Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And now a word about comments on others' blogs....etc.

I apologize, everyone, for not commenting on your blogs, and for not responding to your wonderful comments on my blog.  I am kind of boxed in...Google only lets me comment as Anonymous--whether on your comment section, or even on my own blog.  I've done everything I can think the cache, clearing cookies, etc.  Nothing seems to work.  So, for the moment, I'm back to being a silent observer.  Except as I make comments a post in and of itself.  Which is what I will do until I can reconcile my real name and my anonymity!

So here goes.....
Starting with Vicki's comment about BBB! So true:  Blogger Behaving Badly! And I can't believe the stupid snake trying to swallow a heatlamp!  Jeez!

Me, too, Barbara (ditto on BBB) and I've had trouble being recognized on your lovely blog.  Seems when I want to send up a comment for you, I get trapped in an identification loop, put in email, password, and it clicks right round to requesting I do it again...and again....and again!
Julia...did you ever try again to post to my blog?  I have had no trouble posting.  Just's winter "down there?"  Need to jot off an email to you, my dear.  Sorry to have been buried up in the dirt, here! (garden) Things are finally evening out a bit!
Beth, you've been such a dear about commenting, too!  And I LOVED your Mighty Fine post.  The photos were delightful and the writing, tip top!  Love you, girl!
NCMW, what a dear you've been with your sweet comments.  Still love those fluffy dog photos you give us.  They are a pair to draw to!  Their coats seem to fly by themselves!  And just beckon to run fingers through the silky fur!  Loved your post on the condoms! (that'll get everyone here stirred up, won't it!)  If you'll send me your email address, I'll give you a little expanded discussion on the twitch:

SWVA--Thank you so much!  I may be joining you as a sheep owner not long from we'll have LOTS to share!  I don't believe I know what breed(s) you have...I'm going to stick with Western finewools.  We've owned them before and were taken with their strength, resiliency and the quality of their fleeces.  I'll keep you posted.  Right now, it's still in the "planning" stage--or maybe not...!  :-))  MM has told me they will be my responsibility--shearing and all!  Fun stuff!  Hope you've managed to rise above the difficulties previously mentioned and that you're on your way to smoother sailing.
Thomas, we're still plugging along.  It's the season for busy!  Hope all your projects are working out for you.  You're so organized, it's positively withering to even think about emulating your style!
Finally, Ruta, I owe you two emails!  Your pix have been lovely, and the life you and Peter are enjoying together is such fun to read about.  So, don't give up on me.  You, either, Julia!  I'm getting caught up, and you're both next on my list!
Jouko, if you are reading my blog in Finland, thank you for the photos.  And, you, too, are on my email catch-up list.  Tell Leena hello from us! 
Elora in Italy, your hikes are delightful!  I feel like I am right there beside you.  It got a little steep there for awhile, but I hung on tightly and you got me over the hump!  Hope you, hubby and kitties are doing fine.  Email coming soon to your computer!  Love you, girl!
Marlene.  So glad your trip to the Middle East was rewarding.  Glad to have you back on this side, of the pond(s) though. 

There.  Did I leave anyone out?  I hope not.  Thank you all for your patience and your loyalty.  I don't take that lightly!  It's so much fun having online friends!  And I have the very best!
I'm going to try Google/Blogger's Help Forum and see if I can't get this Anonymous thing sorted out.  I'd really like to have my name back!

Watering Hole

It's a very ordinary thing.  Watering, that least to humans...

But not necessarily to dogs.  We are blessed with having two out of three Border Collies totally obsessed with MM's task of watering....With one BC, I've considered re-hab....she's so drawn to water and waterING, that during her puppyhood and training for "bigger things" (moving cattle, chickens, etc.) she would skip off and take a swim if we were anywhere near the big pond.  She would simply disappear and I knew instantly where she was.   

Jessie is also in the "obsessed camp."  And since there aren't many things that Jessie can do nowadays, with her dowager status and gimpy leg, we celebrate her enthusiasm when it surfaces.  One thing she CAN do is WATER.  She takes aim at the stream coming out of the hose, barks and jumps and trots around as MM gives a drink to the plants.  Finally, she dives in and grabs it!  It's one of her favorite summertime pursuits.

She  looks absolutely foolish and chagrined at times...!  Who me?  Wasn't me...

But she's a water addict.  Foolish as she may appear, this is serious business as far as she's concerned, and as long as MM will stand there watering, she's happy to look slightly maniacal and romp about!  What a joy to see her playing again!

You go, Jessie, girl!

Get that water!!!

