The garden was generous in some respects, however; with this short growing season, unless the more tender plants are started in kinder housing, no fruits are forthcoming. The short season squash, like the spaghetti and zucchini, did produce well enough, but the 100 plus day winter squash and pumpkins needed more time. Still, there was a small harvest. The skins were not ready for long term storage though and the fruits must be used very soon. The tomatoes are ripening inside, already picked weeks before the imminent first frost. As they ripen, they are frozen whole for soups and stews in the long winter. The carrots did poorly this year, though the fault was my own, having planted them in too little full sun. I am grateful for the stubby, little ones that are available and must be gathered very soon.
Some folks adore the autumn. I am not one of them. It seems like an incredible rush against time here. There are still carrots and potatoes to gather, and garlic to plant, yet today, snow came just miles south of us. It will not stay, but it won't be long until it does.
The summer coops were moved the other day, not too far, or the chickens would not be able to find them. Again, they will be moved into place for the winter, just a bit at a time. Insulation and tarps need to be readjusted or redone. I cleaned the main chicken coop and put in new straw for the floor and nesting boxes. The Muscovy ducks do not enjoy the cold, likely due to their South American origins. They prefer to sleep in the main insulated coop with the chickens and I have devised a way for them to cohabit without being smacked with droppings. There is a tarp under the chicken roosts to direct the droppings to the floor and keep them off the ducks.
There are about 20 new chicks, some more mature than others and still two hens attempting to hatch young ones. They will be fine with their little ones because the hens stop to warm the peeping babies more so than the ducks do. 4 Muscovy ducklings were hatched just days ago. They will have a more tying time to make it until they can regulate their own body temperatures.
Several trees were downed in the windstorms at the beginning of summer and were cut for winter firewood. I have started to gather the wood to near the little farmhouse for use in the tiny wood stove. I hope there is time to pick up the rest of it and stack it. A load of gravel was delivered for the new shop erected this summer, but has not been distributed and it is was dumped in the way of the winter route. It is not a priority and falls after the wood and final resting places and tarps on the shelters for the winter.
I have yet to locate any straw that is from clean grain. No one around here seems to grow without the use of chemical sprays and since the manure is used in my garden, I certainly do not want to introduce that here. Plus the animals sleep on the straw and should not be subjected to the chemicals for their bedding either. I will have to resort to using hay at twice the cost if I cannot find any clean straw. It is one of the major drawbacks of being here in this area.
And so, the rush is on. Fall has come, not on soft feet treading lightly, but with a roar and a harsh drop on the temperature, a final onslaught to the beauty of summer. A few petunias, close to the little farmhouse, are struggling to stay abloom. One or two Marigolds still want to flower, even though their foliage has turned black from the frost. But, I have to work now too, and my time is more limited, with 8 hours being dedicated to substitute teaching. Time is of the essence.
The rustling leaves are saying goodbye to their mothers, carpeting the forest floor with their warmth, sheltering the small creatures and tender new growth. Winter is coming! Winter is coming!
Stay warm, dear friends.