Summer is winding down here at the farm, and as I write this I am sitting by a cozy fire in the wood stove watching the rain clouds move in. I am glad that I took advantage of the sunny day yesterday to pick as many mostly ripe tomatoes as possible before the rain causes them all to split. As the days grow short, the list of end of summer chores grows long. I harvested all of the good size Anaheim peppers in the garden a few days ago – 7 dozen in all! I will roast and freeze them for making chili rellenos throughout the winter. I also made up a big batch of tomato soup that I need to can this weekend. The pears that we harvested several weeks ago have been removed from the fridge and have finally ripened, so I need to get around to making the long-awaited pear butter. I traded some eggs with a friend that had a much better lemon cucumber harvest than I did, so I can make my famous lemon cucumber garlic dill pickles after all this year. Last but not least, I still need to can some of the bounty of kale in the garden. I may or may not get to it, and if I don’t I know some feathered ladies that will be happy to help us eat it throughout the fall and winter.
The ladies are winding down with egg laying for the year, and most of the chickens have begun to molt. Twitchy and Ruby are having a contest for the ugliest chicken award as they both are going through what is called a “hard molt” when most of the feathers fall out all at once. These are two of my friendliest ladies, usually the first to come running over to me for treats and lap time, but as I enter the chicken yard with my camera in hand to document their sad appearance for the blog, they skulk around the outskirts of the group as if they know they have taken on a somewhat ridiculous appearance. One of our grown turkey hens, Prudence, is still laying an egg about every other day, and I am hoarding her jumbo sized eggs in my stash of eggs to get us through the fall and winter. Eleanor, our other grown turkey hen, has been broody for about six weeks now so she is not laying eggs. Her babies are now fully grown, and despite being too large to really fit comfortably, several of them hang out with her in the small chicken coop that they were raised in, keeping her company. The chicken coop in the upper pasture needs a thorough cleaning before fall sets in since the ladies will be spending more time indoors once the rain and winds arrive, so I like to give it a good scrub down and replace all of the shavings to get it ready for fall.
The bees are winding down the summer too. On sunny days they can still be seen out and about in the fall aster and the last of the fall-blooming flowers. I have several bee balm, echinacea, and calendula seedlings that I started from seed in the greenhouse that are ready to be planted into the bee garden to give them more fall flowers for next year. There is a ton of garden clean-up to do, and of course there is always a big pile of compost waiting to be spread on the raised beds that somehow I never quite get around to. In another month or so, all of the chores that are going to get done will be done, and those that don’t won’t, but either way we have accomplished quite a lot this year and are feeling quite fortunate to have had another bountiful summer at the farm.