Monday, April 28, 2014

Beating Fire Blight

I sprayed the last dose of Fertilome to control fire blight in our apples this morning.  The blossoms are almost gone and spraying must be done before that time.  It doesn't work after that and I don't suppose you want to spray the apples with antibiotic.


Our lone pear tree had some serious pruning to cut off all the affected branches.  I hope it comes back.  I didn't do a lot of trimming of the cross branches in the apple trees this winter.  Ordinarily you trim those when the trees are dormant, but I had trimmed so many fire blight damaged branches and I didn't want to stress the trees any more than I had to.


The two Granny Smith apples are coming along well and I think we may actually have some apples to eat this year.  Yay!  My peaches don't seem to have a problem with peach leaf curl, even though I was a bit late is spraying them.  I have to remember to spray for bugs as I lost my crop last year to a swarm of wasps.  Yes, they eat peaches.  And, yes, I don't want to try to pick peaches covered in wasps. 

I don't know how the people who raise organic produce do it.  I tried that route and lost several years of fruit and almost lost the trees.  N o more for me.  Better living through chemistry, I say.


In the meantime our garden is starting to come back from Winter.  It needs a bit more growing time and we need to finish adding mulch. 


Some of the flowering plants are gorgeous. I want to buy more and keep the flowers going year round.


The garden entrance to the B&B is improving every week. 


There is a circle of pink Dogwoods and they are in bloom.  They will be prettiest for just a few weeks. 


We have plans for a few more flowering plants, but just haven't had the time or energy.  It's on the list.  That ever growing, no matter how many things you accomplished, list.

You have one of those, right?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Baby Blanket

I finished the baby afghan I was making for my cousin.  It is so soft and such a pretty blue.


I mentioned earlier that there are two places where I didn't QUITE follow the pattern. I will not be pointing these out to her.

I have decided that there is a reason I left them in.  It is not because they were too far back in the afghan to fix.  If I had taken all the knitting out to where the flaws are, I would have just had to start over, and I didn't want to do that.


So, the reason I left them in is so I don't intimidate others with my perfection.  Yes,.  That is the reason.  If I had given a flawless afghan, no one in the family would ever dare to try knitting.  Such perfection would be off putting.


Also, this is a gift for a baby.  No one would want to give a potentially priceless heirloom to a drooling, spilling baby.  They might get something gross on it.  In fact a baby always gets something gross on it.  Whatever it is.


So the flaws were left in on purpose.  Yes, that's it.  In order to make sure this afghan was used as it was intended.  To keep a precious baby warm.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Two Books

I have been working on a book of ideas for B&B guests to use.  You know, things to see and do,  places to eat.  I had to put it away for other projects.  I got it out recently.

Two of the places to eat no longer exist.  That is the sad fact of life in Buchanan.


I had been making scrapbook-type pages.  This discouraged me.  I didn't want to have to X out suggestions on a page. 


So I just filled a few page protectors with brochures of similar excursions or locations and left it at that.  I do have a brochure box where items can be taken, but this is just to look through.


The other book is a handmade book.  My son made it for me a few years ago and I really love it.  I want to use it for guests to write comments.  I have a pen at the ready.  But all the pages are blank.  I wondered if anyone would want to be the first to write in this pristine, handcrafted book.


I didn't want to be the first.  My handwriting is atrocious.  Typing on a computer has made it even worse.  No backspace button with pen and ink.  I took a deep breath and wrote a small plea.


Now to see if it works.


It looks inviting, right?  You might sit there and check out that beautiful book, wouldn't you?


And it worked. 


We have two wonderful comments from our two wonderful groups of guests.


I am having a lot of fun with the B&B and can't wait for the next guests.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

New Stuff

I am finally getting around to doing something about our last guest room.  We have a guest room that I consider finished and then Tara's old room.  She took a lot of furniture with her when she moved out, but we still have her desk.  It is huge, so we may have it for a while.  In the meantime, there was an auction at Crowning Touch  They have an auction once a month and we bought quite a few things there for the B&B.


