Life at the homestead is calm. There are still a few things left to do in the garden, such as planting the fava bean bed for next year and putting in some new lettuce/broccoli starts, but other than that, the activity is slowing down.

There are still apples in our apple tree which must be picked very soon and who knows what else I will be making with those apples. They are really tasty this year, but the moths got to a lot of them and they are rotten inside. Thankfully our neighbor down the street has an apple press thing and so we got to make some pretty good apple juice/cider from some of our apples. It’s great how all the rotten parts get filtered out with that. Maybe we can get a few gallons of juice with the rest of our apples.

I have been drying out my squash seeds as I use my squash, and of course any new ones that I have bought at the co-op also get dried for planting next spring. This year we had too many gourds and although we like them for decorating, they got mixed in with the good squash and we had gourds disguised as edible squash. I think it’s because of all the volunteers we just let grow. It’s the same for the tomatoes. We had too many volunteers and since we didn’t know what else to do, we let them grow. This is how we ended up with millions of grape and cherry tomatoes and not many of the really good cooking kind. We also let some tomatillos grow out this year, but they didn’t get very big before the frost came and killed them.

We now have a better plan for our garden next year. I guess it takes the first year to really learn what you want to grow and what works for your family. Too many gourds and cherry tomatoes don’t work for us. Next spring we want to put in some potatoes, more peas and beans, and some good heirloom tomatoes. We’re going to continue with our lettuce mixes, kale, broccoli and cauliflower and we’re hoping to see some fruit in our fig trees. We saw a few in the first tree we planted last year, but they were small and didn’t mature. I was amazed to see any at all, actually, since we had only just put the tree in a few months before.

A few weeks back, our neighbors next door gave us a box full of their delicous pears. Yesterday I used half of the pears that were left in the box to make a delicous Poached Pears in Red Wine for dessert. It was really, very good. Next year, if we receive another box of pears from them, I will can the pears in this sauce to have on hand for dessert year-round!

With much planning ahead and with HaShem’s provision, we have been able to gather sufficient wood to get us through much of winter. We also recently got invited to help in the removal of a friend’s trees, in exchange for some of the wood. What a blessing! It’s been getting cold enough now that we burn the wood to keep our house warm at least in the morning and evening. Soon enough, the stove will be on all day long and well into the night. It’s very comforting, though, having that woodstove on. I love how the cat and dog find their spots right in front of the stove, curl up and fall asleep for hours. What a life!

So what’s next for our little homestead? Rejoicing in the warmth of our home, in the sleepy days as the earth falls asleep for a season, and enjoying the fruits of our labor one jar of jam or applebutter at a time.