Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Around Here

J. dozing in the afternoon sun at the barn door.
That's Sadie enjoying his lap.
I saw J. headed up toward the hay barn while I was tidying the kitchen after lunch on Saturday.
I followed him up and jostled him over so that I could sit on the hay bale.
The sun was warm and there was a light wind shushing through the center aisle of the barn.
The kittens tumbled around our feet. Pebbles made "look at me" noises from just outside.
The breeze quickened, and the hanks of bale twine dangling from nails on the wall began to sway.
Sally the Kitten was fascinated and made daring leaps into the tangles, trying to pull herself up, paw over paw.
Attempts to catch this in a photo resulted in a blur of moving twine and tortoiseshell fur.

The unsquelchable Wills.
The flirty breeze quite suddenly morphed into a cold wind pushing grey clouds ahead of it.
The somnulent afternoon became brisk, chilly, and we retreated to the house.
J. kindled a fire in the livingroom fireplace and I succumbed to the bliss of reading in the big leather chair, cats in my lap, all of us soaking up the warmth and comfort.

On Sunday morning, stepping onto the front porch, I noticed a difference in the appearance of one of the resident spiders. [Argiope aurantia, a large black and yellow spider.]
The spider who has her web nearest the porch pillars has outdone herself, creating four sacks of eggs.  Meanwhile her "sister" spider a few feet away in the clump of sedum, has kept her web tidy, feasted on the victims who blunder into her lacy abode. She has looked fat to bursting, but I could discover no egg sacks dangling from the surrounding foliage.
On Sunday her distinctively patterned body appeared shrunken.
I discovered her balloon of eggs well secured.
With chilly nights and shortening days, the spiders' life cycles are nearing an end.
I have pondered my interest in them. They are not "pets" who welcome me, they don't interact with humans; they are not creatures for whom I have any responsibility.
They appeared in neighboring webs in late July or early August.
I have been intrigued to watch them repair their exquisitely designed webs each day, noted when they have packaged meals of unwary insects. The four egg sacks which the nearer spider attached to the post are a marvel.
I will be leaving the egg bundles undisturbed  over the winter months.
I can enjoy the presence of these spiders on the periphery of my space--they aren't the sort who would like to come inside.

J. is working at stocking the winter wood supply.
On our second trip last week to the closer of the two Amish sawmills, there was a sizable pile of already sawed up chunks.  I helped J. to fill the bed of the old Dodge truck with these.
Hardwood slabs are loaded onto the trailer.  These J. cuts to stove lengths.

We are not dependent on wood heat, but in this area of hardwoods and sawmills it is an economical heat source. Walking past the neat stacks I catch the cold, faintly sour tang of the wood and I am immediately transported to my Grampa Mac's woodshed.
Each fall and winter afternoon he could be found there, selecting large chunks from the neatly stacked ranks, splitting each to the size that would best suit: smaller pieces for the black range in the kitchen, heftier blocks for the livingroom chunk stove, fine kindling and slender splits to make a quick blaze.

J. watching the bidding at the Mennonite aution of Friday.
I have no photos of the produce we brought home.
You will have to beleive me that the past few days have been busy ones.
I put up ["bottled"] 28 quarts of tomatoes on Sunday afternoon, lining up the processed jars on a checked cloth on the table to cool overnight.
On Monday we turned 2 bushels of apples into applesauce for the freezer.
We both peeled and sliced apples until we had three large kettles  simmering on the range.
J. took on the process of cranking the cooked apples through the foley mill, adding the sugar and cinnamon to the sieved sauce, and ladeling it into freezer containers.
I continued chunking apples and made another trip to Wal Mart for containers.
[The apples which we bought at the greenhouse/produce center up the road from the auction were very disappointing. We suspect they came out of cold storage rather than from this season's crop.  They were not "keepers" and needed to be immediately processed.]
While the applesauce bubbled on the stove, I set out several packages of our Wyoming ground beef to thaw.
On two succesive days I  made a meatloaf mixture to stuff the green peppers. We are working our way through a pan of them. J. delivered another panfull to Mr. Rogers last evening at suppertime.
Several foil pans of them are well wrapped and in the freezer.
Yet another serving went to J.M. and Marla today.
[We seldom stop there that we aren't gifted with asparagus or whatever is flourishing in J.M.'s garden and we like to return the favor with baked goods.]
Last night I diced and packaged the remaining peppers for freezing.
I canned what must surely be almost the last of the green and yellow snap beans.
The swampy, sticky kitchen floor has been mopped more times in three days than it usually gets in three weeks!
We are blessed with abundance, thankful for these beautiful autumn days.
I do think I'm about ready for a little rest!
Also, I've missed having a few moments to reply to comments and to leave comments on my friends' blogs.
It is amazing to realize that we are into our 7th month in Kentucky. 
Thus far, "retirement" has been a busy whirl.


