This Month On The Homestead: Early Apples and Late Summer
If you’re just tuning in, this is a new series in which I plan to document each month of our lives out here on our 66-acre Vermont homestead. After leaving urban Cambridge, MA in May to chart this wholly different life, we’re experiencing a constant learning curve of exploration (and plenty of stupid novice moments). Check out last month’s installment here.
August flew by in a flourish of ripening crops, visiting friends, and a much more mobile Babywoods. From our incredibly novice observations, it appears August just might be our last month of true, hot summer. As September loomed, a few precocious leaves tinged themselves with yellow and orange. Nicely done, leaves.
Land In Transition
As summer waxed on, it was easy to assume we’d reap its bounty forever. Our former cubicle-populated, city-dwelling life was radically divorced from seasonal fluctuations. Each month was pretty much like the last, with either the addition or subtraction of a turtleneck. Maybe a pumpkin spice latte too (although, to be fair, I’ll drink those anytime… ).
Conversely, here on the homestead we’re blasted with the minutiae of each season’s predilections. Our flowers, which felt like a permanent element of life, dropped off this month. We still have a few errant daisies blooming, but most other flowers are finished for the year. Just like that, they’re dormant. Mr. Frugalwoods and I are so accustomed to the falsehood of perpetual grocery store freshness that it’s a new experience to witness the ephemeral progress of real live plants.
This quick march into fall is another reminder of the importance of being present. Of relishing the unique offerings of each month. In fact, it’s more granular than that because each week heralds change. I used to think of “summer” as a singular season, but that glosses over the unique variations week to week.
When we moved here in May, for example, I was pleasantly inundated with rhubarb–little did I know then just how swift its growing season would be. It seems odd to me that I was so overwhelmed with the ‘barb at the time, because now I realize it was a brief window of abundance. And that holds true for each crop–we’ve been graced with asparagus, gorgeous flowers, black raspberries, and more. But each appearance is fleeting.
Harbingers Of Fall
I’m particularly attuned to the early indicators of fall because I’m a certified lover of fall. It is, by far, my favorite season and I watch for each harbinger with the keen senses of someone who thrives on crunchy leaves, ripe pumpkins, cornstalk decor, and all things Halloween. Thanksgiving is pretty good too.
I don’t bemoan the passing of summer. In fact, I’m not really a summer person. It’s nice, I’ll grant you, but it overwhelms me. It’s so flashy and fresh and sassy. Summer is like, “BAM, look at this flower! BAM here are some tomatoes! BAM the sun is shining on you!” All this abundance is difficult to process. I’m more of a muted, wintertime person. I like stark trees. And the coziness of being inside while snowstorms rage.
Therefore, I can say that I spent half of August outside doing farm-type things (gardening, picking berries, hiking) and the other half of August inside the house doing stupid things like vacuuming, clipping Babywoods’ nails (there should be an award for that… ), hoping for autumn and generally feeling guilty that I wasn’t outside doing more farm-type things. I am still figuring out the balance of my time here. In fact, I just moved onto the porch to write in an effort to assuage my guilt. Now I am being menaced by wasps. Don’t they die when it freezes? I’m all for that.
Mr. FW and I don’t like to be bored. And we don’t like to pay for entertainment. Well, it appears we moved to the right place. There’s an endless sprawl of ideas, projects, and possibilities out here.
Every day one of us says to the other, “you know what we should do… ” followed by something like: circumnavigate our property with hiking trails/repair the bridge to our pond/make blackberry jam/take videos of Frugal Hound sniffing out moose tracks.
Or, in the instance of Mr. FW the other week: build a fire pit! And so, we are now the proud owners of a rustic fire pit. I’m calling it “rustic” because it’s just a hole Mr. FW dug in the ground where he now makes fires. He’s going to add a stone border to fancy it up. But until then, it serves its purpose in a very literal sense.
Turns out, one of our apple trees contains an early ripening variety: Red Duchess (see? so flashy!). We discovered this through the scientific examination of eating one of the apples. Tasted ripe! Thus, we now harvest apples every few days using our improbable-looking, yet effective, fruit pickers.
The fruit picker (pictured at right) is a hooked basket affixed to a pole (we used a broom handle for one and our pole saw handle for the other) that you maneuver over a ripe apple and use to gently tug said apple into the basket–which is conveniently padded for fruit comfort. This is one of those ‘right tools for the job’ that I had no idea existed prior to, oh, last month.
We didn’t realize we’d have an apple crop in August. Based on trite Rockwellian Americana, we were thinking more like late September/October, so our first harvest caught us unprepared since we lack the ability/fortitude to each eat 10 apples a day. Fortunately, we have a root cellar! Google revealed that apples can, in fact, be happily stored in a root cellar. Red Duchess apples, however, do not keep for long.
