Recent birthday celebration, and the return of puzzle season.
There is chatter about the warm weather that has returned to Vermont this week. I’m not sure 72º constitutes warm, but that’s what the locals tell me. To me, autumn is here and has been for a couple of weeks. Not a drop of summer left to our days.
Life is moving at a quick pace with winter preparations underway; the limitless days of summer have been replaced with the get-it-all-done-now days of autumn. Here is what I know: it won’t all get done. We’ll have firewood, we’ll have plenty of chicken in the freezer, we’ll have freezers and a cold room filled to the brim with food that we’ve grown and also a bunch grown by others, and hopefully in November, there will be venison.
It’s a lot harder to hunt deer here than it is in Connecticut; the population is lower and the landscape vast in comparison. In Connecticut, it was a rare year that Dad and Adam did not both bring home at least one deer, usually more than one. Actually, I can’t think of a year neither of them got a deer. It’s a different story up here. We’ll see how it goes.
Forty meat birds arrived this week. Kept all their things close together for the first few hours after their arrival, then spread it out a bit once they settled in. Now they are running all about, being expert chickens.
One of the projects that needs finishing is the addition on the pole barn. The existing structure is a dirt floored three-sided building that was built 35 years ago as a “five year barn.” It is the only shelter we have aside from our house, and if you are like us, you understand that house square footage does not matter much (well, except for mudrooms and proper pantries... those matter!), but outbuilding square footage does. We’re trying to create a little more space out there. I should also mention that the open side of the barn faces the road, and our driveway is not long, so any random objects we have kicking around in there are visible. Granted, it’s a dead end road that sees little traffic, but I care about these things. It looks messy all the time, even when things are neatly arranged on shelves. The stuff of life on display: gas cans, potting supplies, building supplies, folded up tarps waiting for their next important job, stacks of five gallon buckets, etc. It adds up to a lot of visual clutter and the new addition will hide much of that, in theory at least.
A few weeks back, as Adam began work on this project, Uncle Kurt stopped by for a visit. I was inside making relish and salsa that day and noticed his truck pull in. Once I got to a good stopping point I took a break to bring him a gallon of green beans that I’d picked that morning. For the first time in many years he and his wife did not put a garden in, so I figured they would enjoy them. His face lit up as I handed him the bag, then he told me he had a jar of mine to return, the one that was filled with strawberry sauce I’d recently sent over. I was thrilled it was already gone! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given canned goods or maple syrup to friends and family only to see them still on their pantry shelf a year later. Have you experienced this? Maybe most of us have been indoctrinated by the FDA to feel skeptical of anything without their seal of approval on it. Not Uncle Kurt! On another Saturday visit in the early weeks of summer, as we chatted in the kitchen, he inquired about the ruby red jars lined up on the counter across the room. He asked if they were beets, to which I replied that no, they are strawberry sauce. Would you like a jar? “Sure!”
We told him how we best enjoy it: over vanilla ice cream or over yogurt. I admit to thinking that like so many gifted jars of the past, it might be placed in the cabinet and forgotten about. So you can imagine my delight when just a few weeks later he reported every last drop was gone and the jar was washed and ready to return.
I could tell Adam was a little surprised, too. Really, it’s gone already? That’s great! How’d you like it? “It was excellent! I had it over ice cream every night until the jar was empty!” Now that’s the way to a food preserver’s heart, and a way to guarantee many filled jars and offerings from the garden in your future.