Independence Days Update: Before the Deluge

Sharon September 8th, 2009

The last couple of days have been quiet.  We rearranged our plans for the long weekend at the last minute, and ended up with a whole lot of delightful and unexpected free time.  We visited a local pick your own down in the warmer valley and picked sweet peppers (if I get a dozen red ripe this year from my own plants this year, I’ll be happy – and I’m not holding my breath!) to freeze and dehydrate.  We went apple picking (yay, Greenings!) with friends and then sat around chatting while their kids and mine played.  We built a goat birthing pen for Selene.  We went to the Arboretum and hiked for a while, and pulled together our school supplies.

Today we’re still off – Eric doesn’t teach Tuesdays and Eli’s school has teacher training, so we’ve one last day to get the house and farm in order, get set up for homeschool to start in earnest (technically we started last week, but homeschooling is easier when Eli is at school too).  And then comes the deluge.  We are now booked every single weekend between now and Chanukah.  We begin the fall holiday season, which includes Eric’s new semester (teaching a new class), my fall class (Aaron and I will be doing Garden Design in October and November – so that as you are putting things to bed, you can be planning and even putting together next year’s garden to make things easier, better, etc… – I’ll post the info in the next couple of days), Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and associated holidays, Halloween (the boys are going as Harry Potter and Fred, George and Ron Weasley, and their friend Kayla will be Hermione), my trip to speak in Macon, Georgia, Asher’s fourth birthday, the big synagogue event I’m chairing, Simon’s 8th birthday, Thanksgiving in Boston, the end of Eric’s semester, Chanukah and Isaiah’s 6th birthday, all crammed into a bit less than 3 months.  Oh, and we’ve got a ton of guests coming during that period, including a French tv producer who wants to film us,  and who will be staying with us when my best friend from college, her husband and their 3 kids (3, 4, 9 months) will be staying with us.  I’m told he likes kids….

In that period, my third book will be released, with all the associated radio interviews and other to do,  two does will kid (nothing yet, but any day now for Selene, Maia probably has a couple of weeks), we must get the fall harvest in, make presents, research new classes, organize costumes, cook feasts, organize school materials and farm records, bake cakes, stack all the wood, begin cutting next year’s wood, get the house winterized, homeschool for third and first grades and preschool, take down the old fence on the pasture, mow it, get it perimeter fenced, set up winter housing for the animals, move my office/herb room, raise the new chicks expected any day now, and as Yul Brenner once said,  …and etcetera, and etcetera and etcetera ;-) .

Autumn is always a crazy time, and if I spend too much time thinking about it, I might become crazed as well.  But it is also my favorite time of year – the weather is beautiful, the colors are inspiring, life is trending towards a settling in, and peace and quiet.  The food is the year’s best – all the pleasures of summer still with us in some form, but the new tastes of are fall pouring in as well (we had our first concord grapes, our first hot cocoa, our first roasted chicken from the meat birds we raised and the first really good apple this week).  The air smells of composting leaves and crisp fall, of drying herbs and cooking apples.  The night temps are cool enough for cozy sleeping under a warm quilt, and everyone has a burst of energy, knowing that they should enjoy the world now.  I love every second of it, and the long to-do list, the celebrations and feasts, the prayer and fasting, the grassy hay and the dry, cool potatoes – all of them go together, to create something I dearly love.  Come February, I may grump and wish I lived somewhere else, but in the autumn, I wouldn’t trade the northeast for anywhere on the earth.

But that dosen’t mean I haven’t been treasuring these last few discovered days of leisure.  There will still be leisure in the autumn as well – but three consecutive unplanned days seems unlikely, a delight to be savored.  Tomorrow I’ll jump in with both feet, but today, well, we’re still taking it easy – painting Isaiah’s new birdhouse, chopping peppers for the freezer, playing with the goats, mulching the harvested garden beds and taking time to play and read and rest.

Plant something: Spinach, bok choy, pea shoots and arugula

Harvest something: Tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), beets, turnips, carrots, onions, green beans, lemon balm, feverfew, peppermint, calendula, red clover, anise hyssop, sage, cucumbers, summer squash, kale, chard, collards, broccoli, daikon.

