Independence Days Update: In the Sukkah

Sharon October 5th, 2009

Well, most important news - early Saturday morning, Maia kidded, giving birth to a gorgeous little doe we’ve named Arava - born on the first day of Sukkot, we named her for the prolific member of the four species (Willow, Myrtle, Palm and Etrog) that grows on our property.  Kidding watch is now thankfully over - we can go about our normal business.  And best of all, we’ve got two gorgeous babies in the barn. 

It is, however, time to think about the spring babies - Bast, Jessie and Mina will be bred in a a month or so, for April kidding.  It seems weird to be thinking about spring, already - but there it is - life on the farm is always that way, and so we’re planting garlic and bulbs, building new beds for next year’s garden, and plotting our breedings. 

Meanwhile, despite the long term focus, we’ve got the holidays going on here, we’re getting ready for a major influx of guests staying with us (including a French photographer and filmmaker doing a documentary about us, weird, no?) next weekend, lots of Sukkot dinner guests this week (Tuesday and Wednesday should break 20 people at our table both nights, Thursday, Friday and Saturday should only be in the 10-14 range), and the usual fall farm work. 

The sheep and Xote the guard donkey will be returning to their winter quarters in a few weeks, and we need to have the fields mowed and limed, the old rotting fence taken down and the new boundaries marked out for spring.  This is just the kind of labor (at least the mowing and liming) we’ll hire out - work for my hay cutting neighbor in the fall, and help for our needs.  So far, we’ve managed the farm (sometimes with some difficulty) without a tractor or any other large powered equipment - we don’t even have a lawnmower any more, except for a dead riding one we keep in the yard for the kids to climb on.  But you can hire an awful lot of work done with a tractor for a whole lot less than the cost of owning one.  I admit, there are times when it would be awfully nice to have.  But so far, we’re holding firm.

Selene has mastitis in one teat - Tekiah has been nursing heavily from one side, and Selene developed a clot on the other.  We milk her out regularly, give her lots of garlic (excactly the treatment I used when I had mastitis) and things seem to be getting better. 

Expecting a hard frost, we picked everything tender last week, and got only a light one.  No worries - I made tons of pesto and salsa verde, we ate eggplant daily and I froze most of the hot peppers, which yet again, didn’t fully ripen.  Ah well.

With the exception of a brief period when we had elderly guests whose comfort outranked ours, we haven’t really lit fires and turned on heat yet - it is chilly, but it hasn’t been awful - in fact, we’ve still got the window open in our bedroom for fresh air on these 40 degree nights.  Crazy, no?  But the fresh air feels so good!

I’ve got to say, where I live is at its most acutely beautiful right now - I wouldn’t trade where I lived for anything.  I’ve only to look out the window to see the autumnal rainbow - the purples, oranges, reds, yellows against the evergreens.  And we had an actual rainbow on Saturday - the rain kept us out of the sukkah in the evening, but shortly before our guests arrived, the sun burst out in the torrent, and we all went out on the porch to watch the rainbow.  Any holiday that starts with a new baby goat and ends with a rainbow can’t be all bad ;-) .

Plant something: garlic, daffodils, hyacinths, potato onions, jerusalem artichokes, winter rye

Harvest something: Tomatillos (lots and lots of tomatillos), quinces, zucchini, summer squash, chiles, sweet peppers, carrots, kale, onions, arugula, chard, beets, eggplant, tomatoes, pears, raspberries, milk, eggs.

Preserve something: Canned golden-raspberry-peach sauce, canned salsa verde, dried peaches, dried tomatoes, canned salsa, dried oregano, dried lemon balm, dried raspberry leaves.

Waste Not: The usual stuff, but nothing really unusual. 

Want Not: Nothing new - too busy with the holidays.

Eat the Food: All these guests have been great for that - the peach-raspberry cobbler was utterly fabulous, we’ve eaten eggplant 10 ways from Sunday, stuffed ripe peppers….  Did I mention I love this time of year?

How about you?


21 Responses to “Independence Days Update: In the Sukkah”

  1. The Raven says:

    You convey so well the feel of autumn where you are! We’re still a bit warmer here, but I too love the season.

    For Independence Days, I’ve been especially thinking about actually using some of the stuff we put up. We in this family have a problem with “saving” what is special-ie, saving it until it goes bad… So we’ve finally really started to make a serious dent in LAST year’s canning and drying. Last night: “not-so-sweet bread and butter pickles” which were delicious! This morning: strawberry-rhubarb jam on our toast.

