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helwen: (Due Consideration)
Raised bed still isn't done -- did do some work on it, but fitting miscellaneous rocks together to form a wall is a bit of work. The veg can't wait though, so two tomatoes are in large pots, with two new ones awaiting their turn to be re-potted into big pots. They're going to be "topiaries" on the patio...

The red leaf lettuce, curly kale, and swiss chard are all in proper pots, which will at least buy me a little more time. Glad I traded or sold some of the swiss chard though (that's how I got 2 kale) -- even with only keeping half the 6-pack, I have 12 of them! The lettuce 6-pack only went up to 8 proper lettuce and 3-4 seedlings that might make it. I'd rather have too much swiss chard than too much lettuce, since we can (and will!) blanch and freeze some of that for the winter.

Also repotted the golden sage today, and divided the lemon balm from one pot into seven. I was going to just have one big pot of it, but turns out it's good for helping to keep ticks and mosquitoes away. Since I got bit by a tick last week, I'm a bit more motivated to plant things that will help discourage their presence. We have a lot of landscaping to do -- more like terraforming -- so I'll just work on increasing the amount of lemon balm and other plants in pots while we work on the yard.

Tomorrow will be dividing the lemon grass, and then if I can manage it, I'll work on the peppermint the next day. Fortunately I can do this on the porch and stay out of the sun.


Sewing, not a lot actually. I messed up the order I was supposed to put the layers for the obi in, so I've been working on fixing that so that the interfacing will actually be _inside_ when I'm done. If I don't mess something else up, I should be able to finish it today.


Sun. I have to stay out of it while on the doxycycline -- apparently that means my eyes, too. Got quite the headache when we drove down to S. Deerfield for baptism yesterday.


Staged some things in the family barn to get moved to the trailer -- nice, out-of-the-sun activity.

L did hours of fence repair yesterday. BiL R wants to put young stock in to keep the pasture down around the hay field, which hasn't been done for a few years, so it needs some TLC. Nephew C is also working on the fence when he has time.
helwen: (Due Consideration)
Went to the farm again, filled 12 bags with mulch hay. L had time after taking care of the chickens to come fill some bags some as well, and filled 12. We took home 20 bags in the minivan, plus a drawing desk I managed to get out of the family barn.

Emptied the bags out this morning and got another 20 today, although we didn't bag nearly as many this morning -- 3 for me and 5 for L. It was only 17F outside today and colder in the barn, so a couple of my fingertips and a toe were starting to go numb :D
Over the weekend it was much warmer, so inside the barn was probably above freezing?

Plus it's a regular work day and L needed to get back to the house.

We'll be bringing as much of the mulch hay over to the new place as we can, to work on soil improvement. The hay pile isn't leaning on our stuff now, which is also nice.


Mar. 15th, 2014 02:48 pm
helwen: (Due Consideration)
While L was taking care of the chickens (filling feeders, gathering, etc.) and then washing eggs, I filled 10 old feed bags with mulch hay/chaff, knocked the pile down about 5 feet so there'd be room for more to be cleaned out of the level above, moved a few things to better spots, found a small organizer I'd been wondering where it was, and also a box of fabric that needed to come over because the box was failing.

L took care of bringing that up to the car and then into the house, because it was quite heavy -- probably why the box was failing...

I don't want to bring too much stuff over from storage until we get the trailer later this year, but some things shouldn't wait.

Then we came back to our house, where he set the minivan's battery up to charge and then hacked at ice to try to get water dripping off the barn roof to _not_ go into the barn I moved some things out of the wet area and/or higher up in the same area, but couldn't clear the floor as some things are frozen to the floor. Poked around looking for some things, but I think it's going to be a while before I find everything I'm looking for!

The minivan has some repairs it needs, but we;ve put it off for the past few months. Getting to where it would be good to have working again though, hence charging the battery -- altho' I expect it's been unplugged now, as it has started raining. The wiper motor doesn't work, among other things, so we can't take it for repairs unless the weather's clear.


May. 4th, 2013 08:27 pm
helwen: (Due Consideration)
Got all the potted plants loaded up from the lower garden this morning, ready to go to the house as soon as L finished bringing water to the chickens. Nettles will have to wait for another day, but we'll do that soon! Btw, if anyone wants some for their garden, let me know, as I have plenty and they are looking beautiful!