 What a way to get a drink! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Leaf Miners

Someone, last year, (I believe it was Ruta) told me that this was evidence of "leaf miners."  The columbine leaves have become miniature abstract paintings which, I admit, are captivating.

Disgusted as I am to be afflicted with the trails of this micro-pest, I'm also fascinated  I can't seem to generate ill feelings toward an insect that manages to handcraft this oddly beautiful image. 

I've noticed it seems to like tender young plants.  Nastursiums--one of my beloved flowers, filled with childhood memories of sneaking a sip of nectar from the amputated tip--are riddled with the leftover trails of the leaf miners.  The big green leaves bear the scars of the leaf miner's attention. 

The new broccoli and cabbage starts also have evidence of visits by this bug.  But the odd thing is that I have never seen one.  I look for it on top, underneath...but none to be seen.  I can only surmise that it's either very, very small or it only shows itself at night. 

So much goes on that we don't see in this realm! 

We watched a recent Netflix film entitled Microcosmos.  All about insects.  Here is a link to information about the film, done in 1996:  Throughout, there are no voice-overs.  Only the sound of insects.  And the photography is absolutely unbelievable!  Treat yourself to a viewing if you have Netflix!

As for the invisible leaf miners...I'm rather enjoying their destructive natures, and they can continue to paint their message, so long as things don't get completely out of hand!

Monday, June 27, 2011


In the morning with my first cup of coffee (and second and third!) I will often sit on the porch with MM, listening to the morning's commuter traffic (the birds commute among the many tall, deciduous trees and all manner of birdsongs echo through the yard!), wait for the fog to lift and handspin.  It's a pleasant bridge between dreamland and the day's realities.  I let my mind wander, not yet anchored to the morning's routine. 

I'm spinning sock yarn at the moment...very fine, and ultimately a three-ply destined for a pair of socks for MM, using my Leicester Longwool roving which was beautifully  processed by Hidden Valley Woolen Mills in Wisconsin earlier this year. 

Finishing my first cup of coffee yesterday, I picked up my empty cup and went to the kitchen for a re-fill.  On returning, I noticed the roving that customarily hangs out of the flyer orifice, was missing.  I also caught a mysterious white flash of some bird leaving the vicinity of my spinning wheel and heading for the trees!  "Unusual," I thought.  I couldn't recall a single bird that was white--or at least, THAT white as I stood by my wheel contemplating.   Another flash of white drew my eyes upward....

And there it was...the piece of roving! And not far away was a cheeky titmouse that had recognized the fine quality of my wool and decided it would be just the ticket for a nice cozy-warm nest.  Indeed!  Daring little critter!  I guess I can spare a little.  

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bountiful Vines

We decided to put in a little extra effort this season and see if we couldn't get our vineyard to producing.    MM and I both have been watering and propping and dreaming of a bountiful harvest this least we were....until The Hail Storm.....  Directly below are photos taken's hard to describe how they looked after those monstrous golf-ball-sized hail, though...Today, all is well, though!  Aren't they lovely???

Right after The Hail Storm, we were so sad to see the destruction amongst the grapes.  There were huge ragged tears in so many of the leaves.  We had watered copiously and had, of course, reaped the benefits of the soaker hose gently filling the grape veins (not a typo!) with life-sustaining moisture.  But then, to see the results of our efforts battered by that capricious weathergod, out for a day's mischief, nearly brought tears to our eyes.  We mentally postponed any harvest until next year...

But miracle of miracles....the grape is such a resilient plant--more to the point, they are TOUGH; they shrugged off the damage and set about putting on new leaves.  And did they ever!  What a display this is!  We have seven 50-foot rows in our vineyard, and all the supports are buckling under the weight of this unexpected bounty.  It's a beautiful place to be!  Tending the grapes has become one of my favorite tasks.  The sunlit leaves, the fruiting clusters, and gorgeous dewdrops embroidering the edges....what a glory!

I'm so lucky to have this life!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More than a mouthful....

You'll have to use your imagination on this post!  There was simply too much going on for me to run back to the house and get the camera.  It started with this post from NCMW's Mountain Musings.  It's all your fault, Carolyn!
When I read that headline I knew EXACTLY what was going on without even reading the post!  And shivers danced on my back.  It's a great post and I encourage you not to miss it!
Within a day of that post, we had one of those long, slithery "hoses" in our chicken coop, sitting in the hen's nest, feasting on eggs (or mostly),  as is normally the case at least once, if not more often, during the summer season. 