  2. Lise says:

    Colds have slowed us down a bit, but we’re still in the thick of catch-up preserving. Here’s our update, with pics (I got snap-happy taking photos of our stores):

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Sharon,

    Please please do share the info on the documentary! We live in France, and if you’re going to be on French TV or radio, we don’t want to miss it!

    Merci et bonne fête des Cabanes!

  4. Gabrielle says:

    Plant—I didn’t actually get anything into the ground. I had planned on planting pansies yesterday, but I was feeling under the weather. Maybe I’ll get them in the ground today…maybe.

    Harvest—Walnuts, lots and lots of black walnuts. Bell peppers, and that is about it. The garden is slowing down quite a bit as the weather continues to cool here. I’ve stopped picking things like okra and beans in hopes of having seeds to save for next year.

    Preserve—I put up 2 pints of jalapeños that I gave away at the canning/food preservation class.

    Reduce Waste—We continue our energy reduction, recycling, and composting efforts. The AC has been turned off for a few weeks, and it will most likely stay off. We do not usually need the heat until late November or December. We managed to recycle some at the Raccoon Valley Festival. I’m working with church members to ensure that none of the products leftover from the festival will go to waste. Made 6 rice bags with leftover fabric to donate to the church bazaar. (Sew two squares of fabric together, leaving a small space for stuffing and turning the fabric, just as you would when making a pillow. Use a funnel to help you stuff the square with dry rice. Sew up the hole. Microwave these for 1-2 minutes and use as a bed warmer or heating pad. Do not get wet.)

    Prep/Storage—I added a few more toiletries to the storage this week. Found a great sale on canning supplies (AND I had coupons!) Stocked up on allergen free dessert mixes for my sister’s birthday. Bought butter on sale and added some to the freezer.

    Building Community Food Systems—Taught the canning/food preservation class last Monday evening, and I had such fun. I left feeling energized and ready to preserve more foods. I have a mozzarella class planned for October 13th. I made up a few more boxes for the food pantry and am working on a resource list to go inside of the boxes. I picked up some food donations this week at a few places. We bought locally made molasses at the Raccoon Valley Festival. I was so delighted that our daughter was able to see it made the old fashioned way. I made sure one of the guys there cleaned some cane for her to suck on. I have such fond memories in my childhood of doing the same—just as good as any lollipop and without the dyes! Brought some meals to a friend who just had a darling little baby girl.

    Eat the Food—Making homemade whole wheat biscuits and having the freshest of molasses to go on top for Sunday morning was the highlight for the week for us. YUMMMMMM!

  5. Marilyn says:

    Hi Sharon,
    Congratulations on the new kid!

    I received my copy of Independence Days. I plan to start reading after this post. Can’t wait!

    Plant something: Nothing this week

    Harvest something: Okra, bell peppers, green beans. The garden is winding down. Went to the woods and picked a few ripe persimmons. After tasting them, we decided to leave them for the animals. We did pick up a few hickory nuts. My husband’s mom used to make hickory nut fudge so we’ll try that soon.

    Preserve something: 33 pints of muscadine jelly

    Waste Not: The usual recycling and composting

    Want Not: Nothing this week

    Eat the Food: We’ve been eating lots of green beans with new potatoes. We’ve also enjoyed the jelly more than once. Made an apple pound cake with a caramel glaze for a family birthday celebration.

    Build Community Food Systems: Bought a few more things for the Food Bank to be delivered tomorrow. Shared muscadine jelly with several folks. Got a box of sweet potatoes in return.

  6. Laurie in Mpls. says:

    In the last throes of tomato canning today — been cooking down the pulp for sauce for a while now, and would REALLY like to get to the canning part sometime soon! And I guess last throes is a bit optimistic — we still have some/lots of green tomatoes in the garden, that we/I will eventually need to bring inside to ripen, and think of something to do with. I’m guessing I’ll just do more quarters/rough dice canning.