Faced with a stack-o-apples, we tossed around ideas for processing (aka we started Googling like mad). A few considerations: applesauce (but, labor intensive and none of us are too keen on the taste), apple jam (tasty, but labor intensive and not all that healthy), apple butter (received a yes vote, so hopefully we’ll do that in the future), hard cider (an enthusiastic yes, but, we don’t have enough ripe apples right now to process into cider).
We puzzled (by which I mean Googled) some more until we landed on dehydrated apples. Minimally labor-intensive and totally healthy. Win! I went on a frenetic search for a used dehydrator and then on an email flurry to try and borrow from a neighbor and then called a million* local stores to see if they carry dehydrators. As you might’ve guessed, I failed on all fronts.
And so, I went to my city-person stand by: Amazon. We purchased this dehydrator in a hurry (we were on a time limit here with ripe apples impatiently chillin’ in the root cellar) along with some extra trays. Lucky for us, I pulled an apple peeler/corer out of the trash a few years ago in longterm anticipation of this day. Lo and behold, its time had arrived!
In case anyone is wondering, this is exhibit #1 of why I’m not a minimalist: a minimalist would not keep a trash-find apple peeler/corer in their basement for two years before using it. But hey! Another right tool for the job that makes it tenable to process a ton of apples in one’s kitchen. I can report that the dehydrated apples are delicious and are now stowed in our chest freezer for consumption on oatmeal this winter along with…
*ok that’s misleading since we have two local stores, but I called them both. Well, one of them didn’t answer the phone so I went there in the flesh.
I didn’t know it was possible for one family to have so many blackberry bushes. The volume of our blackberry patch is part absurd, part amazing. I posit that the previous owners planted a reasonable, sane number of bushes, which subsequently over-populated themselves in a rabbit-like fit of blackberry apocalypse. Not that I’m complaining; blackberries are divine.
I get out there and pick as often as possible (and then freeze them by the gallon), but I can’t keep up with the deluge. I’ve invited just about everyone I know to also come pick berries, but they are all similarly deluged with their own berry overpopulation situation. I think it’s a bumper blackberry year.
If I had unfettered time (hah!!!) I’d pick them all and donate/give them away to friends. But alas, my time is limited and I can’t pick them while wearing Babywoods on account of the thorn situation and her proclivity for grabbing and mouthing everything remotely within her reach… although we do employ the ‘waterless baby pool’ containment tactic for some outdoor chores.
Since I loathe food waste with a visceral passion, it’s painful for me to know there are unpicked blackberries lying fallow. But I’m comforted by the knowledge that our woodland creatures enjoy munching on them. Between the dropped apples and the blackberries, the neighborhood animals are eating well this summer. And I know we have critters thanks to our…
We added to our collection of creature mug shots this month via our strategically placed wildlife cam. Ok, it’s actually not strategic at all, it’s just strapped to a tree. As many of you know, our previous cam captures were some not-so-noteworthy images of our own legs and Frugal Hound’s butt (thanks, FH).
But August yielded: a fox!, deer, a possum, raccoons, one feral cat, and a particularly memorable pic of a coyote–uh–taking care of business right in front of our camera. How rude. Photographic evidence of coyote rudeness at right.
In addition to these adorable little woodland mammals (plus random cat), we were gifted with a glimpse of one of our more elusive beasts of the forest: the rump of a black bear. Not the front end, naturally, but a delightful view of a sizable rump. Oh happy day for us wildlife-obsessed city people.
Along with these friends of the forest, we had quite a few human friends visit us this month. I adore hosting people and I also love sharing our new life, so all these visitors were a boon.
We had a steady stream of folks grace our guest room when we lived in Cambridge, mostly because Boston is a frequent destination for vacation and work travel. I worried that our visitors would drop off once we moved out here to the sticks, but as it turns out, Vermont is a common destination for weddings and vacations! Thanks to our state’s tourism draw, we’ve had no less than nine separate groups of out-of-town visitors this summer, including fellow financial blogger JL Collins, Mrs. JL Collins, and dog JL Collins.
One of my dearest friends came all the way from Washington state and, since she was here for several days, I dragooned her into picking blackberries and harvesting apples. I’m trying to play up the whole agritourism angle of coming to visit us, so if you plan a trip, be forewarned.
Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Our garden forges ahead with relative health despite being beset by the Michelin Man of caterpillars: the tobacco hornworm. This Seussian lime green menace munched its way through many a Brussels sprout and tomato leaf before our sophisticated eradication efforts commenced (aka Mr. FW plucking and, uh, doing away with their carcasses). As a result, I think the Brussels sprouts might be goners–they look pretty darn poorly.
Despite this vile interloper, we still managed to harvest a few tomatoes and plenty of salad greens. And our herbs–basil, oregano, rosemary, and sage–continue to flourish. This first year, we decided that absolutely anything we managed to grow would be declared a Victory, so we’re not too disheartened.
