Tag Archives: harvest

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.

Rest Day/Garden Day – 7/30/18

The garden has been neglected except for harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers of late.  I did get a second planting of bush beans in a couple of weeks ago and they are sprouting nicely.  The garlic needed to be pulled and cured.  It went in so late it isn’t a good crop, but hopefully will provide enough to allow a fall planting so next year we will have a good crop and some to enjoy this winter.  So the now cured onions were trimmed, the odd double ones, ones with still green necks, and ones with soft spots were culled and moved to the kitchen to be used first.

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Then the pulled garlic was laid out on the hardware cloth shelves to cure.  Once cured, they will be trimmed and used this winter except for the ones used to plant for next year’s crop.

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After spending part of last weekend traveling home  from visiting our youngest son and his family, last Sunday on deck destruction with eldest son, part of the week on Historic Camps and destruction clean up, and Saturday on the remaining destruction, I needed a break from pulling brackets and moving heavy lumber.  Part of Sunday was spent in the fruit and vegetable garden.  Tomatoes and cucumbers picked early in the day, a few blister beetles picked and killed, and while out there, the remaining bean stems pulled and tossed to the chickens.  This was a reminder that a couple of beds needed to be worked on and some fall seed planted.  A couple of afternoon hours were spent weeding where the beans had been, pulling and hoeing the few weeds that had come up in the bed where the peas had been and half of that bed was seeded with spinach and a leaf lettuce called Drunken Woman.  I had to get that one just because I liked it’s name.

The bed that had been the tree nursery was turned and rocks removed, a good thick layer of compost and some bone meal turned and raked in and the blueberry bushes moved into it.

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Cardboard was put down beside that bed and the half barrels were moved onto it.  The cardboard will kill the weeds under it, leaf mulch will be laid down on top of it and except for an aisle wide enough to keep chicken heads from pecking berries through the fence, that will be the edge of the garden once we have a frost and the pumpkins are harvested.

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The pumpkins vines were already spreading to that area so I put them back in place after the cardboard was down.

Layered over that piece of cardboard is the other half of that huge box which may get more half barrels.  They are great for growing potatoes and herbs or flowers in the garden.  That sheet is being held down by a couple of bags of mulch that are just serving as weights and will be used in a flower bed around the house once leaf mulch or straw is obtained.

Hopefully, this week cabbage and broccoli starts will be available and they will go in the bed with the lettuce and spinach.  Perhaps a 6th blueberry shrub will be purchased to add to the blueberry bed.  They will hopefully thrive in the enriched deeply dug bed.  Once the last one is in place, a thick layer of straw or leaf mulch will placed around them to keep the weed load down.

That will leave only the 4 X 4′ bed that contained the garlic unplanted, and it will be sown with oats that will serve as a cover crop and the seed head given to the chickens, the oat straw can be used as mulch or coop bedding next spring.

I still need to tackle the raspberry bed now that the berry season is over and the Japanese beetles have moved on.  I still have a large cardboard box, but will need more to try to smother the wild geraniums and the raspberry volunteer shoots that are encroaching on the aisles and vegetable boxes.

This week between the rain, the rest of the salvageable deck wood will be moved to the barn until it is needed for another project.  Eldest son suggested adding a low dry stacked wall off from the existing tall dry stack retaining wall as a means of using some of the tons of rock that were under the old deck.

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The chalk line will mark the new wall, eliminating an area that is very difficult to mow because of the steepness and contour that really don’t show well in the photo.

The new deck will stop at the corner you see with steps coming down to where all the rock is, a path of flat stone will cross where the old deck stood over to the stoop where the old steps came down into the yard.  A small stone patio will eventually be worked into part of that area, the rest the new garden bed.

Once the new wall is build and backfilled with leaf mulch, the mints, lemon balm, thyme, and rosemary will be planted there.  The stones will help keep it warm and they will be allowed to spread and thrive as a perennial herb garden.

