Sliding into Samhain

In the gardens

Harvest is coming closer to an end, though we still have a Very full Granny Smith apple tree and our Gold Delicious refuses to let go of more than half her apples. All of the apple trees have been heavy with fruit. We thinned them in late Spring, again in Summer and one more time in early Fall. Our Winesap had, easily, her largest yield ever so any pictures I put up of canning were from her harvest, which was later than normal.

The apples off our Golden are far bigger than you can find in the stores and as she has refused to let them come free, I cut a few boxes of the best to keep them from the constant taste testing of our Jays that come in this time of year…Sharing is fine but the little brats peck at each one to move on to the next , looking for the best. I was tossing four out of five as I pulled apples…Not that the deer complained mind you. This was our first harvest off our Honey Crisp, so they were a little small ( store size ) and not a ton. Next year, she will be even bigger and hopefully another good apple year will have even more of them to harvest. This will be the first nice harvest of the Grannies as well, but she has a load of apples on her, all of which will be sliced and canned for the season.

Peppers are still putting on flowers though the fruit has mostly come to a halt as far as them getting any bigger.

Tomatoes are slowly ripening still though within days, we will be pulling both nearly ripe as well as green to end their season. The green will go into flats that will ripen by the window in the morning room. We use to use the green tomatoes for Salsa Verde, which is amazing, we had been asked to put it on the market, but that sounds like way too much work for us. If we could get bigger harvests up here , that would be different.

Zukes, well, they didn’t do much again this year, but more than enough to still have them sitting on the counter, We started with only the Eight Ball variety, which are excellent for boats and such. They have a different taste and texture than the Black Beauties, so though they are interchangeable for baking, you do notice the difference, even after they have been shredded, bagged and frozen.

We got a few carrots still in the ground along with beats and potatoes.. We have less concerns about cooling temps for them than the touchier plants.

Green bean plants are still growing away.. We put them in late, just to see how they would do at end of season , as well as them working on the soil.

With the lower yields , we know things are off so we will be testing the soil here shortly as we start pulling the garden. Hopefully we find something that is fairly easy to adjust.

The heavy plastic we ran around the garden and apple trees this Spring sure made a big difference: Through the Summer, things got really dry again up here, even Eden looks really rough. The Apple Gardens however, even the grass is lush and green… which is pretty cool considering it is meadow grass that goes dormant at the first signs of drying up here in the late Spring.

Prepping for the dark months

We already have a good start on our wood. I have a cord in the wood room with another half to go. I still have to split a bunch of kindling , and with my hands as they are, that is going to be slightly unpleasant , but it is what it is.. MY hands just are not happy after holding a mop and or vac for five to seven days a week since I was a little kid. I would always have a terrible time after a ten hour day, laying wax; my hands would be like claws. I could not open them anywhere near half way for weeks on end and now, even trying to screw in a single screw with a screw driver will make them swell and hurt all the way up into my arm pits to the point of making me nauseous and sweat for days after.. Trying the even play the guitar now is getting tough.. Though I doubt ” the band” will get back together for one more gig for our friends, if they decide to, I hope they don’t wait too many more years..I can play a day here and there now for maybe a couple hours where only this last winter, I was playing a couple hours a night.

Annnnnnyyyyyyyywwwwwaaaaayyyyy…..So wood is less of a problem now than it was, as I was beginning to worry about getting enough to keep us warm this winter. Last year , we went through more than I thought we normally used but we shall see how it goes this year.

We picked up a ten foot orchard ladder this year, as the construction crew that was up here years ago walked off with mine..along with several other tools… Finally got tired of fighting the trees without one.. Though it is pretty tall for the trees, but it’ll be great for pruning, it works perfect for getting on the roof.. We dont have a flat spot on our property so regular ladders have always been me leaning to one side or the other as I climbed and a balancing act to get back on them from the roof, making Ma; my better half, a little twitchy… now it’s more like stairs…course, there are still only a couple places I can get on the roof, but one is for cleaning the chimney, and any roof repair.. The other is for cleaning snow off the roof… Still haven’t found a better way other than climbing up on the roof as we can get feet of snow over night. Trying to pull it down usually doesn’t work, at least with how I have tried. We still need to just run down and pick up a four foot orchard ladder for the trees as well, not the least, giving both Ma and I ladders at the same time. While I work down, she works up.

I have batteries charging for the jeep and Samurai , I have to get them started and chains put on the Sami.. my hands will love that too.

The tractor is STILL down. I ran out of ideas a long time ago and had a couple friends stop by to look at it, but I had it running, they helped to get it purring..and then within the week it was down again so I need an actual mechanic to come and do whatever it is we haven’t thought of. I “hired” a mechanic in Early June to come up.

” Sure, no problem. It’ll be next week though.”

