inevitable

IMGP0566Just as it was getting light this morning, Ira got suited up, grabbed his gun, and left to go squirrel hunting. There’s only a few more days of squirrel season left, but I think the child has shot 56 squirrels so far. Admittedly, I won’t be sad when the season ends as we have eaten so. many. squirrels. They taste fabulous, don’t get me wrong. And I am proud of him for always cleaning them with care and relish seeing how proud he is when we sit down to a meal that he harvested and often prepared all by himself. But I have strange moments of wondering when the natural balance in the squirrel population could be upset… or when hungry squirrel-eating hawks decide to pay a visit to our chicken paddock when they find tree-dwelling rodents are in short supply. Hmmmm.IMGP0594It was 12 degrees this morning. The cold weather doesn’t seem to bother Ira much, he refuses long underwear (well, any underwear for that matter) but he has actually taken to wearing socks with his rubber boots. If you know Ira, that is quite a revelation. When he returned from his hunt and set in giving Papa his report (again, if you know Ira, you also know that he always always has something to say.) he said it felt like a summer morning. Summer. He has a particular keenness for birds and pays attention to what they have to say. Apparently, this morning the birds’ chatter, and gobblers calling in the distance, alerted his brain to the fact that change is in the air. The inevitable change that happens when winter gives way to spring. And spring to summer, for that matter. And it is inevitable, too. The change. There is no stopping it. Even though there is still snow on the ground. Even though more snow could be falling this evening. Spring’s return is inevitable. And I’ll be glad for it.IMGP0504

firsts

IMG_8139The first frost of the season settled on the farm over the weekend. We knew it was coming, as we saw nearly a 50 degree temperature drop in just a few days, but somehow never feel fully prepared for the reality of that plummeting mercury. Here in Bugtussle, the temperatures hovered right around the freezing point but didn’t dip low enough to send the garden into complete submission. In areas of the garden with good air drainage we saw very little frost damage. Even tomato and pepper plants somehow survived with only a slight kiss of frost, while neighboring summer squash plants were scorched. Some ginger that was still in the ground thankfully only had some leaf damage while in the next row over, the last few remaining rows of sweet potatoes were weirdly dark and melty looking.IMG_8140So on Sunday (a day of rest, right?), we made a push to finish up the sweet potato harvest and get them out of the ground before any of the frost damage could travel down the vine and adversely affect those precious roots. Golly, if my somewhat tired brain serves me right now, I’m figuring we lifted just a few hundred pounds shy of two tons of sweet potatoes from our garden soil. That’s a whole lot of winter meals!

The first frost came sort of early this year. Not much, but enough for us to realize all that still needs to be wrapped up before the persistent nightly frosts make themselves known around these parts: finish harvesting ginger and peanuts; haul the ridiculous amount of winter squash to the barn; glean the last of the tomatoes and peppers and maybe even process some; clean-up, clean-up, clean-up in the garden; and finally get cover crops on any bare soil. Oh, yeah… and plant a quarter acre of garlic.IMG_8142The weekend also heralded our first fall share delivery in our CSA. This time of year is always slightly insane… that odd clash of seasons that procures watermelons and sweet potatoes in the same basket (which was a first). The time of year when summer isn’t quite over but fall is fully upon us, if you know what I mean. Kind of wacky, but Eric and I get great amusement out of watching our shareholders load their baskets, juggling the melons while hefting the weight of all the potatoes and sweet potatoes, and trying not to smash the kale or the tomatoes. It’s such a treat for us to know that our food will travel into so many special homes to be prepared and consumed by so many special folks. I really do love my job. Even though I work most weekends.

On a different wavelength, I started knitting my very first pair of socks, knitted two at a time. There is genius behind knitting two matching garments, or a pair of something, at the same time. Just think… no more will I have face the deflated feeling of exactly repeating the same project I just completed in order to have a pair of something. (also know as the “second sock syndrome”) Nope. Two at once is brilliant. I’ve wanted to give this technique a whirl for a long time now, but am just feeling the mental wherewithal to actually tackle such a project. I’m sure for the experienced two-at-a-time-knitter, it’s really not a big deal. But I am not that person, and for me it is a very big deal. I did beg my children to “just leave me alone” for a few minutes so I could successfully cast-on the socks (which is the tricky part). Surely that doesn’t make me a terrible mother.IMG_8150{Here I am following the instructions for “sample” socks from Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. They are knitted in different colors to help the beginner be able to have a better idea what the hell they are doing. That, too, is genius.}

And on an entirely different note, my little man Ira shot his first squirrel today. Perfect shot, too. He cleaned it himself and he’ll be cooking it for lunch tomorrow. The acorns are so insane right now, I imagine that squirrel is “acorn-finished”…IMG_8170There’s a first time for everything, friends.