Tag Archives: first frost

It is gone – 10/23/2018

The garden is done.  We didn’t get the frost expected, nor the next night, but Sunday night, oh boy, it got cold.  We awoke yesterday to ground that looked like light snow and though it warmed into the upper 50’s later, it was cold in the early hours.  Sunday had been cold all day and very windy.  Today is the last warmer day expected for a bit, so it was a good day to pull the burned plants and toss them in the chicken pen or the compost pile.  Finish cutting down the asparagus ferns that never got finished before.  Dig the raspberries out and replant half a dozen of them in a controlled area.

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the asparagus bed cut down and weeded, still needs straw.

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This was the raspberry bed, only about 1/3 got covered with cardboard and brown paper feed bags before I ran out.  A tarp might be easier, I will measure and purchased one tomorrow.  The pretty green you see is the creeping charlie taking over.

The fencing job never got done either.  It is very difficult to do alone, but the garden needs some fence work, the chicken pens need to be reconfigured so that I can mow inside of them, when they are not housing birds, instead of just using the monster Stihl line trimmer to beat the tall weeds down.  The laying hen’s fence did get reconfigured  today and the piecemeal fence at the top of the garden that was deteriorating was pulled down.  Using a line to get my poles straight this time, several new T-posts were set.   One of them was necessary to change up the hen’s pen.  Though they usually free range, there are times when they need to be penned up.

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Their pen is now a big square abutted to the chick pen that currently has a broken coop and no chicks.  The cull coop stands alone and will have it’s own separate pen, but T posts must be set and a wooden post to hang a gate must be dug in.  Two gates will be purchased, one for the garden that currently has a piece of wire fencing staked over the gateway opening, and one for the cull pen when it gets remade.  The plan was to raise chicks over the winter so they would be laying by spring, but to get chicks from Rural King this time of year, you have to order 25 and that is more than twice the number needed.

Tonight, there is no fence at the top of the garden, but there is nothing in the garden but a few cabbages and lettuce plants as well as the raspberries and blueberry bushes.  Tomorrow is still sunny and more fence removal/moving needs to be done.  There are several sections of welded wire fence that are long enough to close in the top edge of the garden again without piecing it together and they need to be removed from chicken runs.  Another long section of the cheap garden fencing needs to come out from the between where the two old chicken runs were.  That  type will never be purchased again.  I am still torn about whether to shorten the garden or cover it with another tarp to kill the weeds and use it as a potato patch next year.  Even after killing it off, it may need to be a layered garden with lots of mulch or tilled.

The last garden task to put it to bed for winter is sowing some oats in some beds, planting next year’s garlic in one bed, and putting down some straw over the asparagus and garlic.  The weather is supposed to hold til Friday, perhaps it will all get done, except the gates.

Summer is Gone – 10/17/2018

The thermometer on the front porch is sheltered under roof and protected from the wind.  The sensor indoors indicates it is 47ºf outside this morning, but tonight’s forecast is for our first frost.  A frost tonight would be right in the average.

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Yesterday’s high on the porch was 62, today’s is predicted to be about the same, but the nights are getting progressively colder until Monday night when they will warm slightly.  It is the season.  We will have some warmer days, some milder nights before true cold weather sets in, but it is time to pull out the heavier quilt and replace the summer quilt on the bed.  Last night my feet were cold.

A frost will mean the end of the garden.  This is always a time of mixed emotions, glad to be done with it for the year, sad that there won’t be more goodness from it.  It could be extended if I covered the peppers and lettuce tonight, but the tunnel that was purchased this summer to cover the fall veggies deteriorated very quickly.  The cabbages will be okay tonight.  The lettuce will be picked once my hands rewarm.  After feeding the chickens and setting them to roam for the day, two baskets were filled with jalapeños, seranos, and Anaheims.  The baskets would hold no more, though there are many peppers still on the plants, and my fingers were numb.

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All of the Anaheims were harvested, all of the red seranos and red jalapeños as a batch of homemade Sriracha sauce has been planned since they were planted last spring.  The large fat green jalapeños were picked to pickle another jar or two, maybe try Cowboy Candy with a jar or two.  Hubby would hate it and likely it wouldn’t appeal to me, but son the elder loves hot peppers and pickles and would probably like it.  It was cold harvesting them, colder than the thermometer registered, windy and damp.    Later more will be harvested, the rest still on the plants will go into the chicken run for them to peck, along with the tomato plants and the last of the bean plants after mature beans are picked to dry for next year’s seed.  The barriers will be relocated around the cabbages and the chickens will have the run of the garden for the winter, scratching for bugs, weed seed, and turning the soil as they dig.

