Fall is a bittersweet season.
The mountainside is absolutely glorious with the sun shining off the golds and reds. The days are still warm enough to work outside comfortably.
The later-season vegetables like broccoli and cabbage are at their prime. And root crops are still going strong. But summer is coming to an end and the garden is starting to look ragged in places. There is not much left for leafy greens, as the lettuce and chard have gone to seed. The peas are finished and ripped out. Even the weeds grow slower this time of year.
With the workload lessening, it is a good time to reflect on the past season: what worked best in the garden and what didn’t do so well.
I usually write information about how a vegetable did next to that vegetable in my seed catalogues. Then, mid-winter, I can transfer that info into new catalogues so I am able to order seeds more intelligently.
This fall, I am looking back at an amazing year for our garden. The only thing I would change would be to have more rain for everything while it was growing. But Al made sure to water the garden several times a week, so it didn’t suffer. Although the heat did take out the lettuce and peas earlier than usual, the root crops absolutely thrived.
Our broiler chickens also did well this year, but they were protected from predators better than the laying hens were as well as from the heat and rain.
We need to build a fox-proof fence. This will allow the laying hens to range freely in safety. And with the brushing done this summer, I am that much farther ahead when it comes to building the fence next spring.
Kali and Sienna, our pigs, did well this summer—although I think they slept through most of it, being pregnant and all that goes with that. Eating, sleeping and lying in the mud to keep cool were their daily activities.
Besides looking back over the past season, fall is also a time to look ahead and plan for the future.
Soon we will have two litters of piglets. And helping them make it through the winter will be a challenge, but a satisfying one. I am hoping that they will do as well as their mothers did last winter.
We’ve also acquired some young laying hens that have yet to start laying eggs. They will replace the ones the fox has been stealing all summer.
In some ways the barnyard has already become quieter (although with geese around, it is never silent).
Fall work on the farm is all about cleaning up and making things ready for a long winter ahead. This could be tilling manure into a new garden or feeding the pigs some vegetables that are past their prime. As usual, there is always something to do on the farm.