Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reporting from the front; art shows, studio, gardens and chickens.

Happy belated solstice!  The days will begin to shorten and I better make sure the batteries are in my headlamp are fresh.  Still trapping raccoons, I'm good for one a night ad have stopped counting.  Where do they come from?  And just how many can there be?   I wonder how many more I can take to the old abandoned orchard until the Inn if full and I start seeing condo's.  

Last weekend took me to a show in Shaker Hts.  These are the shows you stand in your booth on Sunday night and yell;  Hey!  Anybody wanna buy a tent?  90 degrees on Saturday, standing on hot asphalt.... felt FAB! (she said oh so sarcastically!)  Sunday, yeah for clouds but 25 - 30 mph winds kicked up and pottery does not bounce on asphalt.  Then I looked at the radar on my iPad and holy yellow, orange, red blob headed our way!  By noon I was taking the woven high end pieces, one at a time, to the trailer to be safely packed away.  I left mugs, bowls, teapots and decorative pieces out.  The show was slated to be done by 5 pm but at 4:30 pm the rain let loose.  Rolled up the booth carpet and luckily I had taken down the sides.  Last year this show rocked and the big bonus, close to home.  This year..... close to home and we will leave it at that.  It was great to see the hometown crowd and bless Linda and Jerry G. for running watermelon and cherries to a weary booth artist.  I had brought a jug of water as this summer my motto has been;  BE THE GRAPE, DON'T BE THE RAISIN!   Packed up, wet and tired headed for the barn.  The good news..... I have inventory for the next show :) 

It was great to get my work all out and take inventory.   Where do I want this body of work to go.  Good incentive to get back in the studio and get busy.  

I love big..... the pot on the right is 20" tall.

I still love making mugs.

This also tumbled into the weaving studio.  Mornings usually find me weaving and watering.  Every 15 rows I jump up and move the hose.  I will be on the Olympic hose dragging team!  

The hose dragging is paying off but there is nothing like a good rain to make plants pop!  Unfortunately it has not come.  I am now in garden triage, who needs water first and what to keep alive.  The dog is taking care of the grass, brown is the color of choice.  

The peas, beets and lettuce have been stellar!  Onions are looking good and the tomatoes are coming along.  Nice to see little tomatoes.  

Not sure I will ever again plant this much cabbage as I will loose half this years crop to loopers.  I have been spraying once a week with BT Dipel and it has helped.  Toss in cut worms and slugs and the cabbage crop is going to take a hit.  Oh so much to learn....

As rough as the cabbage looks, the cucumbers are doing great! 

and the runner beans are nuclear this year!  
Soaker hoses and mulch rule! 

Zuchs seem unperturbed by anything.  
Note to self....... Be the zucchini.

Perennials are hanging in there and I am not watering!  
Buck up everybody! 

Yarrow is doing extremely well and I have started drying the heads.

The girls are getting fat and two have red waddles and combs so eggs should start appearing soon!  
The others still have waddles and combs in bubble gum pink so no pressure.

A rabbit found the gap under the garden gate and ate his way through the brussel sprouts and kohlrabi. 
I turned into Mr MacGregor.  Later in the day I took my afternoon break with the chickens.  
No chickens.
They were all hiding in the coop.  Something was terribly wrong.  I ran and pulled greens but the girls were not coming out of the coop.  They would peek out and look up, retreating back inside.  Clearly there was drama in the coop.  Getting on my hands and knees I looked under the coop thinking a varmit had gotten in the coop but nothing.  I ran around the coop to the other side.  YIKES!  Carnage in the yard.  The neighborhood hawk nabbed the brussel sprout eating rabbit and ate it right in front of the chickens!!!!  There was fur everywhere!  Took the girls a day to get over it trama and they are back in the pink!  I could use a little less drama in the hen house! 

Blackberries are coming along.  Alas I found two robins  gobbling their way through the blueberries.  Bird netting went up and blueberry production has doubled.  I hate bird netting.  Berries in bondage and now the berry picker has to commando crawl under the netting to pick the bounty.  I have planted enough diversion plants around the garden and was hoping it would work.  Viburnums, Betula Nigra and Amalanchier.  Nope!

Potatoes are looking good and blooming.

and tonight for dinner.......... roasted beet salad in a balsamic dressing, stir fried pea pods, a few radishes, tasty kohlrabi and blueberry parfaits with fresh yogurt.  I'll split the beet greens with the chickens and saute' the rest with onions and bacon.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Not Stealth!

The last two mornings I have skipped out to the coop in the morning (actually crawled but who wants that picture in their head for the day?)  First order of the day, check the trap.  Trap was sprung, bait gone and nothing inside.  How does that happen?  Figured I had a stealth squirrel or chipmunk or maybe Houdini had come for a visit.  

