Monday, September 27, 2010

Seasons change.....time to flip the mattress over!

"In the days before electric lights, farmers depended on bright moonlight to extend the workday beyond sunset. It was the only way they could gather their ripening crops in time for market. Not since Sept. 23, 1991 has a full moon occurred on the same night as the fall equinox, and it won't happen again until 2029", wrote astronomer Tony Phillips in a NASA announcement. That's 38 years from now and I wonder how many of us will be alive to see this again?

The end of September signals the beginning of Autumn. The days grow shorter, the nights lengthen and the weather cools perceptively. We start the day wearing warmer clothing, perhaps even socks! Kitty curls up against us in the night seeking warmth from our sleeping bodies. We must take care not to squish her.....and we are grateful for the warmth that she imparts as well.

We change over our wardrobes. Sweaters and long pants are moved to the front of the closets while shorts, T's and sandals are pushed to the rear. Even the foods we crave are warmer, more filling and sustaining. The oven is more often in use now, filling the kitchen with warmth and wonderful aromas once again. We also flip the mattresses on our beds, wash all the mattress pads, covers, blankets and spreads, vacuum underneath and replace everything all freshly laundered and sun-dried. This is my favorite Autumn ritual and such a gratifying feeling!!

The summer of 2010 had a long run, being perhaps the longest summer I can remember since I was a kid, when every summer was long and languid. Hot and dry as dust too, the earth cracked and the water in the lake evaporated a good 6 inches, exposing bare shoreline from which the snails retreated into deeper coolness, where the migrating herons had farther to reach to pluck them. Our county is in a drought emergency. The weather people tell us we are 12% below average in precipitation levels. It is up here in the mountains that water is born from rain and snowfall. Springs, creeks and streams from thousands of small watersheds fill ponds and lakes and eventually form rivers that flow, providing hydration, recreation, moisture.....without which survival of everything on Earth would be impossible. Today it is raining softly and steadily and we are grateful.

Autumn marks the beginning of our six-month heating season. We heat our 3000 square foot 1870's farmhouse with an HS-Tarm wood-fired boiler that we installed in 1995, in conjunction with a backup Burnham oil-fired boiler. The Tarm, with its downdraft gasification technology, burns dry hardwood at 92% efficiency. This translates into the smoke equivalent of 1 cigarette (1 gram) per hour. Our Tarm also provides all of our domestic hot water produced during the heating season via a thermal loop to our hot water tank. We usually burn 5-6 cords of firewood each heating season. We are gratified to see that our 40-foot tall chimney, when cleaned in the spring, yields only about 1 gallon of ash.

These potatoes weigh about a pound.....each!!

Our garlic crop was amazing this year.....onions were small but tasty.

The tomatoes were fabulous and yielded gallons of frozen juice and lots of sauce, too.

.....plenty of roasted sweet peppers made it into jars, as well as frozen peppers for the freezer.

Visitors in September included Connie, Martha and Mike;



Brother Hank.........

Niece Rachel........

The blog wouldn't be complete without Moses hamming it up for the camera!

 Panoramic shot of Jolico Farm taken by our nephew Ben with his iPhone. I think he pieced together 8 shots to make this one photo.