Autumn on Our Homestead
Our weather is gorgeous, with sunny days and crisp nights. Jack Frost has yet to visit and my tomatoes, beans, peppers, eggplants, and squash are still filling our table and tummies. I have yet another batch of spaghetti sauce cooking down in the kitchen as I write. The wild apples across the road are ready for harvest and the apple orchard down the road is in full swing. Volunteer gourds from my compost produced a bumper crop of fall decor for my front steps this year.
Our young turkeys are growing quickly. I think we have 3 toms and 1 hen…go figure. I’ll wait until closer to Thanksgiving to pick the keeper tom and roast the others. I have extra male ducks and old laying hens to cull soon. I’ll wait until the yellow jacket population has succumbed to the cold weather before I attempt a butchering session. Each fall the old hens and extra roosters are processed to reduce the feed bill for the winter and put fresh meat on the table.
Flocks of starlings have been settling down for the night in the woods south of our homestead for over a month now. The flocks get larger as their migration approaches. Thousands of them rustle and chirp in unison as the sky grows pink with each approaching dawn. The young hawks watch for stragglers and I sit in the chill with my coffee on our deck. All too soon the birds will leave on winter vacation and our lawn chairs will be stashed away in the garage.
We all pitched in this weekend to stack our firewood for the winter. My back is still complaining about those 6 cords of wood. There’s still more wood from trees we took down this year…victims of the Emerald Ash borer. We’ll need to split most of it soon, so the work isn’t over yet. But it is a good feeling to have a wood stove and plenty of fuel ready for the cold winter ahead. If the electricity goes out in an ice storm, our home will still be warm and a pot of soup will simmer on our stove. The other day I rotated our home canned goodies and did a quick inventory. We could go close to a year without starving if the stores closed down tomorrow.
Although I enjoy summer and the bounty of food from our garden, I love autumn and the cool weather it brings even more. Until the killing frost ends our season, we keep picking and storing food away in anticipation of the long, dark winter. Living on a homestead keeps our lives centered around the seasons. There’s a certain comfort in knowing what needs to be done to keep our home and hearth running smoothly and in unison with the cycle of life.