Next after dropping the plants off at the house we went to Shelburne Falls but missed getting to the bank on time -- just a few too many little delays. So, back home to change and go to the kung fu Snake Seminar at Shaolin Kung Fu Center of Hadley!

Snake Seminar was terrific! My hips may never be the same, but the actual hardest part to do? To NOT do Eagle Claw techniques :D Seriously, was able to do a lot more than I thought I'd be able to do, and it's a very cool form.

After that we went Greenfield for feed and scratch for the chickens and wasp and hornet spray for the barn and house. Stopped at our place to unload all the pots of herbs from the truck, then to the family farm, where I worked on sorting and boxing eggs and L unloaded the grain and then loaded up the truck with hay and delivered it down the road.

Lunch was a bag of roasted almonds and water. We're having a real meal now, finally!

Good day.
helwen: (Due Consideration)

Thinking about putting this in the yard. Native, drought- and shade-intolerant. I'd like to put it near the river, but much of the sunny bank areas are under-cut and raised up, so I don't know if they're damp enough. I could put them in the sunny part of the lower field, which is pretty darn boggy right now, and isn't as high up as some parts of the river bank. But if I could find the right part of the banks to put them, they might actually help to stabilize the bank.
helwen: (Due Consideration)
Made it home from the family farm last night, and after L shoveled for 2 hours this morning, we made it back up into town. Plows of all sorts are out there, keeping busy. I am currently at Elmer's, L is at the farm plowing out emergency access for the house, checking on the boiler, etc. I stuck a protein bar in his hand on the way out from Elmer's so he has at least something in his stomach. He'll have a proper breakfast when he gets back here.

From the way it's coming down, I expect he'll be plowing out at the family farm again later today, at least once.

I managed to get some shelving setup, a bookcase leveled, and a portable shelf into a cabinet before we left our house this morning, as well as putting some things away. Just fiddling on the laptop right now, so figured it was a good time to post.

One of my many projects will be making a magnetic board, as we've found such a surface to be useful. The fridge has a brushed stainless steel front, so we can't use it for that.

We also discovered last night that the dishwasher can't hold our largest plates. We've mostly been hand washing anyway, so those will stay on the hand wash list. The washer is an interesting one... two drawers, so you can use just one and use less water. And yes, we have tried it and it works quite well.

Not sure what all I'll do at the farm today, as I don't think I have much in the way of packing boxes there, and with the snow I don't really want to move a whole lot anyway. Probably will re-organize the back attic a little, to make space for things to come down from the attic. The back attic can be accessed from the back kitchen, so if we don't get everything out of the attic and apartment by end of month, we can at least move stuff to the back attic and be less intrusive as our niece and nephew move in. Hm...and maybe I can do some puttying of screw holes and the like. Yeah, plenty to do :D
helwen: (Default)
Did I say dozens? I meant hundreds. Yes, really. But they are now mostly taken care of... the vacuum cleaner is cooling off for a bit.

Cotton candy booth is mostly ready. Have a few things to gather together for tomorrow. No kung fu tonight, as the weekend is a really energy-eater.
helwen: (Default)
Getting set to wash eggs and move cotton candy equipment and supplies into the minivan for delivery and setup today. It's also sunny here so Fitzw would finally be able to take the A/Cs out of the windows. Unfortunately the insects got a jump on us and have invaded. Primarily lady bugs and/or grapevine beetles (similar but not the same), but also some flies, bees, and a few other types of critters. Dozens and dozens of them...

Last year we got the timing right and I had everything taped up before they could make their move, but not this year. So, once he has the A/Cs out and my SIL D is done vacuuming downstairs, I'll be doing the same up here.

Tomorrow and Sunday, L and I will be at the maple cotton candy booth in Ashfield Town Hall.

helwen: (Default)
Official Coyne family reunion is today (Coyne is my MIL's maiden name). Unofficially, some folks showed up yesterday -- mostly to get started on some food things early but as it turns out a repair to the chair swing happened when someone sat on it and something went kerflooey. Then Sunday morning there will be a breakfast gathering of anyone still in the area. Word is there will be around 55 people today.

Also, yesterday evening I discovered a hornet nest being built right near where the main festivities will be. Only one sting, thankfully. It's been more than a few years since that's happened... reminded me of when I used to get allergy shots.

