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Is It November?

September 30, 2013

Somehow we missed Fall.  Chores have changed, Jane has been sleeping in her stall at night.  That means a wheelbarrow of goodness for the garden each morning…but wait, I’m not ready for that.  Moving the cows means full rain gear or risk getting soaked to the skin.  My hoe has been traded for an axe, I’m splitting wood every day now because I am lighting the fire.

It’s been raining cats and dogs.  Preserving activities are feeling more fall-like.  A failed batch of butter and my remaining cache of chanterelles yielded 42 half pints of sautéed mushrooms for pizza or maybe at least a cup of mushrooms a week for some yet to be thought of meal.  That about stuffed the freezer full, and my pork is coming soon. Ugh. Tomorrow I am going to tackle the tomatillos I think, thanks to Marisa I will can the salsa instead of freezing it using this recipe.

While there is talk of warmer weather coming soon, more normal for a Pacific Northwest fall, I’m glad to be settling in by the fire at night.  More reading is on tap, I received Fields of Farmers today in the mail.  I know it will be a good one, Joel Salatin never is at a loss for words.  I still have some biggish harvests to take care of once the weather breaks, but until then, I am burrowed in for a spell.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2013 3:21 pm

    I KNOW! I’m not a fan of this weather so early. We didn’t lay in enough hay to feed everybody from september 15th right through to April 15th! Our farm is on a high, very exposed hill and the wind is making all this rain fly horizontally at me every time I go outside. No fun! Maybe I’ll go back to Mexico….

  2. September 30, 2013 3:29 pm

    I am LOVING the bounty of this area!! Got here in time for being able to put up some tomatoes (not enough) and was taught to can both way. Had help canning tuna and then also made tomatillo salsa! Did some apple pie filling on my own. Yee ha!!! I was told the storm was unusual but sure enjoyed the rainbows I saw today as the sun and clouds played games.

    • October 1, 2013 7:59 am

      GPBR, it is a little early, but historically we get some doozies in early October. So it wasn’t all that unusual and I liked the wind, it’s not that cold yet and it feels kind of good to be out in it 🙂

  3. September 30, 2013 4:41 pm

    Fire good, Mud bad! hope the warmer weather comes soon for you and that you used all the cold up before it got over here! c

    • October 1, 2013 7:43 am

      Luckily we don’t have a whole lot of mud, thank heavens for that! No shortage of rain though 😦

  4. Elizabeth permalink
    September 30, 2013 6:08 pm

    Me too! We have snow in the mountains already. SNOW! What happened to fall? I’ve been in preserving hyper drive trying to get all the remaining garden veggies put up before the cold weather sets in for real. Except that it is really trying to be winter already! Oh. My. Goodness! I almost can’t wait for true winter so I can take a break! Whew!

    • October 1, 2013 7:58 am

      Elizabeth, how can that be? It was just hot a few weeks ago! I hope we get some dry weather though, I have some harvesting to do that I would rather not do in the rain if possible.

  5. Susan permalink
    September 30, 2013 6:45 pm

    We make the tomatillo salsa recipe you linked by the stock-pot full! I make it on the mild side to can in quarts, and use it as a simmering sauce for pork carnitas or chicken, and serve over rice or quinoa. Big sprinkle of freshly-chopped cilantro and a glop of fresh sour cream or drained yogurt at serving time makes it a treat. We use up the jalapenos in a smaller batch that is canned in pints for actual dip. I put the tomatillos in the freezer in gallon bags, and chopped peppers and chilis too, till we have a dark day after the summer garden is completely finished. Then I chop up the onions, mix everything up and fire up the canner. Warms up the house for a day!

    Looks like another day and a half of stormy stuff coming, and then maybe we can get back outside for a bit. Don’t blow away!

    • October 1, 2013 7:43 am

      Susan, you’re making me hungry for carnitas! Shame on you 😉 It is stormy today – sigh. And the tomatillos are still out there!

  6. Carol permalink
    September 30, 2013 6:52 pm

    How does butter fail? Does it make whipped cream? Or?

    • October 1, 2013 7:54 am

      Carol, wellll, let’s see, remember when I said my daughter was doing all the churning? She got a little impatient, and asked me about warming up the cream, she thought it may be too cold…so I replied put the the whole works (churn with cream) in the dishpan full of warm tap water. I didn’t pay attention, and wasn’t entirely clear that you only leave it in the water until the jar and cream warm A BIT. She left it in the water until the butter came, and the worst part of this whole trade work thing is, that I still work the butter. So warm cream makes greasy, hard-to-work butter, it looks like the whipped margarine stuff and is impossible to work the buttermilk out of. So all is not lost in the farm kitchen, failures become something to make you use your noggin, you do something else with it. My choices were make ghee, or use it right away, and with pounds of mushrooms needing sautéing I chose the latter. Lessons learned: for her, use the dairy thermometer when in doubt of the temp, for me who uses my well seasoned butter churning temperature gauge (my hand), be explicitly clear about what to do and for how long. The best cure for 25 minute churning when it should be 10 minutes is pay attention to the details.

