Archive for October, 2010

Independence Days Update: Into Late Autumn

Sharon October 31st, 2010

This week seems to have been the transition point from early to late autumn.  Early autumn is a time of harvests and golden afternoons, with crisp and chilly nights.  Late autumn here is cold, one finds the spots where the windows have yet to be sealed by the cold wind blowing inside (I hate to seal up the windows before winter sets in in earnest – fresh air on the occasional warm day is just too important!) and there’s a transition from October’s brilliance into November’s brown.

I like November, actually.  I always have – it gets quiet and peaceful, and while it is cold there’s still a lot of nice days left of what F. Scott Fitzgerald called “football weather.”  Planting is done save bulbs and the garlic I forgot about and the thinsg I’m winter sowing.

It is time to fill the porch-root cellar up and take the ice packs out of the fridge and put everything on the porch.  We look forward to this all year – the enclosed porch becomes our walk-in fridge and it is so much more accessible than the regular kind – no losing things in the back, no more playing with ice.  Yay!

We need to get our wood and hay in – the hay was supposed to come yesterday but it didn’t.  Our neighbor who brings it over is a busy guy too, so we just assume things will work out.  No pressure.

Hemp and Basil went home to their new place yesterday, and it was  a real pleasure to meet their new owner and know that they are going to be happy where they are. 

The hens are barely laying, but despite that my wonderful step-mother made us a whole set of beautiful new nest boxes, in the hope of getting them to lay somewhere other than the goat’s manger.  The chicken area looks completely refreshed and beautiful!

I’m moving the firewood into the mudroom and getting ready for the season of fires – we’ve already had a couple but it is beginning – we’re expecting days in the 40s and nights in the 20s. I have to settle the indoor plants in their permanent sunny spots – there are always too many things I’d like to winter over. 

Otherwise, we’re concentrating on getting the new project up and running.  How about you?

Planted: Tulips, some late garlic

Harvested: Last hot peppers, turnips, beets, kale, chard, broccoli, arugula, mustard greens, quinces, apples, dug marshmallow, burdock and elecampane roots, milk, a very few eggs

Preserved: Made apple quince sauce, dried hot peppers, dried and tinctured herb roots, made a bunch of goat cheese

Waste Not: collected fallen pears at a local orchard for the chickens, arranged to give a good home to the extra halloween pumpkins after the holiday (goats love them!)

Want Not: Sorting through what we’ve got in the house.  Amazing what I find!

Eat the Food: Roasted squash with chipotle-maple glaze, beets with tahini and yogurt,

Build Community Food Solutions: A couple of articles, working on my local food resources evaluation.

How about you?


Southern Train Trip?

admin October 21st, 2010

Hey Folks – I’m thinking of making a trip south in February of this year, the week of 20-27, which is Eric’s school break. I’ve got a gig in GA on either Thursday or Friday of that week, and was thinking that it would be fun to arrange to do some speaking gigs on the way down and possibly back, depending on timing.  I’d need to get home on Sunday, and I’d probably not leave until Monday.  I’d be taking the east coast route, and was thinking I might try to get to NC and see Aaron and Edson, and maybe stop in VA somewhere. 

If you or an organization you are involved with would be interested in setting something up, let me know!  This is a good opportunity also to spread travel costs out over several organizations.


Near New Haven?

Sharon October 20th, 2010

I’ll be in New Haven this weekend for the first-ever Urban Adapting-In-Place event!  I’m very excited about this – I’ll be speaking Friday night, and then sitting in on a lot of great local material on Saturday.  I can’t wait!  I hope I’ll get to see you there!


Independence Days Update: Season of Roots

Sharon October 19th, 2010

It is time to plant things that are dormant but need the winter to settle in – yesterday it was blue and black cohosh roots, goldenseal and bloodroot.  The day before it was garlic, and I still have bulbs yet to plant.  All of these things are somehow mysterious to me – one doesn’t believe they will actually come up and arrive again.  It is an investment in the future.