Today’s header is a picture we rarely see.  Though the pups are best buddies, the Mastiff owns that spot.  He used to sleep beside our bed on Jim’s side, but decided he liked the Shepherd’s bed or space.  We tried putting both beds there, but he stands over Shadow until she vacates even if he only takes one bed.  They were caught sharing the space, each on their own bed.

Jam session and soon in a pickle-7/8/18

Not music, canning.  As the raspberries ripened a cup or two a day, they were enjoyed fresh, but most frozen.  Once enough had been accumulated, the first canning session of the year was conducted.  Realizing that I should have crushed the berries prior to freezing so that the amount I had was accurate.  The first batch was made and canned in tiny quarter pint jars, there are many of them in the house and they don’t have much other use, though I think I may just freeze herbs and pesto in the rest of them this year.  The lesson to crush before freezing was heeded and the next week or so of berry collection was frozen crushed and batch number two made when enough were accumulated, this time canned in half pints.  At yesterday’s Farmers’ Market, we purchased several pounds of blueberries.  We had planned to go pick them, but each time we planned to go, it was either blazing hot or raining.  Also  peaches and plums that were brought in from far enough away but still within the 50 mile limit that they survived the mid April freezes and snows. Yesterday before we took off to go see a play at Blackfriars American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, I made a batch of Blueberry Double Ginger jam, this morning, a batch of Blueberry Maple Jam, and this afternoon, a batch of Peach-Plum-Ginger Jam.  That shelf is filling for gifts, family sharing, and our use.

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The wild raspberries and blackberries are just beginning to ripen.  We will gather them and depending on the quantity, batches will be made into either individual jams or a mixed berry jam.

Soon the cucumbers will begin and the peppers will develop and pickle making will commence.  The only pickles made so far are a few jars of dilly beans.  There aren’t enough of our beans to make too many jars of them.  I will be freezing as many of the remaining ones as possible for our enjoyment when the season ends and we can no longer pick them from the garden or purchase them from the Farmers’ Market.

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The pickle shelf will begin to fill soon.  I generally store the canned goods other than jams in the root cellar, but I love the look of the pretty jams and pickles in my beautiful open cabinets, so this year, two shelves will be dedicated to them and the over flow along with the fruit sauces, tomato sauces and salsas will go to the root cellar with the garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins as they are harvested.

Another Busy Day

The day is gloomy, chilly, and very damp as the remnants of Harvey drift over the state.  Saturday we go to breakfast then to the Farmers’ Market and have missed the past two weeks, so in spite of the gloom, we traveled in to our favorite local diner for breakfast, then on to see what the market vendors had in stock today, we were low on meats and there are many veggies that I prefer to purchase rather than grow, partly to support our local farmers and partly because when they are ready to pick, there is more than we can use.

We were then off to a department store at the nearest mall to get Jim a couple of nicer shirts and another pair of khaki pants in anticipation of our cruise that we hope will depart next Saturday, if the next hurricane doesn’t foil that plan.

Back home, the rain had stopped for a bit, so a much needed harvest was done.  The 22 quart bucket was half full of jalapeños, cayennes, and large bells, half full of tomatoes, and a big bunch of second growth basil.

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The tomatoes from the last harvest were removed from the freezer, peeled and cooked down into a nice thick sauce.  While it was cooking down, two strings of extra large jalapeños and the cayennes were strung and hung in the south door to dry for winter use, 5 more pints of jalapeños pickled and canned.  That makes a total of 31 pints of them canned so far, many more than any other year, but eldest son and Jim will eat one with most dinners for the next couple of seasons until there are more next year.  Some of my poblano pepper plants ended up jalapeños and there are many more to be harvested before our first frost takes out the plants.

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The tomatoes frozen today will be peeled and canned as Rotel style tomatoes tomorrow for chili this winter.

As usual, I turned to my two favorite canning books by Marissa McClellan.   She is not a sponsor, but if I ever wanted a sponsor for my blog, she would be one I would seek.

