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I'll Leave the Light on for You


After nearly three days without water due to a broken foot valve in our well and the time it took to replace it, we are back in water which quite frankly means we are back in life. There is a part of me that embraces life’s hiccups and challenges as it seems to be the only sure way I can get through my noggin how best to endure such scenarios should they happen again. Something about experience being the best teacher. This particular hiccup happened during a stretch of hot days with record breaking humidity, which if you know about heat and humidity, you know it’s the record breaking humidity - not the heat - that makes things dangerously unbearable. We and our more than 70 animals made it through unscathed, thanks to our nearly 1,000 gallons of stored rainwater and drinking water, a pump to move water to the animals, a Berkey to filter it for the humans, and my trusty little hand-pumped sprayer contraption that we made years ago as a showering and dishwashing backup. Systems fell pretty easily into place that first morning when I awoke to no water from the faucet. By 6:30am I’d heated water from our stored water bricks and added it to the hand-pumped sprayer to wash the remaining sticky dishes from processing peaches the night before. I suppose that was another reminder to get all of my dishes washed before going to bed! At least it was easy to mobilize Plan B so I could take care of them as quickly as possible, before the heat of the day. 

The other reminder was the reality that the recommended minimum of 1 gallon per person per day is out the window when you have a lot of animals and are having extreme weather. My general practice is 3 gallons per person per day, but add in preservation season, wicked heat, and a lot of animals, and let’s just say we called in the support of our rainwater catchment pretty quickly. 



All in all, things moved along, the well eventually got fixed, harvest was preserved, and animals thrived. We even have a new resident frog living in one of the pigs’ wallows and he’s a pretty cute fella. 

This week I’ve been preserving green and wax beans, peas, and tomatoes. So many tomatoes this year and they are ripening earlier than ever. At this point I’ve only canned spaghetti sauce, and this year’s batch is my favorite yet. After a few years of our Vitamix being broken, we finally fixed it which means no more peeling tomatoes! I do remove the seeds, but even that probably isn’t necessary. I bet the Vitamix would pulverize those as well. So easy to just pop them into the machine and have the whole fruit pureed into a smooth, silky, slurry. The richness of flavor and texture is quite noticeable in the finished sauce with this method.  



I’ve been going through our extended pantry and getting things dusted, washed, and organized for winter. I do this at least twice a year and it’s proven to be the best way I know of to “inventory” our supplies. Spreadsheets or thorough inventory lists are popular methods for keeping track, but I prefer to regularly have my hands and eyes on things and see for myself where we stand. It is an embarrassingly simple method but it works for me so I stick with it. 

We are deep into cricket season with at least one sneaking into the house each day. We escort them out as quickly as possible because they do not know how to use inside voices. Bees and goldfinches have made homes among the golden, sky-reaching sunflowers. The big apple tree has dropped nearly half its bounty which we’ve taken to piling in the wheelbarrow, and parking it next to the pigs. We toss a few in whenever we walk by. There is still plenty on the tree which will be stored in barrels for wintertime treats of sunshine.  



Thankfully the oppressive humidity has passed, water has returned to our faucets, harvests continue to roll in, and we are currently enjoying our daughter being home for the week. No matter how grown and independent our kids become, they will always be home when spending time with us. It’s like they have two homes, the one they make on their own and the one that is provided for them whenever they need a soft place to land or the comfort of home cooking. I remember this with my own parents’ home, and am especially thrilled to see the same for our daughter. 

In photos and words, this is a bit of what has been happening here over the last week; please know how much I appreciate you stopping by to share in my days. I will be returning to Instagram in September, I believe, but the more that I post here the more reluctant I feel about it. I hope to find a better balance between the two spaces because there is a valuable archival element unique to blogging, and I do not wish for it to fade away. Please stop by again soon, I’ll be sure to leave the light on for you. 

Just Like the Good Old Days


Goldenrod, Joe Pye weed, and Queen Anne’s lace fill meadows that only a few weeks ago held daisies and St John’s Wort. Everyone is cutting hay again for what seems like the sixth time this year. The western fires have buried us in chest burning haze, erasing our bluebird sky and green mountaintops for the time being. I can only imagine how unbearably thick it must feel at ground zero, 3,000 miles from here. The leaves are beginning to change color in small pockets here and there. It actually began a week ago before turning the calendar to August, and is even more prominent now. 



While our winter squash patch continues to recklessly flourish and appears supreme at quick glance, it is fruiting slower than normal and I find myself wondering how substantial this critical-for-us harvest will be. We are drowning in tomatoes and have been harvesting basketfuls from the garden even earlier than was normal for our Connecticut plot. I think this is what I love so much about growing food: the brand new relationship each year to a new hosting of plants that teaches and expands and finds me out there multiple times a day cheering on and encouraging a collection of leaves and fruits in a way that would invite suspicion from a fence-peering neighbor, if I had such a thing. If you stopped by, I would invite you into the garden to unabashedly share in the revelry as well as the trepidations. Just ask the few people that have visited this summer… no shame I tell you. I guess it never gets old that a couple handfuls of seed (and a pile of potatoes) bears enough fruit to sustain us and others. 



On Friday my husband picked up our yearly two bushels of peaches from a formerly local to us farm, and I am about to embark on my annual Peach Week, preserving these beauties in a myriad of ways, culminating in a fresh peach galette to welcome our daughter home for a much needed visit. Even more than the peaches, I value the farmer who grows them telling my husband that while recently in the orchard noticing things were near peak, and he thought to himself: These are looking so good; it’s time to get Adam his peaches! After many years, our exchange is ritual at this point. I used to pick them up myself, but he knows we’ve moved and our new routine looks like me calling in early august to check in on the crop and reserve our desired share, and he helps us time it just right so my husband can pick them up as he departs from his workdays in Connecticut and heads home to Vermont. This farmer even does us the courtesy of picking them a touch prior to perfect ripeness as he knows the journey they’ll take and that I'll need a few days to work through processing them all. Staggered ripeness is so helpful to me, as is laying them all out single layer as soon as they arrive to prevent bruising and uneven ripening. I’m a stickler for peach handling and feel it pays off to take such care. 


I hope your garden is overflowing and any necessary crops are secured with farmers who are able to fill in your gaps. A farmer that can look you in the eye and say “see you next year” as you depart. Who knows, maybe soon we’ll even return to sealing the deal with a handshake, just like the good old days.