Sun-Breaks

So I discovered something this year that I had never known before. I have been informed that the term “Sun-Breaks” is unique to the Pacific Northwet region of the Shire… terminology not heard of in other areas of the United States. We are not talking about, “Oh look! The sun is breaking through the dawn!” or Shakespeare’s, “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” No, we are talking about, “Oh look! there is momentary lull in the blessed, incessant rain; the protective layer of gray that we call sky has been rent in two; and that great foreign glowing orb in the sky is peeking through for one brief moment…ooops, never mind…it’s gone.” My friend from the Midwest was the first to point this out to me. She had never heard the term before moving here. In a gardening book I recently read, the author said the same. It took me aside. I have never known a time when the term was not used. I asked the Hobbit what people in other parts of the country called it. He laughed. He remembered his early years in the Wisconsin Shire and knew what the rest of the land knows…passing clouds. Not our continuous cloud cover.

Which leads me to my main subject – there was this sun-break today, which allowed me to go out and snap some more pictures of our new garden beds now filled with that luscious garden soil. I decided we needed pavers put down to allow the Hobbit a reprieve from mowing in the limited spaces in between them. In the last post, the boxes had just been brought in and put into place. Since then, we had a small mountain of sandy fill delivered and built up/leveled out the area beneath the boxes with that. We chose to put down landscape fabric on top of that. We also secured mole wire (1/4” hardware cloth) to the bottoms of each box. The boxes were leveled and filled with that beautiful soil, more of the sandy fill went down between the boxes, and the pavers were put into place and tamped down. Once again, the Hobbit nephew helping us with his artistic expertise. Here’s what it looks like today:

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We haven’t done any planting in the beds yet due to the fact that the rain, the blessed rain, the rain has kept the soil a soggy, boggy mud pit. Each time we think it may be dry enough to be workable, it rains. Again. And again. And again. We are on record for the “wettest February-March period since weather records began in the 1890s (http://www.seattleweatherblog.com/rain-stats/rainfall-2017/). Don’t get me wrong, I am ever thankful for the blessed rain. Without it we would not be the Evergreen State. But it has delayed my plans, and for that I am being impatient.

De 11:13 “And it shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments
which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him
with all your heart and all your soul, 14 that He will give the rain for your land
in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain
and your new wine and your oil. 15 “And He will give grass in your fields
for your cattle, and you shall eat and be satisfied.

Here is the Hobbit himself with his trusted steed Moshe, the 220 lb. Great Dane dogasaurus, by his side, surveying the soil conditions.

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Moshe’s loyalty is rewarded with a taste of the new growth of chives waiting patiently to be planted. Zeke the Komondor is never far behind Moshe, worried he might miss out on some tasty Scooby snack:

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Next on the schedule is amending the soil and planting. Here in the Pacific Northwet region of the Shire, our soils tend to be pretty acid from all our evergreens, so we will sweeten it with a blend of lime (calcitic rather than dolomite) and other soil amendments. We like to follow Steve Solomon’s advice on soil amendments and add Agricultural Lime, Agricultural Gypsum, Soft Rock Phosphate, Kelp Meal, Feather Meal, Oil Seed Meal, Azomite, and trace amounts of borax, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, and copper sulfate. Most of these ingredients were found at Ace Hardware (one of my favorite stores!). You can find the exact amounts in his latest book, “The Intelligent Gardener” (support your local library!) or online at any number of interweb sites like http://www.growgreatvegetables.com/fertilizers/a-great-organic-fertilizer-mix/.

We are also thankful to the alpacas for their contribution of rich manure that can be put directly into the garden without any need to compost it first. Of course this is true for the goat and sheep droppings too, but the beauty with the alpacas is they deposit theirs in one area to make it so easy to collect and redistribute where needed (rabbit too if you happen to have access to their leavings). The girls boost our soil fertility and provide us with soft, yummy fiber to spin also. Plus, they keep the area mowed down quite nicely so the Hobbit doesn’t have to do the task himself. Win win.

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De 32:1 ¶ “Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; And let the earth hear the words of my mouth. 2 “Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As the droplets on the fresh grass And as the showers on the herb. 3 “For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribe greatness to our God! 4 “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.

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Garden Prep in the Shire

Here in the Pacific Northwet (not a typo) it is cause for jubilant celebration when the daytime temperatures reach the 50s, especially when there is a lull from the rain for a day! This is when all in the Shire turn their attention to winter clean-up and garden prep. I am so excited to be getting my herb garden back!!! Taking a trip to the market and paying premium prices for the seasonings I am so used to merely stepping out the door to procure just chaps my hide. An executive decision had to be made! The beds that had been removed in order to redo the porch into a cement patio have got to make a comeback…and quick! PLUS…why stop with just bringing back the herb beds in front of the porch when having some premium vegetable space is so alluring as well! So we started with getting the beds made to fit the space available.

My first executive decision was to call our nephew who is a contractor and an artist. Was he interested in taking on the small task of building raised beds in between his house building/remodeling/etc. projects? He was more than happy to help us out! He set to work and they arrived a couple of days ago!

