The years are picking up speed every year. My Grandmother did tell me this would happen but wow I didn’t understand then just how much speed. Still, as the calendar year gets ready to flip I enjoy looking back at things on the farm that went well and those that didn’t. It’s also time to pick the things on the land I want to focus on and learn more about as well as skills I’d like to add or develop.
I know it sounds kind of linear and clinical to put it that way. The list isn’t nearly as assessment/action-plan as it sounds. It’s just a way for me to stay focused more deeply on certain chosen things over the year. Since lord knows I love a *lot* of different things and am totally prone to forget my intentions because someone shouted “Squirrel!!” Or because the sky was pretty that day. Or something needed doing for work. Or because the skill challenging and I’d rather read a garden magazine… You get the picture. This list is more to help me remember what I want to explore more deeply.
On of the things I wanted to work on for 2015 was doing better around using and putting by what the land provides. Apples topped that list as some years the bounty overflows and this was one of those years. I did manage to make lots of apple things: apple sauce, apple crumbles….often using the crockpot. The chickens cleaned up loads of ground apples which felt like another way to put by in the form of delicious chicken.
Also tried making apple butter with the crockpot then freezing it in jars (vs canning). Freezer jam is easy to pull out and thaw. It allowed me to do it with no added sweeteners and you wouldn’t believe how sweet it is on its own! You just have to keep it frozen till you are ready to use it — then eat it up a little more quickly. I used small jars for that reason and let’s just say it’s gone in no time…
Drying apples is another way to preserve them so tried my hand at that (after being inspired by my friend Jane last year. ) Apples below are just going into the dryer.
After drying overnight or longer (depending on how thick the slices are) geesh they are delicious!! The dryer is located in the home office where I work so there was a little trouble with the worker stealing apples before they ever made it out of the dehydrator…. Since they shrink dramatically anyway as they dry, this theft was unfortunately VERY obvious.
So I can look back at putting by apples in 2015 and feel like I made good progress. Once I’ve done a thing the first time, it’s more likely that I’ll do it again —so breaking that first-time barrier on a new skill matters a lot to me in the long run.
All that said, there were many things on the farm that I either didn’t get around to at all, profoundly dropped the ball, or was half-assed at best. Nothing like a farm, even a tiny homesteady one, to humble you that way. Take all those blog posts I wrote this year. RIGHT! There were hardly any… So ‘garden blog’ goes back on the list for 2016 of things I’d like to give more attention. That list, by the way, will be very short as I learn more every year how much time it takes to do a thing deeply and well. Still, the blog makes the cut as it’s a way to share and reflect on this conversation with the land I hope to have the rest of my life. So besides the blog, another short- list item is learning better to to prune and care for old apple trees. That’s two already. I’ll be thinking about what the few others will be and let you know!
How has your conversation with the land and the growing things gone this year? What will you be focusing on next year? I’d love to hear your comments.
with love, Leigh