Rushing Through Autumn

Chestnut burrs and yucca on the trash heap

Chestnut burrs and yucca on the compost heap

October 5 – “This has been quite a day!” as Mom used to say when she stopped work outside because it was too dark to see what she was doing! Now there was a lady who just plain never stopped till her planned work was done, another job (or two or three), was taken care of, and it really was too dark to see the garden. She worked that garden from early June right on through October, weather permitting, back in Pennsylvania.

Lately, I feel that I could follow in her footsteps along that line, because this time of year there are many things to be taken care of before winter comes. Of course winter here in Missouri would never be called winter back where I grew up. Well over 100 inches fell during a good number of years, and it didn’t even bother us because we were so used to it. Hardly ever any school days off, but the bus was often late in stopping on our unpaved road to pick us up.

Dale and I have been trying to match our stamina and pep with the latest tasks we have chosen, some necessary, others just because I think some items should be removed from the landscape to make the place look better.

Sorting out the burrs and chestnuts

Sorting out the burrs and chestnuts

This morning we were out under the chestnut trees again, with Dale pulling down the burrs, and my going around bent over, picking them up as they fell, some to go into the save bowl where the chestnuts were kept, and the others into the big white bucket where only empty burrs were put. Those nuts are getting pretty scarce these days, especially on the lower branches. The top of the tree still has some burrs waiting to be pulled down, but it’s going to have to be the squirrels who feast on the nuts from up there, as Dale and his rake can’t reach up that high.

We still have a half dozen boiled nuts (for eight minutes in the microwave) every morning for breakfast, but the greatest share of what we have salvaged is in the freezer as the nuts tend to get a bit moldy if left in the warmth of the kitchen.

Many varieties of tomatoes

Many varieties of tomatoes

But chestnuts aside, not only did I choose to skip tomato canning this year, I didn’t seal up any Ball jars at all! No grape juice, as the grape vines were so non-bearing and old that Dale agreed that they should finally be dug out and burned on the pile. Thankfully our son David came help us!

No pears, as the old tree in the pasture had but THREE pears, rather than the twelve bushels of former years. And no applesauce, since our two trees bore absolutely nothing! Ground cherries, the cute little yellow fruits that grow on stalks which take over the garden if we allow them to, haven’t been canned either this year. Why? Because we had to pull out all of the volunteer plants that had tried to take over the strawberry beds.

Now, this sounds like a very sad story, doesn’t it? Really, it wasn’t though, because this winter we will still have plenty of canned fruits, vegetables, frozen corn, cherries, peppers, and strawberries to use. Then we can start anew with the garden next year, providing we don’t have problems with too much rain at first, then dry, hard-baked soil afterward. – CHRIS

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