Fall is moving right along here at Willow Creek Farm – it is a very busy season, but my very favorite season. We have had a couple killing frosts, so the gardens are emptying quickly and the canning jars and root cellar racks are filling up. I love my root cellar racks. This is our second year with them and they are awesome.
We have harvested all the purple (green) beans and canned them. We have harvested all the tomatoes and they are ripening in the racks. We harvested all the squash as well and they are in the root cellar racks. We harvested and ate all the peppers. The peas and carrots are all harvested and frozen. We harvested all the grapes and made them into jelly juice which we froze. We will make that jelly and can it when we have time in the next coming weeks. This week we harvested all the drying beans and they are finishing their drying in the racks. And we also harvested all the celery and chopped and froze it.
All that remains in the gardens are onions, lettuce going to seed, cabbage that has been harvested and is sending up the second sprouts, beets, and radishes.
We purchased apples this week and have been canning applesauce. We still really love the “Squisher” that we bought last year (fruit press), it makes the process go much faster.
The root cellar feels and smells amazing with all the full jars and the produce.
It is always an adventure when you are homesteading, and this week was no different. During morning barn chores the rams got in with the ewes. Sunshine was chasing them around, trying to keep them from breeding, while yelling for Little Miss (who was milking Pansy) to run and get help. Mtn Man came out and helped her separate them off. But during the process Fergus mounted Autumn three different times. They were running at the time, because Sunshine was chasing them, which just goes to show how strong hormones are. So we are not sure if Fergus was successful in his endeavor or not, as the ewe was running full blast and he was also running, but only on his back two legs – LOL. It was quite a funny incident. Unfortunately, if he was successful, we will be having some February lambs – which in our cold climate is not a good thing. We have marked the calendar and will keep an eye on the situation. We might do a blood test in a month so that we really know what to expect.
We originally thought that the rams breaking out of their pen was a freak accident, like the gate didn’t get fully latched or something. But we quickly learned that was not the case. Fergus had figured out how to open the gate. First he would head butt it several times in a row to jiggle the latch open. The gate has spring loaded hinges, so it naturally stays closed. It opens towards the rams. He figured out that if he hit it again and bounced it open a little, he could get his head through and then the rest of him….And people say sheep are dumb. I guess they haven’t met our testosterone-driven ram. LOL.
So we adjusted the latch so he can’t do that anymore and the rams and ewes are securely separated until November when our breeding season starts.
Homestead Building Projects
Fall is our big time for outdoor homestead building projects, and this fall has some big ones. We are scrambling to get them done before winter hits since we lost most of September to Mr. Smiles’ surgery and recovery and my father’s funeral.
The two main projects we are focusing on right now are building a safe play area for Mr. Smiles, and building a second raised-bed vegetable garden.
Mr. Smiles’ Play Area
Mr. Smiles has special needs and cannot walk on anything but flat, smooth surfaces. We live on a mountainside in a forest…our ground is anything but flat and smooth. So we picked an area in the back yard and we are going to build a retaining wall, bring in dirt and fill it in to make it level. Then we are going to put down synthetic turf over the dirt. We will put in a play set and he will have a safe place he can move and play without us having to hold his hands and steady him.
This week we moved the large play house that was in that area. It was quite a job since the house was 12ft x 6ft. This week we will begin building the retaining wall.
The Second Veggie Garden
We have a nice big garden, and it is super productive, but we are feeding 7 people from it and could always use more. In August we took down some beetle kill trees for someone and had them made into lumber. We are now using that lumber to build another terraced, raised-bed vegetable garden. The new garden will be a little bigger than the current one, so we should more than double our production. We are very excited about this new project. We started building the raised beds this week and are about 1/3 done with that part of the project. I will follow up with photos and more info on the process in future posts.
I finished a pair of socks this week. I used a self-striping yarn from knit picks called Felici in the colorway Beyond the Wall and the Fish Lips Kiss Heel pattern.
This month I am embarking on a new learning journey – I am going to learn to weave! We had a large floor loom for the last couple of years and Young Man and Little Miss were the ones who learned how to use it and used it. I was too busy with Mr. Smiles’ medical stuff to feel like I could learn something new. This summer we sold that loom and bought a smaller one that fits nicely in the living room. Little Miss has been using it and every time I go into the living room it has been calling to me. I have always wanted to learn to weave, and now I am going to. Little Miss agreed to finish her project by October 1st and I could use the loom for the month of October, and longer if needed. So I am reading the book Learning to Weave by Deborah Chandler. And this week I will start weaving on the loom. I am really excited!