    Need to call my SIL and see when pears are coming my way. I’d really like to get the canning stuff out of the kitchen/dining room sometime soon, but don’t want to put it away just to haul it back out. :P

    Eyeing the garden with thoughts for improvements for next year. I truly think I’m going to have to figure out a raised bed system for the relatively narrow space I have so I can dispense with the stepping stones we currently have in there. They take a LOT of space. My husband will be somewhat disappointed, but I’ll certainly be able to use them in the shade garden that is planned for …. sometime soon. (We have 2 large maple trees in our urban back yard. I’m reluctant to take them out to get more sun for gardening due to how well they shade the house in the summer, reducing our need for AC. But not a whole lot will grow back there, so I’m planning on a shade garden of ornamentals. At least I won’t have to mow it! ;)

    Need to jot down thoughts on what worked and what didn’t in the garden this year. I think next year is going to be some serious moving things about, veggie garden AND perennials. And I really do need to dig the rain garden and at least get the depth/berm established this year. Again, not really enough sun to grow food plants, but definitely enough for some native flowers/ferns and rainwater catchment.

    Experimenting with homemade pizza tonight — mine will be mainly veggie, at least SOME from my garden! :)

  7. Hummingbird says:


    Plant something:
    blanketflower, butterfly weed (from seed harvested from the garden.)

    Harvest something:
    peppers, okra (the last of it),lettuce, eggs, a few persimmons off the ground.
    No walnuts this year, we had a ton last year.

    Preserve someting:
    froze the last of the okra and peppers.

    Reduce waste:
    raked and composted clippings from the last (I hope) lawn mowing. I bought a good push-reel mower this year and it works fine.

    bought a year’s supply of OTC meds at a discount

    Eat the food:
    having daily salads for lunch from the fall lettuce crop

  8. risa stephanie bear says:

    Oh — is it that time already? I was busy attending my retirement party and tying up loose ends this week … Well, got in some tomatoes, potatoes, zukes, grapes, garlic, onions, pumpkins, winter squash, corn, and beans — beans — beans — but the beans made crop after crop on the same vines and then refused to mature; they are all at the awkward stage — a bit tough for green beans and not ready to shell for dried. Same thing happened to the runners. May lose almost all of them as a seed crop. *sigh* Am cooking up what I can to freeze; not much room in there.

    On the other hand, everything else has done great and there hasn’t been a frost yet (the strawberries are still “everbearing”); not even yesterday at the full moon, whereas my friends just across the Cascades from here had SNOW!

    Tree colors have barely begun. It’s all green, except for non-native maples mostly.

    We’re siphoning grape/apple wine from the must-buckets to the carboys today.

    Polytunnel (10X24X7′) is up and we are moving transplants into it for winter: kale, lettuce, bok choi, and leeks mostly. Some turnips and radishes are luxuriating in there as well. Covered all the windows on the house for the winter. Lots of kale and such in the next bed over, as well, so we will be able to compare how they do when it freezes.

    The rest has been mostly ripping up plants, cutting up stalks and leaves for compost. We’ve cordoned off an area to throw all this into, and let the poultry in to pick it over before finishing it on the compost heaps.

    Meals are all from the garden right now, as the new stay-at-home-housewife I’m serving eggs, corn, tomatoes, beans, and home-raised chicken as the Special pretty much all week. ;)

  9. TLE says:

    Plant something: planted new spring onions & coriander, and the fittingly named lazy housewife bean.

    Harvest something: endive, basil, spinach, broccoli, tuscan kale, silverbeet, lettuces, sneaky strawberries

    Preserve Something: froze tofu

    Prep & Storage: Finally cracked & bought Rob Hopkins’ ‘Transition Handbook’, made a bulk batch of vegan pancake mix (recipe on my blog)

    Build Community Food Systems: re-worked my favourite vegan energy bar & bulk pancake mix recipes for the food co-op mailing list.

    Reduce Waste: Lavish use of leftovers for breakfasts & lunches all week, re-planted the roots of a bunch of spring onions, plus usual composting & recycling.

    Eat the Food: lentil burgers with oven chips; white bean & veg pie; homemade broccoli pizza

  10. Sharon says:

    Risa, Mazel tov on the retirement - awesome!


  11. Claire says:

    No frost yet in the St. Louis, MO area. Looks like we won’t get any for at least another week. Cooler than normal, however.

    Plant something: Nothing this week. I did at least remove the plastic (used to solarize the grass to death) from two beds that will be planted later in the fall - one for overwintering alliums, one for Jerusalem artichokes for next year.

    Harvest something: Tomatoes, sweet peppers, yard-long beans, green beans, kale, collards, lettuce, arugula, green onions, persimmons (yes, they are ready here, and we love them!), raspberries, butternut squash, popcorn, calendula blossoms, bronze fennel seeds

    Preserve something: Drying the calendula blossoms. Will hold the squash over winter in the house. Drying the popcorn for later use.

