Nothing like having coffee on the porch on a sunny, late summer morning.
I'm glad I got these pictures, taken last week, since I lost a similar set last time around. We spent close to an hour out there, my husband working on a bid, me with my to-do list, Calvin the rooster strolling around, and one of my egg-farm rescue hens relaxing in a chair. Milo visited, too.
The thing about Calvin: he's a big rooster.
And even though he's always been very gentle around us...
...sometimes he gets really close and just looks at you. And you wonder if he's going to peck a chunk of skin off your leg.
Nope. He's just curious.
I'm definitely going to miss our mornings out there, now that we're heading into cold weather.
Speaking of fall, here on the homestead it's most definitely harvest season. Each year I get a little better at getting things done efficiently. I also get in a little further over my head. It never gets easier.
This year I smartened up, and only froze 7 dozen ears of corn, rather than the 13 dozen we did last year.
In addition to tons of garlic and a good supply of onions, I got some shallots (which I almost forgot about):
The tomatoes have been coming fast and furious. As of today, I've canned over 30 pints, plus put a few bags in the freezer. It's a bit of a drag, but I love having tomatoes for sauces and soups in the winter.
I love the variety of tomatoes I have growing (some I started from seed, four I bought, and some re-seeded themselves). I need a lot of tomatoes. And I'm getting a lot of tomatoes.
Good grief, am I getting a lot of tomatoes. (I swear I'm not complaining.)
What, no jar photos? Refer to last year. It's all the same coming around again...
Last year, I grew some beans to dry. They were so amazingly good, despite the small yield, I decided to do it again. Beans are good for the garden soil, but they take up a lot of room for not much in the way of results. Still, they're easy to grow. And for some reason, probably because they're not as old as the storebought ones, they are tastier than the dried beans you buy -- and they cook significantly faster. Plus you can get unusual varieties you might not otherwise find.
I grew four varieties of dried beans this year. My first was October beans. They're cute. I got just about 3 pounds, which is quite a bit more than last year. (Like the beans you grew? Save some and plant them the next year. It's the gift that keeps on giving.)
I also grew regular kidney beans. The process of growing them is pretty easy. I'm still working on streamlining the harvesting part, but it's getting better. Last year, I dried them on the vine and then peeled them one by one like shell peas. Because they pods are dry, they're fairly easy to shell, but it takes a while.
For the October beans this year, I put them in a bag and beat it with a board. That got the beans right out of the shells, but left all the vines and leaves to be sorted out. When I got ready to do the kidney beans, my husband offered a better idea.
I picked them and let them dry as usual in my dye studio (lately more of a potting shed/brew house/canning supply store).
I took them outside to an empty trash can.
I took a handful of vines and banged them around inside the can.
Beans! Not a lot of them, but beans nonetheless.
It didn't take too long, although I still ended up with a lot of chaff.
To clean them up, I channeled my inner Laura Ingalls and tried my hand at winnowing: basically pouring the beans out in a stiff wind and letting all the lightweight stuff blow away. While holding a camera.
Two or three passes and that was that. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good.
I got slightly under three pounds of kidney beans, which was a good haul, in my opinion.
Today I did the same with some tiny white navy beans (a HUGE amount of plants for relatively few beans, so I know not to plant those next year). And I pulled the tall, vining Good Mother Stallard beans from the garden. I'll let them dry further inside and beat them in a trash can in a week or two.
So what are we talking here? Possibly 12 pounds of beans, all told. Let's see, at $1.00 per pound (or less) at the store, I've saved, hmm -- not much money. So why bother?
Because I get the satisfaction of eating something I grew myself on my own land. And I like being able to say I winnowed over the weekend. Beats watching TV.
I also picked our first half-bushel of apples this morning. I turned some into a pie, which is in the oven as I write this, and peeled, sliced and froze enough for another pie. And I washed six pounds,
quartered them, skin and all, and simmered them about 25 minutes. And then I tried out my brand-new jelly strainer and let them drain (while I went a-winnowing),
They gave up just over 5 cups of lovely pink syrup, to which I added about 4 cups of sugar and a splash of lemon juice.
I simmered it for what seemed like hours until it hit 218 degrees and started to thicken. The result: five half-pint jars of pretty pink apple jelly:
Applesauce will have to wait for another day. I'm pooped.
In other news, one of our turkey hens showed up with babies a couple of weeks ago. Three of the original six are left, which is actually better than the usual average around here:
Looking from the kitchen window the other day, I saw Milo relaxing in front of the bird feeder, probably deciding what to have for snack.
The recent cold snap has made him quite affectionate. He likes hand-knit socks, apparently.
I wish I were better about updating the blog so it weren't so long every time. All I've got left today is (a) a new car and (b) a special project. The "new" car is a 1999 silver Honda Civic sedan to replace the leased 2008 Toyota Matrix I just returned. It comes without a remote keyless entry, without a 110-V outlet in the dash, without a rear wiper, without an outdoor thermometer, without any distinguishing characteristics of any kind. And without a car payment.
The project I wanted to share today is how we got rid of this lame excuse for a dining room light
and replaced it with a refurbished chandelier. I did my part: I revamped the new light, an older piece a friend kindly allowed my husband to rip out of her ceiling. My husband, however, hasn't gotten around to hanging it. Apparently, just because he's worked both of the past two weekends (meaning it's been about 16 days since he's had a day off), he's too tired to put it up. So I can't do the Big Reveal yet.
I will, however, give you this: the "before" of the chandelier. I cannot wait to show you the "after" (and all the steps in between).
It had better be hung before my next post.