In which we continue to celebrate Fall and prepare for Winter

Fall has definitely arrived in the Swamplands.

According to people who know these things, the way to tell when fall has arrived is to listen for the jays.

According to the crowd of bluejays in the tree this morning, the hazelnuts are ripe. You'd think they'd want to keep that a secret, but I guess that's not the way that jays do things.

Plums are also getting ripe.

Lots of plums.

I'm not sure what to do with them all...

There's only so much plum jam that a non-sugar-eater like me wants to produce each year. Maybe I can talk Jim into making some plum wine? Maybe he'll make a LOT of plum wine?

Grapes are getting ripe too. Aren't they pretty?

There's not very many grapes on the vines this year because they have been smothered by blackberry vines for yonks. It took me two months to hack them free--I assume they will grow better when they have a year or two of non-strangulation!

Small batches of grapes make tasty treats for hens--they chase them around the pen like they are playing a highly-caffinated round of grape-rugby.

I figure that the grapes are a nice reward for the eggs we are collecting now--a total of three so far, for those who are counting. We are hoping to get a few eggs each week through September, and then the Egg Machines will probably shut down for winter in October.

Our friends Megan and Henry came to visit over the holiday weekend, and showed us how to make garlic pickles.

Sorting the cukes. Cramming cucumbers into the jars is harder than it looks.

Pouring on the brine. Around Hallowe'en, we can open the first jar.

The goats are growing up, and are eagerly eating back the blackberry vines and anything else they can reach. I think they want to be fat and furry to be ready for winter...or really, they just like to be fat and furry.The goats were really upset when the rain started in earnest: when I went out to feed in the morning, they wouldn't come out of their goat house, but stayed under the dry roof hollering their complaints.

I think these goats have never really been rained on. They were born on the Dry Side of our state, probably in late Spring. It's entirely possible that our recent weather systems are the first rains they have ever experienced. They were so mad! Lupin was clearly trying to tell me that I needed to fix the sky because it was leaking and he didn't want to get wet.

The most important fall activity for Swampland country-dwellers is getting the firewood in. Jim and Willy knocked down an alder tree earlier in the summer, because it was fixin' to fall on our fenceline--and you just know that it will drop on the fence at three in the morning in the pouring rain, right? Better to take it down under controlled circumstances, during daylight hours.This weekend we rented a log splitter and hacked all the rounds into manageable chunks of firewood.

The splitter is my favorite kind of machine: the kind that a 45-year-old librarian can operate without endangering body parts.

The goats had to taste the machine, just in case it would be good goat food. Naaaaaaahhh.

The horses decided that woodsplitting is like trail work: boring. They ignored us after the first five minutes.

After the wood is split, we load it onto the truck to haul up to the woodshed by the house.

Willy holds a blackbelt in Tetris: he got a whole truckload of wood into a very small space!

I'm afraid that if I remove the wrong piece, it will all come crashing down on me. Hmmm. Maybe I'll send the kid out to fetch firewood this winter. He seems to have an affinity for this stack.
It looks like a lot of wood, but I'm anxious to get even more. We have two more alder trees that can come down, and I hope we can take them down and get them split before the weather gets really cold.

There's no such thing as too much firewood!


  1. Two things:

    1) We kept three chickens through two winters in Vancouver and they never really shut down. We'd go down to maybe 5 eggs weekly instead of a dozen, but we still got eggs and you probably will too.

    2) Goats don't like the rain. I don't think it matter where your goats are from...I have never met one that doesn't mind being rained upon. Just wait until you get some snow!

  2. Your goats are so cute. My goats hate the rain. They run to their shelter the minute the skies let loose.
    Your plums look so good! We would love to have a log splitter! It is all done by hand here! Not by me of course!

  3. Your fruit and cukes all look so good. And hazelnuts — YUM. Do you have to do anything to them, or can you just shell them and eat them?

  4. Garlic pickles, yum!

    It's getting to be fall here too - my favorite time of year!

  5. I wanted to answer your question about our shelter, did you want to know the size of the posts? The back posts are 12' 4 x 6's and the front posts are 14' 4 x 6's. I hope that helps. Any other questions, email me at I am more than happy to give you any info that you need!!

  6. Such a yummy and fun post: garlic pickles, plum wine, grapes (for winte, too?), hazelnuts (I've never seen them a tree before. cool! Will you be harvesting them, too?), and Egg Machines playing rugby! hehe! You are too funny!

    Any my! Your goats have the longest ears I've ever seen on a goat. They are adorable! How nice that they eat the blackberry brambles, too.

    My goats don't like rain either. Along with the sheep and llamas they are always running to the barn anytime it even spits a few drops from the sky, unlike my horse who will stand out there when it pours buckets. lol!

    Oh! And my chickens didn't stop laying last winter, though they did slow down. I was still getting at least 8 eggs a day for my 14 hens. So, I bet your hens will surprise you :)


  7. (Please excuse all my mispellings and typos. My brain thinks faster than my fingers type...or is it the other eay around? And it's currently 3am. gah!)


  8. Oh! And I almost forgot to add that Willy may hold a black belt in Tetris for that wood stacking game, but you, my friend, are going to have to earn a black belt in Jenga to pull out those logs properly. lol!


    word verification: "triatt"

    Go ahead! Tri Att!


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