November 4 – Took a walk recently along the pasture trails, stopping at one of the chestnut trees to see if any more nuts had fallen to the ground. I found several burrs that had nuts inside, but I was not about to pull the burr apart to pick them out. Dale did the same, but has mastered the art of stepping on the burr and forcing it open so he can collect the nuts inside. Two of those burrs had three nuts inside. We have been enjoying that special food for breakfast for a long time now and hate to see the season change.
I have a big jar of tomato juice in the fridge waiting for us to enjoy for supper. Easy to make. I sorted through the tomatoes of all kinds, saving the more perfect ones for sandwiches, and cooking up the other ones. All good tasting, but a spot on the fruit or a little imperfection sends it to the cooking kettle. After the tomatoes had cooked up to a very soft stage, I put them through the blender, then through a colander to remove all of the seeds. That’s easy, and now we have a couple quarts of fresh tomato juice to enjoy.
While cooking them up, I had forgotten just how hot boiling things can be. The first batch in the blender filled it to about three inches below the cover; you should have seen what happened when I turned on the machine. Good thing I was holding the lid on, because the heat and pressure tried to move my hand out of the way and let the juice spew out. I filled the blender to about half for the next batch of tomatoes!
How different from the process of making and canning juice earlier this year when the garden was producing so many bushels of red fruit. I cooked up large batches of cut-up tomatoes in kettles like the old-fashioned large pressure cookers. When they were soft, Dale would carry the kettle over to a small table onto which our “juicer” is fastened. While I continued dumping small pans of tomatoes into the funnel shaped top, he turned the handle of the juicer with good tomato paste coming out one part and the skins and seeds making their exit in another part. Usually, we cooked up and canned about 50 or 60 quarts of juice to help to fill the shelves in the basement.
The juice makes really good soup in the wintertime (especially if it has rice or pasta in it). I often make a big kettle of vegetable soup with all kinds of vegetables in it, but since Dale doesn’t like cooked carrots or any of the cabbage family, he chooses not to eat that “good” stuff! I tease him sometimes about being a strange vegetarian since he doesn’t like carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage (except in slaw), green beans, and probably others that I can’t remember right now.
Anyway, back to our walk! After finishing our stroll, we decided it was time to burn the pile of branches and needles left from the pine tree our kids bought to honor their grandma. She was a second mother to me and always helped us in any way she could. The tree stood tall in the corner of lawn next to the driveway, and sheltered all kinds of birds through the years. Unfortunately, it was rotted at the base, and after a storm, we found it lying on the ground. Those needles and dry branches, along with the piles of hay Dale raked up from the field nearby set the wood on fire, and continued burning till not much was left.
I helped with the fire for awhile, but when it was burning nicely, I walked a short distance over to the wild pear tree in the pasture. The ground was full of fallen pears, really full, and big flies and yellow jackets were having a feast on the soft or nearly rotten fruit. Bending over, I reached down to a pear, then another, and another, tossing them behind me into the field. Some shot between my legs, others to the side, and some over my shoulder, but after awhile, all of the pears were gone from around the tree, except for one section that had so many yellow jackets buzzing around, I was a bit afraid to take on the whole crew, as I know those things can really sting.
When our kids were little, Dale and I took them to a big pond at Wintergreen Gorge, where we sat and watched the fish for awhile, then started to walk around the pond. Don’t know where the yellow jackets came from, but some started after Biz and me, and we ran back to the car to escape their bad personality. Quickly opening the car doors, I shot like mad into the driver’s seat while she ducked into the back seat. Unfortunately, the windows were open and those horrible insects flew right through mine and stung me a number of times anyway! I have never quite forgiven them for that… – CHRIS