In which there's a "new" kind of inclement weather, and also there's food

Another "new" 2020 crisis:
we've closed the libraries because of smoke.

The grey stuff in this photo isn't fog.  It's smoke.

The libraries aren't, like, wide open or anything anyhow.  But we've had staff in buildings, and materials available for curbside pickup for more than a month...until Friday.  

Friday, the PTB's remembered that, due to COVID19 restrictions, buildings with staff inside are flushing 100% of the HVAC air out of the building and taking in 100% new air, continually.  This minimizes the amount of virus floating around in the internal atmosphere, which is good...

photo from the Washington Smoke Blog, an information partnership of local, county, state,
federal and tribal agencies.  

...but when the outside air is rated "dangerous for all things", the procedure is not good.  So, they sent everybody home Friday afternoon, and declined to "open" the buildings (to staff) on Saturday.  Our next "open" day is Tuesday.  Maybe we'll have rain before that?  

We can hope.  

We run the forced air furnace fan (no heat) during the day to help sift gunk from the indoor air.
The filter photo-right just came out of the box.  The filter on the left was installed yesterday. 
I guess it's good that all the gunk is stuck to the filter?

It's exhausting, and frustrating, and it's just hard work to exist right now--just like the usual kind of inclement weather, come to think of it.  

I hate "wasting" days that have no rain.  There are still barn walls to paint, and gardens to be tended.  

But about 30 minutes outside is my limit right now.

Sunrise at Haiku Farm, September 12, 2020

The Dragon and the goats don't seem to be suffering--in fact, they don't seem to be doing anything differently than usual.  The only change is that September Snacks are the Best Dragon Snacks:  corn husks, sunflower leaves, and APPLES.  And plums.

Anne-Marie shot this photo of the Dragon begging for plums when we rode last week.
Remember last week?  We had air last week.

If you watch the AQI (Air Quality Index) numbers, ours get higher during the day.  This morning was at 150-ish, the borderline between "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" and "Unhealthy for Everything."  Tonight, it's at 199, on the border between "Unhealthy for Everything" and "Very Unhealthy for Everything."  

Lunchtime: apocalyptic livestock

I get a thudding ache in the bottom of my lungs that acts as my personal speedometer.  Could it be we've found something worse than sn*w?  Sigh.

We try to do a few farm chores early each morning, when there's a bit of fog to weigh down the smoke a little.  By 9am, the sun is warming the sky, the (minimal) fog is burned away, and the air is pretty much just gritty smoke and chewy toxins.  

Today, I picked apples.

This is the variety we call "Actually Quite Tasty."  The apples are not beautiful,
but, like it says on the label...

Actually Quite Tasty applesauce:  apples + a pinch of lemon or lime juice,
cooked in a big pot over low heat for an hour or two.  WOW!!!

It's been a phenomenal harvest year for plums.  

Our first really BIG harvest from Pickles Marie's tree.  We were able
to put up a bunch of plum sauce and give away buckets of plums, too!

Elsewhere in the garden, the butternut squashes are ticking along nicely, and the beans are starting to dry on the vine.  

I planted bush butternuts this year, and the bushes are hugely productive--and require that some of the smaller, younger squashes get culled so the larger ones will have the space and energy to form a hard rind for storing.

Immature butternut squash makes an excellent soup ingredient--I added this one
to this week's clam chowder (a close relative of last week's chowder)

Hulling and sorting beans is something I can do indoors.  

Beans are sorted by type:  runner beans, rattlesnake pole beans, purple pole beans, dragon tongue bush beans, and green bush beans.  

Then, each type is further sorted by maturity: very dry = use for seed next year, mostly dry = let dry and store for food this winter, still green = eat immediately.

This is peak season for eating food fresh out of the backyard.  

This year, the Backyard Scramble has become a relief, as well as a treat--every meal we grow ourselves is one that doesn't need a grocery store visit to supply ingredients.  

French Toast, a la Haiku Farm: homemade bread
(still using up the flour I bought at Fairhaven Mills in April), eggs from the hens,
applesauce from Actually Quite Tasty apples, syrup from plums, and berries from the garden

It may be bad, but it's also Good.

Stay safe, y'all.  



  1. Your garden pictures are a welcome distraction, that French Toast is my favorite. The smoke has been here in Nor Cal for about 4 weeks, and my horse doesn't seem different either, though knowing they're breathing all that means a slow reintroduction when we can ride again. I hope the libraries open back up, here they opened up some public buildings for people to get some "fresher" air, at least better filtered! Take care, don't breathe too deeply!


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