We’re quickly rushing out of October into November. The calendar may say we’re in the middle of fall, but realistically (as the snow falls every few days) we’re at the end of autumn. Time for our seasonal accountability. Autumn is filled with a lot of tasks that happen every year for us regardless of whether we say we are homesteaders or not.
As I write this in the end of October, we have 2 cords of firewood in the basement. We have a little more than a cord that we cut and split ready to be moved into the basement. And, we have two cords being delivered today (to move to the basement). The youngest, my almost 13 year old, has been throwing the wood into the basement through our bulkhead. Then, I toss it to the other end of the basement, where the woodstove is, and finally, I stack it. Honestly, I have only a little over a cord stacked so far… I always want 6+ cords ready to burn. I hate rationing wood and being cold. We heat solely with the woodstove, so we need enough for September through April or more.
I harvested lots of green tomatoes and froze some for green tomato cake, after the first hard frost. Potatoes were dug soon after. The puppy knocked over the sunflowers so the heads were brought in to finish drying. The herbs were picked and hung to dry. Except, because the parsley was so healthy, even after frost, I transplanted one of the plants to a pot and we’re continuing to grow it inside. We’ll see if it works. Right now it doesn’t seem as vibrant, but it’s not getting that direct sunlight either. Usually, we transplant to the outdoors not to the inside!
The last lawn mow of the season included a lot of fallen leaves. These were collected and dumped into the garden as a compost mulch. We don’t put any chemicals on our grass, so this is safe for our food supply, aka the garden.
There is still horseradish to harvest, wash, and grind. I just haven’t gotten to it yet.
After harvesting the horseradish, I need to clean out the last tomato cages and such. Then spread the leaves/grass clippings, and some aged woodshavings & poop from the chicken coop.
Last year was the first year we raised turkeys and they were behemoths. This year we butchered them in the beginning of October so that they were all in 15-30# range. The challenge with butchering 6 turkeys is having enough freezer space.
The chickens and ducks don’t mind the colder weather, but we are getting fewer eggs, most likely because of the shorter days. We don’t usually use a heat lamp in the coop until the eggs start freezing, but we may start earlier this year to extend the days. Right now, at the end of October, it is only light from about 7am until 6:30pm
School & work routines
Due to Covid-19 the kids’ school year started later per an order from the governor. I started right on time, though as staff began “early” to prepare for the new Covid restrictions. It has been a crazy year so far, with social distancing, wearing masks, each child in a different form of learning (online, hybrid, in-person)… Sports practices are different too. Because there were so many restrictions, the youngest chose not to play football. The younger girl played soccer with a mask, and I coached elementary X-Country running (nomasks while running). Unfortunately, many games were canceled for the year as schools limited contact and eventually the state dictated no interstate travel.The XCountry meets were not held in conjunction with the high school races, so we scheduled three within our district (7 schools, four teams). Unfortunately, two schools went virtual for a week (our son’s was one) canceling one race.
But the routine of packing my lunch, some school lunches, and sometimes a lunch for hubby, was pretty solid. By October, I finally had some time on the weekends to make items for the lunches like granola, cookies, jello cups. We can still improve over the single serving granola bars, beef jerky etc, but we have kept the routine of buying large packages of crackers, chips, etc and divvying into smaller containers or bags.
So with so many people home for Coronacation, there were many more gardeners. As soon as the seed shortage became known I started buying some jars here and there. But there hasn’t been that many available and I refused to buy them at $30/case…So we didn’t can as much as normal. Then, the freezer broke so I had less room to freeze.
We did make two batches of dilly beans, the youngest helped with one. I intended to do salsa and pasta sauce, maybe bread and butter pickles. I didn’t even make applesauce.
I did try out some new things. Using the dehydrator, I made some veggie powder. I started with beet because I can hide something sweet in a lot of things. It is super pretty! Then we also tried some flavored finishing salts.I made some merlot salt. I always forget to try it with my steak.I’ve sprinkled it on a few things and it’s pretty good. I want to try it with some other flavors. Maybe this is a future holiday gift idea.
This is a focus I’ve been working on. During the first part of Coronacation I became active on our blog. Part two has been expanding our sales. I began making bags like crazy and finding places to sell them at. I had actually started this before the world shut down, but that gave me time to actually work on it. Then craft fairs didn’t happen, or farmers markets, but I began setting up our blog to be an actual website with sales. This fall, I have done one in-person craft fair and several online fairs.
My new focus is on creating subscription packages. I have some great ideas, but marketing is not my strength. Look for it soon, we’ll have a subscription package for our bags, for our homestead items, and maybe Vermont Tourism.
We weren’t able to have garden products for sale, but I did start making jewelry. I have wanted to make upcycled jewelry from bottle caps and can tabs. I’m learning as I go, but I think they are pretty cool so far. I need some beads and chains, but I have plenty of bottle caps. *giggle*
Looking ahead to winter
I always hope that the next season will be slower, but it never seems to happen. I do hope to read more and craft more. Most of all, I hope to write more.
Soon the wood will be inside and stacked. Soon the horseradish will be ground and frozen. Then I should have time to read, write, and craft.
Winter weather also tends to lead to more soups and casseroles. There is nothing quite as nice as coming home to the smells of dinner almost ready. I use both the crock pot and the oven settings to have dinner almost ready when we’re scheduled to be home. We have no idea what the winter sports schedule will be, we assume ski racing is still on, but we’ll be ready.
Looking ahead to the Holidays
With Covid-19 still running rampant, a few days before Halloween everything was still a huge question. Our cousin, Gary, loves Halloween and was looking forward to 2020 for years: full moon, Saturday, time change (longer night). Even the weather was fairly cooperative looking. Masks fit right in, but Covid-19 fears are not the same as fun-scary fears.
Thanksgiving is a big deal for many families, and again Covid-19 seems to be overshadowing the holiday. As we finish October, we’re awaiting word from the state as to whether all schools will be required to be remote learning following Thanksgiving to accommodate families and quarantining. It’s out of our hands, of course, but will have a large impact on our lives.
So, moving onto Christmas. We don’t know how much family and friends we may see, but we know that we shall celebrate it at home. This is true for our friends of other cultures and faiths, as well, we all seem to at least be planning a home celebration of some sort.
I started purchasing some items as they are on sale (passes for the local mountain, for example), but some of the factory sales are just not happening this year. Sadness. Every couple years, she goes to the factory sale for Darn Tough Socks, spends about a hundred dollars and walks out with hundreds of dollars of product. We hoped to do the same with TurtleFur this year.
We clearly never know what is going to happen, but we can reflect on our accomplishments and missed deadlines. We can keep on trying.
What is your goal for this winter? I would love to know!
Very interesting post! I don’t know anything about homesteading at all, so it’s interesting to read your perspective. It does sound like really tough work and it’s really inspiring. I don’t have any plans for winter I was planning to fly home to visit family but pretty sure that’s not going to happen! It will probably just my husband and me at home, let’s see what happens:
“Let’s see what happens” is a phrase that is being used a lot this year. It’s tough for me, I’m a planner.I like to plan ahead with a plan and a back up plan, but this year there are so many unknowns…
Thank you for reading, and your comment! Hopefully you are able to visit family, good luck!