  7. September 30, 2013 9:28 pm

    We have skipped Spring I’m sure as the days are way too hot here:( Sounds like your book will be a good one. I’ve started collecting Joel’s books so I will have to put an order in for this one… maybe for Christmas….

    • October 1, 2013 7:55 am

      Melissa, it just seems so abrupt, it was so warm for so long, we did get a little spoiled. I took it upon myself to order this for my early Xmas present 😉 Beat the rush you know!

  8. October 1, 2013 12:47 am

    I love Fall and Winter, and am so glad the temps. where I live are starting to change a bit.

  9. Carole permalink
    October 1, 2013 12:49 am

    I’m interested in your failed butter too.

  10. Shane permalink
    October 2, 2013 5:33 am

    I love your blog; thanks for so faithfully updating with awesome information and beautiful pictures. A couple questions:
    It appears you don’t use irrigation on your grazing land, whilst stockpiling forage (intensive rotational grazing) and making hay. In my situation, I have an irrigation system already in place; do you think a few strategic deep-waterings would increase your effective stockpile, and thus requiring less hay production? How late into the off-season does your stockpiled forage last? At a certain stocking rate, do you think it would be possible to rely completely on stockpile (in Cascadia)?
    Thanks again for the wonderful blog. Keep on keepin on,

    • October 2, 2013 8:03 am

      Shane, Thanks.

      We don’t irrigate pastures or vegetable gardens, just the greenhouses. This is a hard one to answer…and water is the center of it all. Basically, no, you can’t really rely on winter stockpile in Cascadia west of the Cascades due to the rainfall we receive on a regular basis. The nutrition is gone by December no matter what you did or didn’t do in the growing season. I believe it was Allan Nation who said in all his travels to pasture based farms, the valleys west of the Cascades are not conducive to winter stockpiling. East of the Cascades it’s a different story, highly mineralized soils not leached by constant rainfall can support cattle in the winter, depending on how far you go with it, some folks make the cows eat snow and push the snow out of the way to find feed.

      I’m wondering do you have something against haymaking in general or just the cost? I see on our farm that we have cut our hay needs in half by implementing rotational grazing, I think that is a good thing. Unless we change what we’re doing and sell out, or only have cattle during the grazing season, we will always need some hay. Our dairy cow is a prime example, she is grazing lush fall growth that everyone gets all gaga about (meaning people who think that fall greenup is wonderful) – and she needs hay to balance her rumen because of the protein content of the lush, washy, fall grass.

      Yes, you probably could find an acceptable stocking rate that would maybe carry a low producing class of animal or two through the winter, (one cow per 10 acres) but to me that seems like poor husbandry. It’s all about energy, if the livestock need more energy than your land provides, you have to provide more somehow, some way. Haymaking does get a bad rap, but I see it as harvesting the surplus sunlight at its peak, just like we harvest our own food for winter. I would say our garden is better than most throughout the winter, but I would dearly hate to depend on what is out there to exist on during the dark days, I am thankful for my pantry and freezers. Storing food for animals is not a bad thing.

      My best advice is to try it with your irrigation and see what happens. Watch your stock, are they hungry, producing, growing, look healthy and content, then maybe you don’t need hay. Where I live we get 100 inches of rain from fall to spring, if you’re in the rain shadow in Hillsboro or somewhere like that maybe you can get away with not feeding hay. I wish there was template or book that had all the answers but there isn’t, every year is a learning experience.

      • Shane permalink
        October 3, 2013 9:30 am

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply! I’m doing ornamental landscaping in Portland on a 120 acre college campus, and want to start reintroducing herbivores to urban land care. I’m building a rotational grazing proposal for goats, and taking a good hard look at winter feed options. Eventually, the system would also include sheep-managed meadows. I know you mostly deal with bovines, but I’m still intensely interested in the subject; when the “economy” tanks, I’m headed back to the homestead to do some sustenance/market farming. Until then, I’ll keep paying my debt and live vicariously through you 🙂 Thanks again!

        • October 4, 2013 5:17 am

          Shane, you’re welcome. I think Reed needs a winter deep bedding compost shed/barn for those goats and sheep. You would be surprised at the great compost that generates for food gardens or pastures. Makes it easier on keepers too during those wet dreary winter months.

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