A Gathering Time

by Jenni

“To everything there is a season,

a time for every purpose under heaven.

I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

And He has set eternity in their hearts.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 10, 11

Ahh, fall, the season of change. The other morning, while still dark outside, Seth and I awoke to the lively, heavy scent of wet sage and juniper curling through our open window, as a surprise rain caused the plants to release the fresh coolness they’d held onto all these dry hot weeks of summer. These first days of autumn feel like a celebration of the season. A frosty morning is novel and frisky. We’re enjoying those “firsts” of the season:  pumpkin spice latte, fire in the woodstove, Pumpkin Pie Blizzard from DQ. Our food cravings shift toward heartier fare: chili & cornbread, toasted cheese sandwiches, baked sweetbreads, anything pumpkin or apple, roasts and dinners hot from the oven.

We are definitely in a “gathering” mode on the farm these days, putting up food and firewood for the winter ahead. One thing I’m enjoying about living here is seeing and taking part in the process of things. Harvesting pears from the orchard; letting them ripen on the counter until their perfume announces ripeness; and then peeling, chopping, simmering, seasoning, and mashing them into a delicious pear sauce (smooth for Seth, chunky for me).

Pears (plus a few apples and Asian pears) ready for the sauce pot

It’s a satisfying kind of work to roll up one’s sleeves and get the hands a little dirty. A few times a day, when I need a quick break from my computer-driven day job, I slip on my barn shoes and head outside with the dog to pick those last ripe tomatoes, feed the birds some table scraps, pluck a few pieces of fruit. I bought an old fruit-picker’s basket from the thrift store and keep it by the side door because I’m always coming in with something. The 5 chickens are starting to lay more regularly now. Although, the 3 turkey hens have them beat at egg production (and size)! Anybody want to come over for a turkey egg scramble? Unusual, I know, but you might be surprised how good they are.:) The only thing is that those eggshells are so strong, I have to hammer down hard to get a clean break!

The white girls should start laying any day now...

Meanwhile, turkeys rule the roost

Seth has been a prime “hunter-gatherer”, bringing home a beautiful 7-pound steelhead from the Deschutes River (caught on the spey rod he built), which is now in our freezer for future meals.

Fresh steelhead, anyone? We'll grill this on a cedar plank--smoky & delicious!

And he’s filling the woodshed with fuel to keep us warm through the coming cold.

Chopping wood

Fill 'er up!

Winston's cozy spot by the fire

All that work builds an appetite and I’ve been having fun in the kitchen. I don’t know how much cooking and baking I’ll be up to when the baby arrives, so all the more reason to enjoy it now and stock up on some things. We had oodles of beautiful little plum tomatoes last week–I couldn’t eat them fast enough, so I dehydrated them and packed in olive oil with garlic and herbs. Should make a tasty, simple addition to pasta,  pizza, or sandwiches this winter. 

So that’s what’s new and fun on the farm these days! I hope you are enjoying fall, notching off some “firsts” of the season, and eating well, my friends. 🙂
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