” That’s fine, I just need it up and running before winter.”

Still waiting. I have called and texted , but no replies…

I cleaned out the chimney again this week. It really gets a lot of build up. Not sure why. it’s relatively new to doing this. For all I know , maybe the trees are full of crap from all of the fires, beings that that is where the wood comes from..* shrug* Evil Fire Crap..Who knows, nothing else has changed.

I grabbed the new ladder, put my whisk together, climbed up on the roof, cleaned everything up. climbed down, put everything away, went inside, cleaned the stove and started a fire……. Instantly, the house was full of smoke!

” What the Hell?!”

I ran , literally, back out side, pulled the ladder from the apple trees, ran back into the shop, and began putting the handle lengths back together as the house filled with smoke. climbed back up pulled the cap off the chimney , reversed the whisk so I was holding the brush and ran the pole down to see if I could feel anything… Now when I run the brush, I run all the way until I feel it open up , and then I go further.. It should be all the way to the stove ( I’ll have to run a tape next year to see if I can figure this out..) But flipping the brush/pole, I actually went another foot lower, so I wonder…….. Anyway, by the time I got back down, pulled my boots again and ran inside, the fire had taken off and no more smoke. It has run fine since… I haven’t run into that either before..* shrug*

I picked up propane and gas for the sami, and tractor if somehow I end up with a mechanic up here, though I honestly have given up on that.. I found that not only had two of my tanks reached expiration, which I didn’t even know was a thing, but found out that the two tanks we just bought, and this was only their second fill, were stamped 2017…. Which means that , once again, things we can buy locally are old when they hit our stores… This is true , no matter what,,, Computers are on the verge of completely outdated when you buy them new here. TVs, the same…on and on… and trying to get food can be ridiculous. The shelves have been fairly empty since 2020, and even 2019. The stores can’t get people to work, EVERY store is trying to get help…We still have just as many people here, just none of them want to work and some how they don’t have to.. We have seen a couple jobs that we both wouldn’t mind working, but getting snowed-in ,in winter, pretty much wipes out that. I can’t do all the shoveling I did when I was younger to clear the near half mile to where they now clear the road.. The citiots that have moved up here, being they don’t have to worry about walking to their rigs, have put dumpsters where our winter parking is, so I can’t even do the mile walk to where that is, and there is no place closer, or farther without just parking on the side of the main road someplace, only to have it broke into or towed off or hit…

I am hoping that our newest neighbor can help us with the road. He is pretty much the only one I talk to anymore up here after all the citiots started being jerks, dismissing us, and asking for money to work on their portion of the road, while we put out the time and money to keep up our own section all on our own. They plow their section now, but wont help with ours even when we tell them we’ll pay for it.. Nope… so I pretty much told them to screw themselves when they then asked us for money for their section.. One citiot that bought on the edge between our world and theirs, put up a fence along the road, which is all well and fine, not sure why, the deer just jump over it and it’s not like anyone up here would tramp around on their property, but now even if I get the tractor running, I can’t turn around as my bucket or blade would take out their fence..

Change of the Seasons

With rains finally coming in and temps dropping, it finally feels like Fall. I literally just took out the AC from the Bedroom. I had to run it in the afternoons right up until I woke up to needing to fire up the wood stove….and even then, it warmed up again and I was running the AC again.

And with having Fall hit finally this week… come Tuesday, we are suppose to see our first snow…soo like a week of Fall and hello Winter? It looks more like just a wake up to ” Just for lookin at” snow, maybe for a couple days, but with that, temps are going to drop yet again…But then.. November hello…..We have had snow mid October…and then we have had snow wait until the week of Yule…So ya just never know..

I do know that I’ll have to bring in the tree and decorations before any big snows because once they start, it is nothing but a bobsled course to the outbuildings till Spring .

The bucks have been moving about with their necks swollen, pestering our girls, but not much of that yet.

We were hearing elk every morning until just recently , but then, the neighbor hosted a wedding up here a couple weeks ago and they partied till late with music down into the woods so it quieted the animals. We even became a parking lot for the event.. most cars EVER up here.. but, as I say, I like him and the bride was nice as well.. Ma and I were suppose to go, but we aren’t much for crowds in the first place, and they were all young kids…and we didn’t want to be the old party crashers.

The homestead parking lot

Wait; WHAT?!?

Yup… Our new neighbor and I get along great. He hasn’t peed in my cheerios and I haven’t dug a pit trap into his driveway…So win/win .

He sent me a text a few weeks ago to see if I was busy… It’s not like I could not answer or tell him I wasn’t home..He can see our house and watched the singular car come in to visit us ..This year… Yes, yes, we are totally beloved by all…

After eye rolling my way through the house, I tramped over to see wha’s up…

One of his friends was getting married and they wanted to do it at his place… Well on a clear day, you have a perfect view of Mt Adams from his porch so that made sense to me as I fixed him with my evil eye…

” We were wondering if we could use your field for parking….”