We go through the same drill, with Elora yelling for MM:  "SSSSSNNNNNAAAAKKKEE!"  and MM, dutifully coming to her rescue.  He plucks the tool from the wall, spends a few minutes lassooing the culprit with it as the snake disgorges its perceived meal back into the hen's nest, and MM emerges from the chicken coop, with the thing writhing, and coiling and uncoiling on MM's arm, while Elora stands well away.  No, it's not poisonous.  Just that I am not a snake person.  Putting it mildly. 
So, no camera this time.  But, here's the tool:   it's called a "twitch."  Customarily, it's used on pigs.  The steel cable is tightened around the pig's snout, a very sensitive piece of their anatomy, and the theory goes that one is able to move even large hogs, using this device.  We bought this one at one of the wonderful old hardware stores that have everything a farmer's heart could desire, over in Floyd County VA.  

While we haven't used it on pigs, it makes an ideal snake handling tool.  MM --steady heart and hand--opens the noose and slips it over the intruding snake.  Tightens it, and moves the snake to the Back 40.  Which is precisely what he did, with one interesting twist:  we keep a 60 watt lightbulb in one nest...kind of like the old China egg, if you can remember those.  It gives the chickens a goal to work toward. 

Well, the snake was in the process of swallowing the light bulb, small end first, and MM had a heck of a time getting it to let go of the bulb so he could slip the twitch over its head and down it's body.  And it was no small lightbulb, either!

Wonders never cease!  Wish I'd gotten a photo of it.  Probably won't ever get another photographic opportunity like that!
 BTW, thank you, Blogger! 

That's it for now...

This blogging business has simply gotten too time-consuming.  And Blogger apparently has changed the ground rules...or so it seems.  I am feeling persecuted.

Photos will not upload.  I am unable to comment on others' blogs except as "Anonymous," and probably most frustrating, I am unable to comment on my own blog, except as "Anonymous."

I spent yesterday combing through Blogger's Help Forum, emptying my cache and clearing cookies and tweaking....all to no avail...

So, the glitches have piled up to where it's impossible.  Believe I will extend this vacation for awhile and see where Blogger wants to take this.  I'll check back in a few days to see if things have changed, but for the moment, I can't see doing a blog with text only.  The images are such an important component of my blog posts, and it looks like they are suddenly not available to me.  The image insertion tool says that I am uploading, but it does not upload.  Maybe I've exhausted the capacity of the seemingly infinite cyberspace!

Sorry everyone, but this is not working at the moment....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hay Days!

I know, I know.....I should have put a sign on the door when I left...something on the order of  "Will Return the First," with a little manually rotated clock, designating the hour of re-emergence. (the "first" being the first opportunity I get!)

The only trouble is that I didn't plan to be gone!  It just happened.  One thing led to another, and soon there were intervening days without a blogpost from me! 

During the hiatus, I started thinking about why MM and I have been so dog-gone busy out here JOTOLR.  More so than last year, when I could always squeeze in a post.  Finally, today the answer appeared, light-bulb fashion in my slow-thinking mind:  we put off getting the garden planted in deference to those awful storms.  Remember the golf-ball sized hail?  The heavy rains?  The winds? 

Well, we were pretty spooked.  So, we waited to put in the garden until it looked like we would have pretty clear sailing for awhile.  We started planting the first week in June...very late by normal standards.  This set us back about two weeks.  Meanwhile, the grass was growing; the berries were ripening prematurely--due to that other weather anomaly:  80-degree weather in April.  So, we've been charging on all fronts:  getting the garden not only planted, but then the seedlings need constant nurturing--it's warmer than normal for the seedlings and they need more care so as not to expire. (watering, transplanting, fertilizing, and insect patrols); at the same time both the East field and the South field came ready to be mowed.  That meant baling square bales, hoisting them onto the trailer, hauling to the barn, unloading and going back for more.  It's pretty grueling, especially for two old geezers like us!  And, of course, dodging thunderstorms and holding the sky up takes a lot of energy, too!  And where'd those clouds come from??!!  Only a half hour before the sky was clear, wasn't it?

The strawberries produced a wonderful crop this year!  But that meant picking and preserving--in the midst of gardening and berries and normal life...Much as I love strawberries, I wanted to say, "Take a number and have a seat!"

So why were things so hectic?  Well, all of the above usually happens as single events, nicely spaced out so we can adjust to the demands.  Not this year.  Everything happened all at once and separate events, instead of smoothly parading through the calendar,  collided with one another and we've been on a springtime tear ever since!  Fast and furious! 

We've pretty much got it under control now, thank goodness.  But we've been out in the garden at around 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. every morning, and finishing up with haying in the afternoon, and loading the hay bales onto the trailer  just at dusk.  Coming in for sandwich dinners, hulling strawberries and then freezing them.  Finally, we collapse into bed, barely able to SEE it, let alone count any sheep! (hay bales).

