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Archive for October, 2011

Our first frost this year was September 13th, so on September 12th, we picked most of the tomatoes from the garden, except for a few plants up by the house that were easy to cover and uncover at night for the frosts.  Those ones lasted until September 22nd before we got sick of the extra effort and picked all the tomatoes off those ones, too.

In all, we got about ten tons of tomatoes, mostly green.  I tried a variety of ways to stretch out the ripening, which I had seen in various books, on the internet, and been told about by friends and family.  I hung one plant in the basement by it’s roots.  I wrapped some in newspaper and put them in the basement.  I put tomatoes in boxes in warm-ish dark places (the upstairs pantry) and in cool-ish dark places (the downstairs cold room), just to check.  I ripened a bunch on the kitchen table.

All in all, there were a couple of ‘waves’ of ripening, with the toms on the kitchen table in the sunshine ripening quite quickly, while the ones in the upstairs pantry and on the counter in the kitchen, out of the sun, took somewhat longer.  Today, October 27th, I found the first rotten ones in the cold room downstairs, but there are still some kitchen-counter tomatoes that are good to eat.  Most of the tomatoes, including the ones hanging on the plant, and the ones wrapped in newspaper, are now turning red, though they could still be left to ripen for a little while.  We will still have tomatoes in November, but I am certain that they will have rotted by December.  I think the articles that touted Christmas tomatoes were from places that don’t get their first frost until well into October.

No one method of ‘preserving’ the tomatoes (or delaying ripening) seems to work any better than another.  Wrapping each tomato individually in newspaper was a pain in the butt, and I won’t bother again.  Hanging the plant by its roots was easy, but takes up a fair bit of space, and you have to watch for tomatoes falling off and getting bruised.  The simplest method seems to be piling them in shallow boxes and sticking them downstairs, and that is what I will likely do in the future.

I have already dried a bunch of the tomatoes with a sprinkle of sea salt, and made a couple of batches of salsa.  I am not quite sure what I will do with this other eight tons coming ripe, but they may just go directly into the freezer, depending on how much energy I happen to have this weekend.

At any rate, I will make a definitive statement here – you can certainly still have tomatoes coming ripe and nice to eat six or maybe even eight weeks after you pick them, however you decide to keep them, as long as they are out of the sun, and preferably a bit cool.  After that, I think it is a little sketchier.   So, for all you other Saskies out there, enjoy your November tomatoes, but don’t count on serving them at Christmas…

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…and snot and dirt and poop and spit and dog hair and puke.  THAT’s what little boys are really made of.

 

So we have these two little boys, aged 3 (Z) and 4 (K), hanging out with us for a week.  We’re doing a bit of respite care for their current foster parents.  You can see that these two aren’t really used to structure or rules or listening, and of course, there is the obligatory testing on top of that.  From the descriptions we heard of their recent history, the foster parents have really brought them a long way already – thank goodness, or we might really have struggled with them.  As it is, “Okay, Time Out” is the most frequently uttered phrase in the house this week.

 

We are learning not to hit our brothers with sticks, or hit them with rocks, or hands, or survey flags, or goat poop, or crab apples, or feet.  We are also learning not to hit the dogs with hands, feet, sticks, poo, flags, or apples.  In addition, we are learning not to throw things at goats, or chickens, including apples, poo, flags, rocks, sticks, or anything else you could possibly think of to pick up and throw.  We are learning not to eat ice out of disgusting rain barrels that have not been cleaned all summer, and we are learning not to throw ice at Aunties, brothers, dogs, goats, cats, and / or chickens.  We are learning not to touch the very dead and half-decapitated mouse the cat left on the driveway, but that it is okay to poke said very dead mouse with sticks.  Whew!

 

They are cute when they’re sleeping, though.  And also when they are running around outside, gathering fallen crab apples by the house to run over to the goat yard to feed the goats and chickens, one apple at a time.  The trick is to only let them pick a dozen or so into the bucket, then get them to race each other to the goat yard, feed the critters, and race each other back.  An hour of that guarantees at least ten minutes of quiet play afterwards…

 

It is interesting to listen to them when they are playing with each other without adult direction.  You can immediately hear exactly what you have been telling them, just like little record players.  “Look at me, K.  Look at me now, please.” or “Okay, time out for you!”  or “Oh, you peed in the potty, good job, Z”.  We’ve managed not to install any swear words into their vocabulary…yet…but it’s probably only a matter of time.

