Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Growth, Nourishment & Being Thankful.

 As the growing season of 2023 comes to a close, we scroll through the memories of the seasons fleeting moments of success and abundance as the morning frost gathers on our windows. The sound of hunting rifles echo through the crisp autumn air, tools get gathered and stored... replaced only by the rake, ice scraper and snow shovels that winter will put to the test. Wood gets split and stacked, tarps get folded, beds get amended and holiday trimmings are gathered. The ground hardens at the crust as we dig out the dahlia tubers for storage and plant a slew of tulips, daffodils, irises, crocuses and more garlic of course along with a trial of oriental poppies and some choice daylilies. Already planting optimism for the year ahead as we give thanks for the remainder of the current one. 

One that brought an abundance of blossoms... in all colors shapes and variations!

We grew some of the largest flowers we hadn't even thought possible until this season!

Pink Lemonade Cosmos

The abundance of colors and shapes from the garden always made for creative endeavors inside, arranging and hanging all of our garden gifts to maximize the appreciate and enjoyment they brought to the day!

From elegant to playful it was so fulfilling to create small snapshots of natures offerings!

Along with flowers, our vegetables bounced back from a "sluggish" start and really started producing abundance come September, October and well into the waning days of November.

Peppers were poppin, cukes appeared at a seeming glance of the trellis, eggplants plumped up, garlic hardened and tomatoes struggled. The heirlooms were a bit of a bust with the rainy season we had. We got a handful of harvests but didn't put nearly as much sauce into the cellar this year. Cherries and Sungold varieties shined best this season and created an abundance that even our family couldn't keep up with at times!

Cukes kept coming and coming and we even wholesaled a couple hundred pounds after many batches of pickles, a smorasbord of new cuke based salads and every other idea we could come up with to enjoy them!

A sour dill we made in the crock using sea salt, fresh dill and a clutch of grape leaves we snagged from our friends over at Frith Farm.

Cherry Tomatoes in all shapes, colors and sizes!

Fennel is always fun to grow, it makes great fresh salads when integrated with cukes, parmesan cheese and some wild blueberry vinaigrette. Its also great grilled or just adding the fronds to a salad or the fennel seeds to a stew or sausage dish. Versatile to say the least and we had a couple happy monarchs call it home for the chrysalis magic!

Garlic harvest was a couple weeks behind this year compared to the last few but the sizing and quality ended up just great!

Green beans came on strong in the late summer and lasted well into the cold mornings.

Zucchini and Summer Squash stayed steady throughout and shaving them and tossing them with fennel and roasted hazelnuts made an appearance on a few hot afternoons and is a recipe we need to keep in our rotation year after year.

As seen in a previous post, mushroom foraging was abundant with such a wet season and finding multiple flushes of oysters on this standing oak was such a treat!

Our bees thrived and then struggled midway through the season when we observed them becoming queenless... after a little patience they reared a new queen and started to thrive again in the late season but we shall see if that speedbump dampens the chances of them making it through the winter.

Another loss to the homestead that can not be replaced was the passing of our beloved turtle, Ripple. 
A red ear slider that lived to the ripe old age of 26 and brought much joy and pride to our family. He always loved a nice toothbrush scrub and his favorite treat was a fresh caught fly from the windowsill.
He has been with me personally since freshman year of college and it was a sad day to have to say goodbye. We gave him a final resting place under the japanese maple we planted this summer.

Along with some mundane autumn projects like cleaning gutters, painting window trim, glazing storm windows, composting leaves and turning compost piles... archery entered the vocabulary and has been a fun way to spend some spare minutes to focus the mind and body and geek out on youtube videos about shooting barebow style. Seems the wife and kiddo are interested too so hoping we find sometime this winter to go shoot some arrows as a family at the local indoor range in North Yarmouth.

Finally got around to installing the new patio light and touching up the trim around the new kitchen windows we replaced last year!

While tidying up the trim we went all out on autumn decorating with gourds, pumpkins, mums and decorative kale and cabbages. It is alot of work rotating seasons but the curb appeal when you pull into the homestead just makes all the effort worthwhile!

Hazel and Cassi get really excited about "spooky season" so we went a little overboard on the halloween decor but most of it translates well into my favorite season.... Thanksgiving!

As always we gave thanks with a small gathering of family at the homestead. Our feast was filled with Maine offerings from our garden along with farmer friends from all over the state. A reflective moment in each bite thinking about the struggles of a wet growing season, the strength of the local food movement and the gratitude of being able to enjoy a meal with 3 generations of Maine women.

Leftovers galore with our local turkey providing over 5 meals with some turkey stock put away for the upcoming winter months!

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