I’m glad we put in the labor to clear out and plant in our raised beds. Plus, our squash is looking downright state fair worthy (as long as it’s a very small, very lenient state fair). I consider this first gardening foray to be more experiment than success. We can only improve next year, right?!
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Onward to September, frugal comrades!
How was August on your own personal homestead?
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I so love the line about the blurring of the seasons! As someone who has worked in schools for 28 years, summer seems to only be when school is out. When you live outside of that schedule, it is amazing to take in all the different seasons have to offer. That is one of the things I look forward to most when leaving work now that I’m FI. (Our youngest is a senior in high school – so that schedule is still “somewhat” in effect this year!) He is looking to go to the University of Vermont next year though – and if he does, we can’t wait to explore up your way! We visited (we live “next door” in central/western NY) this summer and it was spectacular! Just picked apples yesterday too – but not many blackberries close by 🙁
Very cool! I’ve never considered rural life, but these updates have me day dreaming!
Here in Minnesota, the air is already getting crisp and hinting at the fall season just around the corner. I’m with you, I love fall, so I’m pretty excited!
My experience with homemade apple sauce tasted nothing like the store stuff. Really delicious. It might be worth a small batch just to see, even if you’re not usually a huge fan.
I agree with The Money Wizard; I’ve never been very attracted to rural life (small-town life yes, but not rural), but you (Mrs. Frugalwoods) are doing a good job showcasing its appeal!
Also, Mrs. Frugalwoods, nice ‘blackberry paradise’ 90’s song reference! Takes me back.
I agree with The Money Wizard – I’ve never really been interested in rural life (small town sure, but not rural) until this new series of posts. Who doesn’t want to spend their days on beautiful land looking at all the lovely flora and fauna?
Also, Mrs. Frugalwoods, I appreciate the 90s song reference: “living in a blackberry paradise” takes me way back.
Hey there, what about freezing the blackberries, so you can use them in smoothies etc in winter time?
Yep, we have about a million in our freezer!
Those apple picker utensils: Whoever invented that should get a Nobel prize! Dehydrated apples = YES! In the past I have also dehydrated green peppers, onions, tomatoes, and bananas, to name a few.I also tried doing jerky but didn’t like it. One summer the dehydrator I had stopped dead right in the middle of a large batch of tomatoes. So I went to my local super Walmart and — you guessed it — I could not find a dehydrator. When I asked one of the store employees if they had any dehydrators, her response: “You might check around Christmas time. That’s when we stock those type of items that nobody uses.” !!?? Needless to say, I placed a late night order to Amazon. . . . .
If you didn’t like the jerky your dehydrator made you might want to try Alton Brown’s recipe. According to the master geek of cooking, dehydrators use hot air that semi-cooks the meat. He uses a box fan, cheap furnace filters, and a couple bungee cords. I haven’t tried it yet but I would expect it to taste a bit different.
Oh wow, that bear pic would have me quaking in my boots! Not sure if it’s less efficient time-wise, but you don’t have to peel apples to put them in the dehydrator. I’ve never peeled ours, and they dry in about 6-8 hours using 4 trays.
Yeah, the peeler/corer tool is an all in one action–peels as it cores :)!
I’ve been dehydrating apples for years – I love it (and have the same food dehydrator, though a model from 2010 and it works great). I use them in my homemade granola for breakfast- and I honestly don’t both with peeling or coring (I have never liked those peelers/corers and mine always seems to take off too much ‘good’ apple and leave too much peel behind. Just slicing up the apple, core and all, for the dehydrator saves a ton of time and the seeds fall out in the dehydrating process, and if they don’t – just give them a little shake and they will fall.
I love seeing these little windows into the frugalwoods life! Beautiful pictures as always – I’m so impressed at the wildlife photos from the month, here’s hoping September will bring even more. Dehydrated apples is a genius idea, that will be so tasty! and potentially a great snack for a teething babywoods to chew on (they’re quite chewwy aren’t they?).
I’m excited to see how the cooler months change your property, it’s interesting how you are noticing the seasons much more now that you’re fully embracing rural life.
Love the monthly update, FW. I’m definitely a fan of the Fall as well. I love the cool crisp air, football season, Halloween, and of course my birthday!
Great pics on the tree cam! But you should have known better than to place it in the Coyote’s bathroom 🙂
Summer always seems to be not about the date on the calendar, but what is ready to harvest at the moment: corn time, grape time, apple time, blackberry time, etc. I love this about living in the country and gardening. I agree with the agritourism idea. I’ve tried to get my out of town relatives on board with no luck. But hey, the potatoes still need dug so there’s still time this year. I’m happy to hear your adventures and know that your life has taken this wonderful turn.
Sounds like you guys are having a blast! I spent a week at my parent’s home in New England for the Labor Day holiday and was treated each day with raspberries, cucumbers, tomatos, peppers, etc. from the garden. Maybe someday I’ll have my own homestead with a garden!
