Another Autumn Day

It is hot again, not mid summer hot, but warmer than I prefer when out walking or working in the yard. It is delightfully cool at night though and sleep with a window open above the bed is routine. Often in the late night, we hear coyotes (coywolves, coydogs) or whatever roams the woods and fields at night. About a week ago, I was awakened by one calling to distant ones, but it was right under our window, It must have been close up to the house, which was a bit unnerving. This morning, after it had dawned and the sky was already lit with morning sun, we heard them again, closer to the house than the woods beyond our fields.

With 13 hens in a coop designed for about 9, even with being free range hens all day from morning til dusk, they foul the straw so quickly. We purchased 2 new bales a few days ago and after a convenience center (trash) run and our daily brisk walk, I donned the “go to do dirty work, jeans” and rolled the wheelbarrow over to the coop. The dirty straw that will make hot compost was forked out and spread on one of the beds that were weeded last weekend. It will break down over the winter, the hot fertilizer will feed the soil, the straw will add compost and help keep the weeds from coming back up before frost. Since the coop is requiring more frequent mucking out, there will be plenty more to add to the other beds. The hens are so nosy. As soon as I begin doing anything over there, they all gather to see what is going on.

I noticed that the comfrey plant that is outside the fence has again gone under the fence. It will have to be dug out again. The leaves dried for salve and soap making. The bed in the top right corner of the photo is the fall greens bed and there are 3 rows of seedlings up. The Spinach Mustard has not come up there or in the hydroponic garden. So much for free seed samples.

Last night I finished the second pair of mitts that I was test knitting. I used my handspun yarn and went down a needle size, knit an extra inch on the cuff on this pair.

And as the month is closing on the September spindle challenges, I did a Breed Blanket assessment. I have spun 20 different breeds of wool and knit 37 squares for the blanket. Though not all of them are attached. The next 3 months will be dedicated to darker wools to provide some balance to the whites and light grays that have accumulated and layed out around the already joined squares to get a pleasing appearance.

Tomorrow, I will assess what was spun and knit for the month for the 15 minutes a day challenge. I have fulfilled that one so far with today and tomorrow to go.

October will be here and some knitting must be done if there is going to be any stock for fall and winter markets. I really want to get my loom warped and weave a scarf from yarn spun the past couple of months.

Sunday’s are for football…

…unless you are not a fan. Whilst hubby watched the early game, I disappeared to the outdoors. Several of the empty garden beds were freed of the weed cover that had bloomed, most of the corn stalks were pulled and the weeds under them cleared, the fenceline along the east of the garden where the chicken run used to be before the dogs and free range chickens decided they could coexist was rank with horsenettle, lambs quarters, cheese head weed, and other tough coarse weeds and that fence line was cleared as well. The garden weeding involved some pruning back of the tall asparagus tops and some of the sprawling tomatillos and many tomatillos were harvested along with a hand full of red serano peppers. The orchard was mowed as I had failed to do it earlier in the week and apples picked again for another basketful to eat and another batch of applesauce to make and can. There are still hundreds of apples on the trees, they were quite prolific this year. There is nothing better than picking an apple fresh off the tree to eat while riding the mower around and through the orchard trees and mulching up the pulled weeds from the garden fence with the mower. A couple of years ago in the fall, I was helping Son 1, DIL, and GSon1 move from the rental they had been in for many years to the first home they bought and mentioned the difficulty of picking the apples and pears each year, when the last spring frost didn’t kill off the blooms. They asked me if I had a fruit picker and I must have looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights at them as I had no idea what they were talking about. During that trip when they went out for some supplies, they returned with this implement as a gift to me.

Last year there wasn’t much fruit, so it didn’t get a lot of use, but what a boon it has been this year as buckets of pears and apples have been harvested using it. The extendable handle allows me to get to the very tops of the trees. It was a wonderful surprise gift that I have thoroughly enjoyed having.

