Hi friends! This is where we take a look back at all that we’ve accomplished during the month, and reflect on the real-life ups and downs that come with “living close to the land.” We’re on the downhill slide towards winter and are busy wrapping up summer projects on the homestead.
Here’s what happened in September:
Grow All The Purple Veggies
If you couldn’t tell by now, I like to grow purple vegetables. Purple kale, purple carrots, purple broccoli and cauliflower, purple tomatoes… if it’s purple, I’ll grow it!
Being in the cold North, zone 4 to be exact, there are some things that don’t grow very well here, or that will grow but only with a little extra TLC. Imagine my surprise when we started the chore of digging the purple sweet potato plants (that I started in the house waaay back in March!) to find they were pretty dog-gone successful!
The vines were huge and vigorous all summer long… but I honestly didn’t know whether to expect any potatoes under them or not. We planted them in a few different locations, and the ones in the raised garden box produced about three times as much as those in the garden (ahem, they were also a total pain in the butt to dig out of the garden box) but I was easily convinced it was worth the trouble when we were pulling foot-long potatoes out of the bed!
This variety is a great keeper, and the 40+ pounds of sweet potatoes we got will last the two of us well into next spring!
Not So Baby Anymore
Our chicks are all grown up! At almost 12 weeks old, the biggest ones are almost as big as our adult Easter Egger gals. Out of seven chickens, we know we have two males for sure, possibly a third.
Of course with age, comes hormones. The biggest of the males, Little Rooster we call him, was caught severely beating up the other rooster (a sweetheart!) one day. That was enough of that- I promptly removed him from the pen and we gave him a makeshift home by himself until butcher day. He has never been friendly, and even as a chick he was socially awkward and would never even look me at.
We already have two adult roosters, Bolivar and Otto (which is honestly one too many already), but we cherish them dearly and they both play a role here, so they get to stay. It was our plan from the beginning that any males from this batch of chicks would have to go, no matter how sweet or pretty they were.
I hate this part of homesteading, especially because these birds were raised with the intent to be our new layers in the spring. In the past, when we’ve raised meat birds to butcher, I knew right away what their fate would be and made sure to not get attached. This is a little bit of a different situation though.
I like that we have a friendly flock of laying hens- they are part farm animal and part pet, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In order to teach them to trust me and be social with us, I have to spend time with them and let them get to know me from an early age. Since it’s hard to tell the males and females apart when they’re little, I’ve been interacting with this entire batch of chickens, which is going to make getting rid of the males all that much harder.
We are excited to add some new layers to the flock though! We’ve been lacking in the egg department lately, so they are much needed!
This was a great month for mushroom hunting. My favorite fall mushroom, the Hen of the Woods, was in abundance this year (thanks to all the rain!) and we harvested quite a few.
I love this mushroom fried in butter and seasoned liberally with salt! The buttery, nutty flavor is unlike any other mushroom I’ve had. After we ate all we could fresh, I threw the rest in the dehydrator to preserve them for the winter months ahead. I will add the dried mushrooms right to soups and stews- especially beef stew and pot roast. They reconstitute in water pretty nicely as well, and then can be pan-fried and used as a side dish or added to other recipes, like Beef and Kale Stroganoff!
Canning Season Ends
It was a light canning season for me. The past two years I canned more than we could eat, so until we eat up the older stuff, I tried to take it easy this year. It’s all part of the learning curve I think- knowing how fast you’ll eat through the preserved goods, what preparations are better than others, and how much to plant so that you have enough, but not too much.
We don’t love canned green beans, and we don’t eat much corn, so I don’t really can those things anyways. We don’t can potatoes because we have a cold storage closet that preserves them long enough. I prefer to freeze kale, zucchini, celery, and peppers. We’re not big pickle people, so I usually don’t can many of those either. Big pickle people, well that sounds funny.
What I did can from the garden this year was a lot of diced tomatoes, marinara sauce, and tomatillo salsa! We had a great tomato year, despite getting blight. And two tomatillo plants provided us with bowls and bowls of tomatillos! I also canned a lot of pickled jalapeños and sweet jalapeño relish- Karl loves to put them on his hamburgers. It’s one of his favorite things that I make and can… which is unfortunate because it’s my least favorite! Canning jalapeños requires long sleeves, rubber gloves, goggles, and a face mask… and I still end up feeling like my skin and lungs are burning afterwards. Oh well, gotta do it for my sweetie!
Now the home stretch to winter begins! The first freeze will be any day now, the garden is just about wrapped up for the season, the chickens are molting, the leaves are changing, and I’ve been putting cinnamon on things and making Honey Caramels. Winter is definitely on its way!
It really does feel like the end of something this time of year. Like saying goodbye… to the end of projects, progress, and production. It was a great summer, and although I’m sad to see it go I will welcome the coziness of winter and the season that it brings; when we give our bodies a rest and let our minds run with promise of a new spring and new goals!
Thanks for being here with us!
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