Preserve something: Froze cantelope, froze sweet peppers, dehydrated hot peppers, dehydrated sweet peppers, dehydrated tomatoes, made ketchup, barbecue sauce, tomato sauce, salsa, made raspberry jam, made grape jelly, froze green beans, made dilly beans, dried herbs, made sauerruben (sauerkraut, only with turnips), made spicy daikon pickles (it is getting to be cool enough for serious fermentation to begin), dried apple peels for apple-cinnamon tea, made raspberry-cinnamon vodka. 

Waste Not: Turned old folding closet door into fold-down entrance kidding pen (ok, I’m king of proud of this one, since my limited building skills were pushed here, and it came out great!).  Otherwise, all the usual stuff.

Want Not: Bought some cheap school/household administrative supplies, continued sorting out the kids wardrobes, began planning birthday presents more seriously, exploring pre-existing elements of halloween costumes (we buy used costumes at Goodwill, etc… and save old ones, and have an impressively full box of dress up stuff).  Also ordered inferios (generic cheerios available in bulk ;-) ) for my inferio-addicted children.

Eat the Food: Had the first roasted chicken – ok, the cornish crosses may not have been appealing, but at least they are tasty.  Also the first batch of chicken carcass Laotian chicken soup…mmm….

Build Community Food Systems: Made arrangements to talk about “where your food comes from” to two middle school classes locally.

How about you?


18 Responses to “Independence Days Update: Before the Deluge”

  1. Mike says:

    Pardon me, did you say frozen melon??? Please tell us the best method for this wonderous invention.

  2. Kelli says:

    Plant something: beans, Seminole pumpkins, sunflowers
    Harvest something: Peppers, eggplant

    Preserve something: Pickled garden peppers and market cucumbers

    Waste Not: Made curtains out of sheets, began toting water saved while waiting to warm up for dishes to the rain barrel where it will be siphoned to water seedlings, snuck some frozen turnips into the Cafe gumbo last week.

    Want Not: Began Christmas list of things I can make out of materials I already have – knitted hats and scarves from stash yarn, boxers and pajama pants from sheets and donated fabric, reorganized stack of “books to read” so I won’t be tempted to buy any new ones

    Eat the Food: Making black bean soup for the Cafe with the avalanche of sweet green peppers we have, pesto tonight from fresh basil

    Build Community Food Systems: Contributing to local sustainability website

  3. heathenmom says:

    My update is on my blog. Best things: made my own laundry detergent, and spent a lot of fun, productive time with the kids. It was a busy week!

    Sharon, what’s this about you coming to Macon, GA? When?? What for?? That’s a relatively short drive …

  4. My update is on my blog too. With my husband away and me leaving for Australia on Thursday it’s been a busy, but productive week.

    Thanks for this great idea to update weekly. It really makes me think back to everything I’ve achieved during the week and then what lays ahead looks just a little less daunting.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Can you please elaborate of the French journalist thing?? We live in France and would love to catch you on TV or in a paper here!

  6. Sarah says:

    Food Preservation (yay!): lots of dried zucchini, dried raspberries, experimental dried watermelon (yum!), watermelon flavoring syrup (i.e., failed jelly), peach-raspberry compote (i.e., failed jam), watermelon popsicles.

    Eat the food: made arugulach (savory rugalach made with arugula and cheddar cheese. Tasty puns.), tomato-eggplant saute over brown rice, vegetable casserole.

    Community food systems: am becoming increasingly tempted to trap and kill the campus wild turkeys. They sit on the wall by the library and stare at me.

    Skills: am almost finished with my first crocheted afghan. It will keep small children in far away places warm. Next I will attempt socks/boots, or possibly a hat. I have also found someone online selling affordable sturdy-looking homemade wool combs.

  7. Susan in NJ says:

    The weather is wonderfully crisp, but me, I’m droopy and still not feeling well. The result, a long weekend of rest and little labor.

    Plant: No.

    Harvest: A few kirby cucumbers, tomatoes, a few okra pods, thyme.

    Preserve: Froze some peaches.

    Waste Not: Composted too much. Didn’t travel at all over the long weekend. Used the last of the storage sweet potatoes. We started eating down the refrigerator this weekend.

    Want Not: Made notes as to staples that need to be restocked; did some rather desultory picking up and as a result found some treasures.

    Community: No unless staying home when I feel sick counts.

    Eat: My taste buds are back – excellent roast zucchini and eggplant with bratwurst; baked chile rellenos – a new homemade dish for us and sure to return; buckwheat pancakes with peaches and maple syrup.

