Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More snow. It snowed heavily for a while today and now it is clear and the stars are out. It's going to be cold tonight and tomorrow night. Oh, well, everything in the garden that isn't truly hardy was killed by the last freeze.

We had a good Christmas. A series of gales almost kept us from going to the mainland to our daughter's house but the day before Christmas the wind had dropped a bit and Joel said let's go for it. It was an exciting trip to Friday Harbor. But we had a wonderful Christmas and now that we are back again it is our time of year to laze about a bit. The seed catalogues are all here and Joel is sitting by the stove with a bunch in his lap. I wander into the studio and weave a bit now and then. All the looms have warps and projects on them, but I am mostly reading English detective novels and eating Christmas cookies. It is a peaceful time of year here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lots of Rain

It has been raining hard for about the last 24 hours and the low parts of the garden are inundated. First the freeze and now the floods.
So are the lower parts of the fields. Joel has been out opening up ditches directing the water toward the pond.
Which is now full and flowing out the overflow. We'll be grateful for all this water net summer when we need it for irrigation.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Design by Tidying

The selling season is just about over for me. I will set up my fiber things at the last Farmers Market of the year the 18th but otherwise I won't be doing any crafts fair type things until next May. So it is time to clean out the studio. That involves dragging out my collection of old sheets for rag rugs, and the bits and pieces of leftover yarn. Best of all is designing rugs and placemats based on what I have left with the rule that I can't buy anymore yarn or sheets for these projects. So today I sorted sheets in boxes of colors for projects and wound warps out of the bits and pieces of yarn. I made several warps, none very long as that would have meant ordering more yarn, but interesting. These match several plaid flannel sheets that will be basis for the rugs. I don't know how tidy I got things but I sure had fun.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter Kill

When it goes down to 10 degrees F this early in the season it is hard on the garden. Not only is that colder than we usually get, but the plants haven't had time to really adjust to winter. The above is our chard patch. Chard is only marginally hardy at those temperatures. Some of these plants will survive and start regrowing but not for quite a while. We will save seed from any that do survive and thus increase the hardiness of our own home grown strain of chard.
One reason for planting several varieties of a plant (other than just for the fun of the different colors and leaf types) is that that increases the chance of one or more varieties handing whatever stress the year throws at the garden. In this case our Savoy kale, came through the storm virtually untouched. In front of it is one called Russian Hunger gap which, in spite of its name, did not come through well. Time will tell if the roots are dead or not.
Most of the cabbage also survived as did the overwintering purple sprouting broccoli, the Brussels sprouts and all the collards. the Romanesco broccoli didn't nor did the early fall cauliflower. The overwintering varieties of cauliflower look better. They have lost outer leaves and so will probably make smaller heads but they look like they will make it.
The carrots were under enough snow to survive and the potatoes were covered with a mulch of maple leaves and are fine. The big Three Root Grex beets originally looked like they had gotten frozen but after a few days look perfectly normal.

So we take note for future winter gardens, harvest what we can for market this weekend and wonder what else winter will throw at us this year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Ventures

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend. There is a big crafts fair in Friday Harbor that weekend that we have been going to for about the last 20 years. We set up our booth and go out to the local community Thanksgiving dinner with several artists friends. This year I added my new Christmas stockings to my products and introduced a new venture.
My friend Mary Ann is sewing vests and jackets from my handwoven fabrics. The fabrics are made from cotton chenille woven on a warp of 8/2 cotton.
Mary Ann did such a lovely job of designing and sewing the vests. We are both excited about doing this and as soon as the holidays are over I am going to be weaving more of this fabric.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Apple Orange Butter

It's COLD here. 16 degrees this morning. Not much we can do but huddle by the fire. So making up a batch of apple-orange butter seemed the thing to do. I found the recipe in a blog I read from England, The Cottage Smallholder. We have a couple of boxes of apples sitting in the bedroom to keep from freezing and I had a couple of organic oranges. She cooked hers in a slow cooker but I just set it on top of the wood range and let it cook slowly for several hours. It's really good.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

And Winter Came Roaring In

It was quite a trip to market. Arctic air was roaring down the Fraser Canyon in British Columbia and across President's Channel which we have to cross to get to Friday Harbor. It was cold and rather nasty out there Friday afternoon. We are very grateful to our Albin boat who handles this sort of thing very nicely.
We got there with all our boxes of vegetables and had a great market. In spite of snow on San Juan Island the customers turned out for Thanksgiving vegetables.
We got home Saturday afternoon to several inches of snow on the dock and at home.
Joel went out in the dark with a headlamp and picked the very last of the tomatoes in the hoophouse. We hope the mulch we put on the tender things and the snow on top of it will protect them. Meanwhile we are cozy in the house with the fire crackling. Winter is truly here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Anticipating a Freeze

The weather reports says we can expect temperatures down to 25 degrees F next weekend so that means it is time to mulch the tender plants. We cut all the dahlias down although they still had a few surviving flowers on them, mowed down the tops of the glads, and Joel hauled a couple of truckloads of maple leaves from the sides of the roads. They make great mulch and a couple of other people have been out there getting them as well. They are considered a very valuable commodity here. Tomorrow we will harvest what we want of the potatoes that are still in the ground for market and then put leaves over the rest of them.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Winter Farmers Market