    Waste Not: Haven’t turned on the heat yet, even though the house was 62F when we got up. Opened the windows in the afternoon, got the relative humidity down and the temperature up two or three degrees. It may not sound like much to the rest of you, but it’s better than usual for me. So far I’m staying warm enough without major bundling up.

    Want Not: Got two down comforters from my MIL!! We’ll be warm this winter!! She doesn’t use them, so we will put them to good use. Don’t need them yet; the regular comforter (not down) is still a bit too warm.

    Community food systems: writing another article on what to plant at this time of year for our Zen Center’s newsletter. Gave a garden tour before the moon-viewing party we had last Saturday evening.

    Eat the Food: Had the first of this year’s butternut squashes for dinner tonight. Baked slices along with local organic apples that one of Saturday night’s guest brought for us. Delicious!!

  12. KC says:

    Plant something: not this week.

    Harvest something: potatoes, sweet potatoes and peanuts. Also chinese cabbages, arugula, mizuna, beet greens, okra, tomatoes (still finding yellow pear tomatoes and large red cherry tomatoes) , peppers, and lots of tiny gherkins. Finding more winter squash hidden in the tall weeds.

    Preserve something: scarlet runner beans for seed. also fermented Mexican sour gherkins and green cherry tomatoes with red nardello peppers. It is bubbling! I’m having fun with fermenting veggies this year. okra for seed. peanuts for seed. gherkins for seed.

    Waste Not: nothing new this week

    Want Not: curing sweet potatoes for storage. We opened up a storage place under the stairs (by cutting an opening in the drywall). I am hoping this will have a similar environment to storing in a garage. I plan to keep the sweet potatoes there. We also cut open a space above the closet in the entryway (above the washer/dryer) where I am now storing clean canning jars, and canning kettles, crocks, etc.

    Eat the Food: mashed sweet potatoes, colcannon (mashed white potatoes with greens), local butter beans and fried okra. For breakfast: pan roasted oats with sunflower, sesame and raisons. With the onset of cooler weather, I started cooking up some lentils (dal) with homemade chutney as a side dish to spice up the flavor.

  13. NM says:

    Haven’t managed to post for awhile, so this includes the last few weeks:
    Planted: nothing
    Harvested: Plums, tomatoes, chard, peppers, corn, oregano, tarragon, potatoes, tomatilloes, pickling cucumbers, apples, eggplant, lemon cucumbers, eggs, etc.
    Preserved: tomato sauce, roasted pepper spread, canned tomatoes, frozen corn, frozen peppers, frozen roasted tomatoes, roasted vegetables, ketchup, plum butter, peppermint in sugar, oregano in salt, tarragon salt, garlic oregano honey, dried corn silk, anti-viral herb syrup.
    Community food systems: Gave my sister-in-law information about canning, so she can teach her daughter; various vegetables to a friend.
    Preparation: Not that I can think of.
    Waste not: Set aside various items to take to thrift shop; old towels for the dog pound.
    Eat the food: I haven’t the faintest idea. I am fairly sure we’ve been eating …

  14. Robj98168 says:

    More detailed report on my blog
    1. Plant something: Started some basil, chives and parsley seeds indoors for a windowsill herb garden
    2. Harvest something: Thai Peppers, Kohl Rabi, Corn Salad Greens, Mesclun Greens, Chard, and Lettuce;From the Community Garden: Basil, Tomatoes, beets; Swiss chard
    3. Preserve something: Processed and froze pumpkins, Roasted and stored pumpkin seeds;
    4. Reduce Waste (recycle, reuse, reduce, repair or compost something): Repaired my favorite winter Jacket for work- sewed new buttons, repaired tear in sleeves
    5. Preparation and Storage: Found out my Big plastic bag for the greenhouse roof isn’t big enough, going to use 10 foot wide plastic sheeting- but will keep large bag for another winter gardening project already in my mind.
    6. Build Community Food Systems: Did my volunteer day at the community garden; took harvested veggies to the food bank
    7. Eat the Food (cook or eat something new): Pumpkin seeds, ate Swiss Chard, Corn Salad greens, Mesclun greens and Lettuce in a salad;

  15. Robj98168 says:

    PS- “Jessie and Mina will be bred in a a month or so, For april kidding?

    if you have a kid born on April First- you gonna name it “Fool”?

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