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I still need to find a good canning recipe for the Asian Pears.  There are so many and I don’t need more jam, conserve, or chutneys, my sweet tooth has been curbed and they just don’t appeal to me anymore.

This week, the young hens have come into good production, while the old ladies have all but given up.  Each day there are 10 or 11 eggs to bring in.  We only use a dozen or so each week ourselves, so there are many eggs to share with friends who appreciate me raising healthy, non commercial eggs.

It is time to start the oven to cook the stuffed peppers from today’s harvest.

The Absent Blogger – 8/10/2017

One day seems like the next.  A pleasant August of temperatures not typical of the month, most days reaching only about 80ºf, nights that warrant at least a sheet for cover.  Each day is a series of doctor’s appointments to try to diagnose hubby’s symptoms and the accompanying stress of not knowing, harvesting from the garden that daughter and grands helped me get totally weeded last weekend, canning the harvest, and refereeing the constant squabbles of the grands who have another 18 days before school begins and are tired of each other’s company and the play options available to them.  Most days ending in thunderstorms, though not filling the creeks, it is keeping the garden watered and the dust down.  The seeds planted in empty beds after our weeding session are sprouting to provide us with turnips, radishes, spinach, carrots, and peas for the fall.  The sweet potato vines are thick, kale, chard, and corn thriving, a few small pumpkins appearing amidst the corn. Several of the pullets are laying tiny eggs now, the hens have all but quit laying.  The Monarchs found the parsley and are chowing down, but the butterflies are welcome. The hay was finally moved off of our fields.  The shelves of salsas, pickles, and sauces are filling.  As the tomatoes begin ripening more quickly, pasta sauce and more salsa will be made.  The Asian pears are ripening and pear sauce or pear apple sauce will be made.

Such is a day in the life of the absent blogger.

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A Week On and Off the Farm

We have had wonderful weather for the past week.  The sky has been mostly clear, the temperatures mild and seasonable during the day and cool enough for a quilt under the open window at night.  The garden, except for the peppers is winding down.  Friday afternoon, the grandkids helped me dig the sweet potatoes.   We picked a basket of 3 pounds of tomatillos, and another of peppers.

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The peppers are drying or pickling, depending on the type.  The tomatillos have been washed, husked, and frozen.

I planted two varieties of sweet potatoes,  purple and  orange.  The bed wasn’t the most ideal spot, it was too rocky, and the yield was amusing.

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The largest and the smallest.  The 1 pound box of spaghetti is for size reference.  I think that one will feed us all for a meal.  They are curing and will be moved to the cellar soon. This week is mostly supposed to be pleasant, so I think it is time to cut down and mulch the asparagus, pull the tomato vines, cut down the sunflower stalks, and prepare a bed for planting garlic in a couple more weeks.  I will leave the volunteer tomatillo plants and hope to harvest a few more of them before the first frost.  My facebook memory from last year said we were anticipating three nights of frost in a row.  Our lowest so far has been in the lower 40s.

One of the young cull cockerels must be Houdini.  I keep finding him out in spite of the netting to protect them from the hawk.  He must be flying over the gate and enjoying his days free ranging.  Some nights I find him perched on the egg door of the coop and have to collect him and return him to the safety of the coop for the night.  Some nights he finds his way back in on his own.  He better enjoy his freedom, because he is only a couple short weeks from a permanent vacation in freezer camp.

After the Spinzilla competition, I have only been spinning at the two outdoor events.  The Bridge Day event ended up being a front page article with photographs in our local paper.  The picture doesn’t show how cold and windblown I was.  Today’s Harvest Festival at the historic Smithfield Plantation House was fun.  It wasn’t well advertised, so not too well attended, but the folks that did come enjoyed fresh pressed cider, music; could take a dance lesson; buy a pumpkin or some gourds; watch the blacksmith ply his trade; the weaver working on a small loom, making a belt or strap; and me spinning.

