It finally feels like Fall!

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Today was our first bone chilling, rainy, cold day. I thawed short ribs and soup bones last night and they were in the oven roasting early this morning, from there they went into a big pot on the stove to simmer for about 24 hours. About 4 hours in I removed the meat and returned the bones to the pot to simmer overnight. I also pulled out some soups from the freezer that I had already made. There were 3 different quarts of various tomato based soups I found and I just combined them all. It turned out delicious with ground beef, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, beef broth and more. All of these things cooking helped to take the chill out of the kitchen this morning.

My Winter prep is really close to done at this point, the fridge is filled with tons of probiotic filled various ferments, enough possibly for a year. The freezers are filled with veggies, fruits, beef and pork, broths, cider, juices, and some beautiful Salmon sides purchased from a local who Captains a fishing boat in Alaska part of the year. We will get the rest of the chickens plugged in to 14 hours of light by the end of the weekend to be sure we get eggs all Winter, and with wood by the back door already, we are doing pretty good.

Hubby would disagree about being ready as he has been working on a building a barn and wants to get as much done as he can before Winter. When hubby builds it’s different then when most people build. Most people put in posts, hubby puts in telephone poles, all of which go 4 feet down into mostly rock that he has to break up. He is doing it with assistance, and the two guys work well together. This will be hay storage and hubby will be deliriously happy when his hay is in it and it stays dry. He’s wanted this for a long time! It’s an incredible building he engineered and built!

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I had a little coffee clutch with the hens this morning.

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Our peppers turned out great this year, in fact we were talking about what a good harvest year this one has been all around! I am very happy with our potatoes, just need a lot more next year. The bucket system worked well. We did have some potatoes that had holes in the middle but apparently that was due to our very, very wet Summer. They were easy to cut around though so, very little was wasted.

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Our apples here were sadly so early that we were caught off guard, they were literally 3-4 weeks early . These apples were 2nds from a local orchard. We ended up with about 2 gallons of dried apples for Winter snacking. I did go out and get the last of our apples, while the texture was mealy the taste was good, and so tonight they will become applesauce.

I also managed to get enough of the ground cherries to freeze for ground cherry jam. This Winter I will pull out the frozen; High Bush Cranberries, Elderberries, some of the Blueberries, some of the Cherries and the Aronia berries and will make many batches of jam. Great for gifting at holiday time. The Elderberry and Aronia berry products will be saved for special use. Looking forward to Elderberry Liquor too!

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I found one last Watermelon in the field and the texture was mealy but again, the taste was good. I cut out all the pink flesh and squeezed them through a jelly bag, and wow, Watermelon juice, I added a bit fermented honey with lemon and it was delicious. I froze some for a Winter treat.

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I think other than the Lima Beans these Ground Cherries are about the last thing to harvest. We have been getting more creative in our fruit additions to the farm. I’ve read about Ground Cherry Jam, and thought it would be fun to try. They are unique and delicious tasting. Next year we will set them up in a different way and will yield many, many more of them. They produce like crazy but ours were set up in a way where they were staying too wet. You don’t actually collect them till they fall off on to the ground, and our ground was too wet.

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This wonderful kitchen table my husband made for us, has not been available for mealtimes in a while. It quickly became my drying table this Summer, and is always covered with beautiful colors and textures. This table is filled with Cayennes, Sumac, Spearmint, Mint, Basil, Clover, Nettles, Calendula, and Dill. The plant is my Turmeric plant, I am looking forward to digging up some pieces to use some time soon.

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These Lima beans came in quite late and I have never grown them before. I found some big enough to eat fresh but the rest will dry on the vine, hopefully I am not too late into the season for them because they were crazy good, I never knew I loved Lima Beans, but I can say I do now. If they have time to fully mature, I will have loads of dried beans!

I picked up some Black Oil Sunflower seeds at a great price from a local mill at $6 for 25 pounds it was surely worth trying! They will hopefully help with our sad tattered looking molty birds. It’s really chilly to look so molty. Here’s hoping the seeds help!

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These is one of our non-molty birds, she is 2 1/2 years old and is posing in one of her favorite places.

When loading and unloading doesn’t go as planned…

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Hubby came in the night before loading up and said, he’d run them through the chute, all was smooth, all gates looked good and so we went to bed thinking things would go close to as planned.

The next morning our helpful neighbor came in his truck hauling his older trailer and we were ready. The 2 steers were separated and ready to send through the chute and into the waiting trailer. As he encouraged the first one and then started to close the gate behind it, which should in turn gently force him, by the nature of the set up, into the narrowing chute and onto the truck. As the gate closed this steer literally jumped straight up and over the 5 plus foot fence. This was something we had not run into yet. Greenhorns. There is no reason to know why he did that and others hadn’t but it may be that the gate was closed at a speed that was just more than he could emotionally handle and he went for flight and thankfully not fight. He knocked a board down and so Hubby nailed it in with special nails so it would be in tighter. We repeated the procedure and that animal did it again, except this time he busted the top two boards. Hubby put up an oak board this time and raised it higher and with that and a bit of good luck the animal did as he was supposed to and walked right into the trailer to get the hay that was waiting for him. Now the gate was locked in the front of the trailer and we successfully loaded the second one into the second compartment, and with great relief, drove in the truck behind the our farmer friend who was hauling our feisty animals.

As we rode there, in the car, and thought the hard part was over, we discussed that morning’s loading and what might have created the problems, and how we can change things next time either in the way we move the animals, the materials we’ve used, or our physical set up. We got to the locker, which is a short ride from home, and waited while someone unloaded their unruly pigs. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that we could have the same problem, I assumed it was going to go as smoothly as last year. Well, you know the thing about assumptions. We offloaded the first one and then we quickly realized the second one now had the run of the trailer and was not going to make this easy. The last thing we wanted was more tussle as we do all we can to move the animals calmly and not overly upset or stress them, but after enough trying I asked, can’t we put him down in the trailer? The reply was for another $20 bucks, which at that moment seemed cheap, so within in a minute he was down.

We will get better at this, we will keep learning, but we also will be greenhorns for quite a while yet.

As the blood rolled out of the rusted holes, in the bottom of the old trailer, and pooled in the lot, I was reminded that when you are working with animals, there is no being sure you’ve planned for everything.