Last Week On The Homestead: All Things Pumpkin, Updates, And The Arrival Of Fall!

 


my spider plant babies!


September 19-25, 2022

Happy fall friends!
Last week was a mix of cooler temps and high humidity sprinkled with rain, sunshine, and overcast days.  In other words, we had it all!  But Thursday, THURSDAY, the day of the autumnal equinox, it was brilliant.  It started out rainy and humid.  The rain broke in the late morning, so we were able to go for a nice walk.  The sun was shining but the air still smelled of rain and humidity.  We saw squirrels and chipmunks gathering food for winter, fields of flowers drying on their stems, leaves beginning to change color, and massive amounts of goldenrod in bloom.  Just as our walk was coming to an end, we spotted rain clouds making yet another appearance.  Sure enough, right after we returned home, the sky provided another pretty good rain.  Although the temps were still in the upper 60's it was warm from the high humidity.

Well, that all changed within 2 hours.  I was making lotion and had the windows open.  Suddenly the air that was coming in changed from warm to cool and crisp.  I stopped and just enjoyed the moment - the moment I'd been waiting for.  Our official change to fall weather.   The change brought with it a lovely breeze which pushed the crisp air into our home.  Leaves fell from the trees, the coop girls ran around searching for worms (a favorite post rain activity), and I took a break to take Ollie for a short walk around the homestead, to better enjoy the arrival of fall.


this is what the chipmunks leave me as they devour the tomatoes.  they do not like the skins apparently.


With the arrival of fall comes a garden that is producing less and less with every passing day.  That's not necessarily a bad thing.  We've been preparing for this by putting produce up - canning, freezing and dehydrating.  Our refrigerator is no longer bursting at the seams with veggies, and the overflowing bowls that have decorated my table and counters for the past 2 months, waiting to be processed or eaten, are almost non-existent.  Almost.  The freezers, however, are beyond full.


The greens growing in the garden will be much happier, the tomatoes are still ripening on their vine, and I am long past being annoyed at the chipmunks for eating so many of them.  I am now encouraging them.  The pie pumpkins are just about ready to be roasted and put up in the freezer, the green beans have made a comeback, and my one cucumber vine that is still alive and well has flowers and 7 tiny cucumbers growing!  The pepper plants continue to try and produce, although I'm doubtful we have enough time left before the first frost for much to come from them, and there are 2 zucchini plants and 1 yellow summer squash plant still providing us with deliciousness.  I plan to dig up the sweet potatoes in the next 2 weeks and to pull the honeynut squash from their vines.



Jackson did his best to scare off Felix (the stray cat) last week.  He postured and hissed and danced and carried on in the window.  It was quite a show!  Poor Felix didn't know what to do with himself.  He ended up leaving and not eating the food I'd left for him.  I don't blame him.  We moved his food dish so that when he returned, he could eat in peace and tried to keep Jack out of the window, but he insisted on pushing his big old head through the blinds and looking out into the pitch-black night.  As if he could actually see anything.  Felix did return and has since enjoyed eating in his new spot - out of view from the psychotic dancing cat.



Oh, poor Oliver.  Let's start with the good, shall we?  He's been going to sleep between 10 and 10:30!  Not in his bed, that would be AMAZING, but sleeping, nonetheless.  It's been a full week of this wonderfulness.  So, although we must sleep with him in the living room, at least we're getting some sleep!

And the not so good.....he had his annual check-up which uncovered yet another new disease.  Anaplasma disease (from a deer tick bite).  My poor guy.  So far, he has no symptoms.  Fingers crossed that this continues.


some of our purchases at whole foods and trader joes

Last Tuesday we needed to run down to Albany, so we made stops at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.  At Whole Foods I spotted a pumpkin spice non-dairy creamer.  While I never ever buy these - partly because they are processed and with that comes less than desirable ingredients, and also because they are usually way too sweet, for some reason I decided to get it.  It's delicious!  I purchased the Califia brand and what I like most is that it's not overly sweet.

We actually didn't purchase much at Whole Foods.  We picked up some of the fruit that was on sale, a couple packs of microgreens, sweet potatoes for Ollie, marshmallows (Dandies - my husband loves them almost as much as homemade) for hot cocoa season, and the pumpkin spice creamer.

The sweet potatoes have been roasted (they are stored in the refrigerator for Oliver), and we tried both the nectarines and the peaches we purchased.  The nectarines are delicious - we'll eat them as a snack.  The peaches, however, are bland and mealy.  It would be a complete bummer except we have a fix for that.  They will be halved, grilled until hot and juicy, and then drizzled with a bit of local raw honey.  They will be the perfect lunchtime treat!

Another crazy purchase I made was at Trader Joe's - Pumpkin Spice Hummus.  So, let me start by saying that I am a HUGE pumpkin spice fan.  Let me also say that I've significantly cut down my sugar consumption, so this was quite a strange purchase for me because, no surprise, it's full of sugar.  That being said, it's amazing.  Honestly!  There is no way you would know it's made with chickpeas (thanks to the sugar, I'm sure) - it's smooth, sweet, and pumpkin spice deliciousness!

We like Trader Joe's for their produce section, dried pasta, raw nuts, coconut milk, flower bouquets, and a few frozen convenience foods for my husband.  We picked up those as well as vanilla bean paste which was back in stock, vanilla extract (I am currently waiting for my homemade to be ready to use), avocado oil, apple cider jelly (I'll use in thumbprint cookies), fall limited edition kombucha (it's kind of apple cidery and sooooo good), pumpkin bagels, kalamata olives, watermelon jerky, and 2 candles - Honey Apple and Vanilla Pumpkin (the apple smells incredible when burning - like you're baking an apple pie!).  