The indoor winter market at the high school started the first Saturday in November. There was an abundance of luscious winter vegetables. This is such a good climate for winter vegtables. With all the brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collards. and root vegetables like carrots, beets, parsnips, and celeriac. And storage ones like onion, garlic, and winter squash along with the surviving lettuce and celery and the good old standby hardy leeks, we made quite a show.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bright, Gaudy, and Totally Unnatural

Okay, I know I am known as an organic farmer, lover of natural colored home grown wool from our rare breed sheep, weaver with organic naturally colored cotton yarns, etc. But every once in a while I find myself falling for something wild, gaudy, plastic and totally unnatural. Like the skein of drugstore yarn in the picture above. This skein just jumped off the shelf of the drugstore and into my arms. "Do something with me" it cried. Shortly thereafter a friend gave me several skeins of a bamboo rayon boucle yarn (okay, so that isn't made from a fossil fuel) in about the same colors and a set of boas was born. I love them. They are BRIGHT, and GAUDY. And it was a huge amount of fun to make them.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Late Fall Flowers

The frost has killed the zinnias and the dahlias, most perennials are all through blooming and most places in the garden look rather ragged. But here and there in little corners the hardy cyclamens are beginning to bloom. I started a bunch of these from seed over 20 years ago and they have reseeded themselves here and there. I often dig up a plant and move it to a quiet shady spot where it will show up in the fall.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Old Apple Tree

Thursday night one of the branches of our 100 year old King apple tree fell down. We were in the house and awake and didn't hear a thing. It must have gone down slowly. There had been a crack developing between the several main stems and we had been worried about it.
The three main stems had been held together by a graft made by twisting small branches together. This has to have been done when the tree was quite small. The angle between the trunks was too narrow to be strong and whoever did this hoped to give strength to the tree. Well, it did work as the tree lived to be over 100. One of the remaining two trunks may be salvageable, we'll have to see. Meanwhile we are planning to plant a new standard sized King tree this winter a ways away from this one so when the last of the old tree finally goes we will still have King apples. I grew up with a King tree and my mother made applesauce from its apples. To me the taste of applesauce from King apples is the way it is supposed go taste. We have gotten many, many boxes of great apples from this tree over the years and we will miss it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall Grapes

The huge grapevine that covers the front porch is covered with grapes. The light shining through it this morning was so pretty. I'm afraid the grapes probably aren't going to ripen this year. there just hasn't been enough heat, but the birds will be happy. They don't care if they are ripe or not.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


We came home this morning from a couple of days in Friday Harbor to find that several nights of real frost had killed all the tender things in the garden. The squash vines, the zinnias, zuchinni, pumpkins plants and any tomatoes and peppers not covered with row covers were toast. This meant it was time to bring in the winter squash. Only a few of the fruits were actually touched by frost and we will eat those right away before the frost damage can cause rot,
but we found that the rats had gotten into several squashes, especially a new to us one called Uncle David's Dakota Dessert Squash famed for its sweetness. If the choice of the rats says anything these must have been doggone tasty. I think we got one to try for ourselves.
With our usual good help we brought in several wheelbarrows of squash to stash in Siri's room in the attic and sell and eat all winter.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkins Again

It's pumpkin time again. We have been a bit worried that the cool summer weather might mean that the squash and pumpkins wouldn't have time to ripen this fall. But thanks to quite a bit of Indian summer sunny days and nights above freezing it looks like we'll have a crop after all. We harvested a wheelbarrow of pumpkins before the last market. I love it when the vines finally start dying back so that you can see into the pumpkin patch and finally see what's growing there. It's like a large Easter egg hunt.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I had a great time this weekend participating in Artstock, Friday Harbor's fall studio and gallery tour. I was a guest artist at Kristy Gjesme's studio in town. My studio, after all, is a bit hard to get to if you don't own a boat.
We had a wonderful flautist, Pam Presley, playing for us and visitors signed the guest book from Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and of course, from Friday Harbor. My things sold well and I had fun. What more can I ask.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beautiful Corn You Can Count On

This wasn't a good year for our sweet corn. We have had none to sell and only a small amount for our own eating and that from one bed that was planted from seedlings started in the greenhouse. All the direct seeded corn germinated at such low rates that Joel tilled it under and planted cabbages. That said, our flour corn, Painted Mountain, did great. This is the shortest season colored grinding corn available. Not only does it make great corn meal but it is BEAUTIFUL.
Harvesting it was like opening christmas presents. We kept saying, "Look at this one!" It comes in a wondrous variety of colors, reds, dark pinks, orange, marooon, blues, teal, green, yellow white, speckled, spotted. Joel's favorite is one that's a mixture of maroon and orange, mine is the ones above in blues, teals and greens with a touch of pink.
Joel tied them to strings which will hang in the house to dry. They make a beautiful fall decoration as well as potential cornbread.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


