Friday, October 21, 2016

My Day

Stayed up a little late last night with good company, conversation and laughter along with a bit of sipping of lovely liquid libation.  (Dare I say more than a bit of sipping of said libation?)

'Twas a slow start this morning, but I did manage to get our first batch of my mom's holiday fruitcake baked.

After lunch, Papa Pea begged and begged and begged (he's so pathetic) for a slice, so I cut into one loaf even though I knew it would be crumbly.  The fruitcake needs to be wrapped in foil and stowed in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before it "firms up" enough to slice easily.

Then it was out into the garden for the continued clean-up operation.  Because of our warmer-than-usual weather (no killing frost yet even), I've let things out there go much longer than I should have.  Of a normal year at this time, the garden would already be put to bed for the winter, and I would no longer have to give it a thought.

My experimental fall plantings were mostly a bust.  The edible podded peas and shell peas put forth lovely green vines, but not much else.  The edible podded peas blossomed scantily but formed only one or two (that I could find) pods that failed to grow any longer than about 1".  The shell peas made pods but very few plumped up.  I taste tested the few that did and although the peas inside looked normal, they had an old, stale flavor.  Yuck.

The cauliflower started from seed in a raised bed in July never even came close to forming heads.  I gave up on it and threw it to the poultry.  They said thank you very much and gobbled it right up.

 A lovely head of lettuce

A "bouquet" of arugula

The fall planted bed of salad greens did do well, I'm happy to report.

We had an end of the season plethora of fresh, crispy Swiss chard, spinach, mizuna mustard, arugula and several kinds of lettuce.

So today I picked one last big bowlful of the assorted greens then yoinked out all the plants and spread them out in the poultry pasture.  The ducks, geese and chickens came as a group for lunch, they all dined at the salad bar (hold the dressing, please) and said it was yummy.

Then I started pulling the sad looking pumpkin vines (all stronger, longer and tougher than one would think), but had to quit to make a run to town for a few errands.  One errand was to drop off at our second hand furniture store a lamp we no longer wanted or needed.  While there, I spotted a lovely swivel desk chair they had recently gotten in.  Since I've been kinda sorta looking for another chair to replace this one . . . 

. . . that I've had for so long I have no memory of where or when I got it, I decided to bring this new one home with me.

It has an adjustable height feature, and I think I'm going to like it very much.

I got a little more done in the garden after returning home from my other errands at the hardware store, recycling center, and library.  Popped some chicken turnovers in the oven which were waiting in the freezer for just such an occasion, heated up some left over gravy and served them with frozen (cooked, of course) green beans from the garden.

That was my day.  Just another slow one on ye ol' homestead.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Carrot Harvest

The carrots had to come out.  I plant my carrots in a raised bed each year and after having made my garden plan for next season, I realized the bed in which the carrots were this year is the designated garlic bed for next year.  And, of course, up here in the north land, garlic needs to be planted in the fall.

I try to get the garlic in by October 15th (how'm I doin'?), so the carrots had to come out, out, out.

Apparently growing conditions weren't perfect for our root crops this year.  I knew this about the carrots because of a few I'd already snitched and because very few crowns were showing above the soil.  Same with our beets which are still in the ground.  I've never grown beets with such small tops or beets so down right puny.

Anyway, the carrots grown were mainly my old favorites Scarlet Nantes.  For fun and experimentation this year, I planted one row of Deep Purple and one row of Dragon.  These are two "richly pigmented" carrots which supposedly contain more health benefits than other, regular carrots.

The four foot row of Dragon yielded only 3-3/4 pounds.  The outer skin is dark as noted in the picture, but the main part looks orange like any other carrot.  We have tasted them.  The flavor?  Meh.  Not sweet at all, but that may change in storage.

Wow, now here's a dark colored carrot!  Plus, they are dark all the way through.  We haven't taste tested them yet, but they produced the nicest looking (biggest, anyway) carrot I grew.  Got 6 pounds from the one four foot long row.

Then there is our main crop of Scarlet Nantes.  (Don't they look like a bunch of misshapen hot dogs?)  Very disappoint in size this year.  Most of them are of a good length, but very thin.  Why?  Dunno.

