Thursday, August 28, 2008

Last Week of August

This last week in August has been a hectic one. An old friend came up from Seattle to visit us at the Farmers Market, I set up my loom at English Camp on San Juan on Sunday in the rain and had some really great talks with a couple of potential new weavers. On Monday I gave another talk at an Elderhostel get together and then went out to Roche Harbor for the last two days I'm scheduled to run the booth for the month. We may try and set up for the first two weekends in September, but the weather being what it has been we may not.

Out at Roche Harbor today I watched a mother House or English Sparrow feed one of her newly fledged babies a piece of a discarded scone. This has to be a second batch to be this young this late in the season.

On the home front the little pullets have started to lay eggs. Above are the first two little pullet eggs. Having started to lay before winter sets in they should lay at least sporadically throughout the winter.

And in spite of the cold and wet weather at least some of the pumpkins look like they'll make jack-o-lanterns. This variety is called Neon and is the earliest pumpkin we've ever grown. That characteristic is welcomed this year. They are what is called a precosious yellow pumkin that starts out yellow rather than green and ripens to orange. This means that even if they don't get fully ripe they will still be colored enough to use for Halloween. And in a year like this that is also a useful trait.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

In the Field

Well, the corn wasn't knee high by the Fourth of July but with the bit of heat we had last week and all the rain since it is definitely growing. We're going to have CORN....SOON. It is probably our favorite vegetable and we have been known to have nothing but corn for dinner, four or five ears each. And even with the new varieties that hold their sweetness longer it is still the very best right from the plant. Well, that's true of most vegetables. Except storage vegetables like squash and onion and garlic, etc.

The other thing that has loved the recent heat is the melons. This year being so very cool I have despaired of melons. Every once in a while we get a summer when the melons just don't grow. This isn't really melon country and those babies would really like to be in Georgia. But there are a number of good sized fruits on the vines and given just a little bit of decent weather we'll have them with the corn.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fair Results

I'm back from the Fair, tired, happy, and with a few more ribbons to add to the stash on the wall. This year Joel brought home the Best in Show with his grapes.
I was definitely outclassed in the onion department by 5 gorgeous Walla Wallas who won the Best in Class, but still got a blue on my Ailsa Craigs.
I entered a few flowers and got blues on my asters.
And as we frequently do, we bought an award winning fleece from Mother Hildegarde of Our Lady of the Rock convent on Shaw Island. This is a lovely colored Cotswold fleece and I can't wait for Joel to spin it up for me so I can weave rugs out of it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Off to the Fair

We're off to the San Juan County Fair in Friday Harbor. Today is entry day and above are some flowers and onions I am planning to enter.

Joel is out in the greenhouse getting grapes to enter. One of our grape vines has one branch growing into the greenhouse and the grapes on this branch ripen up about 2 months before the rest of the plant which is outside. This gives us a really long grape season.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Joel harvested his barley this week. He grew a 15 foot row of Tibetan hulless barley which he got from a fellow Seed Savers member. He and his friend Steve of Nootka Rose Farm, also on Waldron, are interested in experimenting with small grain growing. He says that if we are going to eat locally he doesn't want to give up bread. We could definitely live on vegetables, potatoes, eggs, chickens and sheep, but bread is pretty special. We have made our own corn meal in the past from Painted Mountain corn. As well as the barley he has a 60 foot bed of Red Fife wheat, an old Canadian variety which does well on Vancouver Island. That's the wheat bed behind him in the upper picture.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cowbirds and Crickets

While Siri and I were sitting at the Orcas ferry dock after the wedding waiting for the ferry to Friday Harbor we noticed two little baby birds on a log next to the road. They were fluttering around in typical baby bird fashion, plaintively asking to be fed. Imagine our surprise when a tiny little yellow bird, about half their size flew up and fed one of them. They could only be cowbird babies. Cowbirds are brood parasites. The females lay eggs in the nests of other birds who then raise the young often to the detriment of their own young. The bird that was feeding them was, I think, a yellow warbler. Cowbirds fascinate me because in spite of being raised by all sorts of other birds, warblers, finches, and song sparrows for example, they grow up to know how to be cowbirds and to mate with other cowbirds not with members of the species that raised them. We often see cowbirds sitting on top of our sheep. They wait for insects to be disturbed by the sheep's grazing and then fly down to the ground to feed on them.

P.S. We heard the first cricket this evening. That is the real beginning of fall for me. This is the time of year, half way between the summer solstice and the fall equinox, the traditional beginning of fall in the Celtic calendar, that begins to feel like fall. The light has changed, the angle of the sun different than high summer. The air smells different and you hear crickets. This is actually my favorite time of year with the imminent harvest with its feeling of wealth and well being.


This last Sunday, Joel, Siri and I went to our foster daughter Laurel's wedding on Orcas Island. We went by boat from Waldron to Olga on Orcas with friends. The bride arrived mounted on a beautiful Arabian horse and was married in a lovely meadow with her two children in attendance. It was a lovely sunny day. for a wedding. Laurel lived with us for much of her growing up and it was just so great to see her so happy on her day.