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Though I was the spinning demonstration, I was in the pavilion behind the house and not in the Weaver’s Cottage this time and had the opportunity to not only spin and discuss the fiber art, but I got to vend.  In spite of the poor turnout, I sold some soap, salve, beard products, and a handspun, handknit hat.  I am 4 ounces closer to having enough yarn to make my sweater, still spinning Priscilla the Leicester Longwool.

My next spinning demonstration will again be at the Smithfield House for the Halloween activities on October 28 with pumpkin bowling, a historic hayride, and other activities.

Jim got to take an overnight trip with his HOG group, a handful of bikes and folks rode most of the state of North Carolina to watch motorcycle drag racing.  I am still awaiting his return home and as it has been dark for an hour now, I start to fret over his safety.  They were 3 hours and 40 minutes from home and didn’t leave for home until 3:30, so it is just in the range where he should be getting here.

Garden and Crafting

A few short days at home between the visit to Shrine Mont and leaving for a week of being Grandmom in charge for eldest grandson have been busy.  The first night back, when I went to lock up the chickens, my reluctant pullet managed to fly over the fence into the garden.  The lower un-planted part of the garden was literally chin high to my 5’8″ frame.  The lawnmower was fueled and with much effort, about half of that area was mowed down in an effort to remove the cover for the chick.  As it got too dark to see what I was doing, a decision was made to leave her to her fate, hoping that she would just find safe cover in the remaining weeds or up in the tomato jungle.  She did survive the night and greeted me the next morning outside the gate.  The mower was still in the garden, so in spite of the heat and threatening thunder storms, the rest of that area was mowed and hand weeding commenced on the area around the cucumbers, sweet potatoes, and the dozen or so volunteer tomatillo plants.  By the time I finished, my stamina was gone and I quit, tossing half a dozen overgrown, yellow cucumbers to the chickens.  No harvest had been done in our absence.

Today, with the temperatures only a few degrees lower, a determined effort was made to weed the upper garden, thin the tomatoes and sunflowers, and harvest as many tomatoes as I could.  A 4 gallon feed bucket was filled with mostly plum tomatoes, a dozen heirloom slicers, and peppers.

Haul

After a long cold shower to refresh and renew me, I tackled the haul.  There were 19 pounds of tomatoes, which I divided into 2 one gallon bags of diced tomatoes each almost 5 lbs.; 2 one gallon bags of whole paste tomatoes, several slicers to take with me tomorrow; 3 pints of jalapenos pickled, a pint of mixed hot peppers in salted vinegar that will be made into hot sauce once a quart has been gathered.  Another pint or so of jalapeños were too large to pickle whole, so they will be diced and frozen.  Another couple of dozen tomatoes were split and rotting and were tossed to the chickens.

I will be away from home for another 10 days, so I’m sure with the persistent heat and daily rain, a repeat of the past few days will be in order once I return.  Hopefully it will be a bit cooler by then.

Yesterday, in anticipation of my absence, I dyed a half pound of Shetland roving to spin.

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With these two braids, another that I did of Romney to learn the process, and my monthly installment of the Tailfeather’s Club from Unplanned Peacock, I will have plenty to spin while sitting on the porch while grandson is in school.  I will arrive home with about 2 to 3 hours to unpack and repack to leave for a few days at a spinning retreat.  I may have to spin all undyed fiber there and dye the yarn later.  I will also be teaching salve making and be a vendor at this event, so I have to be organized before I leave to babysit.

Tonight, Jim will be taken out to dinner and to buy a couple new pair of jeans as an early birthday.  I will not be here to celebrate with him on his actual birthday.

Olio – October 17, 2015

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

This week has been busy and atypical.  Last Sunday, I drove Son #1 and Grandson #1 back to Northern Virginia from a weekend visit with us.  The plan had been to work on the staining of the south and west walls of the house, but again, it rained.  This gave them some much needed down time.  Son #1 and I did succeed in getting the leg leveling hardware on the extension ladder.  I had twice decided to do it myself and the first time I was too foggy headed with a cold and the second time, realized that because the rungs of the ladder extended through the fiberglass uprails, that it wasn’t as straight forward as hoped and I didn’t want to ruin the ladder.  It turned out that we had to go to Lowes and buy more aluminum metal strap to make spacers as the package did not come with enough to do the job.

