Thursday, October 31, 2019

More On Witches' Broom

Although this may be an appropriate post title for this time of year, it has nothing to do with Halloween.

Back in the spring of this year, I did a post on May 11th entitled "Big Trouble in the Blueberry Patch" about Witches' Broom which is a fungal disease, a growth, we've seen on our domestic blueberry bushes.

Over the summer months, more of this dad-blasted, blankety-blank growth has appeared so yesterday I took my pruners out into the blueberry patch to cut off all of the new growth.

Some bushes had only a small amount on them.
 (The dark growth is the Witches' Broom.)

Others were almost totally covered with it.

Last spring, per the information I had gathered, I dug out three of our twenty-one bushes because of the growth coming out of the crown of the plant at ground level.

Yesterday I decided to cut that type of growth as close to the ground as I could leaving the bush in the ground.

Unfortunately, the outlook for our bushes is not good as supposedly the fungal growth will limit the amount of berries a bush produces and eventually kill the bush.

Seems there's not much we can do to prevent or halt the problem (as indicated in my previous post in May) as it's spread by spores on the balsam trees being carried to the bushes by the wind.  We live and garden in the middle of a heavily forested area and removing all balsam trees within a 1,200 foot radius of the bushes (as suggested by articles I've read) is not possible.

So what's the solution if we want to continue producing a crop of blueberries?  I still don't know.  I do know we had a heavier crop of berries this past summer than we've had in a few years.  Go figure.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Cranberries for Breakfast

This is a mama deer with her yearling offspring breakfasting this morning on our high bush cranberries.

Because of our heavy deer population, any garden produce we're serious about growing and harvesting for ourselves needs to be enclosed within our 7' high deer fencing.  These high bush cranberry plantings are not.  No wonder we never get a good harvest from them.

Pictures taken through our (less than sparkling clean) back porch windows.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Apples and Coziness

Our fall color season is over and most of the tree leaves are now on the ground.  The scenery is starting to get that black and gray look that will last until the white of a snow cover is added to the mix.

The dear lady who writes wisps of words posted a lovely blog today which echoes my feelings about this time of year.  It's such a cozy time of warmth in the home, a pulling in and gathering in preparation for the winter season, oven meals and thick soups which seem so delectable now, and even a pan of Apple Slices that I couldn't keep myself from sampling earlier today.

As you can see, I wasn't the only one sampling.

Speaking of apples, even though we've had two frosts already, the forecast for this coming Tuesday night is for it to get really frigid.  So on the schedule for tomorrow afternoon is harvesting all our apples.

We've been sampling them for what seems like weeks now and saying they need "just a little more time."  Well, time has run out and we can't dawdle any longer.  It's time for all apples to be gathered.  Our small orchard of the dwarf trees has produced abundantly and a couple of our big trees have some apples, but not many.  Friends of our daughter's have offered us as many apples from their large, old tree as we want so we'll be in their yard tomorrow gathering some of that bounty.

What will we do with the apples?  Make a lot of applesauce as we've been plumb out for well over a month now.  Daughter wants to try making some juice/cider, we'll eat out-of-hand the best tasting ones, and of course there will be the occasional apple pie, apple crisp, pan of apple slices, etc. during the coming months.

What a glorious time of year.  Candles, quilts, nights before an open fire reading a good book while sipping a warm drink.  As words of wisps says, this is The Season of Quiet . . . and rest and enjoyment and visiting around the harvest table.

Addendum:  I've posted about my Apple Slices before here on my blog and if you're interested in seeing the original recipe (as some of you here in the comments have indicated), go way down on my right hand side bar to the Search box and type in "Apple Slices" and it should take you to posts wherein the Apple Slices have been mentioned.  Scroll down to the post dated October 12, 2010, titled "Only Because You Made Me Do It" and the recipe will be shown there.

A year or so ago, even though the crust in the original recipe was good, I finally gave up on it because it was so hard to work with and roll out.  I started using my regular pie crust recipe and feel it's just as good.

This time around I simply used my pie crust, about 10 apples (they weren't too large), added 2/3 cups sugar (apples were a tad under ripe), and a rounded teaspoon of cinnamon.  Much simpler and just as tasty. 

Thanks to you all for your interest.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Did You Ever Have A "Pen Pal?"

Long before the computer age, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, people would communicate with each other by writing letters and sending them through the U.S. Mail.  Often a person you corresponded with on a regular basis was called a "pen pal."