This morning I need to do more of the mulching I was doing when I was...interrupted by the hornets, then gather some kale and make something for the gathering. It will involve GF pasta, aged cheddar, kale, onions, garlic, and possibly some almond milk or olive oil.

Have a lovely day, everyone!
helwen: (Default)
Back in 2005, Monsanto bought Semini's, a seed company that controls 40% of vegetable seeds in the U.S. and 20% in the World. (Monsanto bought Burpee's a while back, so don't buy from them either).

Some folks think there's no point in avoiding a company that's been bought by Monsanto, because where else will we get seeds from? Well, if Semini's controls 40% of vegetable seeds in the U.S., that means 60% is still free of their control. I vote for buying from the other guys, who are all smaller businesses and could use our help. We need MORE DIVERSITY, be it in seeds, people, or ideas, because in an uncertain world you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket.

Also, learning to save seed is good, both because it saves money and because those seeds will have experienced your garden's soil and conditions and be better prepared for the next year. Avoid hybrids if possible, as they don't breed true.


Here's a few seed companies that ARE NOT OWNED BY MONSANTO:


http://www.richters.com/ (herbs)

And if you're interested in actively helping with saving seed, there's

[Partial credit for the above list goes to Sharon Astyk, who compiled a list awhile back. I've ordered from or bought at the store, seeds from more than half of the above companies).

Also check your local hardware store and see what companies they have -- check for country of origin, make a list of the company names and check them out. Ashfield Hardware, our little local store, carries some small local suppliers, heritage seeds, etc. Neighbors (our town's convenience store and gas station) carries Hart's seeds. The farmer co-ops are another good place to go -- I know that Greenfield Farmer Co-op carries High Mowing's seeds, for instance.

I prefer to order from growers in my region, as I figure their seed will probably do better here than seed from a significantly different growing region. I make exceptions if I can't find specific plant seeds/bulbs/rhizomes closer to home. An example would be when I ordered hops rhizomes a few years ago from the Northwest Pacific because it was the only area that had them in the entire U.S. That might be changing.... there's a hops movement up in Vermont now.

Good luck, have fun, help your local growers, stay strong!
helwen: (MacGyver)

L's at farmer market this morning, I'm home weaving (taking a brief water break right now). This afternoon was going to be PPD and then maybe Amherst Apple Festival, but instead will be running errands for the farm. Tonight will be Ashfield Film Festival! Whoot!


Alban Elued at the Sunwheel in a.m. Afternoon is tentatively free (unscheduled at the moment). Evening is choir practice.

Good to finally be weaving again -- spent most of the week cleaning, sorting, packing, going up and down stairs, etc. Only went to kung fu on Wednesday - too beat Monday, and was just getting into weaving last night.

Glad I didn't go last night -- sweeps and takedowns that would've been hard on the knees, which are rather sensitive right now what with all the stairs this week... Wednesday was painful enough, esp. since I forgot to take painkillers beforehand (Wed. was a LOT of up/down stairs). OTOH, I used to be in that kind of pain from kung fu classes when we first started out, and that was _with_ painkillers. So, a positive mile-marker of sorts.

Okay, back to work.


Aug. 29th, 2011 03:18 pm
helwen: (MacGyver)
Beautiful, sunny, and clear!

L is done using the sump pump in the basement. It is still damp, but windows and door are open to help air it out. Humidity is still a mite high indoors too.

Things are getting put out again, bit by bit. L's out at the barn right now to check on the leaky areas and, if need be, pull out bales to dry. Then down to see to more things with the chickens, etc.

We helped take a bunch of pears off friends' heavily-loaded pear tree, Saturday afternoon. They're a little hard yet, so now they're all wrapped in paper so they can ripen properly.

It is possible to get from Ashfield to Shelburne Falls if you take March Road.

It is possible to get to Greenfield if you use Rt. 5 & 10.

We are pretty sure we can use Rt. 116 to get to Amherst.

Pretty much nobody can get to Charlemont from here, except special vehicles. Parts of Hawley have similar issues. West Hawley can be accessed on foot. Most of Rt. 8A is gone.

Clessonbrook Rd in G'fld Buckland currently is not a road but rather a hiking path, and a rough one at that. This road goes to Tregellys Farm.

