This month has been an emotional roller coaster with hubby’s early month medical double whammy followed by 10 days in the hospital, home for a weekend then an overnight in the ER with an infection. He is weak as a newborn but slowly making his way back.
Between the days in the hospital with him, then caring for him at home, the garden was totally neglected. When Son 1 was here one week during the hospital stay, we at least picked some greens and peppers, turning a blind eye to the weeds and dead plants. Last night enough peas were harvested for dinner for two and a half gallon of Jalapenos picked. Today while the patient snoozed in his recliner, a mammoth effort was begun to get rid of the weeds and prepare the garden to overwinter. Some of the sunflowers were hacked down and the seed heads hung on the fence for the birds, the upper half of the garden was weeded and the compost pile is waist high. The Komastuma that survived the Harlequin bugs was thinned and the row of carrots sown in late summer was harvested. The asparagus are brown and need to be cut and burned, but it is too windy today to burn anything outdoors.
Yesterday, a basket of apple seconds from our orchard was made into another 6 pints of applesauce.
The fig finally produced fruit this year, two small bowls of figs have been harvested and enjoyed and if the weather holds for another couple of weeks, there are more on the tree.
The larder isn’t as well stocked as some years, but we have fruit sauces, tomato sauces, peppers, and some jam are stored for winter use.
The refrigerator has fermented pickles, a gallon of pickled jalapenos, and hot sauces. Pepper vinegar is sitting on a dark shelf until it is ready, and hot red peppers are being strung to dry for infused Olive Oil.
Late last week, the night time temperatures started dropping into the mid 40’s so the houseplants were returned to the shelve where they overwinter.
I am hopeful to get a few more greens in the ground, maybe more radishes and the mini greenhouse repaired and installed before our first frost. It went down to 39f last night, but I don’t see a freeze predicted for the next 10 days. Hurricane Ian will bring us 1 to 4″ of rain over the weekend.
The trees are losing leaves and gaining color. The summer is over, fall and winter on their way. I hope we never have a repeat of this past September. I need to make sugar cakes for the bees now that nights are so cold and move the orifice opening to the smallest one.
Early in the week, Son 2 sent a photo of him grinning ear to ear and holding a 10 week old, gorgeous, female German Shepherd pup. Then on Friday afternoon, he asked if he and his family, could come in for the weekend. He, wife, 5 kids, the puppy, and their older mixed breed dog showed up around midnight and settled in for the night in their RV that lives on our farm when it isn’t on the road with them. They eat in our house, use one of the bathrooms so the black tank doesn’t have to be emptied each time they come, and the two pups came in with them. The kids are 10 months to 11 years, so lots of activity and noise.
Son 2 is the official bee owner and he and I went down Saturday morning to see if the queens had been released from their cages. One had and was seen on the frames. The second cage had all dead bees in it except one, the queen that had not been released yet. We opened the cage as it had been 6 days and she flew. We don’t know if she flew into the hive or away, if maybe they had raised a queen and didn’t want her, but there were two queen cells about to open, so we closed up that hive. The thriving hive was very thriving and didn’t like us messing inside, though we saw bees of all ages including some just emerging, so they were closed up too. I will go back toward the end of the week and recheck the second hive.
Back in the house, our very brave (Ha, Ha) German Shepherd old lady came down to visit with the kids and their pups and the young puppy immediately wanted to play. Shadow didn’t have any idea what that little active ball of fluff was that chased her around the coffee table, the dining room table, and finally back up the stairs where she could hide out. I wish I had a video of it, we were all laughing til our sides split at the 75 lb German Shepherd running from the 19 lb puppy and going to hide.
I guess it was all just too exhausting.
The big guy because of his age and infirmities has to be locked in the utility room when they are here, out of fear that a toddler that wants to love him will accidently cause him pain and pain reaction, plus he doesn’t like dogs he doesn’t know and we didn’t want to cause him more stress. Being confined all day is also exhausting, so he is in his usual pose.
Blocks were made into towers, knocked down, and thrown; paper colored and ripped up by others; bickering refereed between young siblings; lots of food prepared and eaten; lots of dishes washed. They headed home right after lunch today just before the thunderstorms began. It was an active bit of time and refreshing to have all of that young life around. We picked apples on our farm, I made and canned my first batch of apple/pear sauce while they were off canoeing, and sent them home with a bag of eating apples, and another of cooking apples for their own applesauce. I will pick more apples when the rain stops and make us another batch of sauce for the shelves for winter.
And the week will involved making a couple more batches of soap to cure. A new label, not a shop label has been made for the bars that go to friends and to Son 1 that he uses as gifts.