  8. risa b says:

    Sarah, I won’t kill our pet herd of deer if you don’t kill your will turkeys! :)

    Report here; scroll to bottom of post for the short version … ahh, September. It’s not about getting enough rest …

  9. Pine Ridge says:

    Sharon do you have a spot on here where you post recipies? Your apple cinnamon tea sounds good and makes me wish I hadn’t given all those peels to the pigs. Though they love me for it :) You have often mentioned other things I’d like to try. Maybe your next book should be a cook book!

  10. Gabrielle says:

    Plant Something—Turnip Greens and Red Beets.

    Harvest Something—We harvested butternut squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, green beans, onions, red and green okra, bell peppers, basil, leeks, shelling beans, and seeds from pole beans. We received pears from friends.

    Preserve Something—I put up 6 quarts of pears and 12 pints of pears. I was so thrilled to run out of jars before I ran out of pears! We didn’t put up nearly this much last year, and I look forward to sautéing the pears in the syrup with a little butter and cinnamon on cold winter nights—YUM! I made a food processor full of pesto with most of the basil left in the garden for the freezer. Last year we froze a small amount, and it was so nice when it was cold and dreary to pull out something that tasted fresh.

    Prep and Storage—Hubby worked on the fence. We yanked the zucchini plants, as the last one fruited this week. Yanked some of the tomato plants that were kaput after the blight. I added crackers, raisins, cereal, baby wipes, free candles, free dog food, free soaps, and free candy for Halloween to the storage this week.

    Reduce Waste—We continue to do our other energy saving measures and recycle, compost, and use a rain barrel. We continue to purchase a weekly CSA basket. We brought some more donations to the church for a rummage sale they have planned in November. Another church member and her hubby helped me to rescue an antique chest of drawers that my neighbor had placed on the curve for the dump. It was in fair condition and will be added to the rummage sale items. We passed an elevated potty seat I had bought for a relative but was no longer used to a church member who needed one for her daughter.

    Building Community Food Systems—I organized the new donations that came into the food pantry at church. I’m working with another church member on a “trick-or-treat” idea for gathering canned goods—working out the details of that to get approval. We’ll be sharing some seeds from the melons with friends. Went in on an order of local cheese with a friend (we split a case about every other month). I pulled about 10 large bell peppers to bring to the church for the vegetable cart. I shared some of the extra pears with three friends.

    Eating the Food—We dropped a butternut squash off on our neighbor’s door step. Our squash have been going crazy all over the yard, and they have been very patient with us as some have crept onto their property. We were tickled when we arrived home the next evening to find some butternut squash casserole on our door step with a thank you note. It was some of the best I’d ever eaten, and I’ve asked that they pass the recipe to me to share with you all. Divine! I also made a little Caprese salad and used Sweetwater Valley buttermilk cheese instead of mozzarella. Sweetwater Valley is a local cheese maker, and the cheese went nicely with the salad. Since I haven’t been making as much mozzarella lately, I’ll be using this addition more often.

  11. Marilyn says:

    Hi Sharon,
    Please share info on Macon. That might be doable for me and I would love to hear you speak. There were lots of things going on here this past week…yard sale, my nephew’s beautiful outdoor wedding, family visiting from out of town and a big family cookout for Labor Day. The aunties brought all of their special dishes and I ate too much. :-( We got busy making some home repairs too so I didn’t get much done toward getting prioritized goals on paper.

    Plant something: Not yet. We’re checking the garden on the hill to see if it’s dry enough this afternoon. We got 2 inches of rain on from Sunday morning until early afternoon.

    Harvest something: Red cornfield peas, tomatoes, sweet red peppers, okra

    Preserve something: canned 7 qts of peas

    Waste Not: Usual recycle and fed scraps to chickens. Guess the yard sale counts since it keeps things out of the landfill. All leftovers were donated.

    Want Not: Carefully weighed what we put in yard sale. It was tedious asking myself if we will have a need for this item later, but I did it. (DH made me promise never to have another yard sale. LOL!) We have determined that we like to go to yard sales, but we don’t like having them.

    Eat the Food: Salsa Chicken on wheat rotini; Homemade Sauerkraut & Bratwurst; Turnip greens (last year’s frozen) with pintos and cornbread.

