Sunday, December 30, 2012


Joel gave me a new bird feeder for Christmas.  My old one which I had had for years and years was falling apart and I knew that one day soon the bottom was going to fall out and scatter seeds all over.  This one is really pretty and holds twice as much as the old one.  Either I will have to fill it less often or I'll end up feeding more birds.  Which would be just fine.  I hag it from a tree over a  bunch of brush to keep the cats from being able to easily get at the birds.  Seems tyo work.

I have become addicted to bird nest cams this last year.  I started out with REd Tailed hawks at Cornell University, moved onto Ospreys at the University of Montana and this winter am glued for many hours to a wildlife cam in Botswana, Pete's Pond.  There among zebras, elephants, impalas, and baboons to name only a few are some of the most amazing African birds.  As the cam is 10 hours from where I live I can get up int he morning and watch the sun set in Botswana and watch it come up in the evening  I find this world of the internet totally amazing.

If you would find watching birds hatch and raise their young here is a list of bird nest cams all over the world.  A warning:  It's is addicting.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Towels for Stash Reduction

 I recently bought a fairly large number of cones of bright colors 20/2 cotton yarns.  As I looked at my yarn cabinets I came to the obvious conclusion that if I am going to find any place to put this yarn I am going to have to use up a bunch of the partial cones of various things I've got lying around.  Two very good sorts of project for using up bits and pieces are scarves and tea towels.  As a lot of the yarn is medium sized cotton I am currently in a frenzy of weaving tea towels.  The above pastel ones use up three cones of pastel 8/2 cotton that I bought to make baby blankets.  The weft is some white cotton flake that I got on ebay a while ago.

 The ones right above are made with fairly heavy 3/2 organic natural colored cotton.  These are going to be a lot coarser than the pastel ones or the ones below but I think they will do for hard work.  I love the natural colored cotton colors and they will darken as they are washed.  The pattern is a huck lace.

The above are still on the loom and are made with a bunch of 8/2 cotton I bought at the fair From some one else's stash reduction.  The orange, yellow and red yarns called out for a windowpane type of plaid outlined with black.  All three batches are really different.  I'll have them for the 2 big Thanksgiving/Christmas crafts fair this year and the leftovers for Christmas presents.  And, yes, I am also making scarves out of other sorts of yarns.  And my waste baskets are getting full of empty cones.  I love it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Traditions

Halloween has come and gone.  With no kids around the place we don't do much to celebrate and there is no trick or treating here.  But we do have a tradition of carving 3 pumpkins and putting them out at the end of the driveway at dusk with candles in them.  They're just for anyone driving by.
This is followed by Halloween tradition #2, roasted pumpkin seeds.  We get this treat just once a year and so we enjoy it while it lasts.  We clean the seeds from the pulp and put them in the oven until they are crispy.  Some friends add a bit of oil and salt or herbs.    I can't believe it but we've already eaten about half of them.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Famers Market

Our Farmers market moved last fall to our new site in downtown Friday Harbor,
WA. Brickworks, and we've been there all this last season.  Last weekend was our last weekly outdoor market and we will once again move to the high school for the winter market. (Okay, actually there is a bit of  glitch as someone else has reserved the high school dining hall for Nov. 3 so we will be back at Brickworks for that one market.  Hope it isn't too cold).  The renovation of the old Brickworks building has begun and fund raising to get it finished is ongoing. We so hope we can get it finished so we can use it next winter.  Meanwhile one of the Market's neighbors, Wes Shaw,  took this time lapse series of photos of one of the September markets.  Thought you might enjoy seeing it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rain at Last

When the weather finally decided to change it did so with a vengeance.  After nothing but a few spits of rain since the end of July it is now POURING.  It's about time.  A week ago I was saying that all this sunshine was  beginning to get to me.  It had  begun to feel spooky.  It was so still and clear and sunny.  Not right for October in the Pacific Northwest.  Well, no longer.  The ground is so dry that it can't soak up all this rain so we have puddles everywhere.  But the dust is settled and I can see all the plants relaxing.  Everything had begun to look weary and dusty and dry.  Well, here's to Fall and holing up inside by the fire knitting, weaving, reading, cuddling the cats.  I have to admit that I like this time of year. And speaking of the cats they keep going from one door to another hoping that summer will be behind one of them.  And when it isn't, looking pathetically at me to DO SOMETHING.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Squash Season

