October Reflections

You guessed it; life is continuing to be … full.  I know I’m more than overdue for an update.

I have a mixed relationship with fall.  I live for the heat and abundance of the summer.  I’m one of those annoying cold-all-the-time-skinny women, and in this maritime climate, I don’t get days very often when I’m willing to leave the house without a sweater.  So when the real heat hits, I rejoice, and then I mourn its passing painfully as the days get noticeably shorter.

Once I accept that fall is truly here, though, I can acknowledge and celebrate its beauty.

And fall has lots to offer!  The summer harvest still trucks along, even though at this point I’m pretty sick of eating the tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers that have been our mainstay now for 3 or so months.  Their harvest has been good, though, and there are jars of sauce and pickles in the pantry, as well as bags of frozen whole tomatoes and blanched beans in the freezer.

As with the rest of the year, I’m looking forward to the transition into the next crops: fall carrots, chard, kale, leeks, and salads.  Right now, those precious crops are getting as big as I can get them before the weather really turns; I’m hiding them under row cover to give them as much warmth as I can.

In other good news, after a non-harvest last year, our apple trees this fall are LOADED.

Now the fun begins with what to do with them all for the months to come!  The freezer is full of berries, but those will mostly become jam, so the apples are really our only homegrown fruit crop until the rhubarb pokes its big fronds up in the spring.  I see many pies and perhaps a dehydrator in our future…. not sure yet about applesauce.

Sadly, it looks like I’ll be headed to the farm or to the store for my fall cabbages and brussel sprouts.  Though my winter leeks look good, yet again I just don’t think I got these brassicas in the ground early enough.  😦  I also don’t think this bed is getting enough sun in the summer–so there are some shrubs and trees that I’m eyeing dangerously! Note the bounteous weeds and make-shift chicken proofing in the photo below…

It’s an in-between time, this autumn season.  The Skipper and I start to turn our attention inside, to the house projects we might get done over the winter.  We start the fall clean-up outside, which enables us to see the bones of the garden that had disappeared in all the lush summer growth, and we start to strategize about which projects might get tackled before next summer.  On the list for this year, inside and out: a woodstove (hurray!), painting and decorating my office, reconfiguring and adding some new veggie beds (which may mean taking down some trees–more another day!), siding the Skipper’s small shop.  There are always more projects than we can tackle in a year, but those feel like the top contenders at the moment!

But in the midst of all this planning and reflecting on what worked and what didn’t, there is still bounty coming in that needs dealing with!

  Sigh.  Looks like a big batch of green tomato bread and butter pickles, and maybe a batch of relish or chutney.  Christmas presents anyone?! 🙂

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10 thoughts on “October Reflections

    1. Thanks Stephen! It’s actually tiny. I’m trying to hold off eating it until it gets bigger so it will last longer through the winter, but it’s hard!
      Nice to hear from you. 🙂

  1. We struggle to make good use of our apple harvest every year, too. This year we harvested about 40 pounds of crabapples (we now have a lifetime supply of crabapple jelly and butter!) and a whole lot of Pink Lady and Cox Orange Pippin apples – so many I stopped weighing and keeping track! We dehydrate a bunch, and make jars and jars of applesauce, and as much apple butter as I can stand – it takes so long! But our energy flags, and our shelves fill up, and our dedication to making good use of every last apple somehow dissipates. I was thinking of taking the last few buckets to Duncan McBarley’s to have them pressed for juice, but before I got to it a hungry bear who had been making the rounds of the neighbourhood cleaned us out – breaking a few large branches on one tree in the process. That’ll teach us…

    1. My goodness–a bear! A good reminder that if we don’t make use of the crop, someone else sure will! We’ve thought of McBarley’s and cider too; you need either 90 or 180 lbs, though. I don’t think we’ll have quite that much! We so like the idea of cider for the winter, though, that we’ve contemplated supplementing with someone else’s apples to make up the difference for a batch.

    1. Your apples look amazing! Do you happen to know what kind they are? Funny isn’t it – how things seem to grow in waves fom one year to the next?
      I’ve got visions of gorgeous bottles of applesauce crowding your pantry shelves (cooking with the skin in situ adds both flavour and colour, not to mention saving time and energy; ), while the scent of apple crisp fills the air with golden brown clouds of buttery cinnamon heaven. Yum!

  2. Your hens look just like ours! We also pasture them and have a fence around the garden to keep them out during the growing season, but come late fall, I protect the overwintered crops and then open it up and let them back in to work down the bug populations and graze down all the walkways etc.

    Beautiful crop of apples!

    1. Thanks all of you!

      Deb, thanks for the link; it’s always nice to find a like-minded blog to follow and get tips from. As for apple-types, I think there are 5+ different ones, and as we inherited all of them, I’m still working on identification. Pretty sure we have 2 Cox Orange Pippin, a Mutsu, and Graventsteins, then a couple of years ago, I was pretty sure about a Belle de Boskoop, and possibly a Jonagold. But not positive on any of them!

      Laura, we do have some Australorps, just like you–they are my favorites, I think. So calm, beautiful iridescent feathers, and large eggs. We also have some Wyadottes (Silver-laced and Blue-laced Red) and a Buff Orpington. I love learning about all the different breeds and I’m always looking for ways we could bring in more! 🙂

      Amanda–I can’t wrap my head around that soup idea! Share the recipe, if you feel like it! I’m really not sure I’m up for more canning this year, so all ideas are welcome…

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