Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

Traditionally, October 15th is the date of our first frost, and this year it has shown up a bit early. Granted, while higher up the road my poor neighbors have already experienced frost as early as last month, here at Apothecary Inn, this morning was our first light frost of the fall season. I can't believe how unprepared I was! I did get all of my sensitive plants into the greenhouse (I even remembered to dig up my lemon verbena for winter!), and plugged in the heaters, but it was all VERY last minute. Even though I knew the average frost date was approaching, I suppose it really didn't sink in just how quickly the time is flying by. With the start of cooler weather, we are in a flurry of "winterizing" activity over here: maintenancing the heating/cooling unit (it's been 10 years - we figured it was due! *rolls eyes*), tearing out the old fireplace in the livingroom and replacing it with a much more efficient wood stove insert, getting the chimneys cleaned, cutting down the final hazardous trees before the winter (wind) storms hit, and of course the annual fall livestock massive worming/hoof-trimming event is also taking place. Thus far we have finished with the nigerian dwarf goats (though we still need to trim the hooves of the 5 boys), and next we will move onto the llamas (I'm NOT looking forward to wrangling our two un-trained and in-tact males) starting with the ever-easy Punkin and Gloria. Finally, we will end with angoras and donkeys (the donkeys had all of their mani-pedi's yesterday, and we'll worm them next week). This week is going to be particularly ridiculous: yesterday we had the farrier out for all of the 7 girl donkeys, today the Sears repairman is coming (for the 2nd time) to fix the oven, and then on Thursday we have both the AC/Heating maintanence and the estimate for installing the wood stove insert going on. Somewhere in there, I have to get the tree service guys out for an estimate (& then the actual removal) on removing the two dead madrones in the donkey pasture (that should be fun - where in the world am I going to move SEVEN DONKEYS, FOUR ANGORAS, AND ONE LLAMA for SEVERAL DAYS while these trees are removed?!? *Sigh* One thing at a time. Oh, and I haven't even begun trying to coordinate processing the turkeys somewhere in there! I need to find a "cannibal pot" large enough to fit a 30 lb. tom!!

My grandmother has been helping me bring in the garden/herb harvest and process everything. We are essentially finished cleaning and bottling the herb seeds, with the exception of the Evening Primrose, Yellow Dock, and Amaranth. We have picked roughly half of the tomatoes (at which point we ran out of space to store them), waiting for the green ones to ripen, and trying to cook and can the ones that were already ripe (and getting mushy). Thus far, I have canned over 100 lbs. of pasta sauce, as well as several flats of chili sauce, salsa, and old-fashioned catsup. My recipes come out of a very old book, so they taste amazing! The other night, I made baked veggie & sausage enchiladas with our own veggies (and our local pork) with (my own) cornmeal tortillas and chili sauce. SO good. Seriously. Today, we will be making and canning stewed tomatoes. I have also come across an absolutely delicious green tomato pie recipe, and I believe we will soon be cooking up some tomato pickles and Piccalilli in order to use up the rest of the green tomatoes.

Off of my corn harvest, I have managed to grind about 10 lbs of cornmeal. Doesn't seem like much til you see all of the containers side-by-side. I was pretty damn happy with my results for this year, especially when you think about what a cool, wet summer it's been (if you can even call it "summer"). Now that we have a tractor and I can REALLY till the soil, I plan to double or even triple my flour corn crop next year. Hopefully, I will be able to begin selling my cornmeal commercially. In the meantime, my family and close friends have been enjoying it! With the holidays just around the corner, many folks will be getting their own gift of cornmeal with a copy of my much-raved-about honey-raspberry-cornmeal muffin recipe. I think I will be cooking up some old-fashioned scrapple here soon, and then adding my own twist of frying it in maple syrup. Ryan is very excited about this. I love having cornmeal and pork on hand at the same time!

Ryan helped me finish bringing in the winter squash harvest on Sunday. Now our Boutique room floor is littered with Delicata, Long Island Cheese, Sweet Meat, and misc squash. I already have visions of squash risotto with cornmeal-fried shrimp in my head! YUM!!!

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