Saturday, December 23, 2023

December 2023

 December has been all about family. We made a quick trip over the mountains to visit with our son, Tony, Daughter-in-law, Tina, and Granddaughter, Sara with her family, and Grandson, Jesse.

It's so much fun to see the children and their fascination with all things Christmas.

Even the great grandkids are growing up, 

but we do still get some baby time with the littlest ones.

On December 16, we gathered with the Crawford clan, seeing most of the grandchildren from our four Crawford sons. Unfortunately, the Salt Lake City contingent wasn't able to attend, but we still had a very full houseful.

Lots of great food wherever we have gone this Christmas season. It's great to see the next generation taking over the gatherings! We'll still do some summer camping here at the lake, but fall and winter get togethers work better in the kids' big houses!
I know it's too early, but I'm starting to get ready for Spring planting! My friend, Lisa, got me this heat mat (it's the pink thing under my plants. It has a thermostat that is set to 68, and so far, it's kept everything alive in the entire greenhouse.

Even the tobacco plant, which I think is supposed to be an annual, has survived thus far even after I cut all the leaves off a couple of months ago. It just put out new leaves. 
For my experimental gardening project in 2024, I'm trying electroculture. It involves copper wire poked into the ground by plants. Not sure I'm even going about it right - I found a bag full of bamboo stakes and spent the morning stripping copper wire and wrapping them for use when I start my planting.

Monday, November 20, 2023

November 2023


Let the building begin! Tony brought his cement mixer and post hole auger, so after laying out the grid, he drilled the holes, put the 6x6 posts in, and filled holes with cement.

Next step, bracing the posts level. We were expecting wind and rain, and Rome isn't built in a day.
So many details in between, but it was time to raise high the roof beams....Ron on the excavator, Tony directing and nailing, and me nail biting...

Not for the faint of heart. But it went well, and soon we had rafters in place.

Time now to haul the heavy plywood up and start nailing it down. 

Next comes waterproof paper - In the old days, it was tarpaper. Now there are many new materials that are more sturdy, easier to use, and not so slippery.

Roofing shingles come next:
Soffits were added to both ends of the building, and we now have a tool shed! In less than a week, dodging rain storms, waiting for frost to thaw one morning, and the shorter days of fall, our amazing son on his own with help only raising the rafters has created our building.  

Thursday, October 26, 2023

October 2023

 Years ago, in one of our past careers, we did carving. We started with signs and then moved on to making benches.  The original paint has faded so we began the big painting project of October with a background coat of stain.

Even though the back of this one has a rotted area, the bench is structurally sound, so it got repainted.

I originally painted the flowers, but our neighbor, Gene, suggested the frame would look better in a contrasting color.

I think he's right.... Now I just have to do the borders on one more bench, and then there are 3 more to paint. I started counting all the benches we had made, and I think there were about 20. We did nearly a hundred signs before we finished.

On to November and the tool shed building project.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

September 2023


After staying home all summer, busy with gardens and projects, we took a trip to the East side of the mountains and met our newest great grandson, Atlas. Another happy baby!

Grandpa Tony is teaching the older kiddos how to do chin ups! He's a total believer in core strength and knows the earlier you begin building muscles, the better you do as an adult.

Our oldest great grandson with knife and sheath he created using paper, glue, and imagination.

This one prefers Grandpa Ron to Grandma Rosie. He crawled right up on Ron's lap, ignoring all my friendly overtures. I may be losing my baby touch!

And sometimes, you just need a grandma lap and a short nap.
Back home to more projects:

The hillside where you can see Ron on the excavator, has been covered with blackberries for many years. He first scraped the blackberry bushes off, then we moved four 40 year old rhododendrons from where they were encroaching on the driveway to that hillside. Although an excavator makes this move possible, there is still a lot of hand work involved! At the base of the hill, I planted several hundred flower bulbs - tulips, daffodils, and dahlias. It should be beautiful if everything survives the move. We gave the plants the best possible start by waiting until they were dormant, and doing it in the middle of a torrential rain event.

Sixty-five years ago, as a teenager, I helped my father build a huge septic tank from brick. It has served the house all those years. When we relocated the driveway to come by the tank, we had to protect it from big trucks driving over it. We had railroad ties around the edge, but they weren't very pretty, so Ron removed them the other day, and we created a berm of dirt as a barrier. I robbed various plants from other places on the property to ensure that people can see it and hopefully avoid driving on it.