 It is October and although we've had a few frosts that haven't hurt anything it was time to get the squash in.  The plants are starting to die down and any night now we could get a serious frost that would damage the fruits.
 This is one of my favorite garden activities.  I love searching through the squash vines and finding that incredible bounty.  We took in 3 wheelbarrow loads of various squashes.  Above are golden acorn and delicatas,
 here are more delicatas and green acorns
 and here the maxima type of squashes, Sweet Mamas and Sunshine.
 We put them into the hoophouse to cure for a week or two.
 There wasn't enough room there for the pumpkins so those went into the greenhouse until we haul them over to Market.
 There wasn't room in either place for the Long Pie pumpkins so those will have to wait a day or two until we shift things around in the hoophouse.  The weather report looks like it will be safe to do that for a couple of more days.
The aftermath.  No matter how carefully we searched for squashes we know we will come back as the plants continue to die and find a few more.  It's like hunting for eggs in a hay loft.  Oh, the bounty of the garden.  No danger of going hungry this winter.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


 All the onions are in the hoophouse drying just in case we ever get any rain.  And Joel has been busy bagging up our 500 lb. crop of Stuttgarter onions these are the ones that will keep until March.
We also have a lot of Ailsa Craigs and Red Zeppelins  that we'll sell before we get into the long term keepers.  For all the weird weather, cool and wet until late July and no rain since, we've had a bumper crop of onion.  Other things aren't as happy but that's frankly why we grow such a wide variety of vegetables.  No matter what the weather throws at us something is happy.

The hoophouse also has piles of wheat and beans and various seed crops drying, too.  We'll have lots of food to sell and eat this winter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


 There was a light frost last night.  We do get the first frost of every year on the island as we are in a frost pocket.  It didn't do much damage but is a warning that cold nights are coming and we need to get covers over all the tender plants before tonight.  The basil has been covered for weeks as it doesn't like even 50 degree nights (F).  So I was really glad that I harvested about 4 gallons of the stuff yesterday.  Time for the annual mad pesto making. 
 First to wash and spin dry the basil in our big greens spinner. 
 Traditional recipes usually call for pine nuts but those are hugely expensive, although delicious, so I usually use whatever I can find often simply sunflower seeds.  But Joel's Mom, Millie, has a wonderful English walnut tree and we have a bucket of walnuts left from last year that need to be used up.  So this year it's walnuts.
 I checked several recipes on the internet for basic proportions but since what I have in abundance is basil I used about twice as much as the most generous recipe called for.  I can skimp on the things I  have to buy and use lots of what we grow like the basil, the walnuts and garlic.  So I used about 8 cups of basil, 6 or 7 fat garlic cloves, half to 3/4 cup of nuts and a half cup each of olive oil and parmesan cheese.  It's probably not as creamy as perfect pesto but when I licked my fingers it tasted good.
So into the freezer go 15 little half pint jars of the stuff.  Our favorite way to use it is just to toss with cooked pasta or on pizza instead of tomato sauce.  I also make biscuits where I pat out half of the dough into a pie pan, spread with pesto and cover with the other half of the biscuit dough.  Yummy.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fall is here

