Spring seems to finally have found our Homestead here atop Zen Mountain. We are in between winds, wildflowers are blooming and gardens are getting ever closer to being run.
The kids around Zen are full of…well..something….and they are out to get Ma’s attention…No matter What it takes.
I happen to walk into Ma’s office, while she was doing pre-work work when I saw someone trying to get Ma’s attention from outside her window.
“ Oh Da, would get Ma’s attention for me?….ppppppaaaaaalllllleeeaaasseeeee..”
“ You have a visitor.” I chuckled.
Ma looked up to me then turn to look out her window. Our Girl was standing there.. staring…
“Hi Baby.. What’s up.” Ma asked our doe as she stood there..still as a statue.
“ ummmm I forget….Oh Oh Wait!………….. Hi Mom!” Our Girl said as she took a few steps closer to the window, still staring at Ma.
“ Diiiiiiiiiiiiiid you want to show me something?” Ma asked.
“ Yes.” The little doe said, nodding her head……and…stood there staring.
“ Wellllll, what would you like me to see? ” Ma asked again.
Helpfully, I chimed in, “ Did Little Timmy fall down the well? “ …because I am helpful like that…To which I received glares from both of them… “ What?”
“ Oh ! I remember… See?!?! I’na getting my summer coat! “
Ma smiled, “ Very nice.. You are looking all sleek and skinny now.”
“ Yes..” Our Girl nodded,” I’na getting skinny cause Da wont feed me no more appules.” .. and then she freakin glared at me..
“ Well.. What?” I spluttered , “There are no more apples.”
“ appUUUles Da… You don’t says it right.” She corrected me.
“ Rrrriiiighhtttttt, because THAT’S the issue here.” I grumped.
She stared at me a moment, shook herself to concentrate on Ma again. “Ma…come outside and play…It is nice out.”
“ But I have to work.” Ma sighed. ” I’d much rather come out and visit.”
“ Ok, I’ll meet you at the porch.” Our Girl said and walked around the house.
I shrugged at Ma, Patted her head, ” She’s your girl..You explain it to her.” and I walked out of her office.
Ma, working in her office got that creepy feeling you get when you know, I mean KNOW that you are being watched…She shrugged it off, continue to work. The feeling just wouldn’t shake off.
Ma answered her work phone as she typed away, only to have that feeling hit again….Oh wait…it wasn’t a feeling that hit.. It was one of the hummies bouncing off the window.. One of those new tricks they have learned to get our attention..Normally saved for me as I am the designated juice filler upper, and yet….
“ OOOhhhhhh Mooooommmm! Look at me! Look at me look at me look at me.!” The little boy persisted.
Ma, still on the phone, attempting to talk down an irate customer, had to swallow a giggle as the little hummer kept dancing in front of her window, just above her monitor.
“Mamamama! Look at me! Look at me look at me look at me.!” He sang as he danced about, rubbing against the glass.. Ma trying not to laugh in the phone as the person ranted.
The little hummer slowly danced up the window, and down. Back up to center, left then right and center again..Sticking out his tongue , making faces.
Ma, in tears, trying to talk to the citiot with an attitude, finally calmed him down , now that he had vented…all the while, the little hummer was entertaining her. He finally landed on the rose stalk in front of Ma’s window, waiting.
Inpatient , the little hummer started to make faces again..Being small as he is, he can hear the call from both ends and he started making grumpy jabbering faces…Again, Ma trying to hold in the laugh.
Finally, Ma got off the phone. “ You little Brat! don’t make me laugh when I am talking to grumpy people.”
“ What?” He grinned. “ I was Heppin!”
“Oh you were so NOT helping. “ Ma giggled….annnd the phone rang.. Ma making shooing gestures at the little trouble maker, as she answered the call.
The weather , being beautiful out, kept calling to her while she was spinning ,finally having a day off. Ma got up, wrapped her shawl, home spun and knitted by her of course, around herself and open the door to have someone staring her in the eye.
With a yip, Ma took two steps back.
I, in my office, could see what was going on as one of my windows is on one of the walls of the covered porch, the door is on the facing wall on the other side of the porch. I started grinning as I saw the problem.
One of our frogs had climbed the storm door window and was at Ma’s eye level when she opened the inner door.
“Hey Ma..how’s it hangin ?” The little frog asked as he sttttrrrettched higher long the glass.
“ You startled me you little toad.”
“ Frog…..well, actually a prince..want to find out?” HE said waggling his would be eyebrows.
“ Ummmm passs.. You look just fine as a frog.”
“ Your loss..You know what they say…” the frog said as his rear leg passed his head while climb.
“What who says what?”
“Once you go green,,”
Ma slapped the glass lightly, the frog slid back down a few feet.
“Well… That was rude..” He said as started making his way back up. “No kisses for you. “ aaaannndd he stuck his tongue out at her, making his way to the channel above the door.
” Ma shivered, tightened her shawl and went out the door, looking carefully over her head as she passed under Frog Juan’s perch.