 

We try to run them really well in the afternoon, in the hopes of getting them to sleep with minimal fuss.  The actual result has been the adults taking turns at afternoon naps.  Of course, being typical little snotty bundles of contagion, the boys have now gotten us sick with whatever bug was making them drip goo – the bug, of course, just makes little boys drip goo and get whiny, but lays adults completely out, so on top of the regular surrogate-parent-exhaustion, we’re battling fevers and sore throats, too.  Go figure.

 

Bedtime has been endlessly entertaining – after the fourteenth time K got up to pee last night, I told him that he was wearing pull-ups and could just march right back to bed and pee in the pull-ups if he really had to.  My sister, who I was on the phone with at the time, was appalled – “Aren’t you trying to get them NOT to go in their diapers?” she asked – but really, I’d had enough of that particular tactic.  When they were jumping on the bed and making a strobe light pajama party in the bedroom at 10:30 the first night I was less than impressed, as well. We really need separate rooms, or at least separate beds, to get them to go to sleep nicely.  Or at least not poke each other and wind each other up and keep each other awake.  We’ve taken to putting one or the other to sleep on the couch, then carrying them back into the bed when both are completely out.  So far it’s working, or at least slightly less aggravating than listening to them jumping on the bed and mentally debating duct tape and / or Dimetapp.

 

On the bright side, they have eaten pretty much whatever we’ve set in front of them, despite whining that they ‘don’t like’ apples or yogurt or vegetable soup or whatever.  Even when Hubby grabbed the wrong container of leftover soup from the fridge, and they got served ‘really spicy chicken’ instead of ‘nice bland vegetable’, they ate most of it.  The elder one, K, complained that the ‘potatoes’ (turnips) were ‘too hot’, but when I told him to pick them out and eat the rest, he did.  I am amazed I managed to keep a straight face through that one!  Today, they were bottomless pits for the scrambled eggs they got for lunch, and they followed up with two full pieces of buttered toast each, plus a big glass of milk.  Suddenly I am wondering if we fed them enough last night.

 

At any rate, Auntie needs a cup of tea and lemon, and Uncle probably needs a break, but I can tell you now that the first two days after these fellas go home, we’ll probably not even get out of bed…

 

 

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Well, it’s truly autumn now, and the leaves are turning and falling all at once.  The garden is mostly put to bed, and we’re starting to pick up lawn furniture and garden tools to put away for the winter – snow could come in a matter of weeks, and it always seems to be a surprise.  Little projects are being finished in anticipation of winter.  Autumn leaves never seem to last long, here – they turn, then the winds come and they’re gone.  Yesterday, I went out and took some pictures before we lose the pretty gold accents around the Acreage…

 

 

 

 

We think we may have finally found a suitable truck, though it needs a bit of brake work before we can bring it home.  A good friend has promised to do it for us, hopefully in the next couple of weeks, so we hope to be able to get the materials to finally finish the buck yard…with luck, before it snows.  We still need to evict the badger, however.

 

We got a puppy.  She was kind of an accident.  We won’t go into details, but here’s a picture:

 

 

Pretty cute, huh?  We are calling her Poppy.

 

We have a couple of little boys coming to stay with us next week, which should keep Poppy plenty busy.  She really likes people and attention, and I am expecting she will get plenty.  I’m sure they will keep us plenty busy, too!  Still, the country is a good place for little boys, I think, and we’ll give their caregivers a bit of a break.  Of course, there is more story here, but it will have to wait for another day.

 

Autumn feels like a good time for changes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hubby was checking out the not-quite-fenced-yet buck yard this afternoon, and found a hole.  Apparently quite a large hole, running straight down alongside one of the fenceposts we recently installed.  He beat a quick retreat, and came into the house to ask me what I thought might have dug such a hole.

 

“A badger, probably” I replied.

 

“So, what am I supposed to do about that?” Hubby asked.

 

“I don’t know.  Try filling the hole in.  If whatever’s in there digs it out again overnight, we’ll figure out some more drastic measures.”

 

“But what if it really IS a badger?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“I mean, it might leap out of the hole and savage my leg…”

 

“Then hit it with the shovel,” I replied.

 

Hubby does not seem to understand that badgers are not much bigger than a large cat, or maybe a Jack Russel Terrier.  He seems to think that they are carnivorous creatures that are large enough to tear your leg off.  Hubby is currently reading me internet an internet article about how to get rid of badgers, and apparently placing lion dung around the mouth of their burrow will chase them off.

 

“See,” Hubby says, “They ARE dangerous.  That’s what they’re scared of…lions.  Lions!

 

He just doesn’t want to admit that he’s afraid.  Perhaps I will have to shame him by going out and filling in the hole myself…

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