Yesterday was glazing day in the studio, did I mention I hate glazing but in short order to get me excited about loading the kiln and sticking my gloved hand in a glaze bucket I mixed up tests.  Glazing day starts around 9 a.m. and carried on until the kiln is full;  no surprise, 1:30 a.m.  

I walked in the house pretty tired but not ready to crawl into bed so I cracked open a jar of pickled beets, had a teeny little bowl, soooo good.  Now I was ready for bed, let the dog out, locked up the house, kicked off my shoes and headed upstairs.  About the time my foot hit the top step the little voices in my head said; Go check the trap.  My other voices said:  Go to bed you never got out to bait the trap.  Hit the sheets and close my eyes...... Go check the trap.  I obeyed as it would be futile trying to fall asleep with commands rattling around.  Back down the steps, fumble for the GIANT flashlight, slip on my shoes and walked out to the backyard.  
Shut the front door!  The trap was sprung and the biggest raccoon was staring back.  Well howdy there you chicken thieving, terror of the night and did I mention you are fat? 

There I stood in my famous blue leopard print nighty thinking....... What would Ava Gabor do?  
I knew there was no way I was going back in the house and falling asleep now that I had caught Jaws. 
Holding the GIANT flashlight between my legs I dragged the cage to the stone path.  I should have put him in a garbage can and whacked it with a 2" x 4".  Got to the path and checked for bruises on my legs from the flashlight.  Gingerly, picked up the cage and got it to the driveway.  Hindsight makes me think the wheelbarrow sitting next to the coop would have been the way to go but who thinks at a time like this?  Once at the truck I huffed and puffed and wrangled the cage into the bed.  Whoa!  I'm gonna need another bowl of beets! 

Grabbed my truck keys and headed back to Happy Acres in a distant land far, far, away.  Arriving, I realized it was 2 a.m. I was in my sexy blue coffee stained nighty and a pair of tennis shoes on a public roadway.  About this time I'm thinking the Sheriffs cruiser would be doing a drive by.  I ran to the back of the truck, dropped the cage on the ground and dragged it to the weeds.  Releasing the door I expected one ticked off ball of fur to run out and chase me to the truck.  Nope.  He sat there checking out the view. 
All this guy needed was a remote, a couch, a bag of chips on his chest and watching The Biggest Loser.  I tipped the cage, he backed in further.  I rolled the cage from side to side and finally yelled; GO!  He waddled out.   

Happy to say Jabba the Hut has been relocated, both of us traumatized and I finally made it to bed, the kiln was at 639 F. and rising.  6:00 a.m and the chicky babies are out and happy.  


the one I caught three nights ago...... big difference!

He needs a tin cup to scrape across the bars. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

the chicken fan club.......

the last two nights have been good for the chickens .......
not so good for the chicken stalking, tree climb'n, feed steal'n masked bandits! 
Alas, they have been released at happy acres in the piney woods in a land far far away :)

and the frog watched in silence......... 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Carrying on........

Can't lie it's been a struggle to get back to the studio.  If it rains the studio is the best place to be but when the sun is out it's a hard place to be.  Besides the nursery opens at 8 a.m. and it's a great place to start my day!  This week I added cilantro, a few more tomato plants, yellow crook neck squash, thyme, lemon basil, a few more kohl rabi and sugar pumpkins.  Still drag'n the hose around.  The calendula and marigolds have all sprouted along side the new rows of peas.  Still waiting to see if the beans are going to come up in the holes of the concrete block in the raised beds and time to put the bird netting over the blueberries.  Studio? 

 Have always found mugs are good place to start.  When I started so many years ago I hated mugs, today I love them and never grow tired throwing them.  

a good start to the week.

and did I mention I love throwing big round pots? 

and speaking of mugs.....   

I bought this lovely mug at the Heights Art Gallery opening a few weeks back.   It had a barn, I live in Ohio, nuff' said.  It was a pretty cool graphic print on clay and upside down.  I couldn't wait to use it.  After a week of use it earned a place on the shelf with my other favorite mugs.  Well until yesterday when the barn mug was moved to the top shelf.  Why?  I wander down in the morning around 5:30 a.m. each and every morning to let the girls out of the coop.  I push the button on the coffee grinder as I flee out the door.  I have done this long enough I can do it in my sleep.  The coffee buzzer goes off 15 minutes later and like Pavlov's dog, head to the coffee pot while grabbing a mug off the shelf.  Twice now I have poured coffee on my feet, this is a rude way to wake up!  My semi-comatose brain knows the barn should not be upside down and I instinctively right the barn, pouring coffee on the bottom of the mug as it runs down my legs and makes a puddle on the floor.  Note to self........ make mugs for my semi comatose state; put the handle on, chip carve the outside so I can fumble for it in the dark and no upside down anything! 

