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Archive for January, 2013

RunningFan

My unheated greenhouse has been amazing this winter.  Even when temperatures dropped into the teens, the greenhouse and its plants rebounded nicely.  Today, I went out to water only to discover that a bathing suit would have been nice to wear while inside.  It was one hundred degrees according to the thermometer that now hangs inside.  I opened windows, reconnected the fan, and opened the far door briefly.  I also used the hose to give the plants a thorough soaking.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve been willing or able to do that.  I think I’ll pick some of the greens for supper tonight.

The greens are drooping but look good.

The greens are drooping but look good.  This photo was from several days ago when it was freezing cold.

I hope your greenhouse or indoor garden are doing well this winter.  Brightest of Blessings to you.

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Squirrel unlocked the door of the rented house with his new key that had been given to him while on the airplane.  From the plane, they had gone to a car lot where Hank had bought a used car.  Then they went straight to the high school.  Squirrel had not been in the house before.  The living room was a good size and the furnishings were already in place.  He noticed that there were no boxes sitting around.  The moving crew had done a good job, this time.  The car was not outside meaning Hank was out.  Squirrel decided to look around.  The kitchen gave plenty of room for a round four-seat table.  There were many cupboards.  The appliances were older, but they looked clean.  The refrigerator was empty, which explained where Hank had gone.  Squirrel went back into the living room and down the only hall.  His bedroom was on the front side of the house with the bathroom across the hall.  His bed was already made and his clothes put away.  “Very nice movers,” he thought.  He sat on the side of the bed.  The mattress was firm.  Pleased, he said, “Excellent.”  He walked across to the bathroom.  It was shades of blue with fish on the tiles and wallpaper.  He had seen worse.  The tub had a shower.  Matching towels, bathmat, shower curtain, and rug were all in place.  Hank’s room was just up the hall.  Squirrel looked in but did not enter.  He went back to the kitchen.  The back door was beside the refrigerator.  He opened the door and looked out.  The yard had some landscaping, lilac bushes, peonies, rosemary, and mums.  The forest marked the boundaries of the yard.  There was a small, metal outbuilding.  He walked out to it and opened the doors.  The lawnmower and other tools were inside.  They were not new.  He heard a car pull up.  He walked back inside and met Hank in the kitchen.

“Do you want help with the groceries,” he asked.

“Sure, thanks,” Hank said.  “I found a nice hardware store in town.”

“Excellent,” Squirrel said as he followed Hank out to the car where he expected to see much more from the hardware store than from the grocery store.  He was not disappointed.  There were nine bags of groceries and twelve from the hardware store.  There were also large bags of ground corn, rock salt, and composted cow manure.  Hank had also purchased several tools, including a shovel, axe and mattocks.  There was also pizza for supper, a 2-liter drink, a gallon of milk, cleaning supplies, and some bottled, distilled water.  Squirrel got the groceries and the take-out pizza.  He knew that Hank would want to carry in the rest.  Once everything was put away, they sat down at the table with the pizza between them.  Squirrel had poured some of the cola in a glass for Hank.  He poured milk for himself.  He had also set out two plates and put a dishtowel between them to act as a napkin.

“Thanks for setting the table,” Hank said politely.