We're used to regularly getting carrots that are at least the size of the three with the pencil over them.  Haven't tasted these yet either.  I got 17 pounds from 24 feet of them.

I guesstimate we consume one pound of carrots a week so my total poundage of approximately 26 pounds should last about six months.  Six months of very skinny carrots.  And we'll be glad to have them!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Would You Wear Pink Socks?

I sat on the couch last night and managed to stay awake long enough to finish a pair of socks I've been knitting for myself.

When my daughter saw the first sock on my needles she said, "But Mom, you never wear pink."

"I will now," I replied.

I have to admit that when I purchased the yarn, I thought the red would be the predominant color rather than the pink tone.  Oh, well.

As I held them up last night to show them off to my husband, he said, "Wow, you knitted those up fast."

Uhmm . . . no.  I've been working on them (albeit sporadically) for somewhere around four to six months.  But time flies when you're having fun.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

This 'n That

My brother and sister-in-law were here for a (short) visit this past week.  It had been a (long) while since we'd all been together.  We managed to squeeze in lots of visiting, catching up on each others' lives that can't be done via e-mail or phone calls, some breaking bread (and a few other things) together, some time getting out in our gorgeous fall weather.  'Twas good to see each other and confirm that fact that we're all enjoying life, doing what we want to be doing . . . and haven't aged one bit!

On the home front, our two-year old hens have been molting and egg production has gone right down the tubes.  (Unfortunately, not the egg tubes.)  I don't remember when I've had such a pitifully small back log of eggs in the refridge.  But, joy-oh-joy (and surprise), our new chicks who we hadn't counted on starting to lay until December, presented us with our first two pullet eggs last Thursday.  (Precocious little birds, they be.)  Only one more pullet egg since then, but I'm hoping they will really kick into production soon.

I can hardly believe it, but I'm still harvesting green peppers from the garden.  About half of the bell peppers look great on the outside, but when cut open they have a great deal of mold in the center.  I haven't found this to be true in any of the Sweet Italian Pepper variety.

I don't have my Halloween decorations out and in place yet.  (Call the Seasonal Decoration Police!)  Running a little behind schedule this year, it seems.  If all goes well, I think I can get it done today yet.

Our day time temperatures are remaining warmer than usual, and we've yet to have a killing frost.  Every extra day we can get for this year's apple crop to mature is a very good thing and much appreciated.

We have two chickens that have been put on my Black List.  They've been escaping nearly every single day from the poultry pasture to scratch around in the garden.  This time of year it didn't initially seem like a terrible, awful, bad thing, and I kind of ignored them . . . until we discovered they were scratching in the potato hills enough to uncover potatoes and leave them lying exposed to the sun.  Nope, can't tolerate that.  I'm hoping we've got the escapees contained now.

We're still putting off harvesting our root crops because the temp in the root cellar, which we checked this morning, is only down to 52°-55°.  We need to find a way to incorporate more thermal mass in there which will hold the cold better.  (Another little item added to The List.)

This has been a catch-up, organizational day for both me and Papa Pea.  

Remember that every day is a fresh start, a new beginning.  So gather all your vim and vigor and hit tomorrow running with a smile and determination to do what needs to be done!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Morning Scenes

A flotilla of waterfowl.

The nosy geese are always the first to come investigate.

No food, no interest.  Back to the 
morning paddling around.

I love the way our driveway looks this time of year.
 Soon it will be looking bare.
But snow will come and make it lovely again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Miscellaneous Chatter

I guess I need a good night's sleep for more than my beauty.  (Snort.)  Last night I tossed and turned, was up and out of bed for a couple of hours, then wasn't even feeling sleepy when I finally got back into bed.  Of course, I've paid for it all day today.  My body doesn't want to do what it should be doing, but would rather collapse on the couch and slip into oblivion.  I had a lot to do today and did manage to stumble through most of it, but I certainly wasn't operating on all cylinders.  But we all have days like that, right?  I do plan on getting into bed early tonight.  The way I continue to feel, I should have no trouble sleeping this night.