  1. Gosh you've been busy. I have apples coming out of my ears, but the courgettes are FINALLY winding down now - just have two wannabe marrows to chop up for the freezer.

    I had to go and look up your Foley Mill, but now I know what one is. Our Bramley Apple cooks down to a froth and is wonderful for apple sauce.

    I'm glad your "wild" kittens are so at home with you now. Ours re happy to come in the house on a food raid and Tippy (my favourite) will just about tolerate being picked up now. He's the boldest of all. The ginger and white Alfie the scaredy-cat!

  2. MM - what a beautiful and productive post; you sure are due for a rest; I feel exhausted just reading of all your kitchen endeavours (and my day hasn't even started yet!) I wish we lived as near to scrap wood as you obviously do - though the eucalyptus we had to have felled earlier this year burns well even though it is still 'green'.

  3. Your retirement is indeed a busy whirl - and the best of times, because all your efforts provide abundance and sustenance for later in the winter, and enrich your lives. So much better than the years of spending long days at work and in commuting, with nothing contributed to our lives at day's end except weariness...well, except for that old paycheck!

  4. What an inspiration you are. You and yours are going to appreciate all of your hard work preparing food for the winter months.

    It sounds like you've settled right into a wonderful retirement life there in KY. Enjoy each and every moment of it.


  5. I love the smell of wood smoke, you're right it always brings back memories of my Grandmother's house too. She cooked on a wood stove.
    Our fireplaces are gas and though they warm us nicely they just don't have the right smell.
    Loved your barn pictures, it feels so good to just sit in the sun and be still.

  6. Retirement, what retirement.
    Stay busy my dear lady.
    I have to finish some tomatoes yet. I haven't tackled my apples I got from the neighbor. These are somewhat full of holes and worms, but I will process with my grandmother's Foley and do the best I can and see what I get, hopefully no cooked worms! Yuck.
    I surely enjoy your photos of your life and all the "kids". My smile is when I pull up your blog, with my tea and laugh from the antics of your kids and the baskets. What a hoot! lol
    Take care and don't over do it.


  7. Gosh is it only 7 months, seems like a lot longer ago you were property hunting. I agree about the smell taking you back, there are smells that remind me of childhood when caught unexpectedly.

  8. Oh, what a lovely post. I'm almost tired from just hearing about your productive days. It brings back wonderful memories of my years in Kentucky. I love the photo of your dear husband soaking in the sun rays with the kitten on his lap! Altogether, it sounds like a wonderful life. The stuffed green peppers sound especially good...would love to hear what you put in the meat sauce!


  9. you have been busy sharon! but its a lovely feeling to have storecupboards full and wood stacked for the winter isnt it?

    i too like y garden spiders, and watch them with interest. fascinating creatures.

    Leanne x

  10. We are blessed that we are still able to work hard--though I could wish it came in more measured doses.
    We're cutting lovely broccoli in the fall garden, another picking of beans, a great mound of kale. There is a nice row of cabbages coming on.
    The meat mixture for the stuffed peppers was one of those things done by instinct rather than by strict recipe.
    To the ground beef I added finely chopped onion, salt, freshly ground pepper, a garlic/parsley powder and an Italian seasoning herb mixture. Two or three eggs for binding along with a handful of quick rolled oats and a small can of tomato sauce.
    I happened to have several cans of Hunts traditional style spaghetti sauce so that's what got poured on top. They were quite good!