They took a hike in the drizzle and fog at the top of the mountain and took Grandson that lives with us too.  They came back wet, tired and just in time for a dinner of Empanadas and Yellow Rice that always pleases everyone.  I used some of the last of the tomatoes and peppers to make a homemade Pico de Gallo with black beans and Daughter made a roasted Tomatillo salsa that was very tasty as toppers.

Son #1 and Grandson#1 took a mountain bike ride on the neighbor’s hill and up the gravel road off of which we live.  Sunday, before we left, Son #1 and I took down a dead tree and he started cutting it into firewood lengths.  I hauled loads up in the back of my car and in the tractor bucket and now I need to split  and stack it.  He will finish cutting it up when he comes again, maybe over Thanksgiving weekend.

Monday was spent being Grandmom in charge in Northern Virginia as Grandson #1 had a Columbus Day vacation from school.  We took the Metro into D.C. and spent some time in the Q-rius lab in the Natural History Museum.  That is quite a set up and Grandson #1 loves it.  We also walked through the history of the earth, erosion, meteor impact and minerals areas which he also enjoys.

Tuesday was travel back home with several calls from Mountaingdad that the roofers had showed up to realign and refasten the gutters, fix the leaking vent stack and attach snow guards to the front and back roofs.  This brought to our attention another less than stellar installation by our original contractor in that the metal roofing was not fastened down with enough screws and some of the screws were not even secured into anything when they tried to tighten them down.  We now have a second contract with this roofer to come back and make our decade old metal roof more secure.  We do now have snow guards to try to help prevent the snow from sliding off and taking out the gutters and making snow drifts across the front of the house and piling up on the south deck.

By Wednesday, they were beginning to threaten us with our first freeze due tonight, tomorrow, and Monday, so final harvest was undertaken.  The 5 gallon bucket of peppers that I brought in are all in the process of being preserved.  Three more pints of Jalapenos were pickled.  A quart of hot pepper sauce (mostly Tabascos, but a few Habeneros added in) was made and canned in 8 ounce jars. The smaller green bells sliced or diced and frozen for winter use, the larger ones will be stuffed with rice and ground meat and eaten for dinner this weekend.  The first two pans of Anchos are in a very low oven drying now and the house is filling with the spicy aroma they are emitting.

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There is a string of ripe Anchos hanging in the breezeway south windows and at least two more pans full to oven dry.

The potted herbs and houseplants cleaned, pruned and tucked in corners and window sills to try to get at least a few more weeks of fresh herbs from them.

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The garden was turned over to the laying hen flock and they are quickly cleaning it up.  They have revealed many more pumpkins that I will harvest before tonight’s frost.  If you look in the picture above, you will see our grass mowing neighbor, on the other side of the garden and chicken pens, she pays us daily visits.  I don’t generally mind her visiting, but yesterday, she came right up to the house and left two large gifts that cows tend to leave.  The dogs went straight to one and the German Shepherd did what dogs will do and rubbed her face and side in it.  That prompted an afternoon bath as it was too cool outside to hose her down with cold water.  While she was wet and wrapped in towels, we pinned her down and cut her nails.  She really gets frantic when you do her nails and it requires three of us to do her.  I ended up getting bitten before I got her head pinned down with a towel and my forearm.  The other two dogs and Daughter’s two cats also got theirs done while we were at it.  It is nice to not hear the click, click of them walking on the hardwood.

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The front porch got a fall touch, the fall Welcome garden flag and the large Halloween flag hung.

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Girlie Cat (the name she came with), our barn kitty enjoying the warm sun on the front porch.

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Much of our fall color is already gone at our elevation, the trees already getting bare of leaves.  It won’t be much longer before the only color at all is the green of the evergreens, cedars and pines scattered about.