Looks like you’re having a great time! I’m amazed at how similar life is in Vermont to Washington state. There are tons of apples and blackberries this year!
Do you guys ever miss being city-slickers in Boston?
I’m a lover of summer, but your homestead sounds so lovely that you have even me excited for fall and winter.
Based on trite Rockwellian Americana…. LOL! Love the blog!
I just loved this post sipping my coffee this AM! Naughty coyote! Haha! In Houston, we have micro seasons and the worst is summer. I’m a fall person too. Fall officially starts in October or November when the humidity ends. Chinaberry trees turn bright red in December and Spring arrives in February when broadleafs sprout. Maintenence on our ranch is endless but I do love to zip around on the Polaris and visit our tenants Brangus mommas with their babies. Tame ones allow us to hand feed them with cow pellets.
I’m thinking about all that fruit and had 2 ideas for you. I know you said you don’t like applesauce texture, but I’m guessing you’ve never had homemade. Completely different! And I make applesause in my crockpot that is TO DIE FOR! My kids say it is leagues above the store stuff. Now, I have no idea if you have a crockpot or instant pot or any other kind of slow cooker, but if you do, you just chop up about 8-10 of your peeled, cored apples and throw them in the pot with 1/2 cup water and at least 1 teaspoon cinnamon (my kids like at least double that) and NO SUGAR (why would you add sugar to perfect apples). Then it cooks all day on low (8-10 hours) and it’s done! It ends up with some small chunks in it which is sooo good. You can then freeze it. It is unbelievable hot over ice cream and fantastic over oatmeal and perfect for Babywoods.
The other thing your article triggered was a memory from childhood of my mother making something she called fruit leather. It is pureed fruit, spread into thin (think 1/16th inch) layers on plastic wrap or parchment paper or wax paper, and left to dry. Parchment paper would work for the dehydrator I would think, though mom would just put the plastic wrap on cookie sheets, pour out the pureed fruit, and then cover with cheesecloth (with some structure in the fruit leather to keep the cheesecloth from touching) and leave to dry in the sun. You get to decide how dry you want it, and you just roll it up, with the plastic wrap or paper when you store it. It can be stored in your root cellar. It was the best and so fun to eat as a kid!
Love hearing your stories. What a great storyteller you are! And I love Vermont. Haven’t been there in decades but remember my visit there like it was yesterday. So green and lush! Really liked Lake Champlain in Burlington and the Maple Grove Farms in St. Johnsbury.
This city girl loves peeking in on your homesteading life. Idyllic.
The way you describe your life is so inspiring! It makes me want to pack up and move to the country – despite my total and complete love of the city. I have a tiny garden in my backyard and managed to harvest 5 pumpkins, a handful of tomatoes, tons of raspberries and 3 cucumbers (which I totally forgot that I planted).
Are you going to incorporate farm animals into your homestead? I loved having chickens both for their eggs and the compost that they turned for us and populated with their poo.
Thanks for sharing this glimpse into your world!
…in the Southwest the Coyote is the Trickster, impetuous and foolish.
i’m thinking these must be universal traits for them -HA!
love your stories, when is the B&B going to get rolling?
My grandmother always wrapped apples individually in newspaper before storing them in wicker baskets in her root cellar. In these days of online newspapers — I guess we just wrap them in electrons instead! Seriously, though, Grandma’s apples lasted forever that way!
My local sprouts let me have a couple of their cardboard trays. They keep the apples perfectly separated and then they can be stored in a box.
One of the things I love about living in Montana is really seeing how the seasons change. Crops are planted, baby animals born, watching everything ripen in the heat of summer, and the big moons around harvest time. It’s the rhythm I grew up with. When we lived in DC, I barley noticed it. It was so bright there, I couldn’t even see the constellations change with the seasons. And each season brings new frugal fun things to do. I always feel rushed to squeeze them all in. But you might find you really enjoy winter too. After 3 seasons of going at a rapid pace, winter says “rest”. It’s our season of snow filled activities, but also coco and books.
Shouldn’t dehydrated apples be shelf-stable? Why in the freezer? The Goblin Chief seems to have quite a blast with his dehydrator(s?) and I’m sure you will use it over and over again.
School started back up, so no more Summer Garden Club, the previous source of our summer bounty. And since Colorado is a cooler climate, by “summer bounty” I mean “small mountain of kale.” We have been enjoying grocery-store-available local produce, like Rocky Ford cantaloupes. We do grow exactly one thing here at FP House: Basil. The basil is still flourishing. I was freezing it for winter, but lately I am having trouble keeping up with Big Brother’s completely insatiable appetite for “green pasta” and so it is all going in our mouths. That dude loves him some pesto. (His younger brother vastly prefers spaghetti with red sauce and I myself like rotini with Italian sausage and arugula. We eat pasta by the metric ton at our house.)