Wilmington VT is still cut off. Montpelier VT may have to flood itself on purpose, to save a dam. I didn't check this morning, but Heath is probably still cut off too, since they usually are when something major happens weather-wise.

I believe most other towns are working on recovery. Ashfield is doing pretty well.


All things considered, it is not too bad, and could have been much worse.

And we learned some interesting things, like Northampton has a portable flood wall that was build back in the 1950s, that they broke out and used this past weekend.

It was also easy to understand why L's ancestors used such large rocks for the sugarhouse's retaining wall -- not the least bit over-engineered, thanks.

Also, while they had put in a decent drainage system in the hay field, they also shaped the land so there was a swale to carry water down and away into the river. It was very noticeable during the hurricane. A lot of good thinking and planning went into the making of this farm.

Time for me to go do stuff :)


Aug. 28th, 2011 12:20 pm
helwen: (Tower)
Eye of the storm is supposed to pass over western MA ~2-4 p.m.

My MIL said that Albany NY will be getting the worst of it next.


Here, the river is down a little at the moment, with the slowing down (relatively) of rainfall.

The brook is flowing directly into the fire pond at the moment, instead of through the underground pipe, and the stone bridge is almost certainly underwater. There is daylight under the covered bridge again, however. Hopefully enough can move downstream before the next lot of rain comes through.

The people in charge of the local dam lowered the level before the hurricane, but perhaps not enough, plus apparently there was a valve that should have been opened to keep it from filling up too quickly. Some people have been evacuated from Bronson Avenue (not near us) already, but there is concern the dam may not hold.

Another 1-1/2" has fallen. Total of 7-1/4" so far.
helwen: (Default)
Good time at NRWC this past weekend; got to hang with quite a few different friends, and had a meeting with TRM.

Also got to try out making a vade mecum -- hands-on is better than just reading, at least for me. We'll be trying it again with a different threading pattern, to see if it's easier (two needles instead of one).

Drive was long each way, but we actually spent more time at the event than on the road, so that was nice. Got home at ~1:15a.m., which wasn't so nice -- took a couple of days to recover from that, LOL

Garden is going along, most things are coming up. Some squash didn't, so I'll have to see if there's any leftovers at the hardware store tomorrow. Finally finished thinning the corn in the lower garden, and planted broad beans.

Have re-packed some clothing and fabric.... some has gone into giveaway, and also I found some almost-finished projects amongst the boxes of fabric, most of which are getting finished now, so they can go be with the clothing. One square appliqued former-window shade is going to become an altar cloth (sans batting).

Need more of the tan/green bins.

Ancient stone structures of New England, a slideshow and talk by Jim Viera, was so popular last week that people were turned away. Nan at Elmer's has arranged to have him do it again this Thursday; we have reservations this time :D

We are registered for The Greater New England Steampunk Exhibition, in September. Happily we'll be staying with a friend who lives near where it's being held, which will save many $$. Also, it will be nice to hang with her :)

Staying at the hotel would have been convenient in some ways, except that I don't like hotel air. So far, getting into this stuff has been like getting into the SCA years ago. Very DIY and bootstrap, and crashing with friends. I like it.

It's sunny again, so L is out haying, when he isn't mowing, feeding the chickens, or.... oh yeah, he has that job on the computer :D Poor guy. Plus need to make a trip to the bank, but it should rain later this week, so I suggested we wait until then to go.

Eep! Gotta finish this and call my mom -- work on the book today. Later than usual, as she tired herself out and needed a nap.

Anyway, just a post of stuff, so y'all know I'm still alive. Hope all are well!
helwen: (Xena)
Literally, at least in part. Slightly under 1/4 of the field has been baled. Waiting for more sun.

L's work has been no fun at all this week. Missed kung fu Monday between that and the haying, and likely to miss class again today because of work.

One of my MIL's closest friends has bad news on the health front. We all know her, a lovely and lively lady. We'll see what happens.

Getting physically stronger in some ways, and realizing just how fragile some things are in other ways. Continuing to learn to manage things.

Still trying to work on getting more sleep, more regularly. That seems to be the next key ingredient in losing more weight and getting in better shape.

Learned a teaser bit of spear Wednesday in class -- taxing at the end, but fun!

Trying to remember to make deadlines. Not always succeeding. Been that kind of year. One deadline will be met today or tomorrow (date is tomorrow, we may be able to drop off the paperwork today). Another deadline is end of month, I'm just trying to finalize what the heck I'm doing for Fall Festival this year.