We don't recommend the watermelon jerky.  Shockingly, the flavor is great.  The problem is that it includes seeds.  A LOT of seeds and they are stuck to the flesh so you can't remove them.  When trying to eat them they are incredibly hard.  Like, break your tooth hard.  Oh well, it was worth a try.


The Coop Girls are officially molting.  There are feathers everywhere!  We are getting 0 to 3 eggs per day, a stark contrast from the 6-11 eggs per day we'd been receiving.  Soon we will receive no eggs until the new girls begin laying the end of December.  As you know, Jay is well stocked up on eggs, so we should be able to make it through until we receive them again.  Surprisingly, we only lost one Coop Girl this year (in addition to the one chick who passed shortly after bringing them home).  I'm not sure why this flock is living so long (and still laying eggs!) but we'll enjoy it while it lasts.



The kitchen has been busy, although not so much with preservation last week.  Instead, I've been enjoying making delicious food that we can eat now and/or freeze for later.  I made 2 batches of zucchini biscuits with a rather large zucchini I found in the garden.  We enjoyed some the evening I made them, and I decided to freeze the rest to use later.  I have no idea whether or not that recipe freezes well, but I decided to find out!  

I made a big pan of my favorite vegan lasagna (Cookie + Kate recipe).  Jay really likes it too, so we enjoyed some the evening I made it and, since it freezes beautifully, the rest went into the freezer.  I used up some of our tomatoes and red peppers from the garden to make a delicious roasted tomato and red pepper stock.  I put that in the freezer to use later for minestrone and tortilla soups.  


I made up pumpkin-cinnamon scones and blueberry scones for the freezer.  These are great to have on hand for a very quick breakfast on mornings that we have a craft show or farmers market to attend.  I made banana chocolate chunk bread from some very ripe bananas.  Usually, I freeze them for smoothies and frosties but we currently have many bags of frozen bananas, so quick bread was made.

I processed a large number of onions from the garden.  I cook them in the slow-cooker to make caramelized onions (you don't add anything - just onions!) and freeze them for use later in french onion soup, or as toppings for pizza or focaccia.  I also started up my sourdough again (I freeze it for summer) and will be baking bread and all things sourdough very soon.  

And today I made maple-walnut biscotti with maple sugar from my favorite maple farm in Vermont (they are single source AND they bottle their syrup in glass not plastic).  We'll enjoy that on cold mornings dipped into our hot coffee.  Yummmm.


soap waiting to be cut

For the business, we spent 2 full days making soap.  Of course, when you make that much soap that means you have even more to cut each week AND to wrap.  Needless to say, much of my week was spent doing those tasks.  All of the freshly cut soap is transferred to racks where it cures for a few weeks.  The soap that is fully cured is then wrapped.  

We finally received the lotion containers we'd ordered weeks ago, so lotion was made as well as deodorant and facial serum.  We released all of our fall soaps and the 2 pumpkin scents sold out in hours.  Usually, they last a couple of weeks but for some reason, this year, they did not last long at all!


Jay was able to spend some time out in his woodshop.  He turned razors and honey dippers (another item we can't keep in stock).  Can you believe that he handturns them?  His talent always amazes me.  How he gets the spacing so perfect without anything guiding him baffles me.


I did not read any books last week, although I have 2 sitting on my end table.  Maybe next week.


That was this past week on our homestead!  Hoping you had a wonderful week as well!


10 comments

  1. Boy, did you have a lot going on! That's awesome your pumpkin soaps sold out so quickly. I've printed out the lasagna recipe. I look forward to trying it. Hmmm, I've never looked for GF lasagna noodles, but are sure there must be some. That's too crazy about the seeds in the watermelon jerky! I love Trader Joe's, but it's probably good they're an hour+ away. They have so many tempting treats!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Laurie - yes, it has indeed been busy around here. 😊 I hope you enjoy the lasagna recipe. We are not GF but I actually use the GF Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles by Jovial Foods for this recipe - they are delicious! And you are so right - many tempting treats at Trader Joes. Have a wonderful week!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lots of lovely things happening in your neck of the woods. Yes, those honey turners are amazing, very talented indeed. Have a good week.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks so much Kathy. Wishing you a good week as well!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for letting me know about Jovial's noodles. I've loved everything I've ever tried of theirs.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You're very welcome Laurie. I have loved what I've tried of theirs as well!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Staci, Can you share your recipe for maple-walnut Biscotti, please? I’ve recently started making Biscotti and maple-walnut sounds tasty…Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Regenia - Isn't homemade biscotti the best? Yes, I will do that. I'll try to get it up next week. 😊

    ReplyDelete
  9. I can't believe how busy you are...how do you do it? How does that old saying go? "Needs must when the Devil drives." We do what we have to do! Your harvest sounds wonderful and you're so busy at the shop. This year I will try one of your shampoo bars, made by hand is always best, and it's cutting down on plastics, too. And I didn't know I could freeze sourdough starter...so many things to learn, thanks for sharing your knowledge. Good wishes to Oliver...sweet boy. Enjoy the week, hope the cooler temps and low humidity are sticking around for you! Mary

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mary - yes, you can freeze sourdough starter! It's best to only freeze a healthy, well-fed starter and only occasionally, but they are resilient and recover nicely. I believe you can dehydrate them as well but I've never tried that. Hooray for the cooler temps and low humidity - it's been wonderful!!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this little blog and for commenting!