak District to Bronte country

  We headed into the Peak District National Park and stopped at Winnats Pass, a steep gorge surrounded by limestone cliffs.  We drove down to the bottom of the pass  and  Joel and I walked about 2/3 of the way back up through this gate into a field full of sheep.
 Siri climbed all the way back up to the top.

We headed north through the park trying again to avoid big cities, this time Sheffield and Manchester.  I had never been in this part of the country and it was so beautiful.  The fall colors were lovely all through the trip but here we often saw larch trees in their lovely golden fall color. 
 We were headed to Haworth for the night, the town the Brontes lived in.  We passed a bit of the Rochdale Canal and decided that there was still enough daylight to stop and look at the canal boats for a little bit.  We keep dreaming of renting one and exploring some of the countryside this way.
The Haworth hostel was in a big old 19th century manor house with one of the loveliest stained glass windows I think I've ever seen, pomegranates and swallows.
Photos of the stained glass window were taken by Siri Thorson.