Jeff dug out the last of the parsnips earlier this week, peeled and boiled them, and froze most of them. That was the last of our vegetable garden for this year. The only thing we are still harvesting are some of the hardier herbs – parsley and sage are still going pretty strong as they are on a protected side of the house.
Our next project will be bottling some more of last year’s wine to empty out some of the carboys and get them ready for our currently fermenting batch of apple wine. So bottle washing it is for now…in between Christmas preparations.
Our family and friends have been enjoying last year’s apple wine…so much so, that we are beginning to run short. We certainly want to avoid that situation in the future, so Jeff went and got more apples last week.
This weekend – which was gorgeous again – we pressed another 20 gallons of cider. We saved about 3 gallons of this for Thanksgiving (Tina found a great recipe for a cider Thanksgiving punch – which consists mostly of apple schnapps and cider with spices and some oranges and lemon slices for decorations). The remaining cider is already in the fermenting vat for another batch of 2010 apple wine. With the earlier apple wine batch, we hope to end up with about 30 gallons.
Got some major house cleaning, re-arranging and decorating done this weekend as well. Even finished our home office area. Now we are almost ready for everyone to come and visit for Thanksgiving!
It was a beautiful fall weekend, and we got a lot of things done outside. The backyard’s overgrown, messy flowerbed is no more: after Tina transplanted all perennials worth saving to other flowerbeds and moved all the scattered large stones to the future stone wall, Jeff pulled out most of the tree-stumps with the tractor and then used his grader to level the ground. Only two stumps could not be removed – one of the Magnolia trees is planted between them and they will now anchor a much smaller flowerbed. After Jeff raked the space smooth, Tina spread grass seed over the bare ground. Not sure it will still grow this fall, but it was worth a try, since the seed was left over from the spring planting in front of the house. We then removed the round turtle pen and mowed off the weeds (the turtle – being a desert creature – had to be moved inside for the winter).
Tina also pulled out the dead annuals – since we had a pretty hard frost earlier this week, not much is left from any of them. All this cleaning up certainly made the compost pile a lot bigger. Jeff shut off all the outside water spigots, and we put away the water hoses before they freeze and crack. Mowed the backyard and the “orchard” one last time this fall, which made everything look rather clean 🙂
Also found time to play with wild grapevines, which Jeff and Jens brought back from Bedford after their Saturday hunting trip. Tina wanted swags for the three windows in the back room, so she measured the windows and screwed the longest dry-wall screws she could find in the appropriate spacing on the backside of the corn crib – then she wound the long grapevines around the screws and Jeff used the more flexible vines to wrap around the swags. This worked pretty slick! We are letting them dry in position for a few days – when they are set in their new shape, we’ll add some fairy lights (on the brown wire so they are hardly visible except for the lights). If this does not look too gaudy, we may try another swag for the living room window – at least during Christmas time.
Jeff plowed and disked another acre, getting ready to spread hard fescue grass later this week. This will be our next acre of ground ready for planting blackberries in the spring. We’ll make rows for the berry plants right before planing, but this type of grass should not spread into the rows and should only have to be mowed a few times a year. Hoping that plowing and disking will destroy any weeds (and poison ivy vines) that were present in what used to be a hay field.