With all the hard work we put in at the end of the spring right after moving in, our little homestead is really starting to produce! We've been spending any open time at home we can get digging potatoes, harvesting fruit, stacking firewood and beginning preparations for winter. It's a busy time indeed, but such a good feeling to be seeing the results of our labors.
The garden is coming along nicely now that the cats got rid of all the rodents. We have pumpkins, greens, carrots, ground cherries, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, heirloom cutting flowers, gourds and sunflowers coming on like gangbusters, with kale, broccoli, radish, dill and cilantro seedlings and starts getting going for the fall.
I am very pleased with the two big pumpkins growing away out in the tangle of vines. One is a Cinderella pumpkin and the other is a Big Dorris giant pumpkin. If they keep going at this rate, they are going to be enormous by Halloween. There are a few pie pumpkins, a couple of jack-o-lantern pumpkins and an assortment of gourds out there popping up in all kinds of wily places.
We dug our potatoes and found a bounty of buried treasure. There were huge red, gold and russet potatoes, and a great assortment of French fingerling and Russian bananas. A few of the purple potatoes I threw in at the last minute even made it. A friend just gave me a beautiful wooden pantry bin from her grandmother's chicken farm back in Illinois, and I'm looking forward to filling up those bins with the words "onions" and "potatoes" carved on the lid.
Every day I have been checking the Italian plums to see if they are ready for picking and drying. They're getting very close, and I am looking forward to enjoying my favorite fall tree fruit. With all the gleaning and wild harvesting of fruit I've done in my life, it is a wonderful thing indeed to have my first mature fruit trees to call my own right out in the yard. I'm not even going to know what to do with myself when all that fruit is ripe.
I'm watching and waiting on the apples every day. We've got one grafted tree and a couple of young Espalier trees bearing some mighty fine looking fruit.
The Asian pears are starting to ripen, and we have been picking the most yellow ones every few days and keeping the food dehydrator trays full. As soon as we fill a few jars of dried Asian pears, we'll be ready to start on the prunes. One can never really have too much dried fruit to eat throughout the year, and I have always found my dehydrating efforts to be very worth while.
I'm also starting to sort the fruit that is in really good shape for short term storage in the root cellar. We have some apples I'm hoping to keep down there for a little while, along with the potatoes, onions, garlic and squash. I'm going to see how the Asian pears do. It will be an experiment.
And then there are all the grapes! With five different varieties including some Thompson's Seedless and Concord, we've got more than we know what to do with! I think it might be time to get a second food dehydrator going.
As far as fresh veggies go, it was really fun to pull up our carrots and see how big they had gotten. I think, in fact that these are the biggest carrots I have managed to grow. They are being enjoyed in salads with all the lettuce from the garden and our CSA.
Every week I've been enjoying filling vases around the house with fresh cut flowers from the grandmother's garden mix I planted. We've got a few different varieties of sunflowers going, and these have been some of my favorites to use in arrangements. Some surprise dahlias popped up that the former owner left in the ground over winter, and they have been adding a nice light orange color to the mix.
I cut some hop vines from a friend who I gave starts to a few years back, and decorated the dining room with a garland over the big picture window. Hops are one of my favorite things to decorate the house with. They're basically free interior decorating, and they add a little old fashioned agrarian elegance to the room. I went a little wild this year hanging them over a mirror and the top of a baker's rack shelf. Some friends of mine bring a giant garland inside every year to hang along an entire kitchen wall. I only stopped hanging hops over things because I ran out, but had I brought more home I surely would have used them.
On we go into my favorite season, and although things are busy and sometimes downright hectic, I'm soaking in and deeply enjoying all the things around me that make up the fall. It's the time of bountiful fruit, pumpkins, sunflowers, bold fiery colors, crunchy leaves, crisp cider, full pantries, neatly stacked firewood, delicious hot meals, beautiful days in the wilderness, tucking in gardens to bed, and cozy evenings. My first fall on my dream homestead with my mountain man is a special occasion indeed, and I aim to savor every minute of it.