Thursday, October 28, 2021

If Only . . .

 Yesterday morning after breakfast, I wanted to refill the bottle of maple syrup I keep in the refrigerator in the kitchen from the half-gallon jar of syrup that's stored in our spare refridge.

When I opened the half-gallon jar, I noticed two little spots of mold on the surface of the syrup.  Hmmm, I've never had that happen before.

So I scooped out the bits of mold and poured the rest of the syrup through a strainer into a big saucepan intending to bring it to a boil for a few minutes thinking that would kill any mold spores that might be left.

I put the pan over a low-medium flame to warm up the cold syrup gradually and set the timer to remind me to keep an eye on the process.

Can you see what's coming here?

I continued whatever I was doing in the house, going from room to room, and when the timer dinged, I went to the stove to find the maple syrup had boiled over.  Over the burner, all over the inner workings of the top of the stove, down through the stove where it had formed a good-sized puddle of syrup on the floor.

Either purchasing a new stove . . . or moving . . . came to mind.

My dear husband jumped in to help with the massive clean-up.  I told him he didn't need to as I deserved to do it myself as punishment for being so careless, but he insisted.

Did I take pictures?  No, thanks.  I don't need anything to remind me of the occasion.

If only I had stood right next to the stove washing the dishes and cleaning up other breakfast things as I had planned while boiling the syrup.  If only.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Should I Have Been Outside?

Although today has been cool with a high temp of 46°, it was a sun shiny day.  My time might have been better spent tilling up the six raised beds that Papa Pea spread compost on yesterday.  Instead I was inside all day getting some other things done.
Because tomorrow is stacking up to be busy, and Monday is my regular laundry and ironing day, I did those two things today and checked them off the list.
Each year at Halloween and Christmas time, Chicken Mama (aka our daughter) gathers together six kiddies she's been a nanny for in the past and at the present time, ages ranging from 3 to 13, and they have a wild and messy fun time decorating sugar cookies. 

I'm the official cookie baker, providing the naked sugar cookies, Chicken Mama makes the frostings and provides other decorations.  This year the event will take place this coming Thursday after school.  Not wanting to be up until midnight (I'd never make it) on Wednesday night, I got the double batch of cookies made and baked today.  Now they're stashed in the freezer until they're needed on Thursday.
I've had a hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich on Poppy Seed Bread.  For a couple of weeks now this has been calling to my taste buds so today I baked a loaf of the bread.

The end piece I gobbled up forced myself to sample was good.  You'd have to be a fan of poppy seeds though because it's loaded with them.  Grilled cheese sandwiches, toast with jam for breakfast . . . mmm, yum.
Oh!  And one other thing (that was no accomplishment of mine), one of the new chickens just presented us with our first pullet egg!  Normally, if we have to order chicks from a hatchery, we specify their arrival late in the spring/early summer because of lack of our warm weather before then.  However, our first batch of chicks arrived (unexpectedly) earlier than we really wanted this spring.  Papa Pea set them up in a snug little brooder house with heat lamp and they all made it just fine.  It was one of those chicks (now nearly grown) that gave us the egg.  All in all, we're very happy to know we won't have to wait until the first of the year to have a good quantity of fresh eggs again.
If all goes well tomorrow, I may be able to get at those newly composted beds I avoided today.  Funny thing.  When I'm inside, none of my list of outside tasks gets done.  And when I'm outside . . . well, you know.   

Saturday, October 23, 2021

An Unpleasant Job

I give my hard-working husband one whole lot of credit for doing this ugly-bugly, uncomfortable job of undercoating our old vehicles to protect them from all the winter slush and salt we drive in several months of the year.  It enables us to keep our vehicles usable and safe for much longer than they would otherwise.  Thanks, hon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Garlic and Mint and . . . Frost?

We've had an unusually warm and long fall season (not complaining) without any threat of Jack Frost making his first appearance.  Up until now.
The forecast for the next several nights shows temperatures hovering just at or barely above freezing so the end of our Indian Summer may be close at hand.

I finally got my garlic planted yesterday.  Each lovely, little clove is now snuggled down under 2-3" of soil, covered with a thick blanket of straw mulch which is held in place with a cattle panel to prevent our fall/early winter winds from dislodging it.  Sleep tight, garlic.  See you in the spring.

My raised bed of mint finally filled in to a really nice degree this summer.  The two bare-ish spots you see at the far end of this picture are probably where I made the last cutting a little too close to the ground.  (Bad, Mama Pea.)  Also, some of the greenery you may be able to see is dandelion greens or other hardy little weeds, but if you've ever tried to weed a mint bed you know how much of a tangled torture that can be.  I'll be more diligent come spring. 
Both Papa Pea and I spent our early morning hours today suffling around with hands clutching warm coffee cups and an extra layer or two on our bodies before we decided it would be much more sensible if we made a fire in the wood stove here in the kitchen.  It's that shoulder time of year when one forgets how and when to fire the stoves to maintain a comfort level.  We wouldn't yet want a fire all day, but one first thing in the morning sure does help get these two bodies up and moving quicker.  And with more cheerfulness.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

How Do Ya Like Them Apples?

Just about any way at all!  And I've been keeping close company with apples for the past couple of days.
We harvested all of Zestar apples, which are usually the first ones ready.

This year's harvest wasn't the best.  We got only 42 apples off of our two trees in the "cage."  But most of them are quite large in size and are making wonderful eating apples.

