The first day of fall was last week, and we are entering one of the busiest times of the year around here. Of course it’s harvest time – which means much of our work moves from the garden to the kitchen. You’ve seen all my posts on jam lately, but I’ve been canning too. A little over ten quarts of tomatoes so far, and we’re going Sunday to our CSA farm to help pick more toms and to pick and roast green chiles as well. The tomatoes will also be canned and the chiles peeled and frozen.
I’m glad we had the CSA to fall back on this year as my tomatoes were so sad. I was actually a bit worried. It sure is nice to see the pantry shaping up after all.
Lots of Christmas gifts here too.
This coming weekend is the second annual chicken coop tour. Locals can purchase tickets here or here. We participated last year as well, and we are excited to show off again this year. The coop had a couple of improvements this spring and summer and I really wanted everything in place for the tour. Rick bought me two galvanized garbage cans – one for the chicken food and one for finished compost, but when I started harvesting the compost, I had enough to fill both, plus half a wheel-barrow-full that I pawned off on the neighbor (it was a hard sell, trust me). The chicken food is still in the garage for now, and there are almost two bales of straw under a tarp out there.
The hens seem excited to have straw in the coop for the first time. We’ve always used dead leaves or pine shavings in their coop, but the “fall” part of the season has yet to happen here and we wanted to coop cleaned up for the tour. We were hoping for some wood chips to spread over the ground before the tour too, but it looks like we’ll have to go with out. Despite that, the chicken area looks nice.
The extra straw, not for the coop, will be used to mulch the garlic that we ordered and saved for seed. I ordered two varieties this year and saved ten bulbs from a third. We hope to plant around 125 cloves after the first frost hits. That should yield us enough garlic for the year next year, including some to save for seed in 2012.
A couple of weekends ago, Rick and Henry put up my clothesline for me. I was so excited to get the line that Rick’s mom had promised me. But once we got it home, we actually couldn’t manage to get it into working order. After fighting with it for a couple of weeks, we ended up buying a new one, and I love it! I’ve used it everyday, but I’ve realized I need more clothes pins. The line holds a lot, and Cora’s diapers (and inserts and wipes) take up all the pins I have.
We harvested our concord grapes – one whole bunch! There would have been two bunches, but I accidentally knocked off the second bunch early on in the summer when I was trying to get the vine on the trellis. Not too bad for it being the vine’s first real season – we just planted the cutting last spring. We hope to use this vine to make a few more cuttings when the pergola is done.
Speaking of the pergola, Rick’s uncle brought us down our first pieces from the mountains. The posts are here! We will be setting them on poured concrete footers this fall and we’ll begin laying the patio in the spring. This was the goal of the tree removal project. I had hoped to have it done all in one summer, but it really was a huge undertaking to manage on our own. Not to mention having a baby this summer too. (There’s that old excuse again!).
There is a huge amount of beetle-kill pine in our forests here right now (a heart-breaking 4 million acres in Colorado and Wyoming), so we plan to build the whole pergola out of salvaged logs. Once it’s constructed, we will plant and train grape vines over it. I am very excited about it, but it’s been slow going.
Fall is also the time when we start filling the freezer back up with meat. We actually got a good look at the forests this year as we did some prep work for hunting season. Rick sighted in his rifles at the range up on Highway 40, and we did a little grouse hunting and some fishing. We were skunked on the grouse, but Henry did catch his first fish! He let it go so it could grow up a bit. Nothing was added to the freezer yet, but the trip was great fun anyway, and we’ve ready for big game in a couple of weeks.
So that’s what we’ve been up to lately – I’m hoping the tour participants will give us grace on the yard still being half done. Oh well, they’re coming to see the coop, right?