Mom Mom Mom!
Tis the season. Ground squirrels are back to cause all kinds of grief . Next to mice, they do the most consistent damage up here..The only reason mice stay ahead as they are year round where as the “wood rats” hibernate. Once the weather warms, you’ll find them everywhere.
The numbers of people buying bits of Zen has increased lately, not making me all that pleased but nothing I can do about it. With the single exception of our one neighbor’s log cabin, they shouldn’t cause us much trouble.. Keeping in mind we are all under drought conditions year round and all on the same aquifer.. You dry up your well, you’ll most likely dry us all up. People that come from the city where you just turn on the tap and you’re all good,can’t seem to get that… The other thing they don’t get is ; ” Ya have to keep the vermin under control…Once again that would be mice and wood rats.
They tear up insulation, chew holes in walls, floors, wiring, ruin cars ..and tractors… They destroy harvests.. on and on and on…
We..We have our dream team to help us keep the numbers down on both..
Coyote Kids are on top of the mice and squirrels as they can.. Just ask Dennis.. He is hot on mice every day, all day long.
Bobcat Kitty, she and kids also take care of things, mostly sharing the night shift with our owls..Not that Dennis hasn’t pulled a few night shifts..and Rhey of course.. ok fine.. Rhey is more of a prankster ..She likes to sing..under my window..in the middle of the night… But they are on clean up as well, We get rid of the rats and they haul them off.
Wolffie comes through, just not as often, but as he does, he’ll pick up a quick snack.. He wont turn down mouse or squirrel.
But ! Our eyes in the skies are the CaCa kids.
We have several raven that hang close by and several crow.. not the nasty foul mouthed city crows… These guys work for a living..
If any of the CaCas see a squirrel at the homestead you’ll hear them cry, “ Mom Mom Mom!!! Rat!”
Ma or I hear them and we’ll take a look and sure enough, a nasty squirrel will be out and about..and if all things go well, CaCa has earned a meal for him and his buddies.
The CaCa kids have two groves they spend the nights , and a chunk of the day in. One to the North and one to the South on either side of us. They tend to fly low across the property, scanning wood piles for troubles as well as saying hi to us. When they see us out working, being curious by nature, they’ll come see what we are up to…And more than once I have been laughed at by one or another as Zen hits the fan.
So, any time we hear the Mom Mom Mom , we make our way out to see what the Sky Patrol has found.
Come hunting season , when I do, they will come with me to help me track after the shot….They know that once I am done… ” It’s gonna be a BBQ for the CaCas! Block Party!”
We started putting out our plants to harden off the last couple days… So far so good… They are all as big or bigger..most bigger.. Than what we ever could buy at the Nursery..not to mention…Ma is a seed saver…We are getting ever closer to running full Zen from seed to harvest, canning, drying, seed saving and start over again..
We have started cutting asparagus these last few days. We had our first meal of the season with them in it yesterday and already have enough for another with more coming up fast fast fast… The season is short enough up here for them, but that is fine.. We enjoy what we can by the season they grow.. I have no idea if we will ever get a good enough season to them making it to canning.
Our basil is bigger already this year than it was at the end of season last year and though they are still in the , mmm third set of pots? We have started minor harvesting off them.. I already put three plants in house pots to see how they do..so far so good with that too over the last few weeks, I just am not sure how pot restrictions will go for them.
We put out the peppers, on the deck, yesterday and you could see the new growth by end of day.. Already this morning they have made another jump.
Tomatoes are doing fine, they are root bound but we are so close, I don’t see me doing another move before we put them in the ground.
At 48f last night, we are getting super close, sooner than normal..But , at present, we are still watching the weather.
Even though I have reasonable protection for them in the new upper gardens, one strong wind could destroy everything..and they will come again…It’s a friggin Mountain top.. of Course the winds will blow.
I remember as a kid, watching clouds fly by overhead as I lay on the grass in the warm sunny rays getting a little bored when they would slow down….Now that we are in the same currents as they are, slow clouds are Just Fine with me.
Zen she said, ” But it smells sooo yummy.”
We normally wake up on our own between 4:30am and 5am.. Alarm goes off at 5 anyway to get Ma ready for work, so which ever of us makes it to the tea pot first, the other wakes when the tea water starts to boil.
At 5am, the skies are already owning the colors of morning. We sit in the covered porch watching shafts of purple and deep blue chase the blacks of night from the far ridges of the State to our North and East.
Any clouds in the skies begin to reflect the Blood Orange and Reds of a lazy sun as he blinks awake, tossing in his vaporous covers with a “Just five more minutes”
Lass and Hollywood, our two closest Hummie neighbors wake as they hear Ma and I chat…usually about wool..usually about Whispering Pines Farm and what new videos Jen may have out for us today.. At the present, VERY present, they are shearing. Jen has already been rooing as many ewes as she could. Once rooing and shearing are done, she has lambs ready to infiltrate, and conquer many a viewers’ heart… Not to mention the craziness of her ewes in general… I keep going back to watching ” Lucy” playing with Jen’s zipper, up and down, up and down…I totally need a Bobble Head Lucy…
Lass got to the feeder first, yawning and taking a deep drink before she tips her head back for a moment’s doze while Hollywood sits down across from her sipping make making ” yummy” noises.
