Thursday, October 22, 2015

Smashing fruit and veg

In addition to my cheese-making ventures, I have been smashing LOTS of apples and tomatoes. I have a freezer full of quart bags of tomato sauce, at least a dozen pint jars of apple butter, plus a few jars of apple sauce. (Guess what you are all getting for Christmas this year!)

The old apple trees on our property produce probably thousands of apples in a good year, maybe tens in a bad one. About 2 years ago I sold 5 bushels to the Fly Creek Cider Mill for $10 a bushel. This year they were not in the market for "wild apples" so I smashed as many as The Husband could pick and made apple butter, apple sauce, a few apple pancakes and apple/cheddar omelets. We can only eat so many apples, and I haven't even gotten around to making a pie yet!

Cyrus and the WoodMan are uninterested in my apple smashing. They will eat bits and pieces, but most of the bruised parts and skins and seeds go to the pigs. We got 3 pigs earlier than usual this year. It is working out well because they eat all of the garden/apple tree leftovers, and they really like the whey left from the goat cheese.

The WoodMan doesn't care for the apples, but he does LOVE my new blanket from Land's End. (My new blanket, not his, but he doesn't know that yet.) Funny thing is, because it is a kind of velvety fleece, it stays with him when he gets up. He looks like he is wearing a Halloween costume wandering around with his blue blankie attached to his rear end. Very cute!

Happy Halloween to one and all. I hope you all do not have neighbors like my friend Maryellen's. This last photo is from outside her window, across the street. Unfortunately there is sound to accompany the horror...

Monday, October 19, 2015

Frost and firewood—Success!

Not quite in time for the first frost, I FINALLY had some firewood delivered last night. After everyone else bailed on me, I called Craig's List Firewood Person #5 last weekend only to find they could not deliver until this past Saturday. Then when I called Saturday morning they said not until Monday. But then...they surprised me with a delivery last night, just as it was getting dark.

We had lows in the 20°s the past 2 nights. Even though we primarily heat with propane, it sure is nice to have the woodstove going again!

I just purchased an Ecofan to help move that warm air around a bit more. It is 76° in the living room with the woodstove going right now, 69° in the kitchen (next room over), and 65° upstairs. With the open floorplan we have down here, and the woodstove right at the bottom of the stairs, I thought the woodstove would heat the whole house, but I guess the house is too well insulated inside? Sometimes when the stove is really running hot, it gets up to 85° in the living room while it is still cool in the rest of the house.

The fan works just from the heat of the stove, and, from what I have read, it is completely silent.

Finally, wishing you all a happy Fall! Aside from these last 2 cold nights, it has been a really beautiful Fall up here this year. Lots of good leaf color, and a ton of pumpkins (well, not quite a ton). I roasted one of the flat ones, a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin (from Johnny's seed catalog) and made some pumpkin soup last week. This variety of pumpkin is sweeter than the Connecticut Field Pumpkins (seeds from The Farmer's Museum) but both are heritage varieties.

I want to try to make some pumpkin butter, but have been so busy smashing apples for apple butter, and before that, tomatoes for tomato sauce, that I have not had the time to do the pumpkins. Plus, they still look so nice on the porch and scattered around the yard.

Friday, October 16, 2015

My gray hair and Good Craig/Bad Craig

My gray hair

I grew my hair really long this past year with the intent to donate it to Locks of Love. They were having a hair-cutting event in Doubleday Field here in May—donate your hair to make wigs for cancer patients. I was surprised to discover that, not only do they not accept hair that is more than 5% gray, but that they do not actually make wigs for cancer patients. The wigs they do give out are for children with alopecia (permanent hair loss). They sell a lot of the hair that is donated, and I just don't like the sound of that.

I am doing a bit more research. There are other places that do accept donations of gray hair, and even places that will buy it. For the amount of time that it takes to grow my hair long enough to retrieve an 8" to 12" ponytail, I would prefer to donate it, but I have to be sure that the donation actually goes to someone in need, someone in need who is looking for a gray-haired wig. I have never dyed my hair and I do not want to donate it if they are just going to dye it to give to someone else.

Good Craig/Bad Craig (Craig's List)

Good Craig: We've purchased several chickens and all of our ducks on Craig's List, bought our freezer, found a great source of hay, and more that I don't remember. We have also sold the old Thermador cooktop, too many hams from the pigs, and quite a bit from Charlie's barn.

Bad Craig: The deal to trade Beatrice and Rosie for firewood and hay fell through. Apparently they were too busy with their own farm life to make it happen. Now I am on my fourth round of attempts at getting firewood from other Craig's List postings. Every time I think I have someone lined up, they either don't call me back, or they have some reason as to why they can't come out today, or next week looks good but then I can't get them to call me next week. Or I do get them on the phone, another week goes by, and then they don't show up on Saturday to deliver it.

It's the middle of October and I still don't have firewood! At least propane prices are low right now, and I have yet another firewood person scheduled to come out tomorrow.