Sunday, September 20, 2009

Early fall on the farm

Today, while Aimee did shopping and laundry, I trucked out first to prep for my barn-building class Monday at college, then with that out of the way, settled down for some harvesting.

This is me taking a quick shot out of the car window as I pulled in our driveway. Aimee was playing with Mary-dog on the lawn. You can see the construction paper and scaffolding which will be the view of our house until Aimee gets the shingles done. She won't let me do them. Says I don't get them straight enough.

She's right. I'd use a nail gun and knock the whole house out in two days and no-one but her would be able to tell that they were not perfect, but they would actually get done.

That's not fair. Aimee will get them done. In her own sweet time. And they will be perfect. No fault could be found, not even by the world's only professional shingle inspector. In the meantime, I will probably have to redo the construction paper twice. Some already blew off.

As for the harvest, well, delayed there too. We can't pull our spuds yet, because the tomatoes right next to them still have active late blight, Phytophera infestans. If blight spores are allowed to touch the newly harvested potatoes, they will rot too, in the cellar while being stored. Right now with the dirt still relatively dry they are safer in the ground than they would be in the root cellar.

We are still eking out a tomato harvest, the few berries that survived the blight are harvested every few days, a twentieth of our usual supply. No canned tomatoes for us this year, although the late tomatoes in the greenhouse are blight-free, so we should have fresh tomatoes up through Thanksgiving.

When the outside tomatoes are done, next weekend or the one after, I will pull their stalks and compost them, allow a few frosts to pass, and a few days after that, if we have dry weather, the blight will be gone and it will be OK to pull and store the spuds, if aired out well before put up in the cellar.

That left cabbage, carrots and beets to do today. Cabbage was cut, peeled to clean leaves, dried on the bench, wrapped in cling-film and put in the garage fridge. Easily twice what we had last year.

The pigs ate the waste cabbage. Yum.

Carrots and beets were pulled and dried briefly in the barrow and then went straight to the cellar. The pigs also got beet leaves. Lots of carrots and beets, as much as we will use or more.

There was a pitiful handful of cukes to go with the pitiful tomatoes. I could weep over the toms, but I'm consoling myself with fresh ones from the farmer's market. And we do have lots of other food.

The old British saying, "what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts" doesn't translate to American.

(It's a carnival analogy.)

But I think it holds up.

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