 Okay, I know I have been neglecting my blog for some time.  Well, fall is here at last.  Hectic, frantic, too hot summer is over.  It rained last night for the first time in almost 2 months.  I love this time of year for its fruitfullness, the rich colors of fall leaves and pumpkins, the way the light has changed as the sun gets lower in the sky.  So I thought I'd do a quick collage of what the farm looks like right now.  Above, purple peppers in the hoophouse.
 Joel's "field" of wheat ready to harvest.  He cut it yesterday before it could get rained on and it's in the hoophouse to stay dry until he can thresh it.  That's a year's supple of bread for us.
 The last of the flowers, here sunflowers, asters and an ornamental amaranth.  
 The colors of Mira and Coral Fountains amaranths are just what I mean by the fall colors that I love.
 Pumpkins sneak out of their patch and into the tomato patch.  The beds of pumpkins get so dense with foliage that you can't see if there is actually anything growing there.  You have to have faith. Then the plants start dying back as they get to the end of their lives and the pumpkins and squashes start to appear.  I love to poke around and see what the plants have grown.  Soon the plants will be all dead and we'll get out the wheelbarrow and haul the bounty into the house to store for winter.
 Every year we dedicate one of our 3 hoophouses as a drying shed.  Here it's full of onions, dried beans, wheat and a crop of kale seed.

Everything is calmer now.  I'm through with my Roche Harbor booth, the crowds of tourists in Friday Harbor are smaller, all the winter crops are either ready to harvest or in the ground.  We don't need to weed any more.  I can get back to the loom to start making things for Christmas sales.  I love this time of year.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Damp Summer

I know, I know.  I haven't been writing since the caterpillar infestation.  I'm fine.  Happy and healthy and BUSY.  Summer always takes us by storm with an invasion of children, grandchildren and lettuces.  Here in the Pacific Northwest we have been spared the heat and drought of most of the rest of the country.  In fact, we have had more rain than I can remember for years.  We only started irrigating this week and we often have the drip tapes out and running by the end of May in other years. And just a few days ago there were mud puddles in the driveway.  We still can't stop mowing the "blankety blank" lawn.  Usually by this time of year it has stopped growing and turned yellow, a sign we don't have to mow any more this year.  No such luck.  Joel was just out there mowing behind the house AGAIN.

So in honor of all that rain here is a picture of a Reflection rainbow we saw last week.  The upright part of it is caused by the rainbow reflecting off a body of water which in this case is President's Channel to the east of us about a mile behind the trees.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

And Yet More Caterpillars

 Just wanted to share what we are enduring in the natural world.  They are EVERYWHERE.  I can't hang laundry outside, sit outside, walk under a tree, etc. without having to pick caterpillars off myself before I go inside.  Only to pick a couple off the counter who sneeked in when I wasn't watching.  As I write there is one on my neck.  YUCK!!!  This too will pass.  (I hope.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Caterpillar Invasion

 I haven't been blogging much as I had to get a new computer when the old one died.  And it wasn't all that old either!  The new one was first shipped by FedEx but  they didn't like our address and shipped it back to the warehouse in New York.  We then had to have it reshipped via UPS who seems to be able to find us without problems. 

Meanwhile our trees have been inundated with one of those periodic outbreaks of tent caterpillars.  These happen in quantity every few years.  In between we see a few but not like this.
 Although we removed as many egg cases and hatched tents of caterpillars as we could reach our really old big trees and the native wild crab apples that are all over the farm are still full of them.  The tree above has been completely defoliated.  It will survive, making a new crop of leaves, but we won't get any fruit off it this year. 
 Whenever we get an outbreak like this we carefully check the caterpillars for signs of the eggs of a predatory wasp which lays them on their heads.  When the caterpillar spins a cocoon the little wasp larvae hatch out and eat the caterpillar.  That one won't turn into a moth and lay any eggs for next year.  Unfortunately I am seeing very, very few caterpillars with eggs on their heads. I think the caterpillar population has been so small the last several years that the wasp population has crashed.  I'm afraid it will take another year of mass caterpillars for it to build back up again.  Does not bode well for next year.
Meanwhile Joel is trying to cobble together a couple of old sprayers that haven't been used in years as we haven't needed them and they too seem to have crashed.  Meanwhile we take turns picking caterpillars off each others heads every time we go outside and avoid sitting down anywhere and definitely not on the grass which is full of the creepy things who are in the stage where they come down out of the trees and run around looking for something else to eat.  Isn't nature amazing? This will be over soon.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Flower Seedlings