“You’re welcome,” Squirrel replied as he settled into a chair.  He pulled a digital recorder out of his pants pocket and placed it on the table after turning it on.  “This is the first report for Floyd County, VA.”  He paused.  Hank nodded.  “The school is unique in that only part of the main building has a second floor.  This second floor is over the office hallway.  The science classrooms are on the parking lot side of this floor.  On the football field side, there are three math, social studies and the only art classroom.  There are two flights of stairs, one at each end.  These stairs are comprised of two sets of risers and a landing midway.  The stairs on the office end come down into the lobby of the school.  The other comes down near the newer of two gymnasiums.  The office hallway has the freshman lockers, the guidance office, library, school nurse, resource officer’s rooms, English, foreign language and two freshman math classes.  On the opposite side of the lobby, a second hallway goes past the older gymnasium, the locker rooms and the boiler room.  This door exits onto a street that goes between the primary building and the band building.  There is a brick house beside the band building that is used for office space by the school board.  Floyd Elementary School is down the hill from the band building.  The road allows the buses to pick up elementary school kids before picking up high school kids.  A third hallway comes off the second at the boiler room.  This hallway leads to the cafeteria, medical technology classroom, special and alternative education rooms, and a technical room that is primarily used by freshmen.  The technical building stands alone.  It has an office in its center with a vice principal and his secretary.  The classrooms are for business, technical and home economics courses.  Behind the main building there is a baseball diamond and football field which doubles as a track and field space.  There is a small building that contains a weight room and sports equipment.  There is a huge water tower and parking lot on the hill above the new gymnasium.  The floors appear to be tile on cement.  The walls are painted cinder block with mortar.  The science rooms appear to be part of the new addition that included the second gymnasium.

“My locker is on the second floor just outside of the chemistry classroom.  The locker also appears to be newer.  I have met a student named Meade Quesenberry.  He is my lab partner in chemistry.  I have two other classes and lunch with him.  I will use him as a contact.  There is a girl in chemistry who may also become a contact.  I will need to verify her first.  I have a lot of homework tonight including a book report for English and a small research paper for U. S. History, so I will be unable to work.

“That is the end of my report.”

“After getting Squirrel settled in school, I drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway using Rt. 8.  I then drove south on the Parkway to Mabry Mill where I parked and took a brief nap.  When I awoke, I drove back to Floyd where I discovered a hardware store across from the courthouse.  I used this store to purchase supplies for the task.  Down the hill, across from the library, there is a chain-owned grocery store where I purchased groceries.  On the way back to the rented house, I purchased pizza for supper.

“On arrival at the rented house, Squirrel and I put away the groceries and supplies before sitting down to give our reports and eat.”

“This is the end of my report,” he turned off the recorder and put it in his jacket pocket.  “Let’s eat.”

Squirrel looked at Hank.  He was supposed to keep up with the recorder.  He let it go.  It was not that important.

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Chickens

This chicken is out in the rain looking for food or water.  I'll send my son down to feed them in a few minutes.

This chicken is out in the rain looking for food or water. I’ll send my son down to feed them in a few minutes.

We have Red Star, Araucana, and Rhode Island Red chickens.  The Red Stars are the oldest.  We started with eight of them.  Then they got out of the coop.  Hawk, owl, or some other predator got five of them.  Two of the remaining went broody.  So, we bought fertilized eggs and put them under the two.  Of the dozen eggs, nine hatched.  We added two roosters and six chickens to the flock.  The roosters were later harvested.  Later we added the Rhode Island Reds.  Some have died due to natural causes.  Right now, we have eight chickens.  The two Red Star have stopped laying.  We will harvest them soon.

We are trying to decide what breed we want to add to the flock.  I suggested Rhode Island Red again.  I think, though, that we’ll add Araucana again.  Their colored eggs are interesting.  Whatever we decide, I’ll let you know.

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Beautiful Callie, one of our three cats

Beautiful Callie, one of our three cats

Callie is a beautiful cat, and she knows it.  We adopted Callie and her brother, Salem, at the same time.  Salem is solid black.  Callie is a tricolor cat.  She has long fur.  She loves to be groomed by our dog, Thor,…sometimes.  She will come up to me and meow.  When I reach down to pet her, she backs or walks away as if to say, “Ha! Fooled ya’.”  Sometimes, she will let one of us lowly humans pet her on her sides.  Touch her face, and all bets are off.  She loves to eat out of everyone’s bowl but her own.  She discovered a ball this morning.  She played with it for a while.  As soon as I moved it, she ignored it.  When Salem started playing with it, she argued with him over it.  Once he walked away from it, she did too.  “It’s mine!”  “Okay, I’m done.”  She’s not pampered, but she thinks she should be…at least until someone reaches out to pamper her.  You know, her claws hurt.  Oh, and at night…either she has to be “GPS” – “$#@%!” in a box, or she won’t let me sleep.  Among my cats, she is unique.  I love her dearly.  Can you tell?

