Sunday, October 31, 2010

Maybe I should pick my tomatoes....

Damn, I wasnt ready for this yet. Always in denial at this time of year, my garden fork with snow on the handle is where I left it, sticking in the patch of weeds I was digging out of the garden. Looks like this is an inside day, I am baking trays of acorn squash which, when cooked I can scrape the squash off their skins and freeze it.
Yesterday we went to an auction on the trail of a pony model troy bilt tiller, but having a look underneath I could see where the transmission fluid had been leaking out of the seals in the tine housing, the tines were
worn and needed replacement and judging from the big hairdo on the girl on the maual cover I guessed it was made in the mid 80's. So I didn't feel too bad when someone else took it home for way too much money.
 We got this magnificent solid walnut table for just $100! I am SOOO happy with it. Wonderful condition and the center leaf kind of telescopes in underneath when not in use. Our other amazing buys were this pretty wicker seat chair for $10. and two small tables made of the most beautiful wood, for $40 and $60. Now we have a perfect excuse to go to the next auction in search of dining room chairs to match the big table.
Auction shopping has been my antidote to feeling really sad and heartbroken over losing my sweet but dumb golden polish hen. She tended to wander about in her dazed sort of way, apart from the flock. She didnt know enough to avoid open places like the other girls and sometime while I was indoors she disappeared. I imagine a fox grabbed her. There were no telltale feathers, nothing. I have been obsessively checking on the silver polish, but thankfully she has learned to follow the other hens. I have started an outdoor fenced run to protect them when I cant be outdoors.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gardening - Phase 2- Winter

We have had several frosts in the last week so its time to switch gears and prepare for the winter garden. The sweet million cherry type tomatoes have been SOOO prolific, but they are slowing down now so I've yanked half of them out. The growing bed is being sweetened with loads of leaf mould compost before the next crop goes in. Standing on the horse barricade across the chicken door are my two supervisors, the Polish Girls. They have been watching the wormy compost with great interest.
They wandered in to the greenhouse, to see where the worms were going no doubt. Remember those wild haired creatures in "The Cat in the
Hat" book? Thing One and Thing Two? Thats what I call this goofy pair. They are quite irresistable, friendly and docile but not too bright. I have to hunt for them at dusk to put them to bed as they cant figure out how to get back to the coop. Maybe they just cant see anything.
Some treasures turned up in the compost as I was digging out the bin.
These round sprouted things were avocado pits I threw into the compost in early summer. I potted them up but dont hold out much hope for them.
These gigantic potatoes grew from potato peelings. Wow, there's a testimony to the growing powers of good natural compost.
So now the baby greens that I planted in early September are moving into the greenhouse bed where they will feed us fresh salads all winter. Here is a shovelful of arugula about to be transplanted where the tomatoes came out. They are neighbors to green and red oak leaf lettuces, parsley, rosemary, lemon tyme, and kale (so far) Perhaps I'll leave the rest of the tomatoes in there as they are, just to see how long they will produce. Fresh homegrown tomatoes would be lovely with Christmas dinner.
Cascade tomatoes in the greenhouse.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fall Diversions

I was going to title this post fall chores, because I've been going from job to job, for weeks bringing in and preserving a wonderful harvest. It's more of a privelege than a chore really, when I think of all the crops under water from our prairies to Pakistan. I feel lucky to have interesting and varied days adding to our food security, and when it gets tiresome theres always something different to do, unfinished projects like shingling the chicken house.
      My sweet neighbor invited me to help pick a gift of his  beautiful grapes. I thought they looked so pretty in the batch of grape jelly done, more grapes waiting in the freezer.
     Wild apples are everywhere. I'm turning them into sliced apples for the freezer for pies and apple crisp, dried apples for munching and cooking with, apple juice, applesauce, apple jelly.

I found a short cut this year to doing spagetti sauce. You slice the toms in two, add in some onion and garlic cloves, brush with olive oil and roast in the oven til soft. Dump into a seive til the watery liquid drains thru. Can or freeze that for soup base. Separate out the skins & seeds. The sauce is most of the way there.
Next I dump the sauce into the crock pot and let it simmer and cook down til the consistency is right. Add salt & pepper to taste, some fresh chopped basil and oregano, yum!

I can only stand so much indoor work on a nice sunny day, so I'm getting on with painting the trim and doing more   shingling on the greenhouse/henhouse. I've been working on some 3D designs in the shingles and the diamond patterns I'm especially pleased with because anything mathmatical with geometry is a really huge challenge for me.
The hinged barricade across the chicken door is to keep the nosy horses out, when the door is open for the hens to come and go. The greenhouse vents have two large hinged doors on the inside. I plan to add plywood winter doors up there on the outside.