Homestead Report 34: January 9, 2019

Kindest greetings, friends, neighbors, family, and followers!

I thought I’d call in the new year by reviewing my photos from the second half of last year and setting a few goals for 2019. Doing so just helped me remember that the world is very colorful compared to what I am currently accustomed to seeing. It is funny how that surprises me every winter.

The late summer and fall is a time of great abundance. The garden seemed to burst at the seams.

I spent a lot of time this late summer preserving food. Now we have a full freezer, a full pantry, a full list, and a full belly. I’m not a fan of the green tomato salsa, but the tomato-peach salsa is amazing, the regular tomato is pretty good, and so is the tomatillo. We have enough tomato sauce and salsa to make it to next July or August when there will hopefully be tomatoes again. We have too many jars of sweet-hot pickled peppers (my five Hungarian Hot Wax pepper plants outdid themselves, unlike the neighboring bell peppers).  We’re in good shape for pickles, jams, applesauce, peaches, and grape juice. Low on dilly beans, since the rabbits ate practically all the bean plants to the ground while we were in Canada.

In wildlife news, we had the great misfortune of a weasel finding our chicken coop just before the holidays. To make matters worse, it was while we were travelling, so our next-door neighbors had to deal with most of the carnage. However, we have the great good fortune of having of many fantastic neighbors, so we called on another to rescue our remaining hens by taking the girls down the mountain to their coop. Upon our return, we discovered a little weasel nest in a hidden corner of our coop, with lots of scat and a round weasel-sized impression on top of a mouse nest. Needless to say, we have shored up all the holes in the coop (adding rocks and concrete at ground level and hardware cloth around the eaves). An attempt to trap the beast has so far yielded two red-backed voles and an eastern cottontail, which we released. The hens are home and safe, but we have not yet dared to let them into their run. Instead, we’ve been taking them on escorted walks to scratch in the gardens. 

Way before being preoccupied with weasels, we enjoyed a robin nesting on our porch in June. Turkeys walked through the yard in August. A squirrel played in the chicken run in September.

A friendly porcupine hangs out in the yard regularly, mumbling under Charley’s window and munching branches. It seems to enjoy hemlock and elm especially. I’ve been trying to decide if our place needs a name for several years now, especially when I go to the farmer’s market. I’m beginning to think that the porcupine deserves to be featured. Perhaps “Contented Porcupine Farm” or “Mumbling Porcupine Farm”. Maybe one of you has a better idea. Do share.

Aside from wildlife visitors, we have had some human house guests, including my parents, my sister, my friend Patricia, and a whole lovely boisterous houseful of families making music and eating just before the new year. Plus, Charley and I took our annual birthday trip to the cranberry bogs. And as always, the weather was glorious.

And now for the goals:

Garden goals: cover, protect, support. I’m no fan of border walls, but in the garden, good fences do make good neighbors. I like admiring the wildlife without being angry that the rabbits destroyed my bean crop. Solid fences and row covers will be my friends this year. And I really need to give those grapes a trellis.

Life goals: Value my time by setting boundaries in volunteerism. Notice the abundance. Verbalize the gratitude. Expand the joy.

4 thoughts on “Homestead Report 34: January 9, 2019

  1. This was so much fun to read–the pictures are a marvel! Since porcupines seem to find Charley to hang out wherever he is, sort of special buddies, I love the idea of naming your place after them. Mumbling Porcupine is great–Farm, Park, Sanctuary, Preserve, Retreat all seem appropriate. I regret the lack of dilly beans (darn rabbits!) but your dill pickles are fabulous and I would be happy to take some of those pickled peppers off your hands. : ) Weasels seemed to be a theme this year all over the Valley, but walking the chickens is a hoot. I bet they love it!

  2. As usual I enjoyed your Fall round-up. Years ago I used to can Dilly Beans. Rick would open a pint in the evening while watching TV and finish them in one sitting! I do miss my huge garden and herb garden that I had on North St. We have lost enough Elms in our back yard that I want to try a small raised garden this year. Sun should reach one area most of the day now.

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