spring greens at Mountain Glen Farm

spring greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Near Perfect Autumn Day Except For...

Thursday was probably the last summer-like fall day of the season.  A cold front was scheduled to move through our area on Friday. And, rain is close behind.
 
My routine walk was not only in order, but pressing, as I wanted to enjoy the autumn colors surrounding our farm at or just about at peak before a rainstorm would start the inevitable degradation of my favorite season.
 
The minute I step outside the house, the dogs sense that it is walk time without my having to call and get them to follow.  They know the routine well and they take the lead.
 
 
 
 
I was enjoying the autumn colors but not the autumn aroma.  What was that disgusting odor? It was not the typical earthy leaf mold or hint of burning firewood.  Then, I remembered.  Glenn had a lot of poultry litter spread on the fields the previous day.  Yep, that’s the smell…poultry litter, more commonly known as poultry manure.  Poultry manure is quite potent and very disgusting.
 
 
But, the day was warm, pleasant, sunny and just about perfect.  I tried to ignore the unpleasant air swirling about me.
 
As the dogs and I reached the pond, we frightened a fairly large bird away.  Unidentified, I could only make a guess as to a hawk or an eagle. 
 
I fed the fish and relaxed on the dock panning my view.  Everything was tranquil and beautiful. The colors; red, orange, yellow, burgundy, gold, squash were gorgeous.

 
Then, I heard a distant rumble which seemed to be moving closer and closer.  At first, I thought it was Glenn returning to the farm driving his log truck.  After all, he was off farm all day logging.  Suddenly, I saw a huge truck pull out into the pasture.  I was wrong.  That was not Glenn driving his logging truck. It was the litter truck and the driver proceeded to spread more poultry litter - ugh!  The dust was flying everywhere.  He was spreading on the left hillside, and then he moved to the right. 
 
I was in quite a predicament.  I still had to walk back up to the house via said hillside.  Either return trail I chose would take me through the freshly spread manure.  And,  if I made the wrong choice,  I might just end up in the middle of one of those dusty manure clouds.  Do you really think the driver would curtail his task on my account?  NO!!!
 
 
Foul smell is one thing, flying blobs of manure is quite another.
 
Fortunately, I made the correct decision and walked safely up the hill and back home without having to comb gobs of poultry poop out of my hair.
 
Perfect autumn day…pretty much!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Only Good Thing About Butternut Squash...the bisque

I am not a fan of squash.  Any squash.  But, I do grow butternut squash and put it up for one use and one use only…Susan Branch’s recipe for Butternut Bisque (check out her book, Heart Of The Home  Notes From A Vineyard Kitchen (1986) for the recipe).  I do love this Butternut Bisque.
 
So, I grow a few vines in my vegetable garden and forget about them until harvest time in late September, early October when the vines and leaves die back and I can actually see the pale orange vegetables. This year, 34 squash of various sizes and shapes, were harvested.  Most have the typical butternut squash shape, but others seem to end up more rotund with less tapering toward the vine end.
 
Last season, I washed and dipped each squash into a weak chlorine solution to combat any bacteria prior to storage.   I laid them all out on a table in my living room for about two weeks to harden their skins which helps them keep longer.  I then placed all these squash in a small storage room which I refer to as my root cellar.  It is not formally a root cellar, but a small room in the basement.  Then, I forgot all these squash were stored there.  Some stored well and others rotted and deteriorated into mush all over the floor.  I remembered the squash when I smelled the squash remnants - ugh!
 

 
This year I am trying a new-to-me technique for preserving my butternut squash.  I think it is ideal as the result is a product ready to use in the bisque.  The recipe calls for cubed squash, 2 - 2 ½ pounds.
 

 
 
 
I wash the squash, skin and remove the seeds, and cut into cubes.  I place the cubes on a cookie sheet into the freezer to thoroughly freeze before placing the cubes into recipe-sized freezer bags.  Now, when I want to make the bisque, I will just go to the freezer and grab a bag.  The hardest part of making the bisque is preparing the squash and now it is done in advance.
 
 
 
 
Now, if someone out there reading this blog knows that this technique does not work, please do not say anything to me.  I have already finished freezing about half of my harvest and I do not care to know…let me discover any sad news on my own.  Until then, I will keep thinking of making more Butternut Bisque.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I only have 14 more squash to process.  I am in no hurry. I am taking my time and enjoying the bags full of the bright orange cubes of squash.
 
 
Aren’t they pretty?  They sure brighten up my freezer.
 
 
And, they put a smile on my face when I go into that freezer and am greeted with these bags of sunshine.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

All About The Color

autumn  - greens, oranges, gold, burgundy and bare branches


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
October is my favorite month.  I make a real effort, in a good way, to enjoy each and every moment.
 
 
 
 

The leaves are changing colors, the daylight hours are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler.  Chores; like harvesting the last of the garden veggies, cleaning up all the perennial beds, outside painting, become hectic in trying to finish before the freezing temperatures come and stay.  Daily life becomes more of a race as all the characteristics of this brief season are here signaling the fast approaching winter. 
 
I am outside as often as possible taking in the last of the season’s glorious color. I make the most of each minute.  I slow my pace to relax in the tranquility of my world.
 
lavender asters among the golden mums
 
 I immerse myself in the color.
 
And, I am having a grand time.
 
 

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Sun Returns


Today, finally, it was sunny.  It had been raining and heavily overcast for over the past 2 ½ weeks. 

 
 
Buddy laying on his back and sunning his belly in full nap mode
 
 


Buddy took advantage of the sun during his nap.

 

I was pretty near out of socks...can you tell?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I took advantage of the sun to hang the laundry out.

 

Everything and everybody just seemed to enjoy the coming out…of the sun.

 

I decided I had to get back to my routine of taking a daily walk.  The rainy days prevented such an adventure, but so did my recent run-in with Snowball.

 

My foot is still a little swollen.  My foot is still a little bit black and blue. And, my foot still hurts a little bit, BUT I had to get out and absorb the rays and get more active than just hobbling from room to room inside the house.  I planned to walk slowly, take an abbreviated outing, and just be super careful.

 

I gathered my camera, my bamboo walking stick and phone.   As I stepped outside, Buddy saw me and knew exactly what was happening.  He immediately perked up and became ecstatic. Even though Buddy wanders at will, he still enjoys our walks.

 
two, very happy dogs
We met up with Snowball at the gate and the three of us ventured forth. 

 

Snowball made me a bit anxious when he decided to walk next to me as if our legs were connected.  Occasionally, he would vacate his post when Buddy swiftly took off running.  I did not mind them running at full speed away from me, but when they turned and came back at full speed toward me…well, I was worried.  My eyes were fixed on Snowball.  If I saw him coming, I could divert his path away from any collision with my body.  I do not need another incident to occur between me and him especially while I am still healing from our previous accidental encounter.

 

I watched Snowball as if I was the ‘proverbial’ hawk.

 

I walked further than I had initially planned and, by the time I arrived home, my ankle/foot was telling me I just about over did my first excursion.  And, I still had Butternut Bisque (Susan Branch’s fabulous recipe) to make.  I had a few squash left from my 2014 growing season.  I sent Glenn out to dig a few potatoes and when he came back, he reported that I had 33 butternut squash (the 2015 season) out in the garden.  The bisque recipe uses two large squash.

 

I am sure glad we like Butternut Bisque.  Paired with my homemade buttered potato rolls…yummy!

 

Autumn definitely provides numerous kinds of joy - color, food, activity, smells…go out and realize your favorite joy of the season.  You will be glad you did.
 
I was...I am.