The flurry of harvesting is nearly over.
The garden has browned and crumpled,
the winter kale has stopped growing,
and the tail end of the harvest is in the kitchen waiting to be put away.
The last of the apples are landing in baskets
and boxes, and pies, and crisps, and sauce, and jelly and dehydrated slices.
The pantry is full.
We are ready for the season of stews and slow roasts, warm bread and pies.
Not long after Dave pulled into a produce wholesaler to pick up our weekly load of mushy produce, a man approached offering a tractor trailer load of veggies. The trucker’s reefer had malfunctioned on his trip up from Georgia and his whole load had been frozen: he needed to find a place to dump it.
He arrived at our place around 8:00pm that night. With our backhoe and some chains, we pulled off each pallet, stacked high with boxes of veggies. It wasn’t that simple, of course. It took close to three hours.
The next morning, this is the scene that greeted us.
And it took all morning to dump,
break down and stack up each box.
We took a break to inspect the temperature log we found.
It showed that the trailer dipped down to 23 degrees F just hours after loading.
In the end, we had an impressive pile.
It would be a waste of time and energy to get it to the pigs way out in the pasture,
so we decided to build a lane and lure the pigs up to their winter quarters for the feast.
It proved to be much easier to scoop and dump here.
We anticipate they will have access to this place for two weeks
while they gorge themselves.
During that evening of work when the trucker and his wife helped us to unload the hundreds of boxes, we found tucked away at the very front a pallet stacked high with boxes of watermelon. We headed straight for the kitchen to get a knife and together broke open the delicious melon. The next morning we enjoyed another one. And the next.
Well, wouldn’t you?
The 6 foot wide strip garden we put in this summer is about finished producing.
We have some late tomatoes still coming on, the popcorn and sunflowers are drying on their stalks, and the coriander seeds are maturing.
This past week a chicken got run over on the road. The considerate man got out of his dump truck to tell us about it. Turns out he was removing manure from a neighbor’s winter cow barn.
We ended up getting three loads of very rich dirt to spread over the garden.
We have also been harvesting buckets and buckets of apples.
In our side yard and in the hedgerows between the fields, we have many apple trees.
So plentiful is the harvest
that not only have we put up applesauce, apples and dehydrated slices for ourselves,
we have gathered many pounds of them to share with our pigs.
The kids have enjoyed playing in the fields while we pick.
The gardens are flourishing,
and we have been enjoying the bounty.
I haven’t harvested enough to begin any large scale canning,
but the tomatoes are just starting to turn red. If we get a few more warm days, I’ll be making sauce soon.
We have harvested enough to fill our plates and put a few cans of fermented goodness away.
A pepper relish.
A corn treat.
Loads of pickles.
Carrots and Pole Beans.
And we’ve been experimenting with jams and jellies.
We picked 50 pounds of blueberries at
and our crab apple trees are loaded.
Blueberry with balsamic vinegar and black pepper,
blueberry with cinnamon and amaretto,
crab apple with brandy and
crab apple with cinnamon and whiskey.
I am growing calendula flowers and recently made calendula oil.
Dave has been processing apples by the 5 gallon bucket.
We packed away a dozen apple crisps into the freezer,
and he has begun dehydrating the slices now.
Making use of these cool sunny days lately,
Dave has been building fences.
The pigs have plowed through more pasture than ever,
so we are expanding.
Dave cleared a strip 40 feet wide through a section of trees
and rented a post hole pounder to put in 12 posts,
stringing three wires two thirds of the way across our property.
Every 50 feet he added a supporting post.
For now, the wires measure 6, 12 and 18 inches high,
but we can easily add more as our use of the pastures
expand to fit the needs of our beef herd.
Of course it is never so straightforward as we hope.
During the process, our truck
lost its ability to shift into reverse,
making for some creative maneuvering with the help of the backhoe.
The kids aren’t fazed by the inconvenience
and find plenty to occupy themselves.
Summer is here in full force,
and we are beginning to anticipate the harvest.
I walk through my gardens in hope,
enjoying the promise
and anticipating the rush
of putting up.
Take a photo tour of a few of the plants with me.
As a result of the kids’ interest in the American Indian custom of the Three Sisters,
we planted corn, beans and squash (or melon in our case) together.
This is the Long Thai Purple Podded Yard bean.
Fisher’s Earliest Sweet Corn
Kabouli Black Garbanzo
The taller plants are Titan sunflowers. In front are Red Calaoo and Love Lies Bleeding amaranth.
Red Cabbage and Broccoli
Cucumber Mexican Sour Gherkin and Potato
Beefsteak bloom and Roma babies
I had nothing to do with the wild grapes and apples, but I have plenty of plans for them.
This coming week is supposed to be full of sun and warmth,
so I’m looking forward to seeing everything take off.
Some of our pigs go off to a USDA inspected facility to be butchered, and this past week we sent four away. Our regular butcher slaughters on farm, so we don’t usually need to bother with transporting pigs. When we do, we like to have the process go as smoothly as possible.
After several (not so) humorous and time-consuming loads, Dave built a loading system that seems too easy now. He brings the trailer into position and lifts the ramp into the side door.
With a bucket of grain, we lure the chosen, and a few others, into a holding pen where we run them through a chute with a sorting gate we can open or close, depending on whether or not the right pig is coming up.
Once the pig is through the gate, Dave comes behind with a simple panel to block the pig from retreating.
The pig walks up the ramp and into the trailer
where he finds a hinged door that opens in front and closes behind and a bit of grain to munch while the rest are loaded.