I believe we're now over the hump.  Of course, with a garden, one is never done until winter!  But there's now room for the occasional breath!

Thanks all for sticking with me! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Comments on Comments...again.

Blogger still cannot recognize me, so, here we go again, with comments where a post should be.

Yes, Vicki! His expression seems to reflect an ability to put up with all the nonsense and noise that humans are able to generate. Barely!


Loved your post on the little store you encountered during your "Lost Travels!" And we definitely DO like having a Toad beside the door! The declining population of amphibians worldwide, is frightening, so we are doubly pleased.

NCMW, what a lovely thought! The crickets gather in the fall and honor us with their songs; why not toads honoring us with their good-luck presence during the summer?! Don's remember just when, but last year,(I'm careless when it comes to inserting those "tags") I talked about the Chinese keeping crickets as pets.

SWVA-- Our hearts go out to you with your sheep and the travail associated with keeping them. MM and I know the routine well. It was always such a hassle for us, getting 500 of them shorn in the late spring between rainstorms, and what with trying to get that wool off before any fly-strike (this--for those of you who don't know--is where maggots embed in the damp, manure-clotted fleece and begin eating into the live flesh of the sheep, which results in huge patches of decomposing skin that sloughs off in patches, and then must be medicated to keep the sheep from dying--yes, I know it's disgusting, folks, but you need to know what risks farmers face.) Keeping the ewes dry was a challenge. How does one "barn" 250 sheep overnight in order to have them dry enough that the shearer can work his magic?

And, I know whereof you speak, SWVA! Including the canning, handicrafts, etc. I also have been in your "wool sack" position many times! Tromping down the wool to pack that woolsack tight! Itchy job! Especially on a humid afternoon in SWVA!

Elora in Italy, you are so right (so much to catch up on!) Including your battle with the Italian post office!! How's it going??  I've loved accompanying you on your marvelous hikes in the Italian countryside!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


So there I was. On my knees and unaware. I was rolling up the open-weave fabric which originally had been used to bind up the Scuppernongs we’d ordered and received in the early spring.

I was elated to ge able to cannibalize the potting soil beneath the fabric and use it for potting up the geraniums that I have kept over winter to hang in baskets at the picnic shelter. So, I was daydreaming. Curling up the edges of the fabric, a hand on either side…rolling each side to the center to lift it from the pussy willow starts that have rooted beneath it…. contemplating where I should plant those pussy willows now that they have sturdy roots on them. I wasn’t thinking about much else. I certainly wasn’t thinking about toads. The birds were twittering in the background; the cows across the road were making a racket; and I was slowly and carefully furling the sides of the fabric….when all at once it got strangely heavy; I bent down to investigate and this is what I found! TOAD! AGAIN!

I must say Toad is becoming quite the star around here. He shows up at the most surprising times. I am always startled and at first screech, “TOAD!” followed by “Oh, Toad! Sorry! Didn’t mean to disturb you!”

He’s (or she’s) extraordinarily patient and tolerant. Don’t forget, I’ve even stepped on him so far this spring. As I said, though, we are so pleased to have Toad here on the porch and around, getting earwigs and such. (plenty of those this year with all the rain!) But I know Toad believes I have a funny way of showing affection!

Here’s another shot of Toad on the opposite side of the house…taken a week or so earlier.  To be sure, he is showing up in all sorts of places, but I will draw the line if Toad decides to take advantage of the late evening's open door to the back porche and come inside!

Comments on Creatures in the night....


I did search "ants", but the trouble is the terminology needed for doing a search which isn't ants, but rather the residue of ants, or earth balls of ants....I used to be a professional online searcher and thus am fairly good at coming up with the terms that "nail" a search, but in this case....what should I use? Ant houses? Ant "leavings" or ant detritus...???

Oh, Vicki! What a hoot!!! I LOVE the idea of miniature crop circles (being a firm believer in Von Daneken's early astronauts in Chariots of the Gods!)(I joke!)

Jim...I'm starting to re-think things, based on your observation....hmmmmmmm??? Thanks for your comment. Earthworms, though, aren't noted for the size of their brains...whereas ants are notably pretty clever....and these edifices seem particularly creative in design....
I, too, as a child LOVED to sit and watch any number of anthills we had in the woods and noted the various colors of the different species of ant. Most feared? The red and black ones that had a nasty sting/bite! When we lived in Australia, we were enamored of the green ants...gorgeous lime green, and boy! Could they ever give you a sharp reply if you disturbed them~!