We planted another Chestnut Crabapple this spring to add to our existing one, so we had apples from just the original tree this year.  They're the largest crabapples I've ever seen and also the sweetest tasting.  We save them for eating-out-of-hand, too. 

This shows the size of both the Zestars and Chestnut Crabapples.  About three inches across for the Zestars and two inches across for the crabapples.
This past Thursday we went to friends' house to pick apples they had offered to us.  These will be for our supply of applesauce.

We came home with four 5-gallon pails (three pictured above) of wonderful apples from their big, 35+ year old tree.  It was planted by the previous generation that owned the house, so they weren't sure of the variety all these years later.

Papa Pea, who worked in an orchard during his high school years, thinks they are most likely Baldwins.

I've made two batches of applesauce with the first two pails in the past two days.  More on the schedule for today.  Above shows one batch of the half cooked down sauce in my biggest stock pot.  And, oh!  The aroma that has been permeating the house!

After dinner last night I couldn't resist making some of the apples into our first apple pie of the season.  It's sitting on a plate because it burbled all over in the oven (sigh) and the bottom of the pie plate is a sticky, gooey mess.  I'm gonna take that as a sign that the pie will be wonderful! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Feeding Time

Just a couple of shots of the birds and chow time in the chicken pasture.

All the different varieties of birds, big and small, seem to get along together.  Here the Silkies are in the foreground (silly looking birds that they are) with some Black Australorps and a Speckled Sussex in the background.

These are more of the big birds with the shady growth of trees where all the birds spend time in the hot weather or when they see a bird of prey flying overhead and head for cover.  There's a glimpse of the pond beyond the trees.

A characteristic of the Silkies seems to be that when they rest, they like to gather together in a bunch, often in a corner as they are here.  (With a photo bombing by a big Australorp.)
Our egg production has slowed down quite a bit recently, but that's natural for the time of year.  It will probably be December before the "new girls" start laying.  

Saturday, October 9, 2021

You're All Smart and I Am Not

Okay, all you clever, astute people who correctly identified the patch of asparagus ferns pictured in my previous post.  I had no luck pulling this one over on you.
Plus, as my daughter reminded me, I've probably posted almost identical pictures of the asparagus ferns a couple of times in the past.  And, of course, identified them as to what they were.  I guess I can't stop myself.  Aren't they lovely when covered with droplets of rain?
If you, Anonymous who was the first one to comment, will send me your name and mailing address, I'll get the set of potholders in the mail to you.
And I promise not to post any more pictures of asparagus ferns again within the next couple of years.  Maybe. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

What's Your Guess?

Do you know what the greenery in the foreground of this picture is?

First person to correctly identify it will receive . . . 

. . . this pair of quilted potholders.
And if you have no idea, feel free to make up something! 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Beware of Ghosts and Ghoulies (and other things) Coming in the Door

We've got a lovely Virginia Creeper vine growing up the south side of our house.  It's especially striking in the fall when it turns from green to a gorgeous red.
Many years, it completely covers our bathroom window which Papa Pea doesn't like since it can almost totally darken that little room.
This year it hasn't been nearly as luxurious, and I think it is because of lack of moisture.  To reach the spot where it grows, I have to drag the watering hose waaaay over to it, and I'll admit I was negligent in doing so very often this very dry summer.  So that's probably why it didn't grow as much.

However, it sent out tendrils across the deck heading for the door.  Papa Pea says it's trying to get inside for the winter and warns we have to be very careful it doesn't succeed in entering as it will then take over the house and possibly strangle us in our sleep. 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Colors Are Still Lovely, Garden Work Is Not Done

Despite warnings that our autumnal colors would be muted and drab this year because of the summer's drought, I think they're gorgeous.  And they seem to be holding at their peak longer than usual.  But that could just be my wishing it were so.  I know one of these days we'll get a wind storm that will strip most of the leaves off their branches and our scenery will be much different.  In the meantime, I'm very appreciative of nature's fall display.

We're still receiving loads of cut and split wood, enough to fill the last tier or so in our make-shift wood shed and then the front half of our small wood shed.

Yes, that will block in the back half that still contains wood from a couple of years ago, but we won't have to touch this "new" wood we'll put in front until (at least) the heating season after this coming one.

The majority of my time seems to still being spent getting the gardens ready for winter.  I've been cleaning out the raised beds, then Papa Pea hauls wheelbarrows of our lovely, black compost to spread on them.  Next I till it in, rake it smooth and the bed will be in good shape for planting come spring. 

This past week I finished weeding the strawberries for the last time (one would hope).  Now all they need is the winter blanket of mulch I'll put on after a couple of hard freezes.

I harvested the last cabbage, some green peppers and cucumbers.  

I've made all the Stuffed Green Peppers we need so I'll use a couple of these last ones for fresh eating along with chopping the rest of them to freeze and use when a green pepper is called for in a recipe this winter.  Yes, there are a few insect holes in some of them, but I guess those critters have to eat, too.  I'll miss my cukes after these are gone.  Give me a salt shaker and a cucumber and I'll gobble up the whole thing.

Our apples (these that are protected in their cage) are looking good, but are not fully matured.  The ones we've sampled still show a tinge of green in the middle, are a bit on the sour side and don't have much "apple" flavor.  Here's hoping we still have enough time for them to make it.

I made this apple coffee cake yesterday with windfalls gathered from the ground and, as you can see, it turned out good enough to be deemed edible.
That's all from this little homestead for the present.  Hope all of you are staying healthy and happy during this exhilarating time of year.