Otherwise, I spent my outdoor time battling unsuccesfully with the weed growth in our yard. I have a people-powered reel mower, which would be great if I had actual grass (we didn’t water it, now it’s dead) but is lousy on weeds, which then have to be either whacked with the trimmer or hand-pulled. House is on the market, so I’m just trying to kind of hang in there. If I were staying, I would rip up all the #$@&%*! dead grass and put in some low-maintenance, xeriscape-friendly ground covering plants.
I’m guessing she put the dehydrated apples in the freezer just in case they aren’t quite dry enough. I keep my dehydrated tomatoes in the freezer after one year’s bounty got moldy b/c they had a bit of moisture left.
I love this! Mr. Picky Pincher and I are planning on planting some fig trees in the house that we just bought! But you do have to be ready to process this stuff the second it’s ripe–yikes. Luckily I’m a fan of fig preserves and dried figs. 🙂 But it can definitely be overwhelming–especially when you’re accustomed to buying small quantities of food for the week at the grocery store. Homesteading is all about prepping for the future with today’s bounties, I suppose. 🙂
And it’s a crime to not bake a homemade apple pie during the fall! It’s not healthy, but it’s good for your soul. 😉
We are on vacation in Spain sharing a home that has a fig tree. I never like figs until I had them fresh off a tree. I support your decision to plant a fig tree=).
Oh I love figs!!!!
I love summer, but that’s because I LOVE the heat. I feel as though we have been a bit guilty of staying indoors this summer as well. To put it simply, we have a pool in our apartment complex and have been there all of once (that’s how bad it’s been). This year for some reason I’m really looking forward to fall and all that it has to offer. Hopefully we can go pick apples or something exciting this year to get in the fall mood :).
Oh man, your line about how summer whacks your senses with its sass is just gold. I’ve mostly been a silent stalker of your blog, but as a fellow autumn-lover/summer-notsomuchlover, I had to comment. I’ll be interested to experience a Vermont winter through your pictures, since I love winter too but live in the south where it (sadly) seldom snows.
Nice fire pit. 🙂 Ours is the slightly more fancy version Mr. FW will build – 12″ stone rip rap rocks lining the pit. Totally free using rocks from near our lake (other than lots of hauling heavy rocks). It’s one of the kids’ favorite pastimes in the spring and fall seasons. Our 4 year old keeps asking “are there mosquitoes outside?” because when they die down he knows it’s campfire time!!
Don’t forget the hot dogs and smores.
Lions and tigers and bears — oh my!
In a flurry of apple picking a few years ago, my wife and I came across a recipe for homemade apple cider vinegar. You take the apple cores and peels, cover them with water and let them sit and ferment for weeks. I’m sure you can Google for specifics, but the result was an excellent addition to our pantry. And free, since it used what we would otherwise be tossing. Thought you might be interested!
Yes! We actually have all of our cores and peels in the fridge right now awaiting vinegar making 🙂
We have cooking apples which need sugar adding anyway and our weather has been odd all year so while they’re dropping early, most of them are damaged or insect ridden in some way. The only way to gain anything is to cut around the damage, which leaves small, untidy pieces of apple perfect for applesauce. So I’ve made apple, chocolate and walnut brownie cake and apple and pecan loaf. Both of which will freeze. Then you could whip a cake out for harvest festival, church events, family visits etc any time of the year. Wrap twice in film and once in foil for freezing.
Applesauce freezes anyway, so when your freezer gets left open and everything defrosts you can use the applesauce to make cakes and then freeze them. Ask me how I know ????
Oh, and apple and blackberry crumble of course. Add oats and pumpkin seeds to the flour, butter, sugar for a crunchier topping. Check out the Nigel Slater crumble recipe.
Maybe a bit OT and late: Would you mind sharing how you stashed your chest freezer before you had the baby? Like what kind of recipes and food did you make respectively buy? We have a freezer the same size and baby will be here in a few months. If you are looking for other ideas than dehydrated apples, I highly recommend homemade apple butter, even if you don’t like apple sauce. Also, I wish I could come and pick your blackberries for jam.
Next year baby woods will be walking so outside activities will be extra active. A baby leash might prove helpful while gardening as naps become more difficult. She’ll want to be by your side. Also, promise us that if a wasp nest is discovered you’ll find a professional to remove it. A local in Evansville Wisconsin went to remove one, and they became so angry that they took his life. Planning ahead for next year’s gardens can start now. Perennials can be planted and early spring crops can be sown indoors during the winter, thus leaving plenty study opportunities. Thanks for sharing!
Oh don’t kill those gorgeous caterpillars! They are going to become big amazing moths!