“ Morning Guys” I call to them, Lass’s eyes pop wide open.
“Morning Da..” She yawns as she slowly turns to me.
Hollywood just waves at me as he sips, his eyes closed tight while catches the morning rush of sugar.
While Ma watches videos and goes through her posts from the woolie world, the three of us sit quietly watching the skies lighten.
Purple and blues fade as they are slowly replaced with the reds , oranges to yellows and ambers which slowly fade into the blue skies that will be today.
In moments, the deck is filled with the Hummie clan as all the brother, sisters, Aunts, uncles, nieces , nephews, all their better halves and finally Hummie himself. Hummie flies over to his “Summer” feeder instead of dealing with the brats at the feeders next to Ma and I.
A few of the kids have learn to just barely buzz over the flooring of the deck, moving from evergreen to evergreen, to the bushes and sneak up to the feeders before they are noticed by the adults sitting at any high perch, watching “their” feeder.
We took down the storm windows for the porch recently so now it is more fun for the hummers as they fly through rather than around to get into the porch area. IN fits of glee pairs fly around Ma’s and my heads as they chase one another to work off the sugar rush…so they can fill up again.
The sun, peaking over the edge of the far ridgeline , slowly grasps the hills to help him into the skies and with in just moments, his rays begin to spread over Zen, then ever so slowly towards the flatlands below.
The skies, fill with hummies also slowly begins to open as more and more of the kids make their way off to find troubles about the fields and grasslands.
Ma gets up to head in for a little spinning. She has begun to work on gradients , yet another thing she picked Jen’s brain about. Her first done and second under way.
I rise to head in, opening the storm door so that I can bring out our veggie plants to begin their hardening on the deck. Tray after tray after tray after tray I haul out until more of the deck is covered than not… and I STILL have squash to plant and get going.
Plants out, I close the door and head in to make us breakfast.
The sun still fairly low in the sky, I sit down at my computer to check on my things for the day.
One of our does with twins comes in, a relative of ” Split Ear” carrying the same split as her foremothers have had. IN behind them comes in a nice sized buck. His antlers still little more than nubs in velvet, but you can tell that they’ll be pretty good sized.
While I work, I watch as the baby buck; one of the twins, comes up to hang out under my window as he watches me..and I talk to him.
Split Ear, Starts sniffing the air and looking at the deck. ” Ohhhh Da… it smells soooooo yummy. I loooove tomato leaves.”
“Umm… No..just..No…Wait until they are planted and get going. Then I’ll toss what I trim out for you..Like always…”
“ But..” She looks to the deck, then to me, then to the deck and sighs. ” Fine.. You owe me a tomato. “
“But.. I want a mato too…What’s a mato?” The little buck said , looking up at me, his nose pressed to the screen on my window. as he looks at me from under my monitors.
“ Something you’ll get..later.”
“ K… I want a mamato.”
I chuckle, shaking my head at the craziness of the Zen kids, while a Tom Turkey struts up only to yell in everybody’s ears;
“Gobble Gobble Gobble!!”
“Oh Good Grief ! She’s not here. I told you that yesterday. Your girlfriend is Not in the house.” I call to the Tom.
The turkey stares at the buck, Split Ear, Baby buck, his sister and finally me. Glaring at us all in good measure, he spins about, fluffs, his tail spreading wide to us , stretches his neck and.
“ Screw you guys! I’m out of here.” and off the the Tom waddles.
“ Good thing for you that you’re probably just a tough old bird or I’d throw you in the pot!” I call out after him..He flips me off with his tail and makes his way over the berm.
The kids look at me as we all grin…
“ Well… Looks to be the start of Just another day on Zen Mountain.”
The little buck nods in agreement as his smears his nose up and down the window screen.
Final Note on gradient
As you can see in the above picture; Ma ; my better half, has done two separate gradient skeins of two ply Shetland wools.
On the left are fibers from Rich and Jen’s Whispering Pines Farm Fine Shetland Sheep, on the right , are fibers from Jamison and Smith. If you look closely, you can actually see the difference in the softness of the fibers. Jamison, is Next to the Skin soft where are Jen’s is “ Do I REALLY have to take it off? ” soft.
Skein #1 ( left) 3 colors, 95 yards, 6 grams ( 2 ply) White, Light Grey and Dark Grey; Ma didn’t have enough of any of the darker colors to make blending possible on the cards.
Skein #2 ( Right) 10 colors, 223 yards, 27 grams (2ply).. 10 colors were actually created by Ma, by starting with 4 colors originally, of natural colors; Black Dark Grey, Light Grey, and White, then hand blending with hand cards to make the transitions as well as the other blended full; shades of grey ,as it were.