Archive for September, 2010

Settling into Fall

Dew on rose

September 22nd ushers in the autumnal equinox for us in the western hemisphere, and it is at this time when we start to notice that the days and nights are becoming about equal in length. There is now a slight chill in the morning air, signaling that the year will soon be coming to an end. I could see my breath for the first time yesterday as I made my early morning rounds through the front garden, and a thick dew that had formed on the tips of the rose leafs let me know for sure fall was announcing her arrival.
This is my second most favorite time of the year (spring being the first) when we get to start to prepare for a long winter’s rest from the frantic spring/summer planting and birthing season, and start to put the farm into a calmer pace of storing up the summer’s bounty and packing it away to be enjoyed later. We finally get a chance to take a full breath, and look at all that we have accomplished in this growing season.
We are getting to know the personalities of the doe kids that were born this spring, now becoming weanlings and ready to join the herd. Most of the poultry that make up our breeding pens are starting to molt, and we have to rake up feathers almost every day to keep up with them.
The fruit that was not made into jams and jellies or dried and put into jars, has been processed and put into the freezer for use in pies and holiday recipes. We will be glad to have it in a few more months when winter sets in.
Where this farm is located our growing seasons are long, sometimes blurring the lines between seasons, and sometimes allowing us to get in one last crop of warm weather veggies before winter steals the heat from the earth. In my years of gardening here, this land has taught me the importance of mulching as the soil cools down in the fall. I fight back the cold nights for a few more weeks armed with bales of straw and all the bedding that has been raked from the floor of the goat sheds and stalls. This is all painstakingly packed close around the base of each and every plant, tree, tuber and rose bush to a depth of 4-6 inches thick. This will be reapplied again in about 2 more months, when the ground starts to freeze. This helps get everything through the winter without too much damage to the roots. This is how we veteran gardeners start to “put the garden to bed” for the winter, although even in the winter months there are always plenty of projects to get done.
Happily now though, we get some time to slow down some and space to rest in between the seasons. We will, in the next few months, start the time when we will reconnect with our friends and families through the holidays, and fully enjoy the bounty of this year’s harvest.
As I now pull out the spent bean and squash vines, and pull up some of the herbs for drying, and start to thin out the spent berry canes, I remember how very excited I was only a few months ago when I first saw them pushing their little green heads above the soil in their little pots in the greenhouse, and it reminds me. It reminds me how it will all, soon enough, begin again.