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According to Intellicast, it’s suppose to get down to twelve degrees tonight.  Those of you who read my blog know that my greenhouse is unheated.  Well, I think that might change tonight.  I mean, part of me wants to know just how far I can push my greenhouse and still overwinter plants inside.  Part of me, though, doesn’t want to loose my plants.  I love my plants.  It’s a problem.

If I decide not to heat it, then I stand to loose some valuable plants.  The moon sycamore, for example, is the descendant of seeds that went to the moon and back.  As noted in the plaque below, the seeds were from an American Sycamore.  This tree, although not from a rare species, is rare in its own right.MoonSycamore

Cinquefoil is another plant that is special.  It is native to the area, and so it should survive whatever nature throws at it.  However, in recent years, it has been over harvested or had its territory, for lack of a better way to put it, taken over by builders.  Once common, it is difficult to find out in nature in this area.  The only two I’ve seen since my childhood are the two in my greenhouse.

Feverfew is another that was once more common.  It was easier to start from seeds, and so I’m not as worried about it.  The parsley that’s in my greenhouse is a common variety.  I overwintered it so it would produce seeds this year.

My most expensive and difficult plants are inside for the winter.  They will be just fine tonight.

So, what to do about the greenhouse?  Do I run an extension cord out and put an electric heater out there?  Do I light a bunch of candles to take the edge off the cold?  I can’t use the propane heater.  The fumes would kill the plants.  I think I’ll talk it over with family.  They usually have good ideas.

Either way, I’ll post photos tomorrow to show you what I did and how the plants faired.  Brightest of Blessings!

 

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A new day is here.  The sun rose with its usual beauty.  The photos below show the dawn and the greenhouse after the twenty degree night.

This photo was taken about two hours before the others.

This photo was taken about two hours before the others.

Thor rolling in the snow.

Thor rolling in the snow.

The tree tops were beautiful this morning.

The tree tops were beautiful this morning.

This was what the greenhouse looked like as I approached it.  At this point, I wondered which plants were still alive.

This was what the greenhouse looked like as I approached it. At this point, I wondered which plants were still alive.

Icy inside window

Icy inside window

Condensation froze on the inside of the greenhouse's plastic cover.

Condensation froze on the inside of the greenhouse’s plastic cover.

This is the door from the outside.  I couldn't see through it to check on the plants.

This is the door from the outside. I couldn’t see through it to check on the plants.

Frozen condensation

Frozen condensation

The greens are drooping but look good.

The greens are drooping but look good.

This cinquefoil doesn't mind the freezing temperatures.

This cinquefoil doesn’t mind the freezing temperatures.

The cinquefoil is fine.  The feverfew is drooping.  Last time this happened, the feverfew rebounded nicely.

The cinquefoil is fine. The feverfew is drooping. Last time this happened, the feverfew rebounded nicely.

The cabbage and mustard were not happy.  The rosemary didn't seem to mind at all.  The cabbage and mustard will most likely be fine.

The cabbage and mustard were not happy. The rosemary didn’t seem to mind at all. The cabbage and mustard will most likely be fine.

Garlic is freeze hardy as shown by these baby garlics.  This is their first season.  Each started off about half the size of a BB.

Garlic is freeze hardy as shown by these baby garlics. This is their first season. Each started off about half the size of a BB.

The citrus trees, willow, silver sage, and greens look fine.

The citrus trees, willow, silver sage, and greens look fine.

I loved the pattern made by the frozen condensation.

I loved the pattern made by the frozen condensation.

The baby cabbage appeared to be fine.  The soil around them is frozen, so only time will tell if they'll make it until Spring.

The baby cabbage appeared to be fine. The soil around them is frozen, so only time will tell if they’ll make it until Spring.

The common sage looks happy, even with frozen soil.  I won't know how the hibiscus is doing until Spring.

The common sage looks happy, even with frozen soil. I won’t know how the hibiscus is doing until Spring.