 Got a 60 foot bed of stocks planted today.  There'll be one more type planted down the very middle but those plants aren't quite ready to go in the ground.  These 4 rows are the single stemmed florist type of stocks, probably my all time favorite flower if I were ever forced to choose a favorite. The middle row will have the branching sort.  The latter doesn't make as nice flowers or stems but last longer into the season so I plant some of them for when the single stemmed ones are all gone.
In the cold frames are small flats of more flowers just waiting for the soil to dry out enough to be tilled so they can be planted.  Oh, I love this time of year.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Variegated Sheep

This winter we got a bunch of commercially prepared roving from friends on San Juan Island who also have Cotswold sheep. In fact we got our most recent ram from them. Joel said the roving spun up beautifully and today I started weaving a rug from the resulting yarn. It is a lovely soft grey color but as I was watching the fabric grow on the loom I realized that the gorgeous variegations of the Cotswold wool has been homogenized in the commercial carding. You can see a bit of it if you look close but it is very subtle.Joel has always spun up our wool right from the fleece. We don't card it first and I wash it after it is spun into yarn. We've never sent it off to be commercially carded or spun because well, we are the do-it-yourself sort of people who like to avoid paying someone to do something we can do ourselves. But I hadn't realized this aesthetic value of doing it that way. The yarn from the commercial roving is lovely and so are the rugs but I miss those stripes of light and dark wool that come from spinning the yarn directly from the fleece. I'm not sure it would be possible to do this on a commercial scale.
Colored Cotswold sheep have variegated fleeces as you can see in this picture. An individual fleece can vary from dark brown to very light grey. I'm sure it makes the wool useless in a commercial sense as you need a more consistent color particularly if you are going to dye it. But for our uses this is special.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


First lettuces are ready to go into the ground. These were planted on February 26. They went from the greenhouse to the cold frames out to the hoophouse to harden off.
And yesterday Joel put them into the ground. He chose a bed between two hoophouses as it is a little more sheltered there and our spring is continuing to be cold and wet.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

My mystery daffodils have been identified. I sent a picture of them to Van Engelens, a bulb company I often buy from. Jo-Anne sent it to a connection in the bulb industry in the Netherlands who identified them as Mrs Langtry, a variety that dates back to at least 1869 and which was named after Lily Langtry, actress and mistress to Edward VII. I love knowing what they are and something of their provenance.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Unknown Daffodils

Does anyone know what the name of these daffodils is? They are around all the old homesteads here and my parents had hundreds of them at their place 70 years ago. They naturalize beautifully, persist throughout all sorts of neglect for decades. But I can't find anything like them in bulb catalogues. Any old bulb experts out there?

Monday, March 19, 2012


Things are s tarting to look serious now. First flats are out of the greenhouse and into the cold frames. In this case lettuce and onions. Since it insists on staying cold and damp only the hardiest sorts are going out so far. Things like tomatoes and peppers are safely snugged up inside.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spading up the First Soil

Joel started spading up garden beds for the onion plants that are expected to arrive next week. The soil is too wet to use the tiller so the shovel is the tool of the moment. We use our tiller a lot later in the season when the soil is drier and Joel runs out of time to spade everything. The soil which has been gardened for over 25 years has a nice tilth and isn't hard to spade.
Spading also is a lot better for the soil. It maintains the soil structure unlike the tiller which chops it all up and doesn't massacre the worms which the ducks are happy about.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Plum Blossoms

In spite of lots of rain and grey days and gale force winds this morning, spring is insisting on arriving. These are always the first fruit blossoms every year. They are sprouts from the rootstock of the old egg plum tree in the background. We probably should prune them out but we keep expecting the egg plum to die as it is over 100 years old and anyway the little tiny delicate white blossoms are so special in the early spring. They never produce any fruit, maybe they never would, but blooming this early guarantees that they won't get pollinated. It's way to cold and wet for any self respecting pollinator.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rainbow Rugs Finished

I have finished the rainbow rug and will take them to the March Farmers Market this weekend. I'm also putting them one by one in my Etsy store. Right now I'm working on a special order rug for a friend then onto some more fabric for my friend Mary Ann to sew up.