    Build Community Food Systems: Donated food to a local church drive. This drive has gone from feeding 20 families to feeding 100 families this past year. Our family has commited to contribute the first Tuesday of each month.

  12. Lise says:

    We had an intense weekend, playing catch-up with our food storage. Read more here:

  13. TLE says:

    Plant something: made yogurt
    Harvest something: mixed lettuce, coriander, parsley, endive, garlic tops, tuscan kale, broccoli leaves, lemons, collards.
    Preserve Something: nope.
    Prep & Storage: bought 5 kg of basmati rice.
    Build Community Food Systems: Found out local council is running a canned food drive in October – date noted in diary, will set aside $ for donations & identify unwanted cans in our pantry over the next month.
    Reduce Waste: We had a celebratory office lunch this week – I lunched off the leftovers for 2 more days. Also did a freezer audit & cull. Usual composting & recycling.
    Eat the Food: bean & sweet potato tacos; falafel, hummus and salad wraps; freezer soup revitalised with garden greens, nutritional yeast & a dash of balsamic vinegar; veggie curry, dahl & rice; vegie & almond pie with frozen crust that needed using up!.

  14. mnfn says:

    A second weekend at home in a row, some gaps of sunshine through the rain, and I’m starting to feel almost caught up on spring.

    Plant: Peas (yorkshire hero, oregan sugar pod, climbing sugar snap, greenfeast), carrots (lobbericher, cosmic purple, little fingers), radishes (sparkler, french breakfast), lettuce (cos, purple oak leaf), leeks, tomatoes (amish paste, cherokee purple, tommy toe, wild currant, reisentraube, green zebra, black krim, beam’s yellow pear), yam things of unknown name.

    Harvest: more greens! arugula, and a few leaves of spinach and trout-spotted lettuce.

    Preserve: OrangeLemonLime marmalade, BB finished making demiglace, halloumi.

    Waste not: compost and recycling, finally got bike out and rode to the bakery and back with only two falls :)

    Want not: nope

    Community Food Systems: talked to my blood donation nurse about cheese-making and may have convinced her. Gave away some of the seville marmalade

    Eat the food: BB made japanese fried chicken and apple shortcake (the very last of our overwintered apples), Friday clear-the-fridge pizza, homemade pasta with creamy pesto and scallops (last of the frozen pesto), osso bucco, pre-made lasagna for busy weeknight food.

  15. anita says:

    Mine is here

    including pictures of what’s left of the huge white pine down in the goat lot after lightning struck it Monday.

  16. KC says:

    Plant something: more kale

    Harvest something: hubbard squash, sweet meat winter squash, tomatoes, green beans, lots of greens (bok choi/ pak choi, chinese cabbages, broccoli raab (so tender and the bugs seem to love it), radish, my first beet and first snow peas) little lemon gherkins – kinda cute but they are the tiniest cukes I’ve ever seen! , zuchini, yellow squash, black eyed peas, my first potato, godiva pumpkin,

    Preserve something: canned yellow tomato chutney, canned applesauce, canned tomatoes – (30 pints). dehydrated: okra, zuchini, sweet peppers (Nardello), green beans (yumm). Can anyone tell me about dehydrated vegetables? Are they worth the effort? worth the energy? Dried some whole green beans and it took longer, but they taste good!

    Waste Not: still working on cleaning out the root cellar and collecting and cleaning all of the old canning jars (not in use for over 15 years!)

    Want Not: talking to local csa about ordering potatoes for storage.

    Eat the Food: barley (finally found the time to try out the whole, hulled barley – a wholegrain storage substitute for brown rice). I liked it – it was kinda chewy, but I am going to order some more for storage. I might mix it with cooked white rice when serving it – to lighten it up. Eating lots of sprouted lentils and mung beans in stir fry. Started to eat hot cereal in the morning. I have pan roasted oats/sesame/sunflower seeds that I keep in a jar and just add milk in warm weather. i started adding hot water this week. It cooks real fast (much faster than raw oatmeal).

    Build Community Food Systems: trading canned goods with a neighbor. Taking care of a neighbor’s animals while they were away.

    `KC in Virginia

  17. AnneT says:

    Posting this while on vacation in the Mad River valley in Vermont — lots of localvore here. Been indulging in local organic beer and produce from local farms. Did do a bunch of stuff in the week before we left:

  18. Quick question – how late can you plant bok choy, and where did you find seeds? Esp. this late in the season?

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