FW’s, with incredible writing like this, it’s no reason your star is rising. “I’m particularly attuned to the early indicators of fall because I’m a certified lover of fall. It is, by far, my favorite season”. Particularly attuned to fall….exactly how I feel every year at this time. Looking forward to Fall in Georgia, it’s been too hot, too long. Bring on the Fall! Thanks for allowing us to live vicariously thru you!
Your farm life looks so wonderful! I adore black raspberries-so hopefully you have lots of those too. I’ve always wanted a Harvest Freeze Dryer, but they are $3000+, so……..I will try the dehydrator. I like spring, fall, and winter, as the dogs can go and I don’t worry about them getting heatstroke. Summer in the Sacrmento area is soooo hot, at 100+ for weeks!!
Be careful with Frugal Hound around coyotes. They are sneaky, cruel, and vicious. And they will not hesitate to bite Babywoods either.
Good call on putting the dried apples in the freezer. You may want to keep your fresh ones in the fridge as well. I once dried some pineapple, and although it seemed completely done, once it was in a glass jar on the counter it grew mold. If you run out of space in the dehydrator over the fall you can also string the apple slices and hang them to dry in a sunny window – takes a couple of days.
After dried foods have been in the sealed jar for a week, give them a shake and see if any beads of moisture appear on the inside of the jar. If some do, you need to dry the food further.
We dry most fruits and veggies so we have less foodstuffs at risk during a power outage. I’m thinking you’ll get those in rural Vermont winters, and generators only go so far.
HA! That picture of the coyote pooping is totally priceless! Love your blog, thanks for the update. 🙂
This post reminded me of a book I just finished reading – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Her family pledges to live off of their farm for an entire year and eat seasonally – you may enjoy it!
You are also inspiring us to plan a trip to Vermont next year :). I can’t wait for the leaves to change, which will hit us in Maryland a few weeks after you.
Love reading your monthly homesteading posts! Please keep them coming :)!
Squealing with delight at your wonderful as always posts! They just keep a smile plastered on my face for hours! We live on land in a rural area in California. I have often thought about the wildlife cam, but for now, I will get a kick out of your pictures. I just hosted a family of 5 wild turkeys last week. They graced our gardens with lots of wonderful turkey poop fertilizer and scavenged for bugs. They did wreak some havoc, but it seems like two days was all they wanted as I watched them hike off into the wild area up behind our house to go to sleep in the oak trees. I have not seen them since. The visual and feel of Fall is everywhere. I too love Fall. Thank you for your great stories!
We love apple picking! Around here, the varieties are all small trees, so kids can easily get involved. Apples last a long time, too, unlike berries (although we freeze blueberries and peaches, which have a shorter shelf life). And there’s so much to make with them. I can’t wait to make apple muffins this year, because those are my absolute favorite.
You are so right about the fleeting periods of local foods. We tend to forget this concept, when we can go to a grocery store and get food from all over the planet, at anytime of the year. I think it is important though to be in touch with seasonality and local ecosystems and to get in touch with where our food comes and partake in harvesting it. I love the idea of urban foraging… If you don’t have a homestead, that is a great way to get in touch with how plants and food cycle throughout the year. And, you can get the most nutritious wild foods for FREE! How frugal is that? It is important to understand how to forage responsibly though.
My son’s garden had those tobacco hornworms in it too and he fed them to the chickens, they fought over them.
So awesome! I’m sure you’re working incredibly hard daily (that woodpile isn’t going to stack itself!), but your entire life just looks so much more peaceful than mine, currently, and I’m not even a nature person!
I’m curious though-you have a fairly long and windy driveway. What’s your plan to deal with that during the snow heavy winter months! It seems like a big task for just you two to deal with during peak snow, but you also need a safe road in case you do need to go into town!
I knew I liked you for a reason. I, too, am an autumn person. It’s my jam.
Be wary of Frugal Hound actually meeting a moose. The first time my (admittedly much smaller, likely stupider) dog came across a moose I nearly had a heart attack. There she was, blithely walking up to the moose, wagging her tail like, “Oh my gosh, it’s a new friend! Hello friend!” In a fit of bountiful mercy, the moose opted to snort in her face instead of squashing her.
But isn’t the homework caterpillar the most gorgeous specimen, albeit Agent of Destruction. It can take down a full grown tomato plant in hours. Terrible, but one of the recommended natural repellents is to collect a goodly amount, send them to a quick demise by blender, mix with water and spray on whatever plants they haven’t demolished. I, too was overwhelmed with produce, canning, freezing and ultimately dehydrating which takes up less room, Dehydration of veg also takes on a sweet note which makes good snacks and wonderful soups. I live in the South so am envious of your seasons, but right now am being pummeled by 3 pecan trees’ goodly harvest. Imagine someone throwing tennis balls constantly on your roof 24/7. It’s lovely but the pets look like they are waiting for the other shoe to drop when ever outside!
