Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A kiss of autumn

This weekend was Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer.  As I looked forward to my extended time with the boys I knew we would be picking apples, pears, and grapes this weekend and for the next few weekends as the fruit ripened for harvest.  I learned from my neighbor, Mrs. H. that her parents had planted these fruit trees nearly 30 years ago.
We ended up with 3 bushels full of apples and pears
Sunday afternoon, after a lovely post-church cookout, Arliss, Travis, and I started to pick the apples and pears.  My apple trees have been attacked by all sorts of bugs; japanese beetles, flies, wasps, and various other insects.  Somehow, a surprising number of apples survived.  The pear tree has been wonderful and I was pleased the beetles did not attack it.

My apples were definitely the kind you put in applesauce and apple pie, they would win no beauty contest, that's for sure.  My pears though, were quite lovely and I made a point to keep some for the table.

apples in the pot, ready for sauce
the juicer, hard at work
Once we had the apples and pears in the house the true work began.  Travis started juicing some of the apples and a few pears, and I started peeling and chunking the apples for sauce.  Arliss helped where ever he could.

After making 3 quarts of apple/pear juice and putting up almost a gallon of applesauce I was done for the night.

Labor Day morning Arliss and I went off to see how the grapes were doing.  We decided to go through the cow yard, to check on the mommas and Max, the bull.  Arliss and I were sitting on the log bench my dad had made last year when we looked over to see Max, all by himself lying down in the corner of the cow yard.
Moonbeam (middle) is almost shoulder high to his momma

Max lifted his head and looked at me, then lay back down as if I was not worth the effort.

Arliss and I continued to walk through the cow yard, toward the gate that leads to the back pasture.  We passed the mommas and their calves, who are between 5-7 months old.  The calves, especially Moonbeam, have reached the size where Rufus wouldn't dare try to play with them like he did last spring.

As we ambled along we felt the wind whip through the tall grasses and admired the deep yellow of the goldenrod that grows on the edge of the hayfield.

grapes, small and ready to eat
After we climbed under some fences and over some others we found the grapes on the vines.  Deep purple, small like a currant, slightly tart, and oh so beautiful.  Arliss and I began trimming the grapes from the vines so we could bring them home for jam making.

We traveled a little bit at a time and decided to check the mid-field tree line for more fruit.  This tree line is made up of century-old, gnarled oak trees.  There are about 8 trees in all, with brush, bramble, and mulberry trees mixed in for good measure.  Grapes grew here too, but they were more ground cover than climbing vines, so we moved from tree to tree looking at various plants.  We found evidence of animals who had bedded down there the night before and speculated on whether these were the coyotes we hear all of the time or the deer we occasionally see.

Arliss found a dead oak that was shedding it's bark.  With determination he worked at a section of bark until he had a piece that was almost the size of a short surfboard.

Travis came along at that point and as we walked he found a toadstool that was the color of a sunset; beautiful.  We decided it was time to head back to the house and start on the grapes we had in the basket.  Travis led the way, Arliss carried his mammoth piece of bark, and I brought up the caboose.

By the end of the day we had 3 pints of grape jam and Travis had made an apple pie.  He has been mastering the art of pie crusts as well, I am rather impressed with his kitchen skills.


Such a fun day, such a long day, but so worth it.  I hope your weekend was wonderful too.

Sending grape-stained kisses from the farm.
oxox

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Silent mornings on the farm

So, school has begun and life is more quiet during the day.  I miss Arliss and Travis while they are at school, they are quite fun to hang out with--even as young teenagers.

I took some of the quiet time I have had and decided to take pictures of the plants I have grown this year. The most exciting thing is the sunflowers that have grown; I put the seeds in the ground this spring and tended to forget them often.  The fact that they have grown and bloomed at all is due to their own tenacity.

mammoth sunflowers in the early morning sunshine

I have grown zucchinis that were bigger than Travis' calf and I had no idea until I uncovered them this week.  I have also had great success with my cucumbers and pumpkins.  It seems that any vine plant thrives in the garden.  My corn however, looks more like an Igor experiment gone wrong.  It did not pollinate the way it should have, therefore the kernels didn't mature.  Oh well, I guess I will have to try, try, again.


The pump house at early morning

black-eyed susan by my porch

Such a lovely sky Friday morning

Hostas in bloom

blanket flowers; they remind me of New Mexico where I met Andrew

Our herbs are growing quite well

My giant hosta has blooms that smell like lilies

This weekend we will see temperatures drop into the 60's and get a small taste of the changing seasons.  I can hardly wait.  Until then...

Sending love and sweet smells from the farm.
oxox