Simple Wealth and Winter Preps

Sunday, September 2, 2012

September is here, folks! I can hardly believe it is just one month until my beloved October. The thought of it makes my heart swell.

This long Labor Day weekend started early with a steel gray glimmer of morning and a breeze that glided over me, soft and cool; the first gentle kiss of autumn. It was still in the 50’s when I ventured outside in my sweatshirt and muck boots, watering and feeding chickens and rabbits. There are no leaves falling yet, but the world is changing, moving ever so slightly from one season to another. You can feel it in the sunrise. You can feel it in the change from our blistering August heat wave. You see it in the evening as the sun sets farther to the south and the rising moon throws a golden cast over the farm.

We are picking tomatoes and zucchini almost daily, little shards of insurance for a small family. A pint-sized mason jar filled with fresh herbs sits on the windowsill sending a wave of fragrance through the house. My lone sunflower is beginning to bloom, tall and big and yellow; the last survivor from marauding birds and scavenging chickens, and a few apples hang on the tree growing fat and juice, until they are plucked off and put into a pie or cobbler or spice bread. Some of the older hens that were beyond being good layers and a rooster were taken to the feed store to be given away.  I’ll hold on to the few good layers I have until spring then think about increasing the flock. Production is a big deal on our little farm and those who can’t pull their weight in stocking the kitchen don’t stay around to waste precious feed. Sounds harsh I know, but that’s the reality of farm life.

Winter preps are still at the forefront of my mind. I feel an urgency about getting this farm settled for a long winter, maybe even more so than in past years. The agricultural meteorologist, the one all the farmers listen to for weather forecasts, is calling for an El Nino winter; and that can mean only one thing — RAIN — and lots of it. Making sure the farm is set to handle such storms drives my actions.

The new batch of meat birds is slatted to arrive next week and now that the opossum family has been caught and relocated I am more excited than ever to get some meat in the freezer. I still have a few half chickens left. There are also packages of lamb, the ducks we raised in spring and containers of soup base and cooked down chicken carcasses that can be made into casseroles and potpies. The pantry is pretty well stocked with dry goods like beans, lentil, rice, barley and pasta; all the makings for a hearty and warm winter meal; and with Brianne off to college even the smallest amount of meat and veggies seem to go farther. Even with all this, I’ll make a stock up trip to fill in and take advantage of prices before we see increases caused by this summers’ drought.

The greenhouse now has a roof, a barrier from the wind and rain. The plan is to finish the walls this weekend. With any luck the whole thing will be done in a week or so and I can begin planting root veggies and salad greens in the fall garden. Maybe I’ll even try a few potted veggies that can stay in the greenhouse over winter. One of the nice things about living in an area where you can garden 365-days is that we do not have the pressure to “get seeds in the ground” like other areas of the country.

I still have firewood to bring in and the house to switch over from summer to winter. My list is made and it’s thrilling to cross things off. By the time wood smoke circles the farm we’ll be ready, mark my words. This will be a warm and comfy farm house, glowing and smelling of winter.

I am smiling, folks, for these are all small banks of insurance. Money may be nice, but it can’t beat a warm stew fresh from the farm. Now that’s simple wealth!

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