Hi there! I read your blog some time ago, when you were still in Cambridge and anticipating your move. I’ve finally remembered your blog name and have come back to catch up and follow along. Loving the updates! Congrats on the new homestead!
I haven’t read the other comments so forgive me if any of them suggest this, but I’d like to mention canning as a great way to preserve food, particularly from your homestead. I bumped into it after growing entirely too much food to consume on our small tract home land here in Springfield, MA. I didn’t want to freeze, dry, or bury it..Of course I don’t have any children, so it would totally understandable that you’d have no interest in it at this point.
However, you can find used pressure canners on Craigslist if you have patience enough to wait for a good deal (so many people don’t know what they’re looking at!), and often people are just giving away great canning jars. Water bath canning is a great place to start, but it’s limited in what you can do with it.
It took me about 3-5 years to really get the hang of it, but now I have a full cellar from all of summer’s bounty, beans, and meats. It’s a lot of work, particularly as a beginner, but it’s phenomenal to be able to have all of that food squirreled away for winter.
The coyote picture cracked me up. Do be careful — around here, coyotes kill cats and small dogs.
I love Fall, too. I used to live in the upper South, where I actually could have Fall, but now I live in the deep South, and Fall is that brief couple of weeks somewhere between late October – late November. Then we start the winter cycle of the weather is too warm, rains, turns cold (a relative term in the South — cold is anywhere from 20 degrees to 45 degrees) then warms up again, then rains again, then turns cold again, on and on….until we reach 2 weeks of lovely spring before the heat blasting summer is here — for six miserable months.
I agree with some of the other posters — try warm homemade applesauce. You may not like it that much, but I bet Babywoods would be a fan! I like cinnamon in mine, but not for an infant, unless said infant can eat cinnamon, of course.
I took a trip to Vermont and I was in love with the countryside. So fertile, and neat, and pretty. I’m a farm girl, so I love the farm updates. I would add a goat, a couple of pigs, a cow and some laying chickens to your farm, in your shoes. Cow poo is good for gardens, as is chicken poo. Side note: one of my husband’s best friends years ago had a dog then got a goat. The dog and goat became best friends. They dog would butt his head with the goat and on people, albeit gently, and the goat would climb on the couch and watch TV with the dog. He has photos to prove it.
Love your blog for so many reasons. I, too, am a frugal, fall-loving, food waste fighter. Three years ago my husband and I a purchased a getaway place on 60 acres in the gorgeous drift- less area of southwestern Wisconsin. We are nurturing fruit trees, managing an oak forest, blazing hiking/skiing trails and building a (free!) footbridge over our stream. We pick blackberries, morels and watercress, so far. The ideas and potential projects are never-ending. It’s a pleasure to read about yours. I’m inspired and informed by your posts. Thank you.
Just wanted to check that you know about the Tunbridge World Fair — definitely worth checking out!
My back aches just thinking about all the hard work you two are doing. I’ve been there, I know it can be a lot to keep up with, especially when you have kids. Don’t get overwhelmed with it or fret over fruit or vegetables going to waste. You’re right, you’re providing the wildlife food, too and also compost for the next season when things rot on the ground. Babywoods will only be little for a moment so remember to enjoy her to the fullest, even when the work is endless.
Chicken eggs avoid caterpillar eggs
Video of Emater/RS Brazil (Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Company)
It is in Portuguese, but gives to get the idea.
A fox AND a bear! Well done wildlife cam. I so appreciate your description of the transitioning that takes place between seasons. I’ve been reflecting on this more this year than ever. Must treasure the moment while it lasts!
A very enjoyable post. Thank you for sharing your life.
It really looks like you guys are living the life! I love watching nature pictures and eating healthy, which is why the blackberry and apple pictures look so great to me 🙂
Michelin Man of caterpillars, man I haven’t heard that term ever, that is a great analogy. I don’t own a garden so I don’t know too much about insects so if I was in charge of upkeep, the garden would be gone so quickly..
You should make some blackberry wine! It is one of the best fruit wines you can make. Unfortunatly, blackberries are amazingly expensive in CA, so I never get to make it.
As a bonus, it’s the same equipment you’d need to eventually make apple cider.
Check out the book “Making Wild Wines & Meads” for a recipe.
Apple butter is so delicious (I am also not a fan of applesauce) and easily made in the slow cooker. It was the first thing we canned and nobody died of botulism. I felt especially proud one year when we made it with all these little ugly apples that fell off the tree outside my parents’ condo (but hey totally organic! and free!).
Also thought of you and had a chuckle the other day when my younger coworker complimented my shirt and then said “wait, let me guess. you bought it a few year ago.” Then I realized every time she asks where I got something I say “TJ Maxx (or whatever) but I bought it a few years ago.” Most of my clothes are 3-5 years old at least yet get compliments all the time… so why buy more? I feel so much better since giving up shopping as a hobby – and my student loans are just about paid off, which is the best feeling of all 🙂
Very cool to see all that wildlife in the yard, love the cam!