The girls are growing!  They consume about 100 pounds of feed a month and still no eggs.
Yesterday I hung a frying pan over the coop door........ get the hint girls? 

From left to right:  Dill vinegar, chive vinegar and rhubarb cordial.
Gotta say the rhubarb cordial is my new favorite summer drink.  I have made it a handful of times nows and have settled on the following throw together.   
A sauce pan of cut up rhubarb, 1 cup of sugar or honey, a knob of crushed ginger and 1 sliced lime.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Strain through cheesecloth squeezing out the very last drop.  Add 2 tablespoons to a glass of soda water or Preseco.  Mint is a nice addition to the glass.  Yum! 

and on another note...... I need to focus and stop doing 5 things at once.  While cleaning up the kitchen, thinking about the pots I was making, loading the dishwasher and trying to catch up on the morning news I filled my rhubarb cordial travel tumbler with soapy water while I carried on.  Finishing up I forgot the tumbler had soapy water so I added my 2 tablespoons of cordial, ice and a lemon slice.  Grabbed my bucket in one hand and headed to the studio.  Drank half the tumbler before I realized I had washed my own mouth out!  YUCK!  I thought the bubbles were just a foamy head on my fantastic drink.....  Hocus Pocus time to focus! 

and a nice jar of pickled beets and eggs ........ 
trying to use up the last of the pickled beets in the basement before I can the ones growing in the garden.  

It's been a productive week :) 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rain and back in the studio........

A nice rain has finally arrived and the temps have dropped as low as 48 degrees during the night.  Days have been in the 60's and 70's if lucky.  The ups and downs have certainly stressed the garden and noticed a few diseases on beans I have not encountered before but then we have not had a spring like this in many many year.  

The lack luster gardens and rain have moved back to the studio and must say it's great to be there! 

OY, the elephants are back........ it's show season!  

The lettuce and radishes have been fab!  
Radishes are gone and tomatoes are now growing in the space.

The fairy rose is so stunted this year but looks like the rain has done it some good.

Potatoes are having a bumper year!  And the squash is coming along nicely.

Bay Laurels have perfumed the backyard!  Love this tree!

Nice blush coming along on the blueberries.

The girls are quite content in the chalet.

Best clematis has ever looked! 

and this year we have a few pensive frogs who are enjoying hanging out in the pond :) 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Warp Speed Scotty!

 June 1st........ really?

Days here have been filled dawn to dusk, mostly filled dragging the hose around trying to keep stuff alive.  Currently, we are in a pocket of the Sahara Desert.  We have watched the rain go North, South, skip over us and listened to the dust devils laugh.  What a Spring!  Hot, Cold, Drought, Wind and nobody is happy is their container, including me!  I'm thinking snow by August.

This morning I woke up to the sound of rain on the roof.  Finally!  I ran out in my very fine nighty, rain coat and neon green crocs to let the girls out.  They bubbled out of the coop and into the rain.  First lesson this morning; chickens do not like rain.  Who knew!  I'm thinking little yellow rain hats for everyone.  They huddled under the coop and I retreated to the house filling my nose with coffee while I watched the rain.  You could hear the ground sucking it in.

Memorial Day we hit 92 degrees and I thought the strawberries might be getting their red on.  I called around to the pick your own places and found most were not opening to the public this year as they had lost 80 - 90% of their crop in the late freeze this year.  My last call went in and they were opening the field at 8 a.m on Thursday morning.  Alert the hounds and set the alarms!

ABBY!  We are picking in the morning and you better be in a good mood!  I piled her in the car by 8:10 am, grabbed our container and off we went.  Arriving in a dust cloud I was horrified to see the parking lot already full!  The strawberry girl pointed to an open row marked with orange flags and off we went.  Abby started at one end and ran to the other end.  We staked out our row and became somewhat territorial.  We ate, we picked, we lobbed funky strawberries at each other, we had a good time!
Picking was pretty easy and we were out in an hour........... with 30 pounds of strawberries.  I came for 10 pounds.
Hmmmm...... I went for 4 chickens, came home with 10.  I went for 10 pounds of berries and came home with 30.  Nip this in the bud now!

Looks like 10 pounds to me! 

What do you mean your scale doesn't work over 20 pounds? 

Spinning straw to gold :) 
Strawberry jam ready for the basement.

Strawberries headed to the freezer.

250 feet of soaker hose down, newspaper over that and a lovely topping of straw! 
Everybody grow! 

The perennial beds have gone waterless but mulch has pulled them through.

Beauty shot! 
Favorite lunch; thinly sliced radishes on homemade bread with a sprinkle of salt. 
On a good day and then spread of raw butter to keep the radishes on the bread.

and I found the studio! 

It was a good day; 30 pounds of strawberries processed, 6 more tomato plants in the ground, vat of granola done, a quart of yogurt made and two pots chip carved.  The bed felt good last night!