Most of summer planting is done. Might plant some broad beans on Monday, if the ground and weather permit. Debating lettuces, even though it's late for summer and early for fall, because of the type of weather we've been getting....

Need to get my butt in gear and back on the big projects. Steampunk has been good for getting the creative energy going again, but cannot spend all my energy on just that :P
helwen: (Default)
Going to bed at a decent hour doesn't mean one will get enough rest, if the body decides to ignore all teas and meds and cough for a few hours :P When I finally could lie down without coughing, I slept through the morning to 11:30! *sigh*

Didn't get to the garden at all yesterday, but did plant some onion seeds in seed starting thingies.

Went to the talk on soil and different types of garden beds, which was interesting and useful. Nice to see some folks we hadn't seen before -- gardening is becoming more popular.

Share the Warmth meeting seemed to go well too.


Apr. 10th, 2011 10:20 am
helwen: (MacGyver)
Well! Still recovering and actually overslept today.... Still haven't started any seeds, but will do so today. Also, we'll be starting to lay out the lasagna bedding in the garden.

Sugaring is slowing down, but still happening as of today. Expect this to be the final week though. I expect at lower elevations or points further south of us, it's already done.

The crocus are blooming now too, so I expect that soon more people will be talking about how "spring" is finally here... I find it a little amusing that the point at which many people declare a season to have arrived is usually around the beginning-to-middle of that season's peak.

Since we're still not up to major doings, no choir practice tonight. But there's a Share the Warmth meeting today, so we'll go to that. First part is at one person's farm, where he has a relatively new community garden plot area laid out, that we'll look at. Then over to Elmer's for the talking part.

Not sure how gardening and the new workshop series became part of a group on keeping people warm, but there you go. The workshops over the next several months will be on gardening and/or food preservation.

Farmers Market meeting was Friday night and we made it to that too - laid back group of folks, farmers.... good discussion, research being done by some folks on stuff to help the market will be happening, etc.

New Future meeting earlier last week, where folks met in person. Don't know when the next meeting is, but interestingly a few folks I've spoken to don't know about haybox cookers. So I guess I need to try out a few things myself now.... there's info out there of course, but a little hands-on at our local altitude would be a good thing.

There's a post on it over at The Archdruid Report, with some excellent info in the comments as well. You might have to do a search for it, as it was a few months back.


Apr. 9th, 2011 09:37 pm
helwen: (Default)
Less congestion, less coughing today. My ears are less blocked today. Random napping still occurring of course. Respiratory tea by Traditional Medicinals has been a good addition. L and my voices are still amongst the missing, but happy we're finally making progress.

Delivered a bunch of eggs today. Hum..... well, still not feeling too brilliant, but getting some things done.
helwen: (jug)
L called the doc this afternoon and we'll be picking up cough med w/codeine in it in a few hours. Hopefully this will lead to not having uncontrollable coughing jags, and maybe even sleep! Needless to say, no business meeting or kung fu for us tonight. I'd rant about being sick and tired of being sick and tired, but eh...

On the plus side, the maple sugaring season has been going very well.

Take care folks!
helwen: (Default)
Actually made it to all three kung fu classes this week, as well as to the personal trainer session. Knocked some rust off in weapons class, and think I may have a better grip on what to do in sword form finally.

Drew some, fought with software a lot, washed lots of eggs (more to go), more cleaning and sorting here and there, worked on book with my mom.

Also got end of season deal on cross-country skis -- skis, poles, boots and bindings. The snow's almost gone, so today we go out and I get to try them out at least once.

Both respiratory and stomach bugs continued to try to 'get' me this week. Asthma continues to be a nuisance, so I picked up some specialty herbal tea at Goldthread for both of us, which seems to help some. Continuing to take ginger and also peppermint.

Got a lot done this week but it was pretty stressful; had a minor meltdown last night after kung fu class. Doing better today so far....

Next several days is more being busy - more eggs, L's working on the coop (I may too, but we'll see), more drawing, and getting ready to go to Florida. We leave Friday morning. Still working out the details, like seeing if we can get someone to take us all from Sijye J's and R's house to the train station and then parking the minivan back at their place.

Might go to the seed swap this morning. But first, breakfast!



helwen: (Default)

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