Friday, October 11, 2019

Racing Time

Recently there are mornings (like this one) when I'm not sure how alive, alert and productive I am.  I know I'm not winning the race.

We've been going full bore every day to wrap up all the end-of-the-season tasks that must be done before the snow flies.  It's totally bamboozling how each year at this time something "new" has to be added to the tasks that must be done in preparation for winter.  So it goes.

Last night, after a couple of days of beautiful, dry weather, the rains started again giving us over 1-1/2" of moisture with more predicted for today and through the weekend.  Just to add a little excitement to the hurry-flurry of activities, we're being warned of possible snow during the overnight low temps.

Late last week I pulled the pepper plants that have been growing inside one of our cold frames all season. 

These were the peppers still on the plants.  I tried to show their size by propping a ruler by them (fail), so you'll have to believe me that the largest ones were 3-4" across.  We've been eating a pepper sliced up raw with each meal since then and they have the best flavor of any harvested earlier in the summer.  So good.

In my spare time (a few minutes before I pass out each night), I've been working on this pair of blue hued socks for Papa Pea.  Halfway through the second sock, it became (unfortunately) apparent I was going to run out of yearn.  This has happened once before when knitting socks for him-of-the-big-feet, so with these I finished off the whole toe with some navy blue yarn I had and it actually doesn't look odd at all.  Besides that, he rarely takes off his shoes when walking around in public.

As it's been getting darker instead of lighter all morning, we're expecting the rain to start falling again today so I'll be spending my day house cleaning and putting up our Halloween decorations.  Then at the end of the month, the ghosts and goblins go away and the decorations for Thanksgiving will be put out.  Then right after that holiday, the Christmas decorations make an appearance and . . . 

Time, would you please slow down?  I'm having trouble keeping up.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Did You Think I'd Forgotten How To Type?

It's been over a week since I've made a post here.  Why?  Too darn busy.  Rainy days (of which there have been too many) give us the chance to start catching up on all the inside things we have let slide during the summer.  Plus, there's still some canning and preserving from the garden going on.  Days when we can be outside, we're like squirrels skittering around from one project to another.

With our good neighbor's permission and encouragement, we've worked on cutting an opening through our woods to his land next door so that we have some place to push and pile the snow removed from our back yard area.  On a heavy snow year, we quickly run out of room to push the snow so we're hoping this will be a big improvement and time-saver.

This involved taking out a few trees, nothing big, but of course there were lots of branches and debris we had to pile into the pick-up truck and make a couple of trips back up to the ridge where we have a designated dump spot (in the ravine on the other side of the ridge) that we and our good neighbor share.

This is a view from the other angle with only the stumps to be grubbed out and logs we can use for fire wood moved.  That's now been accomplished and the way is clear.

One other job needing to be done before the snow flies is to finish cutting, splitting and stacking all the wood still in our back wood working area.  (And there's a lot of it!)  The spot is low and with all our recent moisture, it's been difficult to work there.  But it's another location where we pile snow in the winter months so the wood needs to be worked up and moved before then.

Our good neighbor had six huge trees he took down for a client's building site and asked us if we wanted the trees for fire wood.  Of course, we did, so Papa Pea spent a couple of days cutting them up into stove size lengths and then we (with our daughter's willing help) hauled them to the wood working area with our tractor and bucket.  The pieces in the foreground are so big Papa Pea will have to split them up a bit with a splitting maul before we can comfortably lift them up onto our splitter.

Our wood supply is abundant and we've now got an ample supply for about two heating seasons and, boy howdy, do we feel good about that! 

Another big project that was accomplished last week was installing the new (used) wood stove we got for the enclosed workshop part of the garage.  It's going to be a great stove for our purposes (it will even heat our water when that phase has been accomplished) but it weighs in at around 500 pounds so you can imagine the chore it was getting it in and installed.  Those pictures will have to wait for another post as this one is already too long.  (Am I even capable of writing a short post?)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Fall Is Slow Arriving

Although we had a few days of "sweatshirt weather" a couple of weeks ago (I love sweatshirt weather), Mother Nature is fooling with us and giving us days in the high 60s and low 70s when we have sunshine.  I know this must seem absolutely frigid to those of you still experiencing thermometers showing 90+ degrees, but for this time of year it's warm for us.