While harvesting most of the garden is over, winter squash time is just beginning. We had our first acorn squash stuffed with butter, brown sugar, pecans, and craisons yesterday! Still no frost, but the squash was hard enough it took a saw to cut it in half. 

Monday, August 28, 2023

August 2023

This is the first year that I have really used my greenhouse. While I started most plants on my kitchen table, I moved them into the greenhouse when it got warmer, and have left them through the heat of the summer. Surprisingly, they've survived the heat and have thrived with daily watering.  I've gotten most of my tomatoes and cucumbers from the plants in the greenhouse. We brought power to the greenhouse this month, so I should have more success in starting plants next spring.

Growing tobacco as a lark - beautiful plant with a very pretty flower. Now I need to research some way to use it other than smoking. Medicinal? I'm always looking for medicinal plants.

Our friends, Patti and Fran, from Florida visited on their way to an Alaska cruise, and we took in the local sites. Deception Pass, with it's spectacular views is always on our must see places.  
Closer to home, the swinging footbridge across the Stillaguamish River - a place we haven't actually stopped for in quite a while.
Lots of veggie and fruit preservation going on this month. Making jam, drying figs, freezing beans, making pickles, and most recently:
Making sauerkraut. As with anything, proper tools make the job easier.  My recipe: 
2 large heads of cabbage (shredded, it make about 2 gallons)
1/4 cup canning salt (thoroughly mixed with the cabbage) 
Pound to tamp down - now it's about a gallon and half in volume.
Cover with plate and large zip lock bag filled with water for weight. (I have a rock that I use - I found it years ago and have scoured it and kept it for the sauerkraut weight)

Cover with a clean towel, and wait! It takes about 5 or 6 weeks to be ready to put in jars and seal.

 "Winter is coming..." not my favorite phrase, but it feels good to have a pantry and freezer full of food and a woodshed full of wood. 


Wednesday, July 26, 2023

July 2023

 Harvest season begins with raspberries. It's a fast, almost overwhelming time where I pick every other day for about two weeks. This year I made about 24 quarts and 10 or so pints of raspberry jam. My grandkids have been eating raspberry jam for most of their lives, and I try to make enough so that all of the kids, grandkids, and great grandchildren have jam all year long.

While I could extend the season for another week or so, I'm concentrating now on getting the vines ready for next year.
The old canes that produced berries this year are easy to identify now as they are gray/black, and the new canes for next year's berries are green. I leave the new canes long for now to deter the deer from eating them. They still trim the bottom leaves, but the cane just keeps growing at the top and when all the leaves die off, I'll trellis the canes to the wire. You can see the piles of old canes beside the row.
On to blackberries and blueberries - Both are just beginning to produce! 
The Hugelkultur mound has Kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets and pumpkin growing nicely. I made my first jar of dill pickles today.
Inside the greenhouse things are lush! The tobacco plant in front of Ron has flourished inside. The plants I planted in the main garden are less than a foot tall. Still hoping for a flower! Ron was inside figuring out where to put the electric line.

My hero - digging the trench to bring power and water to the greenhouse. I do have water in the garden, but it's kind of a mess - underground for most of the way, but connected with a hose at the house, which involved turning on the spigot about 200 yards from where we use the water. He resisted a bit bringing water into the greenhouse, but we will lay the waterline today! 

My daughter in law, Tina, and I thinned the apple trees this past weekend, and the deer are enjoying not having to reach for apples. If only they would just eat the apples on the ground....if only they didn't love strawberry and raspberry and blackberry leaves so much....if only they hadn't discovered the green beans....So much of their habitat has gone away in recent years, that we are pretty tolerant of them hanging out in our little oasis.


Monday, June 19, 2023

June 2023


June saw most of the kids and their families visiting for our annual family gathering. We had 17 of the 23 grandchildren here for a nice sunny day where the kiddos could swim and play together. The new baby was a big hit with everyone. It's been a while since we had a baby in the mix!

Mom and big sister hovered while all the cousins had a chance to hold baby Martin. He laughed and smiled throughout.

The cousins always find a new game to test their skills against each other. The older teens are even challenging the uncles to arm wrestling matches. :) So far, the uncles prevail, but it won't be long!

The boys in their traditional pose. Getting a little gray around the edges, but still kids at heart.

A week later, Ron's brother and his three grown children came for a sad occasion - their daughter and sister, Regina, died suddenly earlier this year and they came for the memorial service. We are all still in shock and sadness at her passing.

Meanwhile, our projects continue - extending the water line to our new building site is complete. 

And June is only half over - definitely our busy season around here is in full swing.