Friday, October 19, 2018

not the last garden report but close

The goats have been reveling in the sun between the rain, but haven't been invited into the big garden for a free-choice end-of-summer picnic this year.

A few of the okra plants are still blooming, and the chard is still growing just a bit faster than it is being eaten by insects; perhaps the same insects that have turned my Portuguese kale into lace.

LOTS of zinnias are still blooming!
The orange, yellow, and purple of this one are stunning.
I think that little bug is transfixed at the sight.

Candy roaster squash remain in the garden until a hard frost becomes likely, and I don't want the goats anywhere near them. Remember the time goats got into the garden for a matter of minutes and some rascal took one or two bites out of every one of the pumpkins?

We've had some cold nights, but Wednesday night was the first time I'm sure the temperature went below freezing. So now the candy roasters come in.

Leaf frozen into ice on the surface of a water bucket.

Yesterday I harvested these two candy roasters, each about 16 inches long. Today I'll harvest three more from the Very Raised Bed, and get busy making puree.

One of the last Jing okra blossoms. How I love these plants, both the Jing and the Bear Creek, with their different colors but equally exquisite features! The flowers have been repeatedly photographed, drawn, and painted.

I missed eating a lot of the pods because I couldn't seem to get the timing right for picking enough of the same small size to justify heating up the skillet. The ones I fried were good, though, and some of the older pods were cut up for the goats. I realized belatedly that I could have tried picking and freezing individual small pods and cooking them when I had accumulated a good number - why didn't I think of that? Maybe next year. Okra has earned annual planting in a prominent location, as an ornamental with bonus edible pods.

On the left in the picture above are two Minnesota Midget melons.
A couple of late melon vines produced tiny fruits recently, even as the vines were withering - the one pictured below is the size of a tennis ball. All in all, these melons were mostly a novelty. Small fruits are fine with me, a perfect snack size, but the flavor was very faint. This may also have been a result of all the rain, though, so unless I plant them again I may never know.

2018 was a tough year for my Suyo Long cucumbers. The vines struggled, and managed to produce only a few cucumbers. The endless rain took a toll on the early health of the plants, and there may have been an insect or disease problem related to the nearby milkweed - further research is needed on this before next year.

But that rain! Many plants - both cultivated and wild - struggled for survival at a time when they normally would have been blooming madly. Later, when we finally got some intermittent fair weather, the plants rallied and put on a second growth that allowed some flowering though still not what a typical year would have produced. This included the bee balm, anise hyssop, yarrow - which has not bloomed - chelona, and other pollen providers. For this reason, I let everything grow everywhere, even if it meant some of my garden paths became impassible and the bank garden by the driveway turned into a riot of jewelweed and motherwort. It all looked a bit of a wilderness, but at least there were some flowers available for the bees and butterflies and hummingbirds and photographers.

The big producer in the terrace garden was the beans; a very nice change after last year's two-handful harvest. I made bean salad over and over again, and never got tired of eating it at all hours. I picked beans for friends who happened by, and I froze many packets of whole beans to enjoy when the garden is resting this winter.

After years of growing different types of pole beans, this is my favorite. Tender and flavorful - either as a pencil-thin whole bean, or as a slightly older and larger snap bean, lightly steamed and added to bean salads. They are the only bean I've found to be truly "stringless." 

I've left lots of beans for next year's seed, and with luck they will dry thoroughly before we get a lot more rain. In the past I've had better luck drying pods on the vine than bringing them inside to finish drying. There isn't much room for such endeavors in the house. Even the bee balm heads I was drying on the porch windowsills have been getting swept off and stepped on and batted around. I'll just collect more bee balm seed heads and scatter them in areas where I hope bee balm will appear next Spring.

One last picture, from the new raised bed: organic catnip, grown from seed. The catnip also took a long time to take hold (again, with the rain) but look at it now! I'll harvest and dry some soon. Exciting times ahead for Moxie and Della, if we get deep snow and they spend long Winter days mostly indoors.

Are any southern hemisphere readers just starting their gardens?
Do tell, please!


Sunday, October 14, 2018


I want to say thanks for the encouragement on my little Cloud Harvest Cashmere experiment for Rhinebeck. Your comments and emails have been very helpful and energizing! It really means a lot to me.