We had our first frost this past Monday morning.  Our thermometer in the sheltered area on the north side of the house by the back door registered 32°, but there was a solid layer of ice on poultry waterers.  Strange thing in the garden though.  The only area that seemed touched, despite a white coating on roofs and vehicles sitting out, were the pumpkin vines.  Neither the cherry tomatoes nor pepper plants had any damage.  Last year our first no-doubt-about-it killing frost was on the 17th of the month.

My fall planted shell peas, the edible podded peas and cauliflower plants don't look as though they'll produce much.  The pods on the shell peas are only about 1/3 plumped up (and have been that way for about a week now with no further growth), the edible podded peas developed very few blossoms (no pods at all yet), and although the cauliflower plants look healthy, there's nary a trace of any heads forming.  Oh well, it was worth a try.

Our fall colors have peaked although there are still lots of golds and yellows to be seen.  I think I like all the leaves on the ground as much as anything.  Our driveway is lovely with its covering of leaves.

Our Virginia Creeper is looking a little wilty, but is still very colorful.

Rain is called for starting tonight and continuing through tomorrow, but Thursday is supposed to be sunny again.  Our day time temps are well into the 50s which, to me, is beautiful fall weather.

We've gotten all the slabwood off the flatbed trailer, cut and stacked under cover in our smaller wood shed.  Funny thing, when all is said and done, it doesn't look like as much wood as we had expected.  That's okay as we have plenty more maple logs still waiting to be worked up in our back wood working area.

Stuffed Green Peppers for dinner tonight.  What's on the menu at your house?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Because this past week was my grandpa's birthday (October 6th), I've been thinking about him.  No, he's no longer with us, and hasn't been for a long time.  He was born way back in 1884 and died in 1963.

He was my maternal grandfather (the only one I ever knew), and I was close to both him and my grandma.

I wrote a post about Grandpa when I first started blogging and thought I'd share it again today.  Here it is.

Grandpa Stops By

First of all, let me state that I do not believe in the super-natural, the occult, apparitions or ghosts.  But I saw my grandpa as clear as day a year after he died.

My first real job in the working world was as what used to be known as a secretary.  I was employed by a large company that supplied natural gas to the whole northern half of the state of Illinois.  No computers then.  I even took dictation with a pencil and steno pad.

One day at work I had such bad menstrual cramps I thought I would have to go home but decided to try to lie down for a while to see if that helped.  The door to the women's rest room on the floor on which I worked opened into a short hallway.  Immediately to the left inside the hallway, and before the door to the rest room proper which was straight ahead , there was a door that opened into a small room which was set up as kind of a lounge area.  It contained a couch and a few comfortable chairs.  I went into that room to stretch out on the couch.  When I entered I turned off the lights but left the door open in case someone else came in wanting to use the area for a work break.

I had been lying on the couch on my stomach for about ten minutes when I heard the outer door open and footsteps come into the hall and stop in the doorway.  Fully expecting to see some other woman wanting to use the lounge area, I raised myself up intending to tell her to turn on the lights and come in.  But the person standing there wasn't another woman.  It was my great, big, old, dear grandpa.  In his bib overalls, long-sleeved undershirt and high-top tennies.  He WAS there.  I know he was there.  He didn't say a thing, he just stood there for perhaps ten seconds as we looked at each other . . . and then he was gone.  I sat up, pinched myself a couple of times to make sure I wasn't dreaming, and tried to figure out what had just happened.  I wasn't frightened or upset because . . . well, it was just Grandpa. 

When I later told my mom of the experience, she reminded me that that was the way he always made an appearance when he was alive.  You would turn, and he would unexpectedly be there.  Several of his married children had nearly suffered coronaries on more than one occasion as they would walk into their kitchen and there would be Grandpa unloading some of his homegrown tomatoes onto the counter, or they'd go into the basement with a load of laundry and Grandpa would be stacking wood in a corner for their fireplace.

I might not believe in the super-natural, the occult, apparitions or ghosts, but I do believe in the spirit.  My grandpa had a quiet, strong, caring spirit, and I think that day at work he was just stopping by to check on me.  No other explanation for it.