Tomorrow is a holiday, we will rest, take our walk if the weather allows.
I’m spinning some, knitting mitts, working on the Sashiko sampler, but not participating much in the monthly challenge.
It was a whirlwind weekend. More cooler weather due this week. I went out to pick beans for our dinner last night and the bean beetles have made golden lace of the leaves. I will pick the beans there and consider batch two a basic loss. The peas are blooming so we may get some of them in a few weeks.
Two days of tomatoes were cooked down to pizza sauce and canned yesterday during the rainy afternoon. It made 6 half pints, but I didn’t waterbath one, instead used half of it on last night’s pizza and froze the rest for next time. The red and a handful of green Seranos and Jalapenos were chopped up in the blender and started as a hot sauce ferment while the sauce was processing.
Though I don’t grow as many tomatoes as I used to and don’t can nearly as much as it is just the two of us, it does my heart good to see the shelves beginning to fill.
It is nearly time to add applesauce, apple/pear sauce, and a few jars of pear marmalade to the shelves, and more hot peppers as they mature.
Yesterday morning, the pots in the back garden were scattered around the bed I weeded, the sprinkler set up on a pedestal, but we ended up with a couple inches of rain between yesterday afternoon, over night, and into this morning, so no watering was needed. More of the smaller rocks were moved from the work area to the back edge or top of the wall to clear them. And every pot of boiling water left from cooking pasta or canning goodies is taken our and poured on the vetch. Slowly, it is dying off and the edge of the work area and remaining rocks will be visible.
This afternoon was to be used to make soap and instead, I got involved in closing down the shop business. Much of my equipment that I only used for vending has been sold. Today, a small loom that was beautiful, but didn’t get much use was also sold. By the end of the year, hopefully, there will not be much stock left and what is left can be donated to the museum or given as gifts and my fiber arts and soap making will be for family and close friends. Though I enjoyed the years of being Cabin Crafted, the tax ramification were just too stressful for a cottage business that broke even each year at best.
Somehow, we manage to get our walks in each day, around the rain showers, or sometimes in them. Since my wellness check, and the report of slightly elevated cholesterol, we have both picked up the pace and extended the distance by about 3/4 of a mile. My already healthy, low meat diet has been tweaked more to totally eliminate dairy products except for cheese in Mexican food and on pizza. My morning smoothie is made with plant milk, whey protein, flax, peanut butter powder, and frozen berries. Most mornings, it is like eating a cup of ice cream it is so thick. Ice cream has been reduced to a single scoop once a week. Starches limited to whole grains and fresh vegetables that contain starch like corn and potatoes, and then prepared steamed or boiled. It isn’t terribly different than I was eating, except I was using homemade whole milk yogurt and real peanut butter in the smoothies, a slice of sourdough bread with it, often buttered with avocado, more cheese, and butter on many vegetables. I was put on a low dose statin, though I didn’t react well to one about 14 years ago and hope that maybe the diet changes and exercise will allow me to not take it after a while.
All of the garden work aggravated the arthritis and trigger finger in my hands, so crafting has been minimal for the past few days, but I did finish two more Sashiko panels and used one to decorate a small canvas zip bag to hold the Sashiko supplies and unfinished small panels in.
There are 8 more of these panels, 1 finished, 7 to stitch. Maybe they will become a tote bag, or a table runner. Time will tell. Spinning happens mostly in the car, a bit at night as I continue to work my way through the 5 ounce braid. It has lovely colors in the sunlight, greens, purples, golds, on a gray background, but in the house, those colors seem to hide so it feels like spinning gray. After a whole year of spinning only natural colors for the breed blanket, more color has been needed in my craft this year. I think it will weave on my rigid heddle loom into a lovely, drapey shawl once it is done. It is a smooth spin so it shouldn’t grab while weaving as long as it is strong enough to not break the warp threads. Maybe a commercially spun silk will be the warp as the braid is 25% silk.
The mornings, feel that summer is edging away, the daytime temperatures in the 70’s. This morning, herb and salad greens were sown in the hydroponics as the frost will take out the herbs and I never plant lettuce outdoors. We will enjoy salads all winter with the hydroponic garden and the salad greens will be refreshed as needed. For now, there are some greens and radishes being harvested from the garden, lettuce from the Farmer’s Market as needed, the cucumbers just starting to produce and new green beans about ready to harvest. Pumpkins this year will have to be purchased, they never did come up or at least didn’t produce vines and fruit. The peas are gaining size, strings need to be added to the posts for them and they should produce before we have our first frost. The greenhouse cover needs a minor repair before it is needed outdoors. Summer is moving on to a close, and it is raining hard again outside.