Saturday, October 31, 2015

Icing on the Cake

This year we decided to try our hand at a halloween party.  The kids were each able to invite a handful of friends, and between pinterest and our imaginations a party took shape.

For teenagers we decided lots of food, treats, and a handful of games would give them plenty to do. Sid created a Halloween playlist on spotify that was full of great tunes.  We began with one before dark activity, a scavenger hunt where clues led the kids to all areas of the farm and in different directions.  This was my first experience with a scavenger hunt.  One clue led to the next and it turned out great, however it was a comedy of errors to get it laid out and make sure that each teams clues worked!

Inside we had slices and bat wings to eat, along with a number of spooky libations.  There were blood samples, a caramel apple making station, and a guess how much candy is in the jar station

B lit a Swedish torch.  Of course there was an energetic game of hide and seek in the dark and the boys did a late night trampoline jumping session.  It was much harder to try to get any pictures of the boys because they were constantly moving!  They are really turning into little men with varying degrees of deeper voices, laughing as they jump and solve the worlds problems.

To top off the sugar high, Sidney made a birthday cake for her friend Mia.  This was a bit of a different party.  Charles had a great time with his friends, but this was the first time that Sid wanted to be very involved in the planning, setup and execution.  It was fun to watch her going around making sure everything was just right...Icing on the cake.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pampered Pigs

A co-worker of our has a black walnut tree, that drops a prolific number of nuts each fall.  This year B decided that he wanted to take them off of their hands to use as pig fodder.  Black walnuts are pretty protected and you have to work quite hard to get to them.  When they fall they are covered in an almost tennis ball size husk.

B dumped said husk covered nuts on the drive and proceeded to run over them with the tractor.  Then you have to pull the nuts out of the husks by hand.  The inner husk has a green colored dye like substance so you have to wear gloves for this part or you will be carrying remnants of your adventure around with you all week.

What we are left with are loads of black walnuts drying out.  Pigs are supposed to be quite partial to all kinds of nuts.  We have been a bit disappointed in how picky Mabel and Penelope are when it comes to kitchen scraps, so I remained skeptical.

Yesterday, B began to crack some nuts for them and they absolutely love them!  We haven't been able to get them to crack them on their own yet.

As with raising many an animal, it is a labor of love, and the gleeful pig sounds as thanks were worth it!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Medicinal Honey

Raw honey has any number of health benefits on its own.  It can be helpful in anything from wound treatment to seasonal allergies.  This cold and flu season in addition to diffusing essential oils and in light of last Christmas' nightmare making sure everyone had their flu shots, I decided to infuse some honey to aid in pesky sore throats and coughs.

I filled a pint jar about a quarter full with Cassia and Ginger chunks and dried orange peel.  Then I topped it with some of the honey that we harvested this past January.  I left it on the counter for two weeks, and inverted the jar a few times each day.

This morning I strained the honey and oh my what a wonderful flavor!  It will be the perfect comfort in a cup of hot tea or the occasional toddy!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Frosty Sunrise

There is no better time than the fall and the show put on by first frosts.  Happy Sunday!

"October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band."
-   George Cooper, October's Party

Friday, October 16, 2015

Freeze Tag

Fall with all of its beauty and activities also hits you with the urgency brought by the change in seasons that every living thing seems to feel.  Wild animals have an urgent need to put up their winter stores whether it be the squirrels going like crazy collecting and burying nuts or mammals like raccoons, foxes and coyotes trying to pack on a little extra insulation.   If we are going to have a predator problem it will be in the fall.   We have been fortunate in the last several years, but this fall we have had a pesky raccoon (we think) that has culled our egg laying flock by four in the last month.  The most recent a straggler who didn't head for the coop to roost last night and was inadvertently locked out.  Fall is the time of year when extra little tasks, like re-fortifying small flaws in the chickens' fenced in yard, get piled on the list of busy harvest and closing down related chores.

Today, we have the added frenzy of freeze tag.  Our first and season ending freeze will happen this evening.  I do not remember having a freeze warning this early before.  We have certainly had frost advisories this early in the past, but the term freeze warning makes gardeners do double time.  We have been pretty close to done with the garden for a little while now, grabbing a straggling tomato for a sandwich from time to time.  But today, TAG, we are it!  So off we went to harvest the remaining green tomatoes, those peppers that we let continue on for fresh, and though perennial, our abundance of delicate sage.

So, mowing or weeding be damned!  In today's little game of tag, plans are changed up a bit because once you harvest certain things, they just cannot be left to sit.  So I spend time bundling sage to hang and dry in the basement, and also put together a few smudges.  As with any game of tag, freeze tag does leave you invigorated and perhaps a little more motivated to push on.  Oh!!  And Mabel went in to heat yesterday for the first time.  So perhaps in about 18 days or so, we will see if we can't inseminate her and have our first farrowing experience this winter!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fill Your Tank

The colors have not quite reached their peak, they are muted, golden, dream-like.  This almost dull scape is in stark contrast to the fall light and brilliant sunsets.  I can look out my family room window and see an odd, almost red glow, and know that it is time to grab the camera and run outside, because what awaits is nothing shy of brilliant.  There are subtle changes from one day to the next.  The muted colors will turn vibrant and then all it will take is a good gust of wind and they will too soon be gone.  Now is the time to enjoy every picturesque moment; have a bonfire, roast a marshmallow, jump in the leaves before you clear them away, and sip on hot spiced cider.  Basking in these moments will fill your tank for the colder months ahead.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Perfect Weekend for Soccer

This weekend was our soccer club's annual Lighthouse Tournament.  It is the one weekend every fall that we anticipate spending most of our time at the soccer park and do not plan on getting much done around the homestead.  As expected the weekend was a blur.  The weather is always a wild card and in years past more often than not we have shivered in blustery temperatures and rain.  This year was gorgeous with our warmest day yesterday topping out at close to 80!  It was such a treat!    The boys did a fantastic job winning three games and qualifying for the final.  Though they did not win the final game it was a hard earned and well deserved second place.

This may have been our last hurrah of summer like warmth.  Our week promises cooling temperatures, wind and our first possibilities of frost.  That is just fine though, the true feeling of fall comes from gorgeous shows of light, the trees putting on their show before allowing their leaves to be sent soaring in the gusts, and having hot spiced cider on the stove.  

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Busy Fall

The last couple of weeks have been a blur!  We are in the heart of Fall soccer, and trying to get the garden buttoned up, remaining harvests processed, and the farrowing barn done in between.  We harvested 45 butternut squash over the last week.  I have been experimenting with a few new recipes and so far both soups and the alfredo have been fantastic!  
B has been working hard on the granary to get the East side of it cleared and converted to farrowing pens.  There are quantities of sawdust like dirt on the floor that reflects years and layers of empty grain hulls.  He is removing that down to the rock and stone floor so that we can then grade it and finish the base and then put in two nice pens.  Penelope and Mabel will then be able to walk through into their feeding area, their current sleeping spot and pasture access in the adjacent section of the barn.

Oh and well this last weekend was also Sid's first homecoming.  She went with her best friend and had a fantastic time!  So it has been a bit chaotic, but loads of fun.  As it is now October, and we seem to have gotten into the school/activities/farming groove, I am so looking forward to enjoying every fall moment to its fullest.


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