Autumn has been typical this year and not too extreme with any of the weather: not too cold, not too warm, not too wet – it’s really been a textbook fall in all regards. The leaves have yellowed and turned brown, and have mostly fallen. There have been a few frosts, one hard frost (hose was frozen, sheep’s water bucket had a cap of ice) and we switched from daylight “savings” time to standard time. And the fall chores are keeping me as busy as the summer – maybe busier.
I’m slowly deconstructing the garden. Most everything has been harvested and/or composted. As I pull out the spent plants (beans, squash, potatoes) I back fill with used sheep bedding, and will be layering with the acres of fallen leaves (that I need to rake up!). The only things left to still harvest are the kale and the chard, some collards, and three or four football sized rutabagas (American football, and I’m not kidding – they’re that huge), and a few carrots. I harvested all the beets over the weekend, when I found that mice or voles were dining regularly on them. Several were completely ruined, and the rest were all salvageable. I miss my Jasper even more now – he was a superb mouser and would have kept my garden pest free. I’m also having an issue with what I’m assuming are meadow voles, or maybe rats. They tunnel under my chard and radicchio and chew off the root. The plant flops over and if I get it in time I can “harvest” but if I don’t see it, the plant just wilts and dies where it fell. I’m not sure how to combat this one since they’re underground – Google and YouTube to the rescue. They’re not bothering the kale plants, or the collards or rutabagas, so will probably move on once the chard is all gone. It seems like the kale is indestructible. I had plenty of pests sharing the crop with me, especially later in the summer. Cabbage worms and cutworms and slugs were eating a lot of it. Now, though, it’s having the last laugh. The hard frost over the weekend just made it laugh. It’s like the Chuck Norris of garden plants, I swear! I’m getting a little sick of eating it, but am starting to see where I might run out and I know I’ll be sad when that happens, and long for spring so I can plant some more. Maybe fewer plants next time.
The bees have been quiet, naturally. It’s been cold, but when we get a moderate day and the sun shines on their hive, a few of the girls come out for a flight and a drink. I’ll see them on the grass around the hive (lots of damp dew to drink) or in the garden, on the chard or kale, drinking the drops of water. I see some of the girls coming back with bright yellow pollen sacks full, so there must be a little foraging going on too. The front stoop of the hive is littered with dead bees after a day like this; it’s not excessive, but I still don’t like to see it.
The chickens are grooving in their new, expanded run, with their young rooster. A friend and coworker insisted she would come over and help me with building out the run, a project that’s been on my to do list for the past year. She came out with her was-band (her ex husband, a friend) one Saturday afternoon and we set the posts. The next day they came back out and we put up the wire. A few weeks later they were back, installing the door to the run that they built for me. In exchange for the help, I took the rooster who needed a home. Of course about the same time I realized one of my young pullets is probably a rooster – so now I have two roosters! My former pullet is a little younger and smaller so it’s not an issue now, but if it becomes one (like, they don’t get along, or get too noisy, or are too much disruption for the hens), I’ll be having a roast chicken dinner in the spring with one of them as the main dish.