Monday, October 31, 2011


Another month gone by and the winter season is nearly here. Time for those of us who haven't already cut our winter's firewood to do so. With thoughts of staying warm by the fire, it is easy to forget that spring will be here soon. Fences need built/mended, beehives built, pastures mowed and more orchard space cleared, along with about a million other things. We mustn't forget the busy winter holidays either.

It is also time to get serious about preparing the garden for the springtime. Things like planting cover crops, (rye is a good one to keep down the nematodes), building compost piles, cold frames and, of course, making seed lists. Seed and nursery catalogs are an absolute must for fireside reading.

For today, however, lets just enjoy the beautiful fall day. As for tonight, watch out for the ghouls and goblins.

Have a safe and happy Halloween !!!!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011


 It is a beautiful Fall day here, and as I take a break from pealing pears, I realize that we have gotten so caught up in all the Fall work on the farm that we forgot to post a pear update.  As you may have noticed in recent posts, we have been up to our elbows in preparing the fruits of our foraging expedition, so here's a brief update.

On Sunday, Anna made contact and arrangements for the pears from the our previous posting.  Those beautiful pears were actually not going to be used! Monday found us with buckets and tubs, gathering a good supply of fruit, much of which we picked up from the ground.  We had to fight the Yellow Jackets for a few, but neither of us got stung, thank goodness! Many of the pears had bruises and blemishes, but still great pears for canning, and such a shame to let them rot on the ground.  We also picked some from the tree for eating fresh and longer keeping. But we should have taken a tall ladder, as the best ones, of course, were waaaaayyy up high in the tree, far above either of our reach. Considering our extreme heat and drought this summer, it is amazing that any fruit tree was this productive this year.

Since that time, we have both been spending a lot of time pealing and preserving pears in between other necessary activities.  Yes, there is a fair amount of so called waste to the damaged fruit, but with farm animals to feed, there is really no waste at all.  The chickens and goats at both farms are enjoying the leftovers to the fullest, like kids in a candy store.

We will post further updates soon, hopefully with pictures.  For now,  there is work to be done while resting from the fruit processing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

(AF) Rainy Day Ramblings

Seems overnight the trees began to turn their brilliant Fall colors. Only, this year, they aren't near so brilliant. The extreme summer's drought put a major damper on our usual spectacular explosion of color. Still, the Hickory trees are truly breathtaking! Dave and I took time yesterday evening to stand back a moment and enjoy and savor their amazing beauty. It doesn't last long and you certainly don't want to miss it. No sooner than the leaves turn their fiery colors, they are then gone in a blink! So I told Dave that I must take some pics in the morning before their beauty disappears.

But this morning I woke to rain . . . . . a moderate soaking rain that just won't seem to stop. So the colorful leaves are kind of wilted and soggy looking. We need this kind of a rain, we need it very badly, and I am truly thankful for it, but it kind of caught me off guard. It shouldn't have because all my body's natural 'weather predictors' were going off yesterday, but the weather man had said it would rain yesterday, not today. It did rain yesterday, only a very slight sprinkle, and I figured that must have been it. Then last night they changed the forecast and said it would rain today, instead. And now, when I had BIG plans for outside work, I find myself sitting here looking out the window at the cold rain while I mentally reorganize my day. Somehow I will learn to make my plans around my body's weather predictions, NOT the local weather stations!

My little Fall garden is loving all this rain! I have a few things in the ground, but most of it this year I planted in a Fall Container Garden, using a variety of containers. And right now all my veggies are looking bright and perky. It will be a close call tonight as to whether or not to cover everything up. The predicted low for here tonight is 35°F, but obviously, I don't trust the weatherman right now. That temp doesn't leave much allowance for a possible freeze. Just an hour away at Dave's, he is under a freeze watch for tonight. Amazing the difference a few miles makes! And West of me, in the Texas panhandle, there is ice and snow on the radar!!!! Brrrr...... I am sooo not ready for that kind of weather! And there is still so much to be done around this little farm before Old Man Winter moves in and settles down.

So now, I am off to stir my batch of Pear Butter and then figure out what to do with all this laundry I have ready to hang out because it looks like another round of rain will be moving in in a few minutes. Course, rain soaked laundry smells absolutely wonderful after it dries, so maybe I should take advantage of this brief break in the showers and run out there and hang it all out. Mmmm... yes, those are the best sheets in the world to sleep on!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Remember the one surviving pepper plant from the recent frost? It is still alive and well, but with another frost not far in the future, the hope of fresh, hot peppers into the winter hinges on that little plant. With this in mind, and with the soil dampened by rain from the weekend, the time could not be better.

