Notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.
Of all the