We awoke to rain and cloudy skies this (Saturday) morning. Fabulously welcome. My sister and her family are here visiting right now and I wish I could show her everything as it looked when we first moved here—green, with pond, etc. Having visitors come here and see our land in October is kind of like having company come when the house is a mess (which it is as well *sigh*), I find myself tempted either to apologize or complain. Oh well, hopefully this more normal onset to the rainy season portends good and soggy things for the upcoming months. Elijah has been reading a book on rainwater collection via earthworks (probably not the correct term) and is talking about building berms, check-dams on our seasonal creek and the like. As we still have not decided on a roof catchment approach, I welcome his experimentation.
The herbs class I co-taught last week went fairly well. We were really pressed for time and I wanted to focus on doing rather than talking, so I clipped my introductory remarks down in a rather haphazard way and left out essential info that I wanted to be sure to pass on…oh, well. It is my hope that they will all go home and educate themselves and not just rely on what they heard that night. In the weeks preceding the event I was doing a lot of reading to prepare and came across many new-to-me herbs. Uncannily, I got to try out a number of them shortly after I read as various members of the family developed an unexplained fever, exhibited extreme nervous tension, got an ear infection and an inflamed eyelid. All were quickly and successfully resolved and I have some new remedies in my back pocket, but I was a little concerned there for a bit that I would miss the class due to family illness.
We enter our meat birds’ last week on the Acres. One way or the other, they have got to go. My husband has taken some time off of work, rains are in the forecast next weekend–it is time to wrap this project up. I went ahead and ordered a couple of killing cones and the drill-powered chicken plucker and the outdoor sink and faucet are on their way. It may seem like I’ve said this before, but next time I write I should have a report on the butchering.
While my sister and family were here, we wanted to turn the last of this batch of apples into applesauce. The splendiferous magic of a machine that turns apples into applesauce is a nearly unbearable draw for kids and we had them all lined up and taking turns at the Victorio handle for the first 2/3rds of the project. We sent them away to wait for more apples to finish cooking and after they were ready, only my 3-year-old nephew returned. He was very happy to finish the batch for us. Now I know who to call when I am processing apples by the bushel.
Today I have to put in my last order for the bulk food co-op we’ve been a part of. It has been a nice luxury to be able to build up a little at a time and replace monthly as we use things up. Now I will have to be more clumpy about my purchasing and more deliberate in my inventorying, planning and record-keeping. I’m also sad to lose the best price I’ve found on canning jars. I’ve also been building that supply slowly. Now I have to step through the whole thing mentally and stare that expense square in the eye. This is just a lot of people to feed and it requires some substantial outlays of work and funds along the way.
I need to get in touch this week with our nursery and see whether they have what I want on the rootstocks I want. We’ve also got to decide whether we are putting in citrus trees this year and how many berries we are going to start with. The deadline for pre-order is Nov 1.
And I need to spend some time scheduling and planning care and maintenance tasks for plants and animals around our place. We have been on the minimal care track for long enough and it’s time to do a bit better. I am feeling like it is only by Grace that we have not had poor health and/or losses around here. Our stewardship could be much improved.
I baked bread from the sourdough starter for the first time on Friday. The rising was extremely slow and it never really got good loft. I finally just stuck it in the oven, but I couldn’t remember what temperature it was supposed to bake to so I stopped it at 200F—it should have gone to 205F. Anyhow, not a great sourdough, but it held beginnings and promises. In the interest of science and excellent bread, I’ll make Sourdough Observations a regular section for a while. Observations for this week: as my house cools off, the sourdough is less active and may need a little boosting, such as more frequent feedings and some supplemental heat during the rise. I may want to dampen the cloth I throw over it to rise as the top was pretty crusty when I went to form it. Also, I miss my thermometer with the probe that could be left in the oven and my Kitchen Aid still sounds scary even after I fixed (?) it, but I LOVE my cast iron bread pans. It’s always such a joy to use good tools and equipment.
Onward we go.