It's been quite a lot of work so far, and intense due to the short deadline. A deadline can be a great motivator, but in this case, even a few more days would have been very welcome.

Of course most of the work has been on the computer - it's not like I'm building a barn. But every day for the past week I've spent hours looking through photographs, designing, searching for information, ordering specific things from various places, and juggling components of the process.

If this all comes together and my box of goodies makes it safely to Rhinebeck for the set-up on Friday, I will feel somewhat victorious even if not a single card is sold all weekend.

But of course I hope lots will be!

These two acrobats are also working hard and with intensity.
Meet my latest "squirrel-proof" bird feeder.

Last night I decided to cast on a cashmere project and see if I could get it finished before Rhinebeck. Just for a fun challenge, because I have all this time on my hands. I already had the perfect pattern and yarn combination in mind: a lacy baktus in a light green laceweight cashmere from Maine. Airy yet warm.

After three complete circuits of my little house, I still had not found the yarn. This is odd, because there are only a few places where I store yarn, and my small stash of cashmere hanks and balls was not in any of those places. Apparently when I virtuously gathered up ALL my fiber one day last year, carefully organized it by type, donated some and tucked the remainder safely away in drawers and baskets and boxes, the cashmere went to some Extra Special Place.

Sure wish I knew where that place could be.

Oh well, it's not like I'm short on projects. While searching for the yarn, I found the bag of steel wool I need for a woodworking task, and the box of blank cards I bought for a printmaking extravaganza if I ever get over my irrational fear of lino-cutting, and a complete set of 1960s(?) Pyrex mixing bowls from my parents' old house, which I ought to put on eBay. So although none of these things are Rhinebeck-relevant, my to-do list just got longer.

But not too long for Daily Markmaking!

I hope your weekend has been a joyful one.
Here's to a lovely week ahead.

Friday, October 12, 2018

what a day

It did not rain today!

I had a list of errands to be done in town, and did ALL of them. 
AND a couple that were not even on the list!

When I got home in the afternoon it was such a glorious day I walked around with the herd for a little while. The goats are soooo tired of rain. It was great to see them enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.

Oh, and I rescued little Iris from another potentially fatal adventure - this was the third. The way she's going, I seriously fear that little goat will not make old bones. But I'll do my best to keep her alive because I like her a lot and I'm hoping she'll grow up to be LeShodu without the attitude. I had hoped the same thing about her mama, Vinca, when she was born, but regret to report Vinca has been cranking up the attitude quite a bit recently. Here's hoping Iris will stay sweeter than both her mama and her grandmama, and will enjoy a long and happy life.

Speaking of hope, I've planted a new little garden of Spring bulbs out by the barn.
28 hyacinths and 3 irises and 40 tulips.
Nothing says "hope" like planting, I think.
And perhaps especially, planting in the Autumn for the Spring.

And speaking of Spring, look what I found out in the Upper West Side paddock, almost hidden beneath mushrooms and tiny ground-cover greenery:

A single violet!

What a great day. I hope yours was, too!


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

new logo news

Between ordinary tasks, I've been working to put together a few cashmere-related items to send to Rhinebeck - the annual and massive Duchess County Sheep and Wool Festival in upstate NY - for the Cashmere Goat Association booth. I've never done this before, and only got the word a few days ago about what type of items are acceptable for sale. Such a short deadline! I emailed a friend who is going to Rhinebeck - sadly, I am not - and asked if she would be willing to take my items along with hers. She agreed.

Then I took a deep breath, hit the ground running, and haven't stopped since.

Due to the time limitation, I am having some of my goat photographs mounted, and also made into blank greeting cards. And since I wanted to add a logo to the back of the cards, I took the opportunity make a new one.

Would you like to see it? You'll be the first :)

A graphite portrait of Lily - I think it was from #DrawingAugust 2016 - 
provided the base image.

Here is the new logo, created this morning, so fresh it's barely dry: 

What do you think?


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

the week that was

I was a bit under the weather last week.
Nothing terrible, just a sore throat, thick head, and general malaise.


I managed to put one foot in front of the other Every Single Day through the most miserable, overheated deluge of a summer I've ever known. When the weather at last turned lovely, I spent several days doing a lot of this:

Fortunately, I had the very best of care.

