Musical fields

I love fall. I love harvest time, either in my garden or in the fields. It all stems from the time my father and I spent riding horses. In the spring the fields were empty. There was no end of space to ride, but as the fields were seeded and the crops began to grow, our riding “arena” shrank down to the edges of the crops and then finally to the ditches. Then the harvest miracle began and the fields opened up once more and we were free. Each crop left a different sort of stubble and the best fields were the summer fallow fields, freshly turned, and nice and soft on the horses feet. No one summer fallows anymore, it’s constant cropping–the soil never rests. Wheat fields were king back then, soft swishy stalks, making a rhythmic whisper as the horses moved through. Only a few fields had rape seed, now re-dubbed canola. I grew to love the canola stubble fields. The plants were cut green and windrowed to dry.  The stalks were cut quite high and were stiffer than wheat, hollow, brittle, almost tube like. As we cantered thru the field the horses hooves would strike the stalks creating musical notes. It sounded both eerie and comforting, like a garden wind chime. I loved that sound. Today as I drove home from my bus route almost all the fields were canola. It was a bumper crop this year. This poor guy has filled his bins and now has to pile the canola on the ground. Black gold. I think my riding days are behind me but I would like to hear that harvest music again. Just once more. 

Cotton candy clouds

That’s what my daughter called them. What a gorgeous morning!!  

I’ve slowly been knocking jobs off my list. Got the pumpkins all picked–they’re just starting to turn orange. The tomatoes are all picked, and today the peppers. 

I made a batch of tomato jam and today juiced another batch of tomatoes for enchilada sauce. The grape jam was yummy–all those grapes produced just a small amount of pips and skins–but I got nine pints of jam. 

I started moving bales but after I’d moved four my poor little tractor started acting up. 

I just made it out the gate when it died. So I called tractor man and he came out to see what he could do. Success!!  Good as new!

I let my big guineas go and they are so happy running around eating bugs and grass. 

The first batch of baby guineas are pretty grown up now–but they still love their bugs and I like that they are willing to perch on my hand to get a treat. 

I asked the boys out this weekend, my son and nephew, to help pile all the dead falls that my fencer had cut into pieces. We started at the top end and worked our way along the slope to the far fence. We made about eight piles or so and I think we will burn them once we get some snow, and just clean up all the trip hazards. The ponies will have a really nice pasture next year.

I put a couple of chickens in the oven while we worked and we had a great meal after, with some apple pie for dessert. (Apples from my nephews’ tree)I was dead tired after but the boys had enough energy to blow up a couple of beaver dams. Boys!!

It’s definitely cooler now–real fall weather. I just love it!!

Charlotte is that you?!?

This beautiful creature was on one of my lawn chairs. She’s been sitting there for several days now–guarding an egg sack perhaps. She’s huge, her body is large grape sized, and the color is so pretty. I’ve never seen a red spider this size before–and I even know what species she is, thanks to  a book I just picked up st the library. 

She’s a cat spider, one of the web spinning orb spiders,  14.5-18 mm long. Most of the giant orb spiders I’ve seen here are grey, also called wolf spiders–or so I thought. The book is quite clear that wolf spiders are completely different and there doesn’t seem to be a big grey orb spider. Which makes me curious as to what the huge spider in the lean-to is?!?

I’ve finished two large batches of apple jelly for my nephew. They turned out beautiful. Different apples and the color was amazing. I finished cleaning the one side of the sheep barn. This was the rooster side from last fall. After scraping out all the loose rubble, there were quite a few ankle biting low spots. My son and I drove up the road and picked up several loads of clay. I filled in the low spots, tamped them in real well then soaked the clay with the hose. Hopefully it will harden up enough the chickens can’t scratch it up again. I bedded it this morning with the last of my straw bales and put in a laying box. Hopefully the laying hens will discover it. It’s a much bigger place than the coop they are in now. The problem is the goats. If they discover the cleverly hidden entrance I’ll have to tape a stick to their horns again. But the hens have found it and they seem to like it. 

I’m back driving bus. It’s such a beautiful drive. Just a horse on the road. And that beautiful Saskatchewan sky. 

Grape jam is next on the list. My vine produced a pound or two but most of the grapes came from a friends vine. It was a bumper crop. And breakfast is so much better with a sliced garden tomato. What do you do with hollow bread?  Fill with eggs of course!!And this huge tomato was delish with scrambled hammy eggs. 

We’ve had a frost and a few more close calls. I had had just settled  into my warm bed, when I got an email from a friend warning me about frost. I leapt out of bed, ran outside and covered everything. Or so I thought. I had just settled in under the covers again, reviewing recipes. I wondered what I would do with my bumper crop of peppers when a little voice said, well you didn’t cover them so you don’t have to worry…on with the rubber boots again as I went out to cover the peppers. And now back to clean the small Guinea barn, and the spot where I want to set up a tarp garage. The weather is perfect for working outside. What are you all doing today?

Go time

Gone are the lazy hazy days of summer and that feeling of impending doom, I mean, winter, is lurking. For me, fall is when things get done. Not that I haven’t been busy all summer in the garden and with yard work–but that’s just maintenance. Now I actually have to do things to get ready for winter. I’ve put my last few packages of peas and beans in the freezer and pulled all the plants. Everyone likes the pea vines but no one wants the bean bushes. I’ve set quite a few to dry upside down on the pea fence as I’m trying to save my own seed this year. 

I’ve also been hoeing a bit to stop the weeds from going to seed to save some work next year. The tomatoes are unreal–I’ve never had this size of tomatoes before. They are huge. And tasty. I’m trying to eat as many as I can fresh sliced, but I will can some and make tomato jam. And check out these peppers. I thought last year was a fluke with all the peppers I had but this year it’s even better. I don’t know what I will do with them all. I have a lot of salsa left from last year, and I only need a bit for million dollar pickles. I planted jalapeños too and they are just amazing. Maybe some more cowboy candy. 

I got a start on one of the barns yesterday after cutting all the grass. The yard is looking great– but this may just be the second to last time I have to cut. It’s getting dry enough that I can scrape the corral and pile all the rubble up to let it decompose. I still have a few trees to pull out and the site prep for a portable garage to house our assorted buggies and wagons and my poor tractor. 

But the biggest job that is well on its way to being finished is some fencing I’m having done. I called a fellow that was recommended to me by my neighbour as a reliable and reasonable fencer. He came earlier this summer to see what I wanted done and we decided that the priority should be a pony pasture to give the ponies some controlled grazing. They don’t need to run on all forty acres–they just need access to green grass–not too much so they don’t founder, but enough to keep them healthy and give them room to run a bit. He had been working several hundred kilometres away but last week after all the rain, he couldn’t get into his job site. So he came and we started work. This man is 84 years old and had worked hard all his life. He is in fantastic shape mentally and physically–I’m in awe of the things he can do. He dug all these post holes by hand as no machine can get down into the valley.He had help for a day and a half but he mostly worked alone. There is a cross section left but the perimeter is up and the ponies love it. I’m letting them in for a few hours a day now that the grass isn’t quite so lush. 

My nephew brought me a couple pails of apples from his yard. I’ve got a pot full simmering on the stove now for jelly–there are enough left for a second potful. 

I think they’ve simmered enough now–I’ll leave them to drip thru the jelly bag and go out and finish my barn.