It has gotten so that I can't make myself pay retail for furniture.  Well, I don't buy used beds, but other than that I am open!


We bought two small pictures for about what a good frame would cost. 

One is an original pastel (I think) of Fall and I really like it.  Does anyone know John Westcott?  Tell him I really like his work!


We bought a bedside table for the other side of the bed.  You have to have a lamp and a spot to place your book at the end of the night.  At least I do.  My sister-in-law gave me a couple of lamps and so now I have a spot to put them.


There was a wing back chair we got for a reasonable price and a piecrust table.  We also got a mahogany game table.


None of them were in great condition.  But they are nice and now I don't have to worry if someone dings one up.  They came pre-dinged!


A little wood oil, upholstery cleaner and Windex and they all look better than nice.

And all for less than I would spend in a furniture store for just one piece.

Score!  And a good start.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Between A Rock And A Flagstone

I have wanted to finish the entrance to the B&B.  It originally had some flagstones that were widely spaced with red dirt in between.  This made a bit of a mess when it rained.  It rained over 50 inches last year.  That's a whole lotta mess.

We asked a local contractor to build a covering over the doors and he did a nice job.  Now it was our turn to finish the path.  He would have poured concrete for us, but I worried that there may be water issues with concrete.  I wanted a more porous surface so water could drain, yet have a hard surface for people to approach the front doors.


We decided to shift the flagstones closer together and so we needed more of them to fill in the spaces left behind.  We leveled them without using sand, a level and screeding under the flagstones because we are lazy.


Next we dug around the flagstones to allow for a few inches of crushed rock.   We placed treated 2x4s along the sides of the path to hold the rock in place.  Lee cut and pounded in some wooden stakes to hold the wood in place and then screwed the stakes to the boards.


We went to the Landscape Store and got a ton of crusher run (also called crush and run) in the back of the pick up.  You heard me, a ton.  So no wondering why my hands are hurting this morning.  Crusher run is crunched up rock of various sizes, all the way down to powder.  This allows it to compact and get quite hard, yet it allows water to soak through.  It is frequently used for driveways. 


Lee filled the Mule and drove to where I was waiting and dumped it a small load at a time.  The truck is too big to get through the gates.  The dump bed on the Mule is a great help in these kind of projects.


We had enough leftover to spread around the water room door and the flagstones we put there.  When we bought the house there was nothing in front of the water room door and dirt splashed up on it every time it rained.  We hope this will make it dryer and cleaner in there.


We may add another ton or so to the side path.  We hadn't planned on it as it isn't the main entrance, but now it looks like we forgot something.


This project took three days, what with driving back and forth to the Landscape Store for stones and crushed rock.  But mostly because we had to stop and go volunteer at the library for a few hours, give blood in the bloodmobile there and ....wait for it...prepare for our second group of guests!  Yay for Airbnb!

We still need about 4 truck loads of mulch around all of the gardens and we may plant some flowering plants around the entrance..

Any suggestion for flowering plants that thrive on poor soil and benign neglect?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Round Up Time

Today was the first Round Up time of the year.  Oh, you thought I meant rounding up cows?  Oh.  No.  That is too much work for us.  In fact, I can no longer grip weeds hard enough to pull them from the ground without snapping them off.


So I make a big batch of Round Up and spray the suckers.

First I sprayed a dose of antibiotic on the apple trees.  So far it seems to be working on the fire blight.  I would love to have my first apples this year.

I sprayed the peach trees a little late, but spring is a little late this year, so they seem to be doing okay and I haven't seen any peach leaf curl.


Then I started on the Round Up.  I only sprayed two gallons and it did all the gardens and around the fruit trees. 


I guess it helps to do it early in the growing season, before the weeds get too big. 


We are getting a lot of onions this year.  It smells funny when we mow.  Almost like I am preparing dinner!

I didn't even rinse the sprayer after I sprayed the antibiotic.  I didn't care if the weeds got a smidgen of it along with the Round Up.