By Friday, I was feeling much more myself, and trying to get caught up on everything that had slipped. Maybe I could have succeeded (hahaha - that was a joke) if I hadn't taken Saturday "off" and gone up to Vermont for the fiber fair in Tunbridge. It's the only annual fair that I try very hard to attend, because it includes the Cashmere Goat Association annual show. I want to support the CGA, and it's always helpful to see what goats from other herds look like, and learn a thing or two.

And, well...fiber. Right?

This year I had the rare opportunity to handle dozens of wool samples in John Crane's exhibit: Sheep Breeds: A World of Difference.

Here are two I've been very curious about:

The driving and the standing and walking and the 10-hour daytrip was a lot.
I'm still feeling it, but I'm glad I went.
And now I'm glad I'm home.

Even if it is raining again.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

weekend winding down

Saturday was the nicest day we've had in ages.
Cool and breezy.

After morning chores and doing the recycling, Piper and I went for a walk by the pond.

It was overcast, but very pleasant.

And after a while, the sun appeared!

The air was crystal clear. So much to see and admire.

I had carried my sketching chair into the woods, hoping to paint outdoors for a change if the mosquitoes weren't too bad.

And they weren't! The really vicious late-summer mosquitoes are still here, but they weren't out in huge numbers. So I chose a nice spot to set up my chair and sketch for a while at the edge of the wetland.

But every time I reached for my sketchbook, this happened:

No sketching allowed!
Fair enough, Piper.

It was such a perfect afternoon.
The very faintest beginning of Autumn in the air.
We had a great time, and I let Piper decide when it was time to head home.


That was Saturday.

This was Sunday:

I think Piper's weekend was a success!

I hope yours was, too :)

Monday, September 10, 2018

stormy monday

After three days of cool weather - COOL weather! - there's quite a bit of rain in the forecast. I did barn chores early this morning, so the goats would have access to hay inside shelters, instead of the paddock picnics they've been enjoying recently.


 The sky was overcast so I got right down to the garden to harvest vegetables - beans and kale for myself, and a little chard and okra to share with the goats as I walked back up through the herd. I was back in the house at about the time I usually begin chores, and still dry, which made me feel all smug and efficient.

Another batch of green and yellow beans went into the freezer, and I steamed a bowl of snapped beans to add to the Pyrex cornucopia (a cornucopia is a food container that's never empty, right?) of bean salad in the fridge.

My pole beans began to struggle during recent days of heat, before I noticed and began to water them - something that had not been necessary even once earlier in this Summer of Continuous Deluge. They are still flowering and producing. I should write an entire post about these pole beans. They are wonderful.

While in the garden, I selected a few zinnias to provide color and cheer in the house should there be the predicted series of murky days ahead. 

They are also likely to become models for more of my Daily Markmaking efforts. Zinnias have turned out to be fantastic subjects for sketching. There is a great deal of variation from one flower to another, and they are a lot of fun as well as a challenge to draw and paint. Or maybe the challenge is part of why they are fun?

Here is one of the green zinnias, growing in the second raised bed:

And here, the very next day, is the same zinnia from a slightly different viewpoint.
With a special guest!

According to the Internet of Dragonfly Identification,
this one is a male flame skimmer - Libellula saturata.

My plan for today - after the chores and the garden and the photographing and so on - was to do a lot of housecleaning. Planning, it turns out, is different from doing. The rain started while I was downloading photographs, and both Moxie and Della anchored me solidly in place. So I decided to write this blog post before disturbing the cats in my rigorous pursuit of a tidy kitchen.

I may be doing that housecleaning stuff at about suppertime.

Meanwhile, I hope these zinnias help get your week off to a cheerful start.
If you sketch them, let me know!


Monday, September 3, 2018


Two years ago today, Moxie and Della were coaxed into this carrier - can you see tiny Della in the back? - while I waited for their paperwork from the good folks at the Pat Brody Shelter.

They bonded pretty quickly. Immediately, I would say.
These were taken the following morning:

As they've grown, they've developed many interests.

Both enjoy knitting.

And of course, there is hunting.

Anytime, any season.

Hunting is important, but so is plenty of proper rest.

And not too much time on the computer!

Happy anniversary, kittens.
You certainly keep things interesting!