‘Fallin’ weather signals a subtle change in the air. Mornings are cooler and you need a sweater or a jacket if you are outside early in the day. Evenings are chilly, but the moonrises are spectacular and she used to call our attention to it–especially the full ‘Harvest Moons’.
Fall means endless work as the combines rumble through the fields gathering in the last of the summer’s bounty of grain and the roads are filled with the big trucks hauling the harvested grain to the big elevators in town to be shipped out by rail.
Those of us who have gardens are busy with the canning, freezing and drying of the overload of a garden’s harvest bounty. The back porch is full of boxes of cucumbers to be made into pickles or relishes. There are the pumpkins and squash to be lugged to the backs of pickups or to the wheelbarrows to be taken to the cellars, basements or other cool spots in the home.
Those of you who do not garden can find a bounty of produce at the local farmers markets. For those of you who want to know exactly how your food is grown, this is a great opportunity to meet that farmer and ask the person who slaved over the rows, hours on end.
If you can’t take advantage of a local farmer’s market, there is yet another way–simply put out the word that you will gladly take any excess produce available. Those who are overflowing with cucumbers, late green beans, excess cabbage, etc., will be more than happy to “bless” your doorstep. Gardeners hate to see good food go to waste.
Some will take the cornstalks left behind by the combines and make a ‘shock’ or two along with a few of the pumpkins or squash to decorate the dooryard of the home. Maybe some of these will even have a face or two painted on them!
Some folks will spend hours fighting mosquitos, ticks, chiggers and other creepy-crawlies in the semi-shade of the chokecherry and plum bushes picking the bounty of Mother Nature for to make the jams and jellies for the goodie baskets they’ll make for family and friends during the upcoming holidays.
There are some communities that have the large plots of land devoted to orchards or potato fields that will let folks glean the fields after the pickers have been through them for the last time. A dear friend from years back lived in such a place and filled her cellar to overflowing every fall with produce that otherwise would have been wasted. She told of getting fallen apples for just a dollar a bushel after the pickers had finished for the season. She took the apples home and made her apple sauce and apple butter from these.
If you have such an opportunity, but could not in any way use a bushel of fruit or vegetables, then ask a neighbor or a friend if they would like to divide up the cost and get a share. It is satisfying to be able to go to the shelf and pull off a jar of green beans or some kind of fruit for a meal without having to go to the store. Many of these same items can also be frozen or dried. Extension Services have many excellent pamphlets and books on ‘how-to’ for people just beginning to learn.
Never think you are too old to learn something new. Just go to a 4-H County Fair and watch those children explain to the judges just how they mixed their cake, kneaded the bread dough, or sawed a board and learned to paint that little wooden figure. Or, maybe they learned how to draw the letters for that blue ribbon poster without making any extra marks that would show.
Some kids raise show animals and its quite a treat to watch the young folks groom their animals for the show ring and watch that judge with unwavering eyes as he/she walks up and down the rows. Ribbons are won and awards given for their hard work and dedication. Our future food growers are learning how to best manage the fields and pastures across this great nation.
’Tis ‘fallin’ weather!
Until next month,