A Bountiful Harvest

A Bountiful Harvest

If you read the post on this site last Spring regarding all the blossoms on my apple trees, you might appreciate this update on the results.  (If you missed that one, check the Archives, or follow this link:  http://jcrainbooks.com/?p=444.)  I am happy to report that the heavenly scent of those blooms might just be trumped by the odors that wafted from the big stock pots that were on top of my kitchen stove yesterday.  The idea of cooking apples with cinnamon, cloves, a pinch of ginger and another of allspice was a moment of genius for someone, once upon a time.

Thanks to the priceless assistance of my friend Michelle Furnell, a great number of those apples have now fulfilled their destiny in the making of vast quantities of apple butter.  By vast quantities, I mean almost five gallons worth!  In addition to that, there’s a gallon of applesauce that needs to be divided into smaller containers, but I need to get more rings and lids for the jars, or succumb once again to the convenience of the deep freezer.  Plus, the smaller tree with the red apples still holds plenty of fruit for eating fresh, or making cakes and pies and caramel apples.

As a bonus, (again, with full credit to Michelle for washing, cutting, and soaking), I managed to put up one last batch of pickles this morning, so that four and a half quart jars of dill spears are now ready to take their place on the shelf next to the dill slices and the triple-recipe of bread and butter pickles.  Those cucumbers really produced well this year!

Autumn can be difficult sometimes.  The dwindling hours of sunlight per day, the many trees now starting to shed their leaves, and the cooler temperatures that signal the end of Summer can lead to the doldrums.  And if you were rooting for the same football team that I was during the afternoon game today–well, let’s just say they weren’t at their best.  I think I’ll go out to the pantry and rearrange the items on a shelf or two.  Then, I’m going to line up all those pretty glass jars and bask in the pleasure of a Bountiful Harvest.  Oh, yes, and then eat an apple.

Happy Fall, y’all!


Keep On Growing

Keep On Growing

Yes, that’s more than just the title of a song by Eric Clapton.  Bonus points if you can tell me what album that’s from without looking it up online . . . (!)

Summer is exciting in so many ways, not the least of which is all the growing going on.  My friend Michelle brought over two heirloom tomato plants from the dozens she had started from seed.  One should produce low-acid yellow fruit–yes, a tomato is technically a fruit–and the other is supposed to be orange.  Because I wasn’t putting in a big garden this year, she repurposed a couple of heavy white plastic buckets, drilling a few holes in the bottom of them for drainage.  With a few rocks in the base for ballast and to help facilitate the drainage, then layers of potting soil, compost, peat moss, and old chicken litter, the tomatoes are going to town, figuratively speaking.  Last weekend I saw the first few blossoms, and now there are little baby tomatoes hanging around.  It’s so neat!!

Up the hill in the orchard between my house and the barn there are pears and peaches.  Not as many peaches this time as there have been before, but this does vary a lot from year to year, and the folks in Georgia are still trucking some very decent fruit up this way for us Midwesterners to enjoy.  One morning this week after an overnight rain, though, I caught a glimpse of the half-grown apples on one of those trees out by the dog kennel.  The raindrops hadn’t yet been evaporated by the heat of the sun, and it made for such a pretty sight.  There’s more than one reason the supermarkets install that misting equipment in their produce departments.

Wheat harvest around here is over, the corn has mostly tasseled out, and the soybean fields are starting to show some definition.  Farm country is a great place to live if you like to watch things grow, especially when Mother Nature cooperates with sufficient rain on a timely basis.  So far, the drought conditions suffered during the few years previous haven’t been a problem, and crops are looking good.  To all my farming friends and neighbors:  Good Job, and Keep On Growing!