A full moon rises over Green Mountain’s ridgeline as the days get shorter. Dusk is earlier and the leaves are really starting to respond to the lessening daylight with their flashes of fall color. We continue the transition from summer veggies to cover crops and winter greens under hoop house-like row covers in the garden. Hopefully, we’ll be able to harvest some mid-winter delights even when the snows color the grounds white.
The herd is officially transitioned from pasture to winter hay under the loafing shed. They’ll get to do a lot of that…loafing around. This year the get the full range around the perimeter of the barn, which gives them a bit more space to play and some choice areas for poop to be laid on. In the Spring we’ll renovate their poop paddock so that it grows a nice patch of grass. We need that poop there to help establish the soil that is virtually non existent seeing that it is mostly a gravelly ground. Even the waste from the hay they don’t eat will be added to the paddock to add organic matter to the mix. Come spring we add some lime and seed and direct the animals away to let nature do its thing.
Meanwhile, the chicken tractor has found a cozy spot right next to the chicken coop. We dragged this floorless coop around the pastures, following the llamas, allowing the chickens to rake out, or “tractor”, the poop piles and eat the bugs. Now, we’ve taken all the hens that were in there and promoted them to the chicken coop leaving the roosters and the two turkeys behind. They’ll be fattened up with some good garden and kitchen scraps, hand picked clover, and chicken crumble, leading the good life until their time is up and we whisk them off to the freezer for meat. Perhaps this next year we’ll see little chicks from the coop, with our rooster Elvis ruling the roost, and we’ll repeat the chicken tractor again next summer.
This year we’ll try to take advantage of the warmth inside the house, and some choice south facing windows, to see if we can save some container plants. We brought in a selection of herbs: basils, sage, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, lavender, and catgrass (for kitty to munch on). Included in some of these containers are some veggies too! One healthy pepper plant, and an eggplant still bearing fruit, along with several containers of Malabar spinach will not only be at work increasing our indoor oxygen supply, but also producing edible items for us in the kitchen.
In the kitchen, we’re still pickling with the final run of cucumbers in a crock for the last round of sweet pickles. Jalapeno slices are fermenting in a salt water brine. We take the final zucchinis and try to save some of the best seeds from them while using their bulky mass for baking some loaves of zucchini bread and muffins. Fall weather also makes it easy to want to have the oven warming the kitchen up so we go grab our yeast pot to make loaves of Italian style bread. Our local yeast we captured is developing into quite the starter…very tasty and unique to the Mountain Loop! If you bake bread and would like some, be sure to ask during a visit out to the ranch.
Our dahlias are still throwing forth plenty of color even though it is getting late in the season. There were plenty to select from for a fresh bouquet in the house. While the cooling weather doesn’t seem to be affecting them much, all our winter squash vines are starting to wither and that means we are starting to see some of our fairytale pumpkins and butternut squash. The largest pumpkin so far weighs a whopping 45 pounds! It is still green and will turn orange over the next month. The only place left to put them all is out on our display wagon, so we’ll add more as they are picked from outside.