The humidity has also been high which makes it hard to figure out which coverings in bed at night are comfortable.  (Frankly, nothing has seemed the right combination or has been comfortable.)

The word is that we might have an elongated fall season here because of all the moisture we've been getting.

While we don't have many deciduous trees close by in our immediate area, we celebrate whatever color we do have.  The golds of the poplar and birch trees can be lovely and if we take a color tour drive a short way from here, we can see the flaming reds of the maple trees.

Here are a couple of shots I took driving out of our driveway this past week.

I think I enjoy seeing the fallen leaves on the ground almost as much as any color.

The foliage with the reddish coloring is what we call a moose maple or striped maple.  It's a small Northern American species of the maple tree (more of a shrub really) and does give us a bit of red/rust color amid the gold leaves of the birch and poplar.

My taste buds are definitely yearning for a different kind of cooking now that we're saying good-bye to the garden and the lighter fare of summer eating.  I baked a turkey this last Thursday which, of course, was one of our warmer days in the past several.

Yesterday and today I've had the turkey carcass, skin and other miscellaneous parts and pieces simmering in my biggest stock pot and am looking forward to having lots of nutritional bone broth to use in soups, stews, gravies and casseroles soon.

I'm ready to switch the clothes in my closet and dresser drawers from tank tops and short to turtlenecks, jeans and corduroy pants.  And, of course, my cozy, comfy sweatshirts.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Long-Winded Post About A Busy Day

A good day, a busy day, and I'm gonna take some Arnica to ease the slight ouchy-ache in my lower back!

This morning we were forewarned of more rain to come this late afternoon (and it came) so we went outside first thing to do what had to be done.

We had a big pile of split wood that needed to be stacked in our smaller wood shed so Papa Pea and I did that in two separate sessions.  Got it all safe and dry (or I should say drying) in the wood shed and the mess of wood debris on the ground cleaned up.

My onions were overdue for pulling and being laid out to dry.  It's best if you harvest them after a dry spell, but that's something we haven't seen in quite some time.  So today I decided they had to come out, before the predicted couple days of rain, and harvested them all and with Papa Pea's help got them laid out on racks to begin their drying period.  Lotsa big, beautiful onions this year.

Then my better half gathered a lot of old hay to spread in the poultry yard area right in front of the birds' various shelters.  They still have much green area to roam in but that area where their little feet traverse back and forth to the small enclosures had gotten muddy from the frequent rains.  Now it's carpeted with fresh cover and maybe the eggs will be coming in cleaner.  I can hope. 

I keep the runners cut off my strawberry plants (which are long done bearing now) because I believe it allows the strength to remain in the mother plants and besides that, I prefer to keep three straight rows of plants rather than one big matted patch.  Although the ground was still plenty damp and even muddy in spots, I crawled along snipping off all the vigorous runners the plants have been sending out.  I had two five-gallon pails full of them!

We were offered the opportunity to come harvest as many Concord grapes from an acquaintance's grape arbor as we wanted.  This is the lovely bunch that I was going to use for grape jam which we both like.  But the more I thought about it, I decided that wouldn't be the best use of the grapes.  We've truly been cutting down the amount of jam we eat and since I have a good supply of both strawberry and haskap berry jam, I nixed that idea. 

Lucky me, our daughter offered to take the grapes and make juice for all of us.  Great!  However, when she did some research (takes after her father), she found that for best flavor Concord grapes shouldn't be harvested until after a first frost.  Ooops.  Well, now we know and the folks we got the grapes from said we were welcome to come back and take as many as we wanted.  So methinks we'll be waiting around for that first frost and maybe we can talk our daughter into more juice . . . or wine?!  Although I'm not sure Concord grapes make the best wine.  Anybody know about this?

A couple of days ago we sampled some nice organic peaches that our Co-op had in stock.  They were tasty so Papa Pea suggested I buy a bunch to cut up and freeze for use in our smoothies or cottage cheese fruit salads this winter.

I did so, but they just haven't seemed quite ripe to me so I've had them sitting on the counter waiting for them to soften up a bit.  Day before yesterday I did about half of them but these six were still to be done. 

I've been watching them carefully but when I checked them out tonight, darned if one of them didn't have a great big ol' mold spot on it.  Eeeuuw!  Decision has been made to process and get them all in the freezer tonight. 