Julia, does New Zealand have those green ants?

More Comments on Comments

Still unable to comment except by posting a new post!

Absolutely, Vicki! Nothing as sweet! (See my upcoming essay here.)

SWVA--How's the shearing coming? And who do you get to shear your sheep? How many? Do you handspin? Let's chat!


Isn't Toad just the dearest thing? I'll have to post the photo of the one I accidentally stepped on in the flower garden! We seem to have a good abundance of them this year, all sizes. Indeed, food prices are projected to rise, and the number of people on food stamps is shocking. One out of every seven CHILDREN is on food stamps (or poverty level food programs for kids.)

Comments on Comments

Hi, everyone!

Gosh, I stay away for a couple of days and Blogger now considers me a stranger.  Not only that, but it won't let me post comments on my own blog!  Oh, well....this is not "Anonymous" but rather, me, Elora, letting you know I'm posting follow-up comments as a new post here.

We're coming into the home stretch with the garden-planting and I am finally able to catch up with comments, here!

You really had a dose of that hail! I learned at Farm Club meeting that our farm marked the boundary between the "severe" effects and the "extremely severe." Our neighbor just over the hill had the paint taken off her house and she said the wind was "unbelievable" whereas we got almost no wind. Night and day!

Hey, Linda!

Yes, indeed! It was/is definitely a bad "weather event"--certainly nothing to compare with Joplin (and thankful we aren't in Tornado Alley) but bad stuff.

NCMW, the noise alone probably scared them! But having unknown missles raining down from an angry sky is hard to explain to them!

That WAS a hail of a storm, Vicki! Great wordsmith, as usual!


You are so right about the "reign" of unusual weather haunting us all of late! Not something I want to see again any time soon! You are entirely welcome, Barbara! Yep. Prepare for the worst, every time you get a forecast that is even close to you! I, for one won't take them lightly!


Thanks so much for dropping by to visit! Oh dear! A new roof?! What an eye opener! I spoke with another gal at Farm Club meeting and her car is a mess and must be re-painted.

I remember long years ago, meeting a man from Texas, whose son and a friend were in a hailstorm that had baseball sized hail. It easily broke the windshield of both front and back of the car, and then proceeded to pile up as the boys tried to take shelter beneath the front seats levered back as far as they would go. They, literally, almost froze to death as they were buried deep in the mound of hailstones!

Hi, Beth!

Great to hear from you! Glad you made it through all right! Hope all is going well for you, girl!

Thanks everyone for your kindness in reading my blog! We're been "on a tear" our here JOTOLR, trying to get the garden all planted, albeit late! We're just about caught up and it's time to lay down another field of hay today

Friday, June 3, 2011

Creatures that Build in the Night...

Aren't these the oddest things?  I wonder what goes on in the garden at night.  These must be the result of the swing-shift crew working deep underground, carrying little balls of compacted soil to the surface, making mini-mountains above ground. 

Are they ants?  The surface during the day can be completely clear, but when I come out in the morning, there are all these little construction sites dotting the  landscape of the garden.  There isn't a single design.  Some look like mini-volcanoes. 

Others favor a cookie shape,

...and still others seem more carelessly created, with a random approach to design. 

I'd like to catch them in the act, but when their work begins, mine has ended for the day and I can't seem to remember at that time of the night to take the flashlight out and investigate! 

Anyone got a clue?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Scrambled Eggs

Well, spring's just about history, and summer's lurking in the wings!  Of all the seasons, I believe summer is my least favorite.  It's that dratted humidity along with the roasting-level temperatures that lead me to recollect images of fall foliage and snow-covered driveways!  Spring has been a bit tortured this year for many, so even though I usually look forward to it, this year it's been cruel.  Out here, JOTOLR we've seen lots of scrambled eggs and plants made holey courtesy of that horrific hailstorm. 

The poor Hosta looks a lot worse than it did right after the storm...

Then again, some of our best friends--that visit only during summer--are a welcome sight.  In fact, in the midst of the hailstorm I looked down at my feet and right beside me, taking shelter from the ice volley was Toad.  Tell me animals don't think!

And we're into the haying season.  Yesterday and the day before MM and I were in the hayfield baling and gathering the first 150 square bales, loading them on the trailer, and hauling them to the barn.  Ooooooh!  They smell so sweet!   My 66-year-old body complained a little the first day out, but it's oiling up gradually. 

My posts continue to be a bit haphazard, what with trying now to get the garden planted along with cutting/baling hay.  We're a little late on both accounts, so we have some catching up to do.   I'll be back on track once we get over this initial push.  Thank you, faithful readers!  I treasure you!