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Sunday, September 8, 2013

September Songs

I always recall the title of a poem by one of my favorite poets this time of year: September is Summer Too -- or -- It's Never Too Late To Be Uncomfortable ... except that this year, August and the first few days thus far of September, have proven to be, to me at least, most hospitable, if not downright cool. Long sleeves are no longer just something I long for and dream of, but are required for morning and evening chores and the before-dawn commute to work. Afternoons in the garden, though, mean a change back to the old t-shirt.

The cool weather meant that my chicken butchery yesterday did not have to be a panic-filled rush against the heat. Two "freedom ranger" roosters were dispatched and now are "enjoying freezer camp." The hardest part of the process was making room for them in the nearly full deep freeze. Yes, we need a second one but likely that will be a next year deal. For now, I am still trying to use up the more than year-old fowl that had gotten buried in the bottom of the box. It is good to be mainly eating local and naturally raised meat, even though "how do you want your chicken tonight, dear?"  is getting a bit old. And yes, maybe their best months in the cold have passed, but I am pretty much of the "eat it anyway" school, as long as it's not going to make anyone ill. Waste, to me, is one of the worst sins against the planet and the Gods.


Tomatoes, waiting to be processed.
The tomato crop is thankfully slowing down the ripening with the cooler temps, as I cannot really keep up with the processing, despite the Squeezo strainer. I remembered why it seemed "so much easier" back when I was first homesteading, when the kids were young. The bottom line, despite needing to put by a lot more, was that I was canning on a wonderful wood stove, where the entire surface was cook top and on which I could efficiently work two large canning kettles to cook down the sauce and two more for processing jars, or one for cooking up a batch of something else with a faster turn-around and the water bath or pressure canner to process it.

Now, I am constrained to a single stainless steel pot to cook down the sauce and one canning kettle to process.

Squeezo, bought second hand last year.
I an hoping to have the majority of the sauce tomatoes through the process by the end of the week; There are still lots more things in the garden to deal with: onions. potatoes, leeks, carrots, beets, and there are broccoli coming on for fall, cabbages still standing (hopefully not all of them split during the last rain!) and, of course, the squash coming for after frost and the cukes that just won't quit. I may have lost all the beans to weeds and to having planted them in the west garden, where "out of sight, out of mind" is far too true. I've promised them I'll visit tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I had not even actually put the last of the last round of orders for hex signs in the post when the order list started filling up again. I dunno why the flow is so uneven, but I these days seem to get 3-4 orders all within a couple of days and then (thankfully) nothing for several weeks. If I were running ads or something, the ebb and flow would make sense, but I am not. Also for the first time, starting last month, I am typically getting orders for multiple signs. Now, in the past I have occasionally gotten an order for two (usually identical, to balance the barn) or similar (for barn and gate post) but now the norm seems to be 2-4 different designs in different sizes. For example, the queue currently includes orders for 1 24" sign,  1 24" and 1 48",  2 12" and 2 14" (on fabric, for indoor display... the rest are on plywood), a custom 12" and another 24" sign. Not that I am complaining! This is a testament to the fact that homestead businesses over the Internet CAN be an "overnight success" if you have the patience to work on building your business for 5 years or so!