I saw this gorgeous autumnal fabric advertised on the Internet a short time ago and couldn't pass it up.  (It was on sale!)  I got enough for fall valances for our back enclosed porch and maybe an apron and some potholders.

The valance for the small window had been done and today I finished one for one of the three big windows.  I hope to finish the rest maybe tomorrow because rain is forecast for the whole day.  In the above pic you can see a smidge of the light green valances I have up for spring and summer.

A rainy, inside day tomorrow in which to look forward to sewing and catching up on inside things.  And giving my back some rest and rejuvenation!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Fall Is Apple Pie Season, and More

I baked our first apple pie of the season early this morning.  No, not with apples from our trees (not ready yet) but rather from some brought to us by a friend in southern Minnesota.

Ours need a little more time to mature, and it would be nice if they would size up a bit more, too.  I'm happy to see them looking this good considering the rough, cold, slow start they got this spring.  None of the blossoms froze, but it sure did take a long time for the apples to start forming.

The above shot was taken through our keep-the-birds-from-pecking-them cage we built.  Don't they look perfect?  Proves you can have unblemished, organically grown apples (IF they mature properly!) without poisonous sprays . . . and you go to great lengths to protect them from spoilage brought on by birds!

This is the harvest from one-half a 4 x 8' bed of slicing cucumbers.  I even cut the plants down to four this year; next year, it's two plants.  Applarently, slicing cukes aren't that popular with most folks as I can hardly give them away.  

Papa Pea and I are doing our best to use them by enjoying them in one form or another each and every day.  Seriously.  I expect vines to be growing out of our ears soon.

Here's a great, simple recipe for a yummy, crunchy cucumber salad.  Measurements of ingredients are approximate depending on your own taste.  Feel free to adjust.

Creamy Cucumbers

1 medium sized slicing cucumber
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
Sprinkle black pepper
Some red onion (for color and zip)
sliced and separated into rings
A small amount of mayo

Slice your cucumber, add rest of ingredients
and mix gently.

The mayo required is small, maybe half a tablespoon, 
because the cukes have a lot of water in them.

Sometimes I add halved cherry tomatoes.

I hope all is going well for you at the beginning of this fall season wherever you're located.  Supposedly our color season will last longer than usual because we've had so much moisture lately.  The good from the not so good!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Happy Hands, Happy Heart

I just this morning (woke a little before five bells and couldn't get back to sleep) finished a new fall wall hanging.

It's machine pieced and hand quilted, and measures 21-1/2" square.

I debated for a long time what small block to use as a border around this gorgeous colorful leaf fabric I wanted to showcase.  Then it hit me.  Well, of course, what would be better than the Flying Geese block?  Simple and yet appropriate.

When I change my summer decorations to the fall ones (if I ever get around to it), this new piece will hang in our bathroom in this spot.

* * * * * * * * * *

What does Batman do first thing in the morning?

He puts on his batrobe and goes to the batroom.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

You're Never Too Old . . .

. . . or experienced to make gardening mistakes.

I had a beautiful crop of garlic this year, but waited too long to harvest it.

When I dug it I could see immediately that some of the garlic was not wrapped in a nice, tight bulb, but rather the cloves had started to separate.

This happens when you don't harvest your garlic soon enough after the leaves have started to turn brown.

For some reason, I've always felt a certain anxiety that I will harvest it too soon.  When you do that the cloves will be small, and they don't store as well as the fully matured, larger ones.

But leaving your garlic in the ground too long (which I definitely did this year -- blast and dang!) causes the cloves to separate and burst out of their layers of protective skin.  They then become vulnerable to disease and, yep, now after mine have cured for about three weeks, I can easily see mold forming on some of the cloves.  I'm thinking I'm going to have to dump those bulbs to avoid further contamination.

Fortunately, I've been blessed with a big crop so I'll now have to carefully sort through the bulbs, set aside the healthier, large-cloved ones to plant this fall for next year's crop, and try to use up the ones with the separated cloves first.  They probably won't remain usable for long without their protective skins intact as their keeping quality will be severely limited.  I'll keep my fingers crossed for the storage quality of the bulbs that do look okay.

Well, one thing is for sure.  Next year I won't worry about harvesting my garlic too soon, but instead that I'll wait too late as I did this year.  Arrrgh.