This fall’s hay never got cut due to the rain.  The hay man said he would brush hog it with his 10′ mower and larger tractor.  Though he can’t go everywhere that our smaller tractor and 5′ mower can go, it will save a couple dozen hours of mowing for us.  The driveway needs to be regraded, again after all the rain, then the brush hog put back on the tractor so that the parts he can’t get, can be mowed before winter.  The brush hog will then be stored, the blade reattached to the tractor to plow us out if we have deep snow.

The neighbor’s cows have serenaded us for the past couple of days.  She may have separated out the young ones to wean before market time, but they are calling back and forth.  That is one of the pleasures of living out away from towns, hearing the cows, turkeys, screech owls, watching the deer and the occasional bear or fox.  The coywolf/coydog howls are interesting, but unwanted.  There are too many with no real predators and they are predators of chickens, calves, fawns, barn cats.

The days are shortening, the nights are chilling.  Soon it will be time for fires in the fireplace and woodstove to take the chill off and for the ambiance of sitting mesmerized by the flickering flames and close enough for the warmth.  Sitting with a good book or knitting, a cup of hot tea, and a warm sweater.  The season of more leisure.

Peace and calm until next time.

It Happened – October 17, 2017

We did indeed get our first frost.  The trip to the bus stop this morning required a prewarming of the car to clear the windows and so the grands wouldn’t wear their new winter coats when the daytime temperature is going to be in the low 60’s.  The tractor, still sitting out back from the weekend labor was frosted, the hay bales in the fields had the white glittering haze and even the grass, so it was a real first frost.  Unfortunately, as the day wore on yesterday, I realized that I was coming down with my first cold of the year.  Somehow, I have avoided the two the grands have already had, but this one came on anyway.  Therefore, the peppers didn’t get picked.  I haven’t been into the garden to see if they froze or if the plants just got burned, maybe later.

Sunday evening as eldest son was headed back out of town, we took the crew to a local Thai/Vietnamese restaurant in Blacksburg.  Not wanting curry, I ordered a bowl of Vietnamese Chicken Noodle soup.  It came in a serving bowl sized dish, broth with chicken, rice noodles, scallion slices, and a platter of Thai basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, jalapeno slices, and lime wedges.  I ate about half of it, took the veggies from grandson’s Pho soup that he didn’t eat, and packaged it up for home. This morning, it was warmed and dosed with a hefty shot of Sriracha sauce and eaten for breakfast to open my stuffy head.  Then I remembered having made a homemade version of Fire Cider in July and strained it off and took a shot of it too.  An Echinachea tincture is being taken twice a day, this cold isn’t going to get me down if I can fight it out.  Fortunately, other than stuffy, I don’t feel bad.

There are no photos of the glittering frost, as the sky lightened, thick fog rolled in.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

As the canning season is nearly over, may be over if it really went down to 30ºf last night as predicted, I haven’t checked yet.  Yesterday was a day to harvest everything that was ready, do a small canning as I wanted to try two of Marisa McClellan’s recipes for canning small quantities.

Before we had freezers, refrigerators, and pressure canners, food was preserved by smoking, salting or fermenting.  The Germans preserved cabbage, the Koreans made Kimchi both using salt and the anaerobic process known as Lacto-fermentation.  These products are available, but the raw, unpasteurized products made at home are so much tastier and have more health benefits.

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Fermentation on the counter.
A basket of tomatillos, assorted peppers, bush beans, too many radishes and lots of greens were brought in, a 2 pint batch of Chunky Tomatillo Salsa made.  Quite uncharacteristic for me, I purchased a quart of out of season Strawberries as one of her books has a recipe for strawberry jam made with honey and Thyme that I wanted to try and I made a small batch of that as well.  I rarely grow radishes as they all are ready at the same time and you go from famine to feast.  I took the surplus and made a quart jar of radish Kimchi then shredded cabbage to start a half gallon of Sauerkraut.  The Cider started as vinegar a few days ago is beginning to smell, well like vinegar.  Maybe another half gallon of Sauerkraut will be made later.  Pickles and sauerkraut used to be made in quantity in large crocks or barrels in the farmhouse basements, the farm cook going down and drawing off what was needed for a meal and the crock re-covered until needed again, lasting until spring vegetables were growing.  We usually go through about a gallon each year. The eveningwas finished blanching and freezing the beans and hoping the plants survive the night to give us a few more meals before the real frosts and freezes of autumn arrive.

The tarp on the meat chicken pen was anchored more securely, the peppers and tomatillos covered with light tarps and row cover.

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A photo of the pumpkin patch was made to document the wild growth they did in the rich soil of the compost bins.

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I’m afraid to venture down to check the thermometer for the low or to peek out to see what survived the night.  I am hopeful that we are high enough to avoid the frost pockets that should have formed last night.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.