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Many thanks to The Man for his contribution to the blog last week.

We were both really happy to get the possum situation resolved to the benefit of all 🙂

Thankfully no more of that kind of excitement this week.

Just Garden Planning Excitement!

Our seeds have arrived- and this morning I spent some time getting the planting plan together. Last year the seed-starting schedule was dictated by how quickly we could get the hoophouse enclosed. We got the first wave sown March 23.

This year we’re going to go earlier, and see if we can get tomatoes and other heat-loving stuff ripening a bit sooner.

This year’s selections include:

Tomatoes: German Pink, Sunrise Bumblebee, Martino’s Roma

Peppers: Craig’s Grande Jalepeño, Sheepnose Pimento, Blot

Melon: Petite Gris de Renne

I’ve also got two little tomato plants who volunteered last fall (I think one Brad’s Atomic Grape, and one Honeycomb) growing under lights in the house right now. Really hope I can keep them happy and growing for a few more months.

And on the wool front, I finished spinning up the Florida Cracker Sheep wool (three ply, same style as the Gulf Coast Native)

It was a really fun, easy spin. The two wools seemed very similar to me. I’m thinking/hoping to use them together in a project soon. Would be interested to see what they they look like right off the sheep. Maybe next time I’m in Florida….. 🙂

And on the needles this week- mitts, of the fingerless variety. Wool is Jacob- sample skein from that fleece I processed as a demo for my Country Living Expo class. Think I might just keep making vanilla mitts for a while. They are so quick, and I’m kind of in the groove. Thinking that maybe once I’ve got a batch of them I might play around with embellishing them- a little embroidery?

And in case you are not subscribed to Clara Parkes’ Wool Channel- I thought that this recent episode was particularly engaging: https://www.thewoolchannel.com/viw-s1-e6/

Have a good week!

O Possum, Opossum

Denise is busy spinning and knitting so I’m taking up the slack for this post.

Last week we discovered a stowaway possum sleeping in one of the chicken coop nesting boxes.

The possum did not react to our presence or noise or annoying illumination from bright flashlights.  At first we suspected it had died in the box but a slight expansion and contraction of the body confirmed the presence of life.

Was it exhausted and famished after the brutal week of snow, wind and sub-freezing temperatures?  Maybe.  Was it in a catatonic state, commonly known as “playing dead” due to fright or shock?  Possibly.  I suspect that exhaustion and hunger were more likely in this case.

There is some concern about possums attacking and eating chickens but, in fact, they rarely do so.  They are lazy and somewhat cowardly and prefer an easy meal over trial by combat.  Small rodents and insects are preferred targets as are eggs and chicken feed.  So we were not overly concerned for chicken safety.  In addition, this possum appeared too weak to mount an attack on ornery chickens.

Possums can present a vicious front when frightened with their open-mouthed hissing baring razor sharp teeth.  But this is a bluff…a defense mechanism to deter a perceived threat.  And no, possums do not usually carry rabies (their body temperature is too low).  Ultimately, their villainous reputation is unwarranted as possums are a useful and benign member of our ecosystem. 

The chickens didn’t display any anxiety over the intruder although they were a bit put out by having one of the prime nesting boxes illegally occupied and occasionally approached the box and glared at the interloper with what appeared as impatience and exasperation (if I may be allowed anthropomorphic characterizations). 

So we let the little critter catch up on sleep while Denise called the Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.  They sent two volunteers out within a couple of hours to attempt a capture of the possum.  They arrived with gloves, a net and a cat carrier.  The possum did finally raise its head when they reached into the nesting box but it offered no resistance and allowed itself to be placed in the carrier with no fuss.  The volunteers said it would be examined for injuries and health condition and then released back into the wild once properly recuperated.

We appreciated the quick and efficient response by Wolf Hollow and hope the possum enjoyed the brief stay in our chicken coop.

Thawing

Despite what Stringer says (“The Wire” reference video removed due to language worse than I remembered), I am enormously thankful for a 40-degree day.

While it was a stressful and tiring week, I’m pleased to report that we came through the snow and cold without any death or destruction. Structures intact, all critters accounted for. Whew!

This weeks expected rain should melt away the snow quickly, but cleaning all the mucky bedding out of the shed is going to be a big job.

And while hunkered down by the pellet stove, I actually got a fair fit of spinning done- you might remember that I brought home a bunch of new-to-me fibers from Florida last month-

So far I’ve spun up two of the three- the white below is Gulf Coast Native

true three-ply. singles spun on Elsa, plied on Moto. Really enjoyed this- smooth and easy spinning from well prepared roving.
light and lofty in luscious berry colors, spun on Moto (3.5), chain plied also on Moto (2.5). This prep was more like combed top. A little compressed- so I pre-fluffed and broke off sections to spin from the fold.

Next up is the Florida Cracker wool! Going to do it up in the same way as the Gulf Coast so I can do a direct comparison of the results- so I’ve got it divided up by weight into thirds and ready to spin

And we just got out garden seed order in to Baker Creek. So exciting to think about the cool stuff we’re going to grow this year. We’re dialing back the tomatoes a bit (still three varieties, just fewer of each), and making space for peppers (sweet and hot), eggplant and celery.

There’s still a lot of winter to be gotten through, but I do find that garden planning helps to keep me moving forward.

Have a good week folks!

Cold is Exhausting

And it is quite cold.

We have about 12-14 inches of snow on the ground and a high temp today of 14 degrees.

The Man and I have expended quite a bit of energy over the last couple of days trying to keep the critters out of the worst of it. But blowing snow is a real bugger.

We’ve fortified the shed with tarps, hung heat lamps for the chigs, and rigged water defrosters.

If anyone is out there looking for a makeshift chicken heater, I think that we might have hit upon something that might help in a punch- seedling heat mats

Didn’t take a picture while I was out there (reluctant to remove my gloves) but you can kind of see on the chicken cam.

You basically wrap one seedling mat around the 5 gallon reservoir, and place another beneath the tray. I’ve got a rubber flooring tile below the bottom mat so that it’s not sitting directly on the concrete pavers. So far it seems to be working well keeping the water in a liquid state.

The sheeps seem to be doing ok, but are a little agitated. Don’t know if that is maybe because we’ve been out there so much puttering and messing with stuff, or maybe they are kind of freaked out by the sounds the tarps make in the wind. But I wish they would cool out and hang in the shed where it is marginally comfier.

That’s it for now. I’m pretty beat. And tomorrow isn’t supposed to be any better weather-wise.

Take care and stay safe folks-

Photos, for the record 😉