This is my Shissel

Shissel: Yiddish for basin or tub.

My Mother knew my love of coffee and had  bought me this mug and told me it would be my Shissel of coffee. So my Shissel and I are ready for a post here. Ironically my last entry was about change, and we have gone through a big one since then. This entry is for you Mama because you loved hearing what was happening on the farm.

my shissel

This is the time when everything is ramping up. I watch from Springtime till Fall as the small High Bush Cranberries change color from green to yellow to orange to red. They are almost red and that is a sign that I look forward. It is usually a cool crisp day when I pick these berries in Late October to early November. Can you tell I am a Fall lover? So as hot as it is right now, it can be felt in many ways that Fall is coming sooner then we are probably ready for…. It’s time to pull the cider press out and start collecting apples, the tomatoes are at peak and so are the grapes. I’ve been freezing beans, about 3-4 pounds every other day, as well as Kale, Collards, and fermenting cucumbers and making fermented sauerkraut. Today was grape jelly, grape juice and tomato sauce. They will all be in the freezer by the end of day.

gatherings 2

In addition to food preservation, I’ve been collecting, whenever I am out, little bits of herbs and weeds to add to my herbal/weed apothecary. I look forward to exploring my collections this Winter and having time to make teas and salves etc. I’ve collected dozens of flowers, weeds, leaves, and roots. I’m a student of Rosemary Gladstar, but she doesn’t know it, she’s taught me a lot and it’s been fun to learn. Couple that with the fact that I finally am back to finishing the book “Clan of the Cave Bear” Rosemary and Ayla, the strong female character in the book, have taught me a lot.

Today Hubby is working on a new hay barn. We literally have not an extra foot of space in our current barn due to wood storage and equipment. Much of the stored wood will help build the barn, and much of the money for the rest of the structure, will come from the sale of our little Ford tractor. This all means more space in the barn which will really help! Maybe even doors on the long barn someday!

This weekend I will plant the Fall tunnel garden with Kale, Spinach, Early carrots and Watermelon Radishes. The chicken wire tunnel will be covered with plastic around the first half of October, and these veggies should be with us through the Winter. Last year we had some slow growing lettuce all Winter in there. I also run a plastic cover across the inside of the tunnel like a blanket over the veggies (the cover rides the edges of the tunnel where it sits on the hay bales), it worked great experimentally last year so this year I am hoping for even better success so I am planting more than just the experimental lettuce from last year.

our honey

We are becoming more self sufficient in bits. The more new things on the farm the closer we get to this. We now have our first sample of our honey. A beekeeper has his hives here and the exchange rate is that we earned 10 pounds of our own honey that he has been able to raise here. I did actually get a bit more of this, on a granola barter, so I could have “our honey” to use as gifts at the holidays this year. I know self sufficiency on the farm, is as the title suggests “incremental”, but in addition to raising all of our own meats and eggs over the last few years, this year we likely will have a year’s worth of our own: rhubarb, green and yellow beans, butternut squash, tomato sauce, fermented pickles and kraut plus other ferments, as well as enough basil, oregano, garlic, dill and chili peppers. I get excited with each thing we add here. Last year we added a lot of fruit (elderberry, aronia berry, plum trees, currents and goji berries), none of these are big yielders yet but they will! These are all small steps but they add up over time. I still barter as needed for things we don’t have such as local strawberries and years worth of potatoes and onions.

This November a new change to the farm is that new grazing land will open up for our cattle because some areas of the farm are coming out of a program, and now will be able to be grazed. This allows us to consider growing our small herd of Highlands over the course of the next few years. In the meantime we have two steers getting processed at the end of September, so less mouths to support on hay this Winter and lots of meat in our freezer, especially with the 2 hogs being processed in early November. I believe I may have sold one of them yesterday, it was a referral call to us, and selling a whole hog would be an easy way to handle it, and freezer space with the two steers would be tight.


We had a surprise flush of Shiitakes the other day, and they are now dried and packed away for Winter soups and stews. They are such wonderful tasting mushrooms!

sauce, all ours!

This sauce was exciting. Everything in it was from the farm, which included tomatoes, beef, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and basil and lots of garlic. This may be a small achievement but as I put it in freezer containers for Winter eating, it was a very good feeling. Tonight the grape juice and tomato sauce from today will be packed into the freezer as well. Tomorrow will be more beans and more tomato sauce…blanch, freeze, and repeat.