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Though there was some scattered frost lower on the mountain this morning, we ventured to the Farmers’ Market, got what will probably be my last bouquet from Stonecrop Farms for this season and supplied with some beef and pork, greens, beets, carrots, potatoes and green beans to enjoy this week.  We will continue to be able to get some meat and produce at the market for at least a few more weeks before many of the vendors pack it in for the year until next spring.

We love our life on the farm at all seasons.  It is moving into a slower, hunker down and stay warm period of more reading, knitting and spinning and no garden work.  I do still have to clear a bed and plant the garlic next week after our three nights of freezing temperatures and it moderates again for a while.

Light at the end…

We have had rain for 14 of the past 16 days.  There is one more day of predicted  rain, then the light at the end of the tunnel as the saying goes.  We are saturated.  The unpaved roads are rutted, all of the roads covered with debris from the rain and wind.  The leaves are being ripped from the trees and coating the roads along with small branches.

So far, we have been lucky.  The heavy rains expected the past couple of days have been lighter than predicted, so additional flooding has been kept to a minimum and we have, at least so far, kept our power.

This weekend, we have been in charge of the two grands that live with us as their folks went to Kentucky to a friend’s wedding.  We had great plans to take them to the pumpkins patch, but that was foiled by the weather.  Their soccer games were cancelled.  They have been well behaved, with only a bit of sibling fussing.  They have eaten well with no complaining about what I have prepared.  For that we are grateful.

It has been a good weekend to stay in and read and knit.  We did venture out in the rain to the Farmers’ Market yesterday morning, taking the kids out for bagels first.  We didn’t all get out at the market, I just jumped out and picked up the veggies, meat and flowers for the week.

It will be nice to see the sun on Tuesday.  Maybe a harvest of tomatoes and peppers can be done and some tomatoes canned, some peppers pickled or frozen.  While the soil is wet, maybe the weeds will be easier to pull to start preparing the garlic bed for fall and to find the blueberry bushes that have been engulfed.  There is still about half a big round bale of spoiled hay that can be used to mulch around them.  I have been saving newspaper to layer around the bushes once I get the weeds pulled.  Once the sun comes out, there are dry beans to pull and lay out or hang in the garage to further dry from the days of rain, the corn stalks to cut and shock as a fall decoration, some pumpkins to harvest, and sunflower heads to cut and dry.  Some of the decorative pots of flowers from summer are spent and will be replaced with mums for a bit of fall color.

The chooks, both Buffys and meaties were grateful to be let out into their runs today.  Though it is still drizzling, they have alternately foraged and hidden from the rain.  In a few more days, I will slip into the Buffys’ coop after dark and move the culls to the Cull Palace with the meaties for the next 5 weeks, and to let the keeper flock get to used to having a more reasonable number in their coop.  They will overwinter as our laying flock.  I think that the the littles are big enough to tell which are pullets.  I know that there are at least two cockerels in the coop and I only want one rooster in my flock, so the other one and a few older hens will be removed.  Only one of the spring Americaunas is laying.  It amazes me how old they are before they lay and also how easily they can escape from the run.  The Buffys are too heavy bodied to get out, but the Americaunas, even the one who lost her tail feathers to the dogs, can easily clear the 4 foot fence.

We still have 4 to 5 weeks before our first expected frost, but autumn is advancing, trees coloring more each day.  The mountains are beautiful this time of year, but I’m not ready for the cold weather and bare trees.  I guess we should start looking for some wood soon.

The Velociraptors are Loose

The fall crud nearly KO’d me this week.  Very little was accomplished other than the basic maintenance of life, a few dinners prepared, and the grands shuttled to their respective bus stops and preschools.  By yesterday, I felt a bit better and it was time to get things done.  Laundry was stacked high and we were both out of essentials, so that was a priority.  Saturday is Farmers’ Market day to get pasture raised meat and organic vegetables that are local and not suspect, nor traveled from far away states or countries.  Grandson had his first soccer game of the season and of course, we had to be there to watch that.  He is one of the youngest and smallest on the 8 to 10 year old league, but clearly wanted to be part of the action.  But the biggest task of the day was to obtain the fencing needed to give the Meaties a run so they didn’t spend their entire life in a brooder or coop.