Yesterday afternoon I decided to take a break from preparing foraged pears and play in the dirt for a few minutes. The process of pushing a tile spade deep into the soil all the way around the plant, (out beyond the roots, of course), and gently lifting the plant from the ground took only a minute or two. The plant was then placed in a hollowed out space in the pot of rich, organic potting soil. Garden soil was then placed over the roots and filled in around the stem to the level it had been in the garden. After a good watering, the newly potted plant was left in the garden for the rest of the afternoon to soak up the available sunshine.

Early evening came around, and I expected to see some sign of transplant shock, at least a few drooping leaves. However, there were no signs at all, only a very healthy looking plant, which I moved into the house for the night.

The whole transplanting process took less than ten minutes. The prospect of fresh red peppers through the winter is more than ample payment for that amount of time, and the addition of such a bright, decorative plant to the home is an added bonus.

Now, it's back to the pears, but more on that later.

Monday, October 24, 2011


With grocery prices soaring, each trip to the supermarket is a greater hardship than the last time, the most obvious solution is to grow more of our own.  It only makes sense; but what about foraging?  Foraging for food comes in many forms ranging from gathering wild mushrooms, greens and other edible wild plants, to hunting and fishing, and yes, even finding unused fruit on trees in backyards in town.

Friday, as Anna and I were driving down a street in her hometown, I pointed out a large, beautiful pear tree I spied in a back yard.  It was absolutely loaded with luscious pears, which was striking if only for the fact that it has not been a particularly good fruit year in this area.  The look on Anna's face and her excited exclamation encouraged me to do the first thing that had come to mind, go back and ask about the pears in hopes of obtaining a good quantity of fruit cheaply, (or better yet, free).

All the way back to the residence, we were talking excitedly about ways to preserve any pears we might get and types of recipes they could be used in.  We discussed several, but are certainly open to suggestions and recipes, any suggestions, ideas and comments being welcome.
Unfortunately, there was nobody at home.  Yes, we did leave a note on the door with contact information and are still hoping to hear from the owners.  It would be such a horrible waste for all those delicious pears to sit ignored and rotting. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for the surplus or unwanted fruits and nuts in your neighborhood.  In many cases, to remove them from a property is a mutual good, disposing of an unwanted mess on the owner's property and putting high quality food on your table.  Everybody wins.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

(DF) No Longer Just Frost

This morning found frost, not light or patchy this time, but serious frost at my place. By the time the animals were taken care of and the ice broken on the goat water, the remaining plants in the garden were looking a bit limp. The smell of frosted vegetation filled the air with it's pungent aroma and it was pretty obvious that the growing phase of gardening had ended for the season. The only plant unaffected is the pepper which had a bit better protection than the others.

With the forecast calling for warmer temperatures for a few days, I will let it warm up a little before potting the pepper. I have it on good authority that peppers will produce throughout most of the winter in the house and then start over in the spring for a head start on production. What I know absolutely nothing about, is how well full grown pepper plants transplant back into pots. With this in mind, I will try to give it time to adjust to one shock at a time, if the weather allows of course.

Now looking ahead, it is time for all the wonderful winter activities, in and out of the garden. We mustn't forget that spring will be here before we know it.


I spent Tuesday evening doing the Cake & Ice Cream thing with my family to celebrate my mom's birthday, so I was greatly relieved that the frost Dave got that night missed me. At only an hour's drive apart, the ever so slight temperature difference in that distance made all the difference in the world. My plants looked cold, but they all survived with no apparent damage.

But over in my neck of the woods it was forecast to go down to between 28° and 32°F last night so I spent yesterday getting all my valuable veggies and house plants prepared. None of my veggies produced during our record heat this summer, but as soon as it finally cooled off my veggies finally began to bloom and set and I am not in the least ready to let Jack Frost have them!

I had quite an assortment of houseplants outside, all of which badly need repotting. But I had to just bring them inside to warmth for now and worry about repotting later. My Aloe Veras are still in the ground. They loved the hot dry summer and multiplied really well so I just put a heavy cardboard box over them and hoped for the best. I will have to dig and pot them up sometime next week.

Early in August I had planted tomato seeds in peat pots in the shade, hoping for great Fall weather to set them out into a Fall garden. But the heat and drought continued on so I only put a few of them into the ground and several into very large pots. Now, as freezing temps approach, they are growing beautifully and putting on loads of tomatoes! It will be a lot of work, but I am going to do everything I can to get at least a few tomatoes off of them. Often times I just pick all the greens ones off when a freeze approaches and either fry them or make pickles out of them, but this year I am going to attempt to extend their growing season as long as possible.

