Trying to Get it Together

A month ago, we were walking a very brisk 3 miles per day for health and fitness, then his health failed us. A surgery, a heart attack, 10 days in the hospital and home with medical equipment that made walking difficult, along with lack of energy and lack of appetite. Beginning last week, we began walking laps in the house. This week we headed back out to the Huckleberry Trail, paved and flat on the section we are doing and marked with mileage on the dedication plaques on the benches along the way. We have done a mile and a half for three days in a row, not brisk, but at least out and moving. He is still weak and wobbly, the meds cause dizziness and lower blood pressure, though his blood pressure is already low. Friday we see the cardiology team member and hopefully some adjustment will be made to make him less dizzy. Our walks totally wear him out. While he rests, I tackle household and garden chores.

Today was a garden day plus laundry. When I built the boxes winter before last, I put two long ones too close together. The shorter of them was supposed to have corn and pumpkins in it, both of which were mostly to total failures. Today, that box was cleared and with a pry bar to lift the end, flipping it on it’s side, and moving one end then the other, it was placed around the 8 blueberry bushes. The area around the bushes was weeded, yet again, and the cardboard from the water heater we had to purchase during the summer was cut to fit around the bushes and 4 bags of Cypress mulch dumped on top. Another 4 bags are needed to get the depth I need, but it is a start. The area between the two boxes will be mulched down and the 6 half barrels of raspberries and blackberries will be place there freeing up space for another 4 X 4′ bed if I decide it is needed.

The Creeping charlie and the insidious bane of a weed outside the box need to be attacked more vigorously than I managed today. They are taking over the garden.

When we went out for the walk, 3 bags of raised bed soil was purchased and one of the 4 X 4 boxes was amended and filled in preparation to plant the garlic that arrived earlier this week.

We have our first frost predicted for Saturday night, right at the time it usually comes, so all of the mature peas were picked, the sweet potatoes dug. The experiment planting the sweet potatoes in a half barrel didn’t produce many with any size of them. There are plenty to slice and roast though. The peas were shelled and enjoyed with dinner.

Tomorrow or Saturday, all of the peppers with any size on them will be harvested as the peas and pepper plants won’t survive a frost. Peppers will be dried, chopped and frozen, pickled, or made into infused Olive Oil or fermented hot sauce. That will be the end of the garden unless the little green house protects the greens within, and the garlic will be planted out in a couple more weeks and covered with straw. As soon as the rest of the asparagus die back, they will be burned off to kill any Asparagus beetle eggs and the weeds I couldn’t reach. Then that bed will also be mulched down with straw or the wood chips in the coop that need to be cleaned out before the hens have to spend more time inside. The hens have been getting more free range time and I think they are hiding eggs again. It is molt season, so they will reduce laying while their energy goes into making clean new feathers.

There are more cardboard boxes in the garage that contain vents and parts for the roof repair on Son 2’s RV. Those boxes will be used in the garden and mulched heavily when they are emptied.

The garden season is ending. This year it is time. My plan will have to be redrawn with the moving of the box and the half barrels, decisions made on what will and will not be planted next year. The end of the season is always bittersweet.

Goodbye September and Don’t come back

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.

Weekend surprise

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.