With all the rain and the cloudy days we have been worried about whether or not our winter squash and pumpkins will mature before we get our first frost. The plants are so huge and lush that it is really hard to see what is going on in there but I poked around in the pumpkin patch today and found several nice orange Neon pumpkins and one white one sitting on top of them. Looks like there'll be something for Halloweeen.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I love fall and this poem evokes the season so beautifully.

by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river shallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Placemats in Greens and Blues

I have had a couple of lovely days weaving and weaving. I finished a batch of placemats in blues and greens and a bit of yellow and tied a new warp of reds and purples and oranges onto it. I am about to hem up the placemats so I can take them to the Farmers Market on Saturday. The basket of rag strips above was for a runner that I made on the end of the warp. Hopefully this evening I will get the fringes twisted on that.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Well, fall is really and truly here. I've closed down the booth at Roche Harbor, Labor Day is over and the market will start slowing down. Things are ripening in the garden. We may not get much from our outdoor tomatoes, but the ones in the hoophouse are in full production. And the fall brassicas are looking good. They don't mind rain and cool weather. Above is a Calibos cabbage plant. It's the only pointed red cabbage we know of. Only one seed company carries it so Joel is growing his own seed. When one of our favorites becomes scarce we know the time has come to do that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

End of Summer

Things are starting to calm down a bit here. The family are all gone (though I miss everyone of them!), the Fair is over and the weather has warmed up a bit. Enough to ripen the first melon and the tomatoes in the hoophouse.
The Sungolds are dripping with fruit. We are still worried about winter squash and the outdoor tomatoes and the basil has turned brown from a cold night a couple of days ago,
but the flowers are beautiful. These are annual gaillardias in the cutting garden.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Crazy, Wonderful Summer

It's been a crazy, fun summer. All three of our daughters and all 4 granddaughters have been here off and on. We had a big wedding at the farm and next week is the San Juan County Fair. We did take time off to go with one daughter and friend to camp overnight at Patos Island north of here which is a State Park with a really neat lighthouse. I will have lot of pictures and will try and get them up next week. Life always calms down after Fair Week.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Upcoming Generations

The above photo shows why I haven't been blogging much lately. I have all three daughters and 4 granddaughters here. It's been a long, long time since I had little tiny clothes on the clothesline. We are all having a wonderful time but I'm not spending much of it online. I'll be back later in the season.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I have the most beautiful carnations this year. I've finally figured out that growing them as biennials works better here than trying to get them to flower in one season. This way I get great flowers and really nice long stems. And they smell so good.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Warm Weather at Last

The weather has finally turned hot and sunny after a long cold and wet spring and early summer. The warm weather vegetables are so pleased. You can almost see the basil and squash and pumpkins growing. Joel got the last of the hoophouse tomatoes tied up today and we had a few little Sungold cherry tomatoes in our salad tonight. It won't be long before there are lots of the

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Chickens

We have been raising 6 little baby chicks that were a Father's Day present from our daughter, Jennie. Today they went out into their pen outside. They are fully feathered and the weather has warmed up. Hope they stay warm tonight. They had a great audience for their move. The girls loved watching them run and fly up and down the pen. They've never had this much room as they have been living in a large animal carrier in the house.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pretty Plant

A bunch of lettuce seed got spilled around the garden last fall when Joel was cleaning lettuce seed that he grew. A lot of it ended up in various places and so we have had volunteer lettuces here and there. This one has bolted. I haven't pulled it out of the lily bed because I just think it is so pretty.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Back at Roche Harbor

I spent my first day of the season out at Roche Harbor manning our booth. One of my partners has been opening it on weekends in June but now that we are open 7 days a week the three of us will share the work. I do enjoy being out there and seeing the artist friends in other booths some of whom I don't see all winter. I will be running back and forth from island to island a lot in the next two months.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Weave On

I am almost finished weaving this batch of placemats. The fabric colors are working really nicely with the 9 colored warp. I will have 12 placemats and one runner out of this. Should be finished tomorrow.
And I did get 16 of the mug rugs that I was weaving on my new little table loom finished and labeled and ready for market. I have finished weaving wool rugs for the season having woven up all our wool and am making these out of little bits and pieces leftover from those. I've got 3 shades of grey wool and white. These are great as coasters as the wool is really insulating and keeps heat from whatever they are set on.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nice Little Table Loom

Last summer one of my Farmers Market customers came by my booth to tell me that she'd found a table loom at a garage sale for $10 and bought it thinking of me. It came with a bundle of flat shuttles and lease sticks that were worth more than $10 themselves. I said sure, I'd take it. I can always use another loom (!).

Well, it's a sweet little table loom. I've never seen one like it. I can't decide if it is commercial loom as it has no label or just a very nicely crafted home made one.
It has a unique sliding beater that makes the beater always 90 degrees to the warp which is really nice, and bright color beads that lock into slots to raise the harnesses.
The brake consists of a peg that fits into little holes. If anyone has ever seen one like this and knows what kind it is I'd love to know. I'm weaving little wool mug rugs on it to try it out. I had to replace most of the cords. It came with an old cotton warp on it padded with newspapers that referred to Nixon as President. It is weaving very nicely.