Here’s a view of the basic set up plan. Right now the boxes have only been loosely placed in their respective locations, and will need a lot more work to get them leveled, seated, and ready for the soil. The ones directly in front of the porch will be for herbs and the three to the left (south) will be for veggies.

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Here is a closer view of the boxes. They are made from galvanized roofing material, designed with cedar on top (at knee height) for ease of sitting on while planting and maintaining the beds. The bottom outside frame is weather resistant lumber to withstand the wet ground so prevalent here in the Northwest. The wavy corrugation of the metal is for added strength. Josh does beautiful work in every project he takes on, and I had no doubt the finished product would be exactly as I envisioned in my mind. I’m still not disappointed! Ever!

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A couple of years back, when we had Josh design and help us install our cement porch, I had asked him to put a 45 degree angle on the north end of it to make it easier for the hay delivery traffic to negotiate the path between the house and the barn. When making the bed to go in front of that section, I asked him to continue the theme:

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Yes, that is green moss/mildew/algae/goo that has set up shop on the stairs. Here in the land of rain, that’s how we can tell the north side of everything! We have had a very wet (even wetter than usual for the PNW) and cold winter this year in the Shire, and are only now recovering from 10 inches of snow, followed by torrential downpour and windstorm that took out the power for many days for this area. Spring cleaning is soon coming, but will wait until the dirt moving and bed prep is complete before we “make pretty”.

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Here’s the inside of the bed. The corrugated metal is vertical, rather than horizontal, for added strength and support for the outward pressure of the soil when we add it.  The herb beds are just over 2 ft. wide (inside dimension) and a total of over 24 ft. in length. All of them are 18 inches high.

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The three vegetable beds are on the south side of the house with the greatest sun exposure. Each one is  just under 3.5 ft. wide by 8 ft. long.

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The sheep and  alpacas were very interested in what we were up to on our side of the fence, especially this afternoon when this arrived:

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  I was so excited to have the organic garden soil arrive that I completely forgot to take pictures of the very large dump truck that hauled it in from Vern’s Organic Topsoil (http://vernsorganictopsoil.com/) in the north end of the Shire. Nor did I remember to snap some shots of Erik, the driver, who was such a delight to visit with during the delivery.

Ahhhh…the smell of rich garden soil is an olfactory marvel and thrill!

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The dogs were rather bewildered though, seeing a fabulous mountain of (untouchable) soil in their front yard. What?! What do you mean we can’t have a party in it?! But it looks so enticing!

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Peppercorn the alpaca gave her approval for our gardening plan, knowing she will be a recipient of some of its bounty. Ginger, her sister, was busy elsewhere stuffing her face in gleeful anticipation of the future feast.

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And the wooly bullies decided it might not be a bad idea in the long run…they will just have to wait and see.

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All is good in the Shire. Spring is just around the corner! The plan has been set in motion, and we await its completion! Now…on to the seed catalogs!

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Deuteronomy 11:13: And it shall be, if listening you will listen to My commands which I command you today, to love YAHWEH your Elohim, and to serve Him with all your heart, and with all your soul, 14 that I will give the rain of your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, and your new wine, and your oil. 15 And I will give grass in your fields for your livestock; and you shall eat and be satisfied.

 

 

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Playing and Plying

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Pr 31:19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.

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What Meditation Looks Like

6354 - Tragoton-

I’ve been learning how to spin this last year…a friend has been mentoring me on her wheel. But recently, another friend decided she’d loan me her antique Tragoton (ca. 1870) to try my hand at. It’s been so wonderful! I cannot tell you how meditative and calming it is to spin! With our world becoming increasingly stressful, I understand why the lost art of spinning is making a resurgence.

Ex 35:25All the skilled women spun with their hands, and brought what they had spun, in blue and purple and scarlet material and in fine linen. 26 All the women whose heart stirred with a skill spun the goats’ hair. 27 The rulers brought the onyx stones and the stones for setting for the ephod and for the breastpiece; 28 and the spice and the oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. 29 The Israelites, all the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring material for all the work, which the LORD had commanded through Moses to be done, brought a freewill offering to the LORD.

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The Snow Day

Waking up to an enchanted panorama of snow, the Hobbit decided it would be a simply delightful day to bake some gingersnaps. So he pulled out the the recipes from his hobbit kin in the Norsk shire and proceeded to whip together an olfactory sensation unable to be surpassed. The fragrance filled our hobbit hole with soothing, inviting aromas, making our mouths water in anticipation. Once upon the tongue, the taste is too marvelous for words…more an emotional journey rather than a gastronomic experience. Our mind takes us to memories of long ago…warm moments of fellowship and conversation with kith and kin…merriment and festivities…a spot of tea with dearest of friends brought together in warm communion of spirit. Ahhh, snow days.

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Spring is Just Around the Corner

 

Spring is Just Around the Corner Mountain

In the light of a king’s face is life, and his favor is like a cloud with the spring rain.
How much better it is to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.
~Proverbs 16:15-16

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The Lady and the Craft

The Lady and the Craft


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do
than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain

“Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters;
they have seen the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep.”
~ Ps. 107:23-24

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