As the chicken pen was originally divided into two long narrow runs and had two side by side gates, it seemed that returning it to its original or similar configuration was the most expedient.  When the fencing was removed to fence in the garden in hopes of keeping the chickens out and allowing them more free pasture time, the posts were left in place.  Unfortunately, the dogs had other ideas about this plan and the Buffys were again penned up with only some pasture time each day, when the dogs are secured indoors.  Mountaingdad and I went out and measured to see how much additional fencing was required and it appeared that we needed something less than 100 feet.  After market and soccer, we ventured down to the local Tractor Supply to get what was needed.  I really prefer the welded wire fencing, but can’t handle the 100 foot long rolls by myself while trying to fasten it to the posts.  As it didn’t come in 50 foot rolls, I elected to take a much less substantial vinyl coated wire garden fence to divide the run.  This meant moving some of the welded wire that was already in place, unbending the wire T post fasteners, hauling the fencing to different positions and reattaching it with new fasteners, taking back the 6 to 8 foot wide swath of garden that was only partially used for summer squash and pole beans.   The 100 feet of garden fence then set down the middle of the now enlarged area.  The day was hotter than it was predicted, I didn’t drink enough water and by late afternoon, I was whipped, the pen was not secure enough for the layers who had been on a grasshopper chase all afternoon in the yard and pastures.

It was time to fix dinner and daughter was going to do that but we realized that the propane tank on the grill had never been refilled, so Mountaingdad was sent off to take care of that and daughter came out to help me at least get the Buffys run secure so they could be lured back inside and the dogs let out.

There would be no more fence work last night, I was totally done in.  Dinner was delicious, Mountaingdad took grandson out for ice cream and I went into veg mode, knitting, reading and watching the Steven Hawking movie on television.

This morning refreshed from many quarts of water, and a good night’s sleep, I finished securing the last few pieces of fencing so that baby velociraptors (as daughter calls them) can finally see what the great outdoors is like.  Last week, they were moved from the brooder to the Cull Palace and penned in.  It is a huge space, but dark.  Tomorrow they will be 5 weeks old, so almost half of their life span has been spent in the garage and in the dark coop.  They could see the outdoors through the chicken wire and hardware cloth door and vent panels, but couldn’t be outdoors.

When I opened their coop door this morning, the curious moved to the opening.  Only a couple ventured over the sill.

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I’m sure as the day goes on, they will begin to explore the 80 X 8 foot run that they now have access to explore and I am hoping that they have gotten large enough to not squeeze through the 2 X 4″ holes in the fencing.

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The Buffys are having a great time reexploring the extended portion of their run that is full of pigweed and leftover squash that got hidden in the leaves and grew too large to harvest.  They will attract bugs, split and the seeds will be a treat.

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My remaining task is to cut back the peach tree that died in the middle of their run, leaving them stumps to perch on and to close up a few spaces that persistent birds may be able to squeeze through to facilitate escape.

An afternoon harvest brought in the winters popcorn, more dried beans, a large basket of tomatoes to be processed and a couple pints of jalapenos for pickling.  The Ancho peppers are beginning to turn red and will soon be dried for sauces and soups.  The first Burgess Buttercup was brought in, but walking through the Three Sister’s Garden revealed a hefty crop of them that will be brought in before the first frost is expected. It wasn’t the best garden this year, but I am thankful for the wonder it has given up and will be enjoyed this fall and winter.  Soon it will be time to plant the garlic for next year.

My harvest efforts earned me a sting, I think by a caterpillar.  The sting was unlike wasp and bee stings that quickly swell to enormous size on me.  This has produced a large area of tingling skin and lightheadedness that brought me in before all the beans were collected.  They will keep for another day.