Good for the Heart, Good for the Soul
In order to make a single day out of it, which we often need to do, we must leave the house at 4am. That’s not too hard given that we are morning people. Traffic is definitely light, but you must watch out for deer and coyote at that hour. If all goes well, we will arrive on our land about 8am. We'll put in a solid workday, then turn around with a touch of daylight still in front of us, and make our way back home. Well, not home exactly, home is the shelterless swath of land up north, but our things and our day to day life are down here. And so we return.
As these things tend to go, the pace is moving along slower than we originally envisioned. C'est la vie. These lives of ours down here, they are full. Specifically, our daughter’s life is full. Believe me, she’d also love to high-tail it north each Friday afternoon and watch Scout run the land, free as a bird, for a few days each week. But she also values her weekend job, her social life, her debate team, and well, you get the idea. Life is abundant and when we say yes to one thing, we are saying no to another. So we do what we can.
When we decided to purchase land four hours north, we knew it would be a stretch to zip up there and back. And yet, somehow in the early excitement of owning it, we had forgotten that very important consideration. Plans were made with enthusiasm and they were ambitious! Combine limited spare time with a save up and pay as we go mentality, and things can feel a little pokey. Maybe all that we have at this point is road access (driveway), a nicely cleared area for camp, a fire pit, an outhouse, and a growing stack of firewood, but that is a heck of a lot more than the previous twenty years have seen, so I’m a happy and grateful camper. Literally.
Summer has passed and I am ready to come alive as I do every autumn. The garden was good to us this year; we harvested about 150 pounds of potatoes, beans were prolific, broccoli was better than ever, berries were fantastic, and carrots were dependable as always. Late blight skipped our tomatoes for the first time ever and we’ve made so much sauce and salsa. Interestingly, I was rather haphazard in my tomato planning efforts, and we’ve never seen a better harvest. We ran out of room and they wound up crowded in their rows with very little breathing room to speak of. We never even removed the bottom twelve inches of branches as we normally do; a simple task that just never made it to the top of the list this year. Seriously, our tomato patch was a sight to behold, unruly as ever, and day after day the plants kept producing and producing. We did have blossom end rot on all of our Gilberties, which is actually something I’ve never had with tomatoes before. Thankfully I had three other paste varieties planted so we were well covered.
Our potato patch however did take a hit from blight. Unlike when tomatoes are infected and you lose the plants as well as the fruit, with the potatoes that were infected (about half of the patch) we lost the plants, but the spuds below the ground were in good shape. Of course, with the loss of plant foliage any growth below ground came to a halt, and so we were left with the decision to harvest very early in August, or leave them in the ground which is an invitation to grubs and voles. It’s a toss up… harvest too soon and you run the risk of storage temps being too warm, leave them in the ground and lose them to critters. We compromised and dug slowly. A few rows here and there, feeding our bellies with those we dug, and tempting fate with all that remained in the ground. The final rows are being harvested now, and mostly they look good. There are certainly a few that have been partially enjoyed by critters, but I’m not sweating it. Any less than perfect potatoes are separated out and placed into “use first” baskets.
Every night we are visited by a herd of about fourteen deer in our back field. A few nights ago, for the first time in four years of gardening here, they found their way to the wrong side of the fence. Swiss chard, gone! Prettiest swiss chard we ever grew, too. Two huge beds of fall carrots, trampled, tops eaten, baby carrots pulled from the ground! This one stings pretty bad. Carrots are so important for us and there are hundreds in the ground right now, doing the proud work of growing big and sweet during these final cool weeks of the season. Now, I’m not so sure. They repeated this garden break in the next night, but by the third night we had a plan. In an attempt to outsmart the deer, we draped some extra row cover cloth over the carrots at night to alert the deer of something strange and unusual (they do not like strange and unusual). The covers were not secured in anyway, just laid across the beds. It worked! Now we uncover in the morning, recover in the evening. Let’s just hope what remains can still grow to harvest size.
Aside from gardening, getting north as much as possible, and a really fun road trip with just Emily and I, my time off has been spent knitting, knitting, knitting. Which you knitters know also means there has been some great viewing, too. Doc Martin and Last Tango in Halifax specifically. Both so good!
We’ve returned to a more familiar routine now, autumn is good for that. I look forward to settling back in and welcoming my favorite time of year through writing and photos. Thank you for supporting the idea that sometimes a girl just needs a little time off. It was good for the heart, and good for the soul. xo