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Sunday, September 11, 2022


 Hello dear friends!  Today our family is celebrating our version of the old Harvest Home festival.  I guess it has its roots in some pagan theosophy, but for us it is just a celebration of getting the final things harvested and gratitude for the good Lord seeing us through another gardening year.  This has been a rough year; I will not lie.  The drought had added many hours of extra labor, things had to be planted several times before they came up, and the yields were sometimes spotty, but in the end our perseverance and diligence were rewarded.  Many a time I wanted to throw in the towel, particularly the last few weeks, as we all came down with a bad case of the flu, and the most labor-intensive crops needed our attention.  I must confess I had several pity parties. Ha!  You learn a lot about life when you garden.  So today in celebration of picking the last apple from the tree (they finished up early this year), harvesting the last hazelnut from the bush and digging the last carrot, we are enjoying a meal of Alsatian Pork Roast and an apple pie made from our own heirloom apples.  We had planned on having a bonfire last night during the harvest moon, but the weather did not cooperate, so that is something we can look forward to later, when it gets to sweater weather.  And when we are more rested!  Getting old and it's hard for us to stay awake until it gets dark. Ha!

This is a little sitting area in our kitchen dooryard.  The village cut down a maple tree in front of our neighbor's house and Ran brought home a log, planed it down and made a bench from it.  The Joe Pye weed is a mystery.  I planted them there about six years ago and they never came up until this year.  I also had planted some mystery lilies (Jung's mystery lily) around back and had forgotten all about them, this year they decided to make a showing!  Maybe because this year with the drought other things died and they had room.  For all the years I've been gardening, there will always remain mysteries. I will tell you one thing, though, between the Joe Pye weed and the Russian sage, the honeybees were busy all summer.  I wish I could have figured out where their hive was, it must have been massive with all the nectar they gathered.


Besides thinking of old ways of Harvest Home celebrations, I have been giving a lot of thought to the "old ways" and how people survived before the industrial revolution. I correspond with a few friends that reside in Europe, and it is getting quite dire there.  A winter without fuel is becoming a reality for many across the pond and hyperinflation has already arrived.  They cannot afford to use electricity to dehydrate or can their produce, so how does a gardener preserve their crops?  We need look no further than to pioneer days.  First people grew different things than the perishable crops such as tomatoes, peppers and such that we do now days.  They grew a lot more root crops, such as potatoes, rutabagas and turnips, things that could be put into baskets and burlap bags and stored in a cool dry place.  You can store carrots by placing dry ones in a barrel or even a box with holes punched in it and layering them with sand or sawdust. Again, keeping them in a cool dry place.  Or if your area is mild enough you can layer them directly in the ground with straw.  Or place an old cooler in the ground and cover it with straw. Growing up, many people made sauerkraut and just kept a crock in the back room. We had plenty of hot, dry, windy days this summer, perfect for laying out fruits and vegetables on screens (made from old window screens) and letting them dry that way.  There're old leather britches, which is just green beans strung on string and hung in a dark dry area of the house to dry naturally.  Apples can be dried similarly.   Did you know that you only need to run your freezer for one to two hours a day to keep things frozen in your freezer?   And make sure it is full, even if it means freezing some jugs of water.  The bigger the mass of frozen goods, the longer it is going to stay frozen. BTW, this is why I always advocated canning, rather than freezing your produce and meats. You really don't need to have a lot of equipment plugged in all day long, as even when it is not in use, it is still using electricity, especially all the "smart" appliances. One year, when we were having a difficult time, we even experimented with just plugging in our hot water heater every other day just long enough to heat the water.  On the unplugged days the water was tepid, but not intolerable.  Here's a post I wrote over a decade ago, about how to stay warm and cozy during the cold months.  I know from whence I speak, having lived through several episodes when we were without electricity for over a week in the middle of winter.  (We lost our electricity over 20 times last year, one of the pitfalls of living in a very windy climate.) Even now, we set our thermostat at 60 during the winter, our upstairs of our very old house is unheated, one morning we woke up and it was 42 degrees upstairs.  We slept well, but it was quite an eye-awakening experience climbing out of bed in the morning. Ha!  A long time ago some squatters were living in an old, abandoned church at the end of our street.  We didn't know what they were up to, but we always wondered why every noon, when the sun was at its highest point, they were sitting out in their truck.  Well, you know how warm your car gets when it is sitting in the sun?  They would go out there and take a nap and use the natural heat to stay warm.  They would spread all their blankets out to let them get heated by the sun too.  Actually, it was a pretty clever idea.  I've used the heat of the car to dry herbs and proof bread.  If you have a really sunny window, arrange your furniture to capture the sun's rays.  People used to do these things instinctively, but now days we've become so accustomed to just cranking up the heat when we are cold, we have lost all common sense. So, you see, there's lots of ways to cope, you might even find some of them enjoyable.  


I haven't had much time for crafting lately, but I did find time to cross stitch this cute little bowl fillers:

They are a free pattern from Create and Decorate magazine (I loved that magazine; wish they still published it). Here's the link.  For some reason, I love growing gourds and squashes, each year I pick a different type; last year it was spinner gourds, the year before birdhouse and this year it's luffas.  I think I drive Ran nuts with them, he's suggested I throw some of them out, but I treasure each and every one. Just one of the many ways we are peculiar here at the old Zempel boarding house.  I hope you have lovely week and a golden start to the loveliest Autumn season!