The Tomatillos and Seranos sat on the counter overnight as I debated whether to chop and freeze them or use them now. This morning, the decision was to make a batch of Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde. I had made a small batch a few weeks ago in late August, used a half pint and froze a pint. I now have canning lids and decided to can it in half pint jars. The harvest yesterday was roasted with garlic and onion, the lime juice, cilantro, and salt added and chopped in the food processor and the frozen pint thawed and added to the freshly cooked batch and heated up. Since half pint jars don’t require that I haul down the super large canner, I often use my largest stock pot, but always have an issue with a rack or layer in the bottom to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot. Today, I realized that the shallow steamer basket from the smallest stock pot fits perfectly into the larger pot and holds 7 half pint jars exactly.

I haven’t tried to see how many pints it will hold, but this pot heats up so much faster than the huge canner pot. And 7 half pints of too spicy for me salsa were made and canned.

This was sort of an experiment as I ordered 100 canning lids from Amazon, just prior to a friend texting me to tell me she could get me Ball brand ones from a location near her. I responded with a please, yes, get me some, but I wanted to test the Amazon lids out too. My SIL said she had very poor results from some she had gotten online. Six of the jars this morning have the Amazon lids. If they don’t seal properly, the jars can always go in the freezer, but I am hopeful as between those lids and the ones from my friend, I should have enough for next year as well.

I still have the yarn for one more breed blanket square spun, but not knit. The last one knit has been blocked and dried and is ready to be added to the blanket. The pattern I am test knitting for another friend is being knit in some of my handspun yarn and the first mitt is complete, the second one begun. And I am continuing to spin the Ruby Blue Faced Leicester wool on a spindle.

I still have yesterday’s apple harvest to cut and cook to can for more applesauce, but I am waiting to see how the Amazon lids do before I use us the ones from my friend. The next few days will be a return to summerish temperatures, but I think still cool enough to do a bit of canning. A pot of tomatoes need to be cooked down for pizza sauce which will require canning as well.

It is nice to have the produce to put away, the energy returned to do it, and the time to can and craft in the early fall weather.

Autumn is here…

at least this week, though it is going to warm up next week, not to summer temperatures but much warmer than this week. The winter squash were all harvested and some pumpkins and gourds purchased at the nursery along with a mum, just beginning to bloom. The fall decorations in storage were brought out.

A bit of fall decorating was done with the winter squash, some beeswax candles, and mum.

The past few mornings have been in the low 40’s f (4.5) c and we awaken to heavy fog and glistening dew.

The asparagus look frosted. A quick trip into Lowe’s for a tarp showed me small bundles of dried corn stalks from Canada, about 4 stalks for almost $10 each. I should go out and cut our stalks and bundle them to add to the decorations in front of the house or at the corner of the garden. I must have $100 worth out there.

Because of the chilly nights, the houseplants that spend the summer on the front porch are being brought inside after spraying the bugs and spiders off of them with a jet of water. The move back inside also resulted in some pruning and transplanting.

The two largest house plants and the two hanging spider plants still need to be sprayed and brought inside.

I went out to use the line trimmer this afternoon and it is missing the bump ring, so it wouldn’t function. I am going to have to purchase a new one. I want to repair the wood wheelbarrow that my Dad made for me about 2 decades ago and fill it with fall color.

A nice afternoon walk away from town today showed lots of fungi and greenery that benefitted from the rain this week.

I was happy to see several patches of running cedar (Diphasiastrum digitatum) or fan clubmoss growing in the woods. Though it lacks legal protection it is becoming more rare due to destruction of it’s habitat and over gathering.

This morning, I began the second test knit of the mitts. I went down a needle size and extended the cuff on this pair. The gray handspun yarn is showing off the design much better.

My knitting gauge must be much looser than the pattern designer.

It is nice to be beyond the hottest weather, but I’m not looking forward to the cold months ahead. Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons with the milder temperatures. The nursery today had fig plants and mine that I transplanted into a half barrel wasn’t looking very good. I had hoped to bring it in to the garage for the winter, but it was already so pot bound, that I dug it in to the walled garden below the southwest exposure of the stone retaining wall. I will shield it with heavy gauge plastic and mulch when freezing temperatures are expected. It formed about a dozen and a half figs this year, but none of them came to maturity. Maybe it will be happier in the ground in the sheltered location where it will get regular watering during the summer.

The hydroponic gardens are sprouting.