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September 23, 2014

September Garden

Oh, the September bountiful at the beginning of the month and so brown and barren at the end. Living in the Northeast, we are usually hit by our frost in September. Sometimes, though, we are fortunate, and the first frost holds off until October.  Not so this year.   I always watch for the full moon because many times a frost will accompany the full moon, and when this month's full moon came and went with no frost, I had hoped that we might be blessed with a longer growing season. Well, autumn was in a hurry this year, and a few days after the full moon, we not only had our first frost, but we woke up to three frosty mornings.  In preparation for the freezing temperatures, we harvested everything that would be affected by the frost...squash (acorn, butternut, buttercup, spaghetti and blue Hubbard), the last remaining zucchinis, corn, a few late plantings of lettuce, peppers (oh, they needed more growing time), tomatoes, cabbage and grapes.  We did leave the potatoes and beets for digging later, and the kale and Brussels sprouts always taste better after being nipped by frost. Within the next few days, we will start cleaning out the gardens and begin preparing the soil for next spring.  I'm always sad to see the garden come to an end and wish that the weather here in the Northeast would allow us a longer growing season, but I am thankful for what we did harvest and for the bounties put away in the freezers and pantry.

September 19, 2014

This Moment

I have been inspired by SouleMama to take a moment ...

{this moment}

"A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."


September 18, 2014

New Arrivals

So we've added a few additions to our little farm...twelve new ladies moved in last Saturday.  Our Guinea fowl flock keeps increasing, but, sadly, our chickens have been on the decline.  Many of them are getting old and only lay an egg every so often, if any at all.  Every spring we hope that the clutch of eggs that our one broody mama sits on will produce chicks, but, alas, nothing ever comes of her weeks of sitting.  Poor old Chanticleer the Rooster, I don't think he realizes that he's a rooster. Since being unable to produce our own chicks, when we heard that the owner of our local feed store had twelve one-year-old hens for sale, we bought them all. They seem to be settling in quite nicely, however, a few of them, having never been outside, stayed in the barn all day, not daring to come out of their little chicken door.  I've noticed, though,  that they are now becoming curious and are starting to wander outside into the pen, pecking at the bugs they find crawling on the ground and dusting themselves in the warm sun.  Since chicken eggs have been such a commodity, we have been quite excited about collecting eggs daily.  We have already gathered more eggs than we would have in a month's time.  Although we have been thankful for the Guinea hen eggs that have been abundant this summer, they are quite small, and it's just so satisifying to crack open a large, farm-fresh, chicken egg for breakfast.  I'm happy we welcomed these twelve new ladies onto the farm.  (Maybe we should now consider finding a new rooster.)

Thanks to my daughter for photographing the flock.

September 16, 2014

First Apple Harvest

I do believe a new season is upon us.  With two frosty nights and chilly days, we are feeling the nudges of autumn. We lit a fire in the wood stove last night, and the Littles were sprawled out on the floor around it with blankets and pillows and cats curled up in between, soaking in the comforting warmth. With the nips of frost we have had, the garden is quickly coming to a close, and I am trying to harvest what I can as quickly as possible.  On Saturday I picked almost all of the tomatoes and made more roasted tomato sauce; more herbs came in for drying, and we picked our first harvest of apples.

We have been having a difficult time with our little apple orchard, Five of our trees died, for various reasons, and out of the two remaining healthy trees, only one produced apples.  It was, however, our very first harvest, and, although the apples didn't have the flavor we hoped they would have, we were thrilled to actually pick apples from our own tree.  I'm not sure why the apples lack in flavor. If they are lacking in nutrients, if the soil was too dry, if it was an issue related to pollination, we are just not sure, but Hubby and I will research more to ensure tasty fruit in years to come.  I decided the best thing to do with the lack luster apples was to make apple butter.  Having never made it before, I turned to my trusty, old faithful book on canning, the Ball Blue Book, and found a recipe for Caramel Spiced Apple Butter (I found the recipe online here if you'd like to try it).  Sunday morning's breakfast of eggs and sausage tasted so much better with the addition of apple-butter-slathered toast, and five quarts of this tasty preserve went into the pantry for later use. What a gratifying feeling it is, to not only grow and preserve one's own food, but to make use of the bounties of nature, even apples that are less than perfect.

September 11, 2014

Moments from the Week

It has been a busy week, as are most weeks this time of year, but the weather has been lovely and the events rewarding.  I had perfectly laid out intentions of posting yesterday, but after being drawn away from my writing countless times, I gave in to the needs of the family and the farm and never found my way back to blogging. This morning I decided, instead of sharing only one "moment", I would share the highlighted moments of our week.

Sharing the beauty of the Super Moon climbing into the evening sky with my eldest daughter (She captured some amazing photos of it, including this one.)...

Creating at the picnic table...

Pulling my knitting bag out of the closet and soaking up the late afternoon sun while working on Little #9's sweater...

Soaking up as  much of the the beautiful weather as possible...

Continuing to fill the freezers and pantry, this week with roasted tomatoes and pickles...

Cheering at high school soccer games...

Learning a newly thrifted game, Sorry Express...

And probably the most rewarding event of the week, welcoming the newest members of Front Forty Farm.  I just have to share the story.

While watching Little #2's soccer game, I received a call from Little #1, anxiously stating that Mama cat was in labor, that she had been pushing for quite some time, and the baby seemed to be stuck. The vet was called, and we were advised to bring Mama in immediately.  I left the soccer game at half time, rushed home to pick up Little #1 and Mama, and pulled into the vet's office just as he was locking up for the night.  He brought us in and preformed an emergency C-section, warning us that he didn't believe the baby in the birth canal would survive and was hesitant to believe he could save the others.  Within in minutes, he brought three lifeless kittens to us and told Little #1 and me to vigorously rub them with a towel, and we did. We rubbed for almost 20 minutes, thinking there was no life in them, but suddenly we heard a tiny meow, then another, and before we knew it all three babies were crying and moving around.  He brought us a fourth baby, and Little #1 worked on this one until he began to show signs of life as well.  All four babies were alive, but the vet didn't think they would make it through the night since Mama's milk would not come in for at least 12-24 hours, and he was skeptical to believe that Mama would even accept her babies after having the surgery. Little #1 and I were determined not to let these precious little bundles die.  We purchased a nursing bottle and kitten replacement milk, and Little #1 stayed up all night hand feeding the kittens, while Mama cat recovered from her surgery.  Mama cat and all four babies are happy, healthy, and nursing, thanks to the determination and perseverance of Little #1. I'm so proud of her.  
These little faces were captured by Little #1.

September 9, 2014

Three Years Old

Our baby girl recently celebrated her third birthday. It is hard to believe three years have passed since we brought our teeny, tiny, screaming bundle home from the hospital. She cried all day.  She cried all night. Nothing worked to soothe her.  Then finally, almost a year later, her little body overcame its obstacles, and she traded her tears for smiles.  She blossomed into a bright, cheerful, loving little girl who is curious about the world around her, who refuses to be left behind by her older siblings, and who is thrilled to finally be three years old.  What a gift she is, and her family is ever-so blessed by the smiles that radiantly shine on this little one's face every day.

Thanks to  my daughter for capturing these smiles.

September 5, 2014

This Moment

I have been inspired by SouleMama to take a moment ...

{this moment}

"A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."


Moment captured by my daughter.

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