Saturday, September 24, 2011

Frost on the Horizon

Looks and feels like cold. I was going to say winter, but, well, not yet. Our Birch trees are mostly naked. The sky this week has not been the clear bright blue of September skies, but instead; is a dull gray, heavy with the promise of moisture (of some form, rain, rain like snow, snow...frost?). We have yet to have a hard frost. I suppose I can thank the heavy clouds for keeping the temperatures milder. I suppose they'll have to clear off if we are to get the colder temperatures in the forecast. I'm checking the forecast daily. This weekend we are suppose to get lows in the high twenties, and rain, possibly snow showers. Dum da Dum dum.

My goals for the weekend are to finish up the garden. Snip most of the lettuces, chard and kale - if I can find room in the fridge or time to blanch and freeze. Each fall I like to experiment with covering rows with fabric row covers, plastic or sometimes old windows, to see how long I can extend the cold weather greens. This year I've got some late sowed lettuces in the greenhouse I'm going to cover and see if they'll last a while. The kale usually withstands the hard frosts and early snows. I plan on picking peas and pole beans one last time. The most time consuming chore I still have to do is pulling beets and carrots. It doesn't take that long to pull them out of the ground, but then I have to find time to clean and bag them, and then room in the backup fridge. Another year going into winter without a root cellar. I have to full size refrigerators, two chest freezers, and thankfully, I've been taking out some produce to store in my mom's garage and backup fridge. So, I'll find room for it all some way or another - and not let the carrots and beets freeze in the hay pile like I did last year.

This week the kids and I picked cranberries. I've dried one batch in the dehydrator. When I get the garden done, we'll be picking cranberries until they are covered by the snow. I could not have enough dried cranberries, tiny, tart, ruby glistening jewels that they are.

I got a call from my brother this week, letting me know if I could come out and help cut up a Moose leg, that I could have the meat. So after a few hours of enjoyable meat cutting and wrapping, I brought home probably sixty to seventy pounds of boneless chunks of meat, for roasts, steaks, curries, stews and jerkey. There was about ten pounds of grind meat, and an additional twenty pounds of scraps for dog food or for the chickens. As we have all our own turkey, duck and chicken meat, salmon and a small amount of goat meat, we don't eat much red meat- so I we are all very excited to have this much moose in the freezer.

We got out and had some fun one morning this week. The kids and I are starting to go to a Waldorf play group for mom's and young children who are homeschooling with a Waldorf approach. This week the kids starting a batch of marigold dye and then added silk scarves to the pot. Then we worked in the Creamer's Field garden, digging potatoes. Of course lots of stories and songs were sung. Next week we are celebrating Michaelmas, with our new silk scarves, a bonfire, hot drinks and food.

D worked is working close to eighty hours this week including his drive time back and forth between Delta. We are ready for his work to slow, so that we can prepare for winter. I am ready for family mornings, big breakfasts and harvest celebrations. The end of busy days is in sight. I feel like I've got another week or two of craziness. Then I see slower days, crafts, knitting, reading without guilt, and time for special meals with all the wonderful food close at hand. So I started this post thinking of the oncoming cold and frost. I close thinking of wood fires and looking forward to feeling less rushed, more time to just play with and listen to my children and family.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Birch forest that we live in, is absolutely brilliant this time of year. Our homestead and the hills surrounding us are on fire, glorious, spectacular. Tall white Birch trees decked out in splendid gold and copper finery. The list of chores to do before the snow flies, is not getting any shorter. Today I believe I am killing off my honey bees :( I'll discuss this issue more another time. Also on the list is lots of stall and pen cleaning - days and days worth. At least it is a sunny gorgeous day.

I spent most of last week house cleaning, meal planning and entertaining. We had two evenings of celebrating Avery's birthday with friends and family. Thankfully I'm feeling on top of garden harvesting. Last week I stored, blanched and froze celery. I put up the last of the scallions and shredded the last batch of zucchini for freezing. All the onions and garlic are indoors hanging. I've pulled the bean plants, tomatoes and squash. I've dug and stored half the carrots, all the potatoes and maybe a third of the beets. All that is left in the garden are beets, carrots, some remaining cabbages, lingering peas, kale, swiss chard and lettuce. I think it is time to switch gears and start picking cranberries, although now that the leaves are falling, the little ruby red gems will be harder to find.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September days

By my book, it is now fall. Not because the rain was more than rain and less than snow last night as light drops made a dull thud on the hood of my jacket as I walked my evening chore routine in the dark. Not  because the garden is half harvested, or because winter coats, boots and hats have been dug out and now line the hallway. I feel safe pronouncing that it is now fall because as I look out at the hillside and the forest surrounding me, the colors are more gold and copper than green. The nights have consistently been in the low forties and high thirties. We are lucky if the days reach high sixties (in the sun). Moreover the air smells like fall. Fall smells like high bush cranberries, sharp, sour and sweet, combined with the pungent smell of decaying leaves and debris. I adore the scents of autumn.

There is so much yet to do, it is difficult to remain calm. I'm trying to stay focused and get at least something harvested and put away each day. This week is Avery's third birthday. So we'll be entertaining and enjoying ourselves more. Avery has requested hot dogs and strawberry cake for her birthday. When asked what she would like more than anything else, she replied: a broom. When prompted for her second choice, she asked for a dustpan. She doesn't know it yet, but she is getting a darling wood kitchen, which mama is perhaps too excited about - and a wood and straw broom of course.

This week blanching and freezing thyme, kale and celery are at the top of the list. I'll be simmering local crab apples into applesauce, shredding cabbage and starting sauerkraut and making one final batch of dill pickles with the last of the pickling cucumbers. I may get around to making tomato sauce with the tomatoes that are finally ripening now that they are in boxes indoors. What are you harvesting and making this week? What signals fall to you?