When I was in third grade, my teacher was Miss Kuter.  (Yes, it was pronounced "cuter" but she was such a beloved teacher that I don't remember anyone ever making fun of her name.)

Miss Kuter, bless her heart, was my very first pen pal, the first person I ever corresponded with via posted mail.

She was a wonderful, dedicated, long-time teacher, warm and loving toward her students, and on the last day of third grade, I remember telling her I wished she could be my teacher "forever" and that I would miss her as summer vacation began.

Our family lived in a residential part of our town in Illinois and Miss Kuter lived with her parents in a farming community about seven miles outside of our town.  In that day and age, I suppose she could have been labeled a "spinster" or even "old maid" as she was well into her forties (or perhaps even fifties) and had never been married.

She told me that if I had time during the summer (what did I have but time?), I could write to her and tell her what I was doing.  She gave me her mailing address, we said good-bye and I went home wondering how long I should wait to send her a letter. 

I don't remember specifically how long I did wait to write to her, but I can't imagine it was long or that my letter was full of stimulating information.  I'm sure my correspondence must have been fairly hum-drum and boring.

But write to her I did and almost immediately received a reply from her.  I was thrilled.  Her letters were full of things happening on her parents' farm and I remember folded inside her first return letter was a small sample of the wallpaper she was putting up in her bedroom.

I eagerly looked forward to her letters which always were so interesting (to me) and usually contained some little trinket that made me think her life was extremely interesting.  Once I even received a black and white glossy print of a picture of her father's herd of milk cows grazing in a pasture.

We wrote letters back and forth all that summer.  What a considerate, sweet person she was to take the time to correspond with a nine-year old girl.

Near the end of that summer, I was looking forward to seeing her in person when school started up again.

Then one evening as my mother was reading the local paper, she commented that there was a marriage announcement for Miss Kuter!

Unfortunately for me, this turned out to mean she didn't return to my elementary school as a teacher that fall, and I never saw her again.  It was also the end of our correspondence.

But I still will never forget how kind she was to take the time to be my "pen pal" for that summer of 1952.  I do believe that started me on the track of becoming a frequent letter writer, and probably prompted me to eventually become a blogger when the age of computers came on the scene. 

So thanks, Miss Kuter, for introducing me to the art of writing letters and being my pen pal.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Getting Pretty Desperate . . .

. . . to be able to settle inside and hunker down for some extended time in my quilt room.

This weekend is an annual quilt retreat that many of my quilty pals are attending.  When I got the notice of it in my e-mail box over a month ago, I knew I wouldn't feel right signing up for it because of the still-to-be-done outside projects here on ye ol' homestead.  Maybe next year.

Papa Pea and I were going full force at one of those fall projects this morning when the light, scattered raindrops became steady and heavy enough that we had to come inside.  The rain is supposed to stop in another hour so we'll try going out again then.  (Mud boots, anyone?)

I found these five books on wool applique on sale on one of the quilting sites I haunt so whipped out my credit card and ordered them.  Cannot wait to pour through them, mark the two or three (okay, fifteen or sixteen) projects I want to attempt, and spend unlimited time happily creating.  I also ordered one book on straight line quilting that I'm sure I'll learn a lot from.

In an attempt to keep my sanity (or what I have left at this stage of the game), I have been squeezing in the odd few minutes or so making some Christmas and winter themed potholders to have ready as small gifts for this upcoming holiday season.  I know it looks like a fabric explosion on my cutting table at the moment, but in looking through the fabric in my stash I kept coming across piece after piece I want to use.

We had friends from the Twin Cities visit us last Thursday.  While the guys went out to do their "guy things," she was kind enough to give me a lesson on how she makes her one-of-a-kind greeting cards.  She's been doing it for twenty-some years and creates at an advanced level, but she very kindly brought materials, stamps, cutters, embellishments, etc. that were easy for me to work with.

Above are the four cards I made (with excellent instruction from my friend) and I must admit I wouldn't mind at all jumping into this new-to-me craft with both feet . . . if I only had about twelve more hours in each day.  For the time being, I'm forcing myself to tend to my knittin'.  (And quilting.)

I just checked and the rain is still falling, so it may be a good idea for me to dive into an inside task that's on my list.

Let's see . . . should I clean the inside of my kitchen cabinets?  Or attack the linen closet and hot water tank closet in the bathroom?  There are always the bulging files in my desk that need to be gone through and reorganized.  Or . . . 

I could tiptoe into my quilt room,
tightly close the door and
 hope nobody comes
looking for me.

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?)