Quite a few of the tomatoes in pots I brought into the house. Now my hallway looks like a forest with a small path in the center to walk down. I kinda like it! Now, if some of those little tomatoes would turn red, and a few stay green, I will be ahead on my Christmas decorating, ha, ha, ha. That is a very tempting idea and would definitely be a Christmas the grandkids would remember.

As for all the rest of my plants .... some in the ground and some in pots too large and heavy for me to lift by myself, I dragged out every old blanket, large heavy boxes, and thick feed sacks I could find and spent the afternoon and evening covering everything up. Until we have a harder freeze for several nights in a row, it is better to cover up the plants in the big pots anyway, rather than drag them in and out of the house.

We have a chance of a light frost again tonight so I am just going to be lazy and leave everything covered up today, then uncover it all tomorrow morning. After that, we are suppose to have at least 6 days of beautiful, warm weather before any more chances of frost. If all of my coverings keep them toasty and safe through these two frosty nights, my little Fall garden will have another whole week to grow and thrive before it is in danger again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

(DF) Frost

We all knew it would happen soon, but after the flood and drought, I was hoping for a few more ripe tomatoes. It is the season however and this morning, daylight revealed light patchy frost at my place. Only problem is that the "patches" were mainly in my little patch of tomatoes and squash. It is still too early to tell the amount of damage, but with the forecast for tonight calling for a freeze, there are a few things I need to do to salvage what is left.

Last night, in anticipation of frost, I picked all the squash that was ready, and a few of the largest green tomatoes for frying. The peppers, not yet ripe, are covered with a blanket along with the smaller of the tomatoes.

The one remaining pepper plant, with its little peppers, may spend the night potted and in the house, but that decision has not yet been made.

For now, it is time to cut one last bit of hay and enjoy the first real chill of fall.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

(AF) Need Rain Badly

This past Spring we had an enormous amount of rainfall. We had all-time record breaking floods that still show traces and memories of their destruction. The constant heavy rains also resulted in very poor pollination of our area fruit and nut trees, much to the dismay of the wildlife as Fall approaches.

Then Summer came. The rains stopped and Nature cranked up the heat.... and cranked up the heat .... and cranked up the heat. I am nearly 50, and it was the hottest summer we ever experienced here in my lifetime. We broke one high heat record after another. The rains stayed away, the heat soared, and extreme drought moved in and made itself right at home. What vegetation didn't die of water log in the spring, died from lack of moisture and/or extreme heat through the summer.

A few weeks ago it cooled off to very comfortable temps, I got a good soaking rain and all my fruits and veggies were so very happy! They began putting on new growth and some began to bloom and fruit. But it was short-lived. The winds set in and have dried everything right back out. I am having to water, water, water. It seems to be keeping them alive for now, but the wind is so strong it is drying the plants out faster than they can drink up the water!

Water . . . . . Just before that last rain I had set out an assortment of buckets, pans and tubs to catch and save as much of the rain water as I could. I used it to water with for as long as it lasted and my plants thrived! I also used the water from the dehumidifier in my house to water my veggies with and they seem to do really well with it. But it is once again so dry that there is not even enough moisture in the air for the dehumidifier to find. So I am back to watering with faucet water. My plants initially enjoy the drink, but soon after they bitterly protest having chlorinated, chemical laden water poured over them. I don't blame them.

Yesterday evening dark, wicked-looking storm clouds rolled in and I got all excited! I cheered them on and begged them to generously drop some rain down on my thirsty property. The intensely active lightening show began and the thunder rumbled and rolled so strongly my house shook and Bunny, my youngest Boxer, kept trying to get the back door open. It rained a bit but the wind was so strong and noisy it was hard to tell how much was rain and how much of what I was hearing was wind. With all the lightening, I certainly wasn't going to go out in it to see. But this morning, much to my disappointment, I stepped outside to very sad, wilted veggies and ground so dry that small dust clouds poofed around my feet with each step I took.

The high wind is still here and blowing strong with no sign of stopping. By late morning it had completely dried out all traces of last night's dab of rain and, mixed with the warm air and bright sunshine, has continued all day to further dry out my land and all that is attempting to inhabit it. Looks like my poor fruits and veggies will have to endure yet another soaking with chemically laced municipal water. Someone, please send me some rain!