A dusting of snow has fallen over the highlands. The woodstove crackles merrily and beyond the cottage, the air bears fragrant smoke of spruce and old maple–all naturally windfallen logs cut from the west 40, in keeping with our commitment to sustainable permaculture. I love this time of year, for Daphne can at last fire up the ancient cooking woodstove in the arctic entry and make use of the Dutch oven. Soon, the cottage will be filled constantly with the aromas of baking bread and pastry, simmering stews and my daughters’ pastries.
After a hearty breakfast of free-ranged eggs and bacon, it’s time to give thought to the work of the coming weekend. First order of business is to fire up the tractor and haul in a trailer of firewood. This afternoon, 500 bales of hay will have to be stowed in the lofts of the barn. And somewhere in there I must squeeze in cutting another trailerload of logs from the windfallen region where the slope is exposed to strong southerly spring winds that knock down the trees that dare grow too tall. And I must do a few repairs to the main section of the old barn where our buck goat managed to kick out a wall and break a portion of a horse stable. Needless to say, he doesn’t like being confined during breeding season, but we needed fresh genes in milk flock this year.
At least yesterday we completed the harvest of the leeks, parsnips and rutabaga. There were only a couple hundred pounds still in the gardens, and much was canned since we have no more deep freezer space (both are full to the brim with this year’s free-ranged poultry and the autumn venison), but many of the leeks were stored in packed wood chips in old milk crates to be settled into the root cellar where they will keep for several months, providing midwinter fresh greens. In the Old Garden, the Swiss chard persists and as long as the protective snow stays over it, it will provide late season fresh greens, too. In the forest, many logs sport bright yellow, frozen witch’s butter should we want a little non-dried wild mushroom in our meals. I have to harvest the remaining 100 lbs or so of Jerusalem artichokes from the Potato Patch tomorrow, before the ground gets anywhere close to frozen, and then we will be comfortably set with fire and good food for the coming cold, dark months.
Feels like it’s time to break the fiddle out and get back to some serious writing after all the autumn busyness.