Oh an that apple peeler/corer is an amazing little device. Pretty cool you kept that for two years before actually using it.
I love fresh apples. Did you save your peelings to make jelly with?
Have you had any issues with tics? I know that New England has a history with Lyme Disease. If only I could come to terms with bugs, I’d probably aspire to the same situation as you guys. The mosquitoes here in MN are bad enough, but now we have rabid foxes attacking cyclists these days. Gotta love nature… 🙂
I really enjoy your writing and your way of life philosophies. So much of what you write resonates with me.
If you are able to find the time to answer I would be very keen to learn about your thoughts on green/organic products. Specifically beauty, skin care and household cleaners. Do you dye your hair and what face products do you purchase? I have read your post on makeup and was really inspired.
We have a budget and I find I struggle with internal conflict about which to choose. The cheaper non green/organic products that do work for us and are within our budget or the other option. I know you eat a largely organic and whole food diet. We cook from scratch, avoid many processed foods and eat as many local whole foods as possible. We also have a small vegetable garden.
It’s a debate that does my head in at times and I would love you to do a post on it if possible.
You can make homemade apple cider vinegar with your apple peelings and cores. My first batch worked out great. (Beginner’s luck)? It is easy to do. There are plenty of sites that can tell you how to proceed. You can either use Bragg’s ACV for the mother or, as I did, “capture” a mother with the help of fruit flies.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the food dehydrator you purchased. I have been trying to figure out what kind to get. The Excalibur would be great but not frugally priced.
So far our dehydrator is working great! Granted, we’ve only had it for a few weeks though, so I can’t attest to its longterm success. And we saved all of our peelings and cores for vinegar making 🙂
I am with you on all your feelings of love for fall. It’s my most favorite time of the year. I only hope that we get some actual fall weather here in western NY as it’s still be in the 80s lately…. I’m so envious of your apples trees and bounty of apples. We go apple picking every year. Apple butter in the slow cooker is so easy to make and you can can or freeze it. Plus you don’t even have to peel them – just puree it all up when it’s finished cooking. So easy!
That apple peeling picture caught my eye! Looks fantastic. Apple season is the best season indeed, so make use everyone!
In case the amazon one doesn’t work out you can make or rig-up a dehydrator: http://miser-mom.blogspot.com/2016/07/hooray-for-wood-and-sun-and-power-tools.html
Yay! These are apples! I wish I could grow my own unlimited number of apples! You’re lucky Frugalwoods! Make an apple jam. 😀
I’m really amazed with this post, i have always considered rural life to be boring with nothing to do. But now i’m feeling quite surprised, You guys must be having great time there.
By the way why do you peel off Apples? Dehydrating apples are a good idea, that will be mouth watering! and potentially a great snack for a teething babywoods. But peeling would make them less prone to store, isn’t it?
How do you manage all things yourself?
Apple peels have more nutrition than the apple flesh. Google them. So best to keep them on! Just like brown rice is healthier than white rice, and whole wheat flour is healthier than white.
You can space out your harvest & consumption by spacing out your planting in the spring. While you have to take some precautions against frost, it’s pretty easy to put a large light tarp over vulnerable plants in the spring or fall on a cold night when you have a small garden.
PS, vinegar is just the evolution of wine/cider. Try making cider & use failures for vinegar!
On the applesauce, I will say that I actually really disliked it until my mom started making it every fall when I was an adult. It’s also best when you combine a couple of different types of apples instead of just one varietal. When we make it at home, we try to get a good mix of sweet, tart, and meaty apples to hit on all of the flavor profiles. My mom will also usually divide the applesauce into two batches and add cinnamon to one and leave the other plain. It freezes so well, and we have applesauce year-round in my family!
I don’t like commercial applesauce, but I love homemade from tart apples, no sugar added and just a pinch of salt. Delicious with pork and good baby food.
I had no idea apple pickers existed. We have apple trees next to our house, but all they have ever done is fall on our driveway and rot. The ripe apples are too high up and there ain’t no way I’m climbing up there. Now I might have to start keeping an eye out when there are estate sales on farms….
Early Summer apples prefer refrigeration apparently. Our local apple farm told us this as we bought our first pies worth of apples in August. Also, we’re in NH and I can tell you no one planted those blackberries. They grow like a weed anywhere outside a major city. We have a smaller property, but it is surrounded by blackberry and it’s best friend poison ivy. All our neighbors are similarly troubled by it. We pull hundreds of blueberries and blackberries from our two acre lot every summer. They’re a great low maintenance food source, but the blackberries are invasive to say the least…
I’m eager to see what you’re planting at the end of the season and the results. The more I read of the homesteading adventure, the more I’m interested in doing the same.