The feverfew and stevia in the smaller pots also appears to be fine.

The feverfew and stevia in the smaller pots also appears to be fine.

The garlic in the tray doesn't look as well as it did.  Time will tell if it's okay.  The sage looks fine.

The garlic in the tray doesn’t look as well as it did. Time will tell if it’s okay. The sage looks fine.

The parsley and lavender weren't happy but they aren't dead either.  Time will tell.

The parsley and lavender weren’t happy but they aren’t dead either. Time will tell.

The silver sage looks happy.

The silver sage looks happy.

The brussels sprouts in this pot look happy.

The brussels sprouts in this pot look happy.

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Tonight, the temperature is expected to drop to seventeen degrees.  Inside will stay toasty because of the woodstove.  The greenhouse, however, lacks a heating system.  These photos show what the plants look like today.  Tomorrow, I’ll take more for a comparison.

This is baby garlic in the raised bed of the greenhouse.

This is baby garlic in the raised bed of the greenhouse.

It may be hard to see, but this is baby garlic in a 72-slot tray.

It may be hard to see, but this is baby garlic in a 72-slot tray.

The cabbage will stay in the greenhouse until it forms a goodly sized head.  The head will be harvested, then the plant will bolt and give us seeds for later.  The mustard will bolt in the Spring, too.

The cabbage will stay in the greenhouse until it forms a goodly sized head. The head will be harvested, then the plant will bolt and give us seeds for later. The mustard will bolt in the Spring, too.

Broccoli in a pot.  We have a lot of deer, so this will stay in the greenhouse for the winter.  in March or so, after the deer fence is in place, it will go out to the garden.

Broccoli in a pot. We have a lot of deer, so this will stay in the greenhouse for the winter. in March or so, after the deer fence is in place, it will go out to the garden.

This beautiful flower used to be fairly common around here.  I've started several that I will transplant to our field in the Spring.

This beautiful flower used to be fairly common around here. I’ve started several that I will transplant to our field in the Spring.

These tiny sage will be part of an herb sale that I am hoping to have in the Spring.

These tiny sage will be part of an herb sale that I am hoping to have in the Spring.

This feverfew will be transplanted into the field or offered for sale.

This feverfew will be transplanted into the field or offered for sale.

I saved four fennel for over wintering.  This is the only one to make it this far.  I plan to leave it in the raised bed so I can collect seeds for future use.

I saved four fennel for over wintering. This is the only one to make it this far. I plan to leave it in the raised bed so I can collect seeds for future use.

I started this from a seed that came from a store bought grapefruit.

I started this from a seed that came from a store bought grapefruit.

These will make very nice salads in the spring.  Some will be transplanted to the garden.  Others will be used for seed collection.

These will make very nice salads in the spring. Some will be transplanted to the garden. Others will be used for seed collection.

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These stevia plants will be part of the plant sale.

These stevia plants will be part of the plant sale.

The rosemary is in a pot that has been buried in the soil of the raised bed.  The mustard is keeping the rosemary company.  In the spring, the rosemary will go outside.  The mustard will be allowed to bolt.

The rosemary is in a pot that has been buried in the soil of the raised bed. The mustard is keeping the rosemary company. In the spring, the rosemary will go outside. The mustard will be allowed to bolt.

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These two plants are over wintering nicely.  The lavender will be transplanted into the herb garden.  The parsley will be allowed to go to seed.

These two plants are over wintering nicely. The lavender will be transplanted into the herb garden. The parsley will be allowed to go to seed.

This parsnip will be allowed to go to seed.

This parsnip will be allowed to go to seed.

The raised bed is busy this winter.

The raised bed is busy this winter.

Silver sage has fuzzy leaves.  This one will be put outside in a larger pot in the spring.  It will be brought into the greenhouse every fall.  I will start some for the plant sale.

Silver sage has fuzzy leaves. This one will be put outside in a larger pot in the spring. It will be brought into the greenhouse every fall. I will start some for the plant sale.

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Stevia

Stevia

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