I even had enough to spray the vegetable garden area.  I wanted to kill all the weeds before I dig the soil in preparation to plant.  Lee wants to do corn this year.  And I want to plant rhubarb.  I may skip the tomatoes.  I have problems with them splitting and I can just go to the Farmer's Market in Daleville and let them deal with the rain and the weeds!

 I may do zucchini, but have had problems with vine borers.  You have to spray for them every week or so and I don't always get to the plant before the borer does.  Very discouraging.  Basil does well and I love it, so that will go in, too.


It looks like most of the blueberries came through the winter okay.  There are two that haven't started budding, but I will wait a bit to see what happens in the next few weeks.  I fed them some Miracle Gro for acid loving plants and next I will get some pine mulch and they should be ready to do a little bit of harvesting this year.

I killed a bunch of weeds today, sprayed for fire blight and fed the blueberries.  And now I quit for the rest of the day.  Time to knit.  A girl has to pace herself.  And knitting is working.  It is just sitting down and watching TV working.  I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hit A Snag

Yesterday was sort of overcast.  I did some yard work and a bit of laundry, but spent a few hours trying to make some progress on the afghan I have been knitting for a cousin.  I was really making some progress.

Now, it is important to stop and check your work and count stitches from time to time.  If you find an error soon enough it is pretty easy to fix it.  If it is a few rows back, you can even unravel just that column of stitching and use a crochet hook to correct it all the way back up to the top.  I have done that many times and have gotten fairly good at it.  That is more a testament to my errors, rather than bragging about my abilities!

So last night, after hours of knitting, I counted.  I was off a stitch.  Where, oh where, did I drop it?  I couldn't find the dropped stitch, but I did find a huge glaring error.  Way back.  Probably a whole day or two of stitching back.  Why didn't I check more often.  Getting cocky or complacent, I guess.


It was one of the elements where you drop and then add stitches to make decorative holes in your work. It was so far back and I would have to take out three columns of stitches.  When you have that many columns that far back, it is very tedious and the chance of making all the stitches even and look perfect is very difficult.  So I took out about 20 rows.  HOURS of work.


The only bright side of this whole escapade is that I have had a very hard time with the circular needles I have been using. If you are knitting a wide project, it won't fit on traditional knitting needles.  It becomes too crowded as you knit.  My circular knitting needles are 29 inches long, so they hold a big project.  They are stored curled in the package.  I have never had such a hard time uncurling circular needles, maybe because I usually knit larger afghans.

I looked up solutions on the internet.  They all involved dipping the plastic in boiling water.  This obviously should have been done BEFORE I started the project.  So there is my silver lining.  I had to remove the needles to unravel the afghan.  Then I took them to the kitchen.


I boiled a pot of water and poured it in a large bowl.  I dipped the curled plastic part close to the actual needles in the water. I guess you don't want to dip all the way to the needles because you don't want to loosen the connection and have the whole thing come apart 


After I let them warm up in the water I let it hang straight and used my fingers to rub along the length.  There were a few places I didn't think were as straight as I wanted, so I dipped and rubbed again.


Much better.  The knitting blogs suggest making a hanger for circular knitting needles so that after you straighten them, they can hang and not get twisted again. The problem with this is that not all are labeled and I don't know if I could tell what size they are if they aren't in a clearly marked package.


I caught up all the stitches back on my newly straightened needles.  With only a little help from the peanut gallery. I guess he could tell my patience was limited! 


Then I had to figure out where I was in the pattern.  I did that.   It helps to listen to Pandora radio while I work!


 Then I noticed two different sections where I had more errors.  They are on the border.  And so far back, I know I can't fix them.


So here is my plan.  Finish this afghan, knowing that a baby will likely not notice any errors.   He won't care. In fact he will probably spit up on this, or otherwise do something of that nature.

And if his mommy notices, she will not mention it, because she is way too nice.  But I am not happy with myself.