THAT will teach me to mow the dang field..right? It’s like the only flat area with in miles…

I gave him that “shark eye” stare I do that so many of you folks have endured.. and he smiled at me..


Ok, I had nothing, so I told him I’d talk to Ma; my better half and drug my feet home, kicking a pine cone along the drive ahead of me, muttering about citiots not knowing when they tugged on the bear’s tail..

I turned to glare at him.. and he waved… Damn it…

I stomped into the house shaking my head and a dang smile creeped up from somewhere… I told Ma, who also just shook her head and next thing I knew, I was chatting with the bride to be and seemingly moments later we were a parking lot…

The day turned out to be filled with the haze of smoke from the area’s fires, completely blocking any view of the mountain, but , on the bright side, it was a very warm day and I imagine the sun was out in full.. above the smoke.

I did get to do my glare and stomp when a few citiots walked down into the lower field to take pictures.. AND SMOKE in the field I hadn’t cut, dry grass up to their armpits and they have open flame?!?! WTH!?! Apparently, they are scared of little old men.. with a limp … It may have been the baseball cap.. it is pretty worn… well, or the banjo… and the squealing pig noises.. but I digress …

We actually stayed up till around 1 am while they partied …and then, I couldn’t sleep, so I was up until around 3am… new record for me for quite some time now….but hey.. Jut ask me how many holes are in the acoustic tiles of the ceiling ….. By noon the next day, you couldn’t tell anyone had been there so I can only grump, can’t actually complain….well…yeah.. on/off switch, so I can.. and do… with vigor and detail..

Next time, I am making boundary signs, bees cause, We KNOW how well that worked for me all those decades at my job.. right?

Ma’s spinning and knitting

Now, we all know that Ma has been busting her tail , spinning and knitting in any spare time that she can find including a beautiful Fair Isle sweater, her second.

and , of course, getting ready for the holiday season, she made up a batch of baubles for one of her friends to sell up in the Michigan area

along with prepping a Sheltland fleece to spin

plus sooo much more …..She constantly has multiple projects going , all of which will be put to constant use. These aren’t just make and toss in a corner items, everything Ma makes, we use.. which is why she is always making more.. When was the last time you had to go shopping for clothes?…. No idea for us…

Ma’s new baby

Ma picked up a nice little Shetland Spinning Wheel not long ago and we just finished fixing her and cleaning her up. The wheel had separated , so that had to be pressed back together and glued. Someone had glued pieces together, ones that need to move, so I am sure that’s why the wheel had been up for sale, as ” they” couldn’t make it work.. I had to heat up the joint, and make a tool to fit to tap the pieces apart. Once we had all the bits put back as they should, we sat out on the porch while I removed scale from her. She had obviously been stored in a damp cellar . I would have thought maybe a covered porch, but even I could smell the rotty musky smell of basement on it… It took some time with steel wool for each part, then I used mineral spirits for the next stage… then we found out that due to the moisture, a couple parts wouldn’t fit back together so off to the shop to do some fitting work. Finally I got the parts to mate once again and then she made her way to the Almond Oil stage.. I cleaned and restored the wood with the oil and let it dry. Ma finished things up with with a Bee’s Wax finish for the new little girl.

The Shetland Wheel has a smaller orifice and a higher spin ratio for spinning thinner than what Mama Wheel is set up for. Now we all know that Ma can spin very fine with Mama Wheel, so it will be interesting how the new wheel does once Ma gets the rest of the minor bugs worked out. The new wheel was throwing the drive band over and over until Ma worked that out, a little tweaking on the new girl, as it began to break back in after, who knows how long it has been down as it is another vintage wheel, it started to true up with Ma’s care and efforts. Well.. we ran into another small problem.. with the smaller orifice, the orifice hooks Ma had wouldn’t work… Mama Wheel’s hook was too large and Irish’s is too short. Ma came up with a wire to use to get things going..

We had a big work day, with us both swapped in our own areas of the property well into the latter part of the day. I kept finishing up, then I’d see Ma working, so another project would get tossed into the mix for me, cause I aint about to finish before she did..

Wellllllll.. I was a workin’ in the shop anyway.. I looked through my wood scraps and couldn’t find what I wanted, sooooooo, I snuck into “Outie” to check out Ma’s stash and found a piece of wood that was jusssssst right, chopped it, and then again, tapped it and threw it on the lathe. IN less than an hour, I had the handle for the orifice hook, Ma found an eye hook the right size and we used her spring wire for the hook its self. Once I got the ok from Ma, I ran back out, sanded it down and stained it in Ma’s color that I set up a few years ago ..and wrote down the mix, thank you very much, but the best part was, it matched the wheel color close enough I can’t see the difference and when it hangs off of her, they look like they have always been together.

