Monday, November 3, 2008

Days of Yard Work

We had that ornamental black cherry tree and the sickly mulberry felled about a week ago. Some of you remarked that the total bill of $400 seemed low. That might have been because we didn't ask them to remove any of the wood or even chip it for us. We've been dealing with the scrub ever since. For the record, it takes an awful long time to trim a 40'+ black cherry tree into pieces small enough to dump somewhere in a small enough pile that it will compost, eventually.

We found out that the cherry wood is somewhat valuable for furniture or cabinet making. I have no idea how many board feet we've got, but it would certainly be enough to at least make facing for some kitchen cabinets. Or some furniture. So we're going to hold on to it for now. We figure if we put it somewhere where it will dry down nicely, it'll simply be more valuable in a year or two. Maybe we'll sell it then, or maybe we'll have furniture made for ourselves. In any case, we just need to think about where to stash it for a while.

In other yard news, I finally started ripping out the 23 tomato plants I insanely put in this spring. (Next year, no more than 12!) I've long since stopped eating them myself. But the hens still enjoy the cherry tomatoes especially. I expect hundreds of volunteer tomato plants from the seeds they've pooped out. I gave them so many yesterday that they were getting a little blase about them. They're novelty junkies, those girls. With winter coming, it's been hard lately, finding dandelions or other weeds for them that they especially love. Foraging for their food makes me more aware of the change of seasons. I've been giving them some damaged chard still going strong in the garden. I'll miss the girls, and especially their eggs, after we slaughter them in a few more weeks' time.

Our apples look beautiful. But the tree doesn't want to let them go yet. We've harvested only about two bushels and change so far. I've been eating some of them with my morning oatmeal and with crepes or blini. We get the ladder out every few days and have another go at harvesting them. I had thought that we would be pressing this week. It must be a very late season apple. We had a much warmer October last year, so maybe that hurried them along somewhat. I'm hopeful that with the black cherry tree no longer shading the apple, we'll see more apples, less sooty mold, and maybe even an earlier harvest next year.

Oh, yes. And then there's leaf raking. Plenty of that already, and most of the leaves still on the trees. I remember that last year, when we hosted Thanksgiving, a few family members helped me rake on Wednesday. When everyone showed up on Turkey Day, it was impossible to tell that any raking had been done at all. The lawn was covered in leaves. Glad I'm not hosting this year.

Indoors, I've been removing our homegrown popcorn from the cobs. More on that soon.


Alison said...

Do you slaughter your chickens yourself, or will you have a "professional" do it for you? I'm curious, because I've always wanted chickens for eggs and, although I eat meat, I've never thought I've had it in me to do the actual slaughtering myself.

Also, about your apples... how do you know they're ready? I was waiting for the apples at my sister-in-law's rental house to ripen, but didn't visit for two weeks, and now have reports that most of them are on the ground. I guess that means they're ready! (But are the ones on the ground useable? I'll have to make a trip over there to check - probably a few, as I'm going to make applesauce)

Kate said...

Alison, it's not so much that I *do* slaughter my chickens myself; it's that I *will* slaughter them myself, with help from my husband. This is the first year I've kept chickens. So it's the first year I've faced this issue. I'm not looking forward to it, but I have been mentally preparing myself for it for months.

I think I'll be okay with it. I've been a meat eater all my life. If I can't slaughter these four hens, I've got no business eating meat. I haven't even looked into having anyone else do it. For four laying hens, I can't imagine that the expense of having a professional come and do it at my home would remotely make sense. I'm looking at the slaughtering and butchering as just another set of self-sufficiency skills I want to develop. Definitely not the most pleasant tasks around the home, but necessary ones.

As for the apples, the stem should snap off the woody branch when twisted or when lifted upwards along the branch. If a woody section attaches to the stem when you tug off an apple, you're pulling next year's buds off the tree, reducing the crop for next year. When the apples are ripe, this doesn't happen; they practically jump into your hand. At least they do with our tree. Also, you'll notice a significant number on the ground at that point.

Thanks for stopping by!