It is time to harvest the root crops as well, now that frost has killed the tops of most things.  Marshmallow root, elecampane, burdock, elecampane, dandelion and echinacea need to be dug, chopped, dried and tinctured, although a few of the roots will wait until spring, before they begin putting on new growth. 

We dug the sweet potatoes yesterday – despite the hot weather, they didn’t size up as much as I woudl have hoped, but the flavor was glorious, we roasted some to eat with greens and cheese sauce ysetrday, along with the freshly dug potatoes. I’m leaving the turnips, celeriac, salsify, jerusalem artichoke,  beets, leeks, carrots and others a little longer yet to sweeten with a few more frosts, but soon – very soon they will come in – along with half the parsnips (the rest stay in the garden for early spring).   The season of roots is here!

Lots of harvesting but not much planting.  The children collected all the green tomatoes and ripe hot peppers yesterday, and all that’s left in the garden are greens and roots, really.  There are a few flower that haven’t been toasted, and some herbs yet to harvest, but for the most part, the garden is winding down. 

The eggs are winding down too – we don’t light our hen house, and the hens are getting to the point of laying only a few eggs.  But that’s ok – it will pick up again after the new year, and I incline towards the theory that the rest is good for them.

Milk, however, we have aplenty – the only boys not weaned now are Stachys and Hemp, and those two will move up to the buck barn this week – we’re just waiting for Stachys to hit 8 weeks.  Basil and Hemp will be going to their new home soon after.  That leaves just the girls pestering their mothers for milk, but the mothers are increasingly bored with the nursing, and since the doelings are separated out at night, their Moms are giving us great vats of milk, which we are turning into cheese and yogurt, and still overwhelmed by.

Lots of things yet to do to get ready for winter and wind up the season – I feel behind due to the travel and the holidays, but all will come together.  There’s still a little time yet, and autumn ought to have some time for revelling in the year’s accomplishments too!

Plant something: Black cohosh, blue cohosh, fall raspberries, garlic, goldenseal, bloodroot, mayapple, partridgeberry.

Harvest something: green tomatoes, red tomatoes, hot peppers, eggplant, kale, chard, beets, turnips, carrots, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spilanthes, marshmallow, burdock, dandelion, elecampane.

Preserve something: Last batch of raspberry jam, green tomato chutney, green tomato pickles, dried hot peppers, pickled beets, tinctured and dried various roots.

Waste Not: Usual composting and reducing of packaging and feeding of things to other things.  Eric seems finally to be making progress on getting scraps from the SUNY Cafeteria to feed our chickens as part of their local foods project.

Want Not: We both finally got new shoes, badly needed – Eric’s were really holey. 

Eat the Food: First pumpkin pie of the season, first batch of chicken soup, first batch of lentil soup, first pumpkin pancakes….the fall cooking is for real!

Build Community Food systems: Off to New Haven this weekend for a conference on urban adapting in place, gave a big talk about food at ASPO. 

How about you?


Mean Girls Pickin’ On Kunstler Again

Sharon October 14th, 2010

I haven’t read _The Witch of Hebron_ yet, but Carolyn Baker’s review suggests to me that Jim Kunstler is still on his “post-collapse women will properly return to their natural strengths – sex, sandwich making and occasional weird Hive Queening” kick. 

As some of you may remember, I had a somewhat jaundiced view of the first book that I expressed after Jim Kunstler published an essay in The Oil Drum saying that women who criticized his book just didn’t get how collapse was going to end all social gains for women.

What’s interesting is that the actual collapse we’re actually seeing has worked the opposite way.  Overwhelmingly, the greatest losses so far have been born by men, not women.  Almost 70% of all job losses have been to men.  More and more men have been cast back into the domestic sphere, without a narrative that allows them to exist there and also maintain their sense of contribution to the community. 

I’m interested to read _Witch of Hebron_, and see if this is just another case of life and art going far astray from one another, or whether Kunstler’s fantasy of a middle aged male dominated world is in fact a narrative that provides an essential counter-fantasy to the extant reality.


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