Final Thoughts

The kids have been coming back home lately with the changes of the seasons; Our deer have been laying in the field close to home, relaxing in the one area that they don’t have to worry about being freezer bait..well..and there are the “appuless”

“Our Girl” has been staying very close to the house, which is fairly normal. The other day we had to head to we pulled back in, we had woken her up while she was sleeping on the island by Ma’s office. She stood up, blinking, trying to wake up while we sat in the truck patiently waiting for her to completely wake while we chatted through the window at her. She doesn’t mind when we are out walking with her, but the door noises bother her ears, She eventually got her awake eyes back in, stepped to the side of the drive, still only a few yards from us and we got out and walked into the house as she watched us, finally she woke enough to start looking around for any appules she had missed.

Quail Boy brought his clan back through for a visit, they spent a couple days hanging, checking out his old apartment in the junipers. watching me work on stuff between the house and shop.

Lass and one of her sisters are the only hummies still hanging out up here. Almost ended up with both of them in the house yesterday when I just happen to walk out the door as they were chasing one another, flew through the window in the covered porch, meaning to sweep past the door and back out, but “Da” was in the way and the door was open.. They both slammed on the brakes , making a 90 degree turn between my arms , right past my face and back out..giggling at me..

The coyote kids, of course, are starting to make a little more noise with the cooling temps. We are seeing them padding through a little more often, though Teary is here more often than anyone else. They had a Sing-a-Long the other night where Rhey made sure to let me know that she was still around, and Rhey being the absolute Brat that she is, padded under my window to do her harmonies …. I didn’t bother to look at the clock as she normally enjoys the 2am to 4 am shift…. We could hear Teary and her pup not too far off as well, sounded like they were either at the wood pile or maybe at the fence edge. I tried to see them but it was too dark. We had easily a half dozen kick in so mostly likely from Limpy’s pack as it sounded mostly like coming from the closest den. You could also hear some chiming in as the song kicked in to its seventh or eighth chorus from up North and off to the West…

Morning dew,

We get up, still, before the sun has risen. Stepping out to our covered porch, a cup of coffee steaming in Ma’s hand while I sit with my tea as we watch the colors begin to show across the hills and valley while the morning begins to bloom.

With the rainy season finally kicking in, even when it isn’t raining , dew covers the plants, wood and even the hummie feeders.

While we quietly talk, Lass wakes from her mini hibernation , swooping in to tell us about her morning so far… Considering that her apartment is only some twenty feet from her perch, she has already had quite the adventure… Normally beginning with;

” You guys are so loud! I was sleeping and then you slammed the door..”

” I always make sure and close it quietly Lass.” I grump at her.

” Talking here! As I was saying, I was asleep and then you slam the door…”

I roll my eyes.

” …. and you know what I saw when I was flying over here?”

” A shrub?”

Lass, glaring at me continues, “.. I saw a deer !”

” Well.. yeah, Our Girl is always here…duh.. kinda like you..with out all the jabberinsulting crap.”

Lass rolls her eyes right back at me, sticks her beak in the air and pouts.

Chuckling, I say, ” Sooooo anything else? that caught your eye on the way cllllleaaaaarrrrr over here?”

Slowly she rotates one eye down to look at me,” Well… just the elk herd.” a slow grin creeping across her beak.

I leap up to peer around her and sure enough a half dozen and change cow elk are slowly walking across the field.

Looking up , the lead cow watches me while the others slow and turn to do the same.

” Hi girls!” I quietly call out.

The lead cow, stares at me, slowly licks her lips…..and stares….

” Yeah, well, not creepy at all that is..”

Lass starts giggling and suddenly is hopping from one foot to the other.

” What ARE you doing?”

” My perch is wet.”

” Annnd? it is always wet cept for Summer.”

” Yeah, but it’s squishy today..”

” It’s Dew…”

” Mountain Dew?”

I snort…” Well,, techincally..”

Lass’s sister comes swooping in at a chatter knocking lass off balance with her shoulder and off the two fly complaining into the sunrise.

I look back to the elk, who have gotten bored with staring at me.

Our Girl is slowly making her way towards the house, then lays down to relax with Ma.

I chuckle as the two hummers whiz past my face.

The sun cresting the hills and finding a break in the clouds to wash over the hills who have their own light foggy haze. The Fall colors of the sky press into the valley and just as quick are once again swallowed by the dark clouds, heavy with rain.

I take a deep breath, tasting the weather about us, smile and once again say to myself

” So begins Just another day on Zen Mountain.”


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