The best/busiest time of the year. I am in awe of the farmers around us who work around the clock when it’s time to harvest. You’ll often see them combining well past dark, headlights shining, trying to get the crop off before bad weather hits. Thank you, farmers. Growing up in the city, I never learned to truly appreciate the work they do to feed us. I’m only one generation removed from the farm, and yet, I really had no idea what harvest entailed.
So watching the combines and swathers at work day and night has really put my small harvest in perspective; however, I feel no less busy. Often I’m working well past dark to put aside the fruits of our labours, which will feed us during the winter. Indulge me a crazy moment here, but I feel in my bones that it’s going to be a bad winter. It’s going to be cold and snowy, so I’m in full on winter prep mode. I have no reason to back up this feeling, but what’s the worst that can happen? If it’s an awful winter, then we’re prepared; if it’s a mild winter, then we’re over prepared – win-win situation.
First up, potatoes.
We have so many potatoes. We’ve only harvested half the potatoes we planted so far – the fingerlings and the Yukon Gold. I still have Blue Russian and our own Hilliard Steet seed potatoes (we’ve saved the seed for about three years, and I no longer remember what type of potato they are!) I thought we’d have at least a bushel of potatoes (which I think is 50 pounds) but now I’m thinking we’ll have more like three or four bushels of potatoes. The fingerlings alone were 50 pounds, and we have to eat those right away because they don’t store very well. Potatoes with every meal this winter – breakfast, lunch and supper.
This is the BEST onion harvest we’ve ever had. We’re so pleased with our onions! To finally have a garden that doesn’t have onion maggots is simply wonderful. Next year, plant fewer potatoes and more onions.
I pulled all the tomatoes quite early because we had a couple nights of hard frost at the beginning of the month. The tomatoes didn’t fair so well anyway – a lot of them had damage on them from something (?), and they are now molding as they ripen. Next year, the tomatoes have to be planted in a more sheltered spot. They’re a bit too sensitive for a country garden.
I’ve put up peaches, pears, cherries, apples, sour cherries, and grapes – the last two in the form of juice. The larder is coming along very nicely.
The star of the garden this year (besides the multitudinous potatoes) was definitely the pumpkins. Over thirty pumpkins! The most I’ve ever grown was ten, so I don’t really know what I’m going to do with thirty pumpkins this winter. We also had a couple of spaghetti squash and butternut squash, but they didn’t do as well as the pumpkins. Any pumpkin recipe is welcome.
We finished butchering the last nine meat chickens. The first six took us four hours to butcher, start to finish. The last nine took an hour and a half, start to finish. Yay for experience and learning!
My little laying chickens are growing bigger every day. Just last night, I confirmed that out of five chicks, three of them are roosters. Sigh. That leaves me with only four hens going into winter, one of whom no longer lays. And now I have to find homes for two roosters. They’re already starting to crow and charge each other. Perhaps someone would like to trade a roo for a laying hen? I can assure you they are very good looking roosters!
All I can say is – not so little and cute anymore. The biggest one has quite the attitude. It will still be very difficult for me when it comes time to butcher, but they’re getting more aggressive by the day. Still pretty awesome creatures, though. I like them a lot more than I thought I would. Since we butchered the meat chickens, we’ve basically only had the pigs for daily chores (the laying hens have a very large feeder and waterer). I’m going to miss having the daily feeding chores. Plus, I love having a slop pail to put all our food scraps in. Nothing goes to waste.
In other news, we got ourselves a farm dog. Her name is Jenna, and she’s a beauty. Sleeps all day; barks all night. Loves to wander far and wide. Really loves to wander – she’s run away twice in the past month. But we got her back – eventually.
Looking forward to things slowing down a bit now, once the harvest is all in and tucked away for the winter. This weekend I’m going to pull the rest of the potatoes, and harvest the beets and carrots. Next up will be hunting (moose and deer) and then the pigs. Our larder shall be full indeed, and my heart full of gratitude for all the nourishing food.