This time of year often finds us busier outdoors than we are in the finest summer weather. We have nearly finished putting food away for the winter, with all of the root vegetables in insulated coolers, ready to stow in the root cellar. Our bumper crops of apples and peaches are now either in coolers (just the apples), cooked and canned as sauces, dried as fruit “leather”, or bottled as Pasteurized juice. The grains we grow (sweet corn, grain sorghum, grain amaranth, and bread-seed poppies) are all harvested, threshed, winnowed, allowed to air-dry, and sealed in jars. You can watch a YouTube video of Larisa threshing sorghum at this link. And you can find a PDF with the details of this process at this link. All that’s left in the garden is a row of leeks, some cabbage, a lot of kale, and a small bed of lettuce. Most of our fresh greens production has moved indoors to either our south-facing windows or the greenhouse beds.
Our focus lately has been in landscaping that needed repair ever since the August 2007 floods that washed a bit of our gravel driveway into our yard. We have rebuilt the beds on the south side of our house into an easier to weed configuration that is also more pleasant to look at and it should prove to be easier to harvest.
And we have just finished improving the fencing around our orchard so that we will have the option of getting back into raising and enjoying pet chickens next spring. This involved replacing multiple strands of electric fencing twine with 6-foot tall, 2-by-4-inch mesh, steel fencing, and adding 4-inch insulating “stand-offs” around the steel fencing for a single strand of electric fence wire. This combination, with 1-inch mesh steel wire added near the bottom, has proven very effective around our main garden for the past 11 years, keeping out deer, rabbits, woodchucks, and raccoons. The raccoons were the eventual downfall of our previous, mainly successful, attempt at keeping chickens and we don’t want a repeat of that fiasco! With steel fencing as the “ground” contact and the single strand of electric wire suspended 4 inches from it, any climbing animal starts up the mesh until its head touches the “hot” wire, and it learns very quickly not to go further. We still have some fencing details to finish and then it will be time consider building a proper home for the hens, should we decide to go ahead with this.