Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ramping Up, Winding Down

The past few mornings have been cool and foggy, a sure sign that the seasons are getting ready to start changing. The afternoons, however, are still quite warm- and the produce coming in from the garden definitely reflects that.

I already have the first round of apples cooking in the crock pot, and a test growler of hard cider is bubbling away on the counter. I'm out under our apple trees several times a day with my bucket, gathering up the good ones to process, and the less desirable ones go to the animals. A friend has a cider press he's offered to lend us the use of; I'm looking forward to making arrangements to have a cider-making party here, very soon. We were going to do that last year, but most of the apples fell while we were out of town, unfortunately.

The garden continues in high gear: yesterday, in addition to my regular squash pickup, there were cucumbers, purple greenbeans, peas and kale all ready for the taking. Today, I need to harvest the seeds from the cilantro that bolted and let them dry. I haven't used coriander much as a seasoning, but I'm looking forward to trying it. So far, the seeds taste like a much milder version of the plant, so that's definitely something I can work with. Plus, I'll leave some seeds on the plant so I can have more next year.

The tomatoes are getting closer. They're almost to the top of the enclosure, so once they get that tall, I'm going to have to clip their main stems back, in order to force them to focus on ripening the fruit, instead of getting any taller. I'll give it another week, maybe two. There are some good flowers almost all the way up to the ends!

Blackberries are also on the agenda. They're starting to ripen quickly now, so it's just a matter of time before we're bringing those in and making jam. Last year's batch never quite set up (I think the pectin I used was past it's prime) so we've been using it as a syrup/sauce- but it will be nice to have an actual jam this year. Come hell or high water, that stuff is going to gel!

The pears are getting really close, too. We don't have nearly as many as last year, so it's important that we bring in the ones that we do have, when they're at their prime. Both Alex and I love dried pears, so I think that most of them will be processed that way. (Mental note: must take apart the dehydrator today and fix the weird noise it's making.) I still have a couple jars of pears in vanilla syrup from last year, so I don't need to worry about making more of those this time around. They're really good, but we just don't eat a lot of desserts.

Our potato bins are finally starting to slow down. I noticed over the weekend that some of the vines are starting to die back, which means they'll be ready to dig soon, too. If I had to guess, it'll be another two weeks, at the most. I dug up some of the volunteer potatoes the other day, and I have to say it looks like a good year for them, in general. We got 12 tennis-ball sized red potatoes from one small-ish looking plant!

The beef are finishing up their stint over in the neighbor's pasture. They've got 3 weeks left before the kill truck comes, then another 3 weeks of hanging after that- and then we'll have our third in the freezer. I have no idea what a third of a whole steer will look like, so this will be interesting. We're estimating a couple hundred pounds of meat... that reminds me, I still need to look into getting an additional freezer for storage.

This is how it will be, for the next 4 to 6 weeks: for every one thing we check off our lists, another two will get added. We'll be busy working to put up food and finish the fair-weather chores, before settling in for the cooler seasons. It's an exciting time, and it never ceases to amaze me at how fast the last little bit of summer always flies by. I think that's why it drives me bonkers that the back-to-school stuff and the Fall decorations show up in stores in July... it's going to go so fast as it is, why rush it?

What's on your to-do list for the end of summer?

No comments: