As each season comes upon us, we celebrate and treasure what each one holds. Autumn is no different and I have felt for many years that Autumn is my most favorite season of all. We cherish the crisp mornings, the warm afternoons, the turning of the leaves and the harvest! I wouldn't be being completely honest with you though if I didn't mention how exhausted we are by the time winter rolls around and we are just as grateful for the rest that winter provides with snuggling up in front of the fire with a mug of something warm and steamy to drink. But for now.....there is work to do!
It seems I haven't gotten anything done on this blog except for posting a few recipes here and there and for that, I apologize. There has been plenty of activity here on the homestead and I have taken many pictures, however, there never seems to be enough time to get everything posted. I've been stashing posts away to complete through the winter and update everyone on our progress, but I thought I would give you a few ideas of what has been going on around here just this past week....
Of course homesteading isn't complete without canning.... and thankfully a lot of that got done this week.
We can never have enough green beans canned. A friend of mine with five children cans 140 quarts of green beans every year. When I first heard that, my jaw dropped,but now that I do a lot more canning, I completely understand the need for that amount depending on your family size.
In full disclosure....the raspberries are not from our local resources, but we did get a wonderful buy on them and could not pass them up. Here where the weather is hot, raspberries don't grow like they do in Wisconsin...in fact we can't get them to grow at all. Maybe it's just me. So when I was able to get them in bulk at an excellent price, I jumped on it and brought 4 cases home to can. We made jam and syrup and then simply froze the rest to use in smoothies.
Huckleberries! Yes, these are garden huckleberries....the ones that everyone fears are poisonous. I can assure you that they are not because many neighbors grow them here and make pies and jams out of them. I wouldn't eat one raw, but I have seen people that do to prove they aren't poisonous, but I wouldn't recommend it because they taste awful raw, at least, until after the first frost. The jams and pies are delicious and I am excited that there will be jars of huckleberry jam on the pantry shelves too. I will have to do a whole post on canning this jam because the first round was a complete disaster. All I had to go by was a general idea of how to do it and the mistake I made was to measure the berries raw instead of cooked. Needless to say it came out way too watery and didn't set right.
We make all kinds of sweet breads for the Farmer's Market and my favorite goodies to make involve fresh pumpkin. Watch for the Pumpkin Bread recipe post coming soon, this is the best pumpkin bread recipe I have ever used.
This season usually begins with making Apple Butter and this year I added some extra Apple Pie spice in it which made it SO scrumptious!
More time was spent this week on labeling jams and butters for the Farmer's Market...
Preparing the baskets of seasonal gourds....
Finding local food in bulk and knowing the field it came from is a win win for our family. These red potatoes are going in the stews for canning. Slowly but surely we are weaning ourselves off the big box stores and chain grocers. It is a wonderful feeling!
Egg washing is a never ending process here...
Ok, drying fresh herbs is something that I can't seem to stop doing as long as the plant is growing, no matter how many bags I have already dried and put away.....call it one of my MANY quirks! Besides, one can never have enough basil :)
The Amish harvest wagons filled with pumpkins, gourds, winter squash and mums are a beautiful sight and is something that emotionally signals Autumn to me! Some of our week is spent shopping from each wagon....the variety and beauty are incredible.
Firewood stacks have to be replenished to full capacity......
And at the end of a long day when I have a few minutes to get online...I find my trustworthy helper holding down the fort for me!
Technically we have three more weeks until the official frost, but the way the tomatoes are producing, we're hoping for another six weeks, lol. I suppose that is unrealistic, plus we have to get the garden beds ready for winter, so the sooner we can get that done the better.
Next week's schedule? There is at least 50 pounds of pears waiting for me....half of which I am gratefully giving away, however, there is another whole tree to pick from so if anyone would be willing to take a minute and leave me some links to pear recipes, it would be greatly appreciated!
We have one more week at the Farmer's Market before wrapping it up for the winter. It should be a lot of fun because the city is also conducting an Art Walk at the same time. There will be lots of fun stuff to do.
The greenhouse needs some cleaning and straightening before giving the herbs their new winter homes. Here's my tip for this week for anyone that doesn't know this trick.....dig up your rosemary and plant it in a pot. Bring it indoors and put it in a south facing window. Water it occasionally and replant it into your garden in the spring. Rosemary will continue to grow all year around. Also, don't be afraid to trim it for cooking purposes through the winter. Trimming causes it to bush out more.
We will also be preparing the greenhouse bed for cold crop planting and researching cold crops that will grow outdoors in our location as a cover crop. I'm particularly interested in finding some variety of wheat that will grow through southern Missouri winters. Again, I'm open to any and all suggestions (hint hint)!
In looking forward to what this next week has in store for us, I've got to say that I really appreciate beginning our busy weeks by attending our new found church. It is so refreshing to gather together with other like-minded Christians that enjoy the same things and have the same morals and values that we do. We love the big families and all of the children and we are truly enjoying getting to know everyone there. The fellowship for us as parents and for our daughter, is extremely valuable to us. A special thank you to them for welcoming us the way they have. God's will and timing is impeccable! I pray that others would find themselves surrounded by such loving and supporting people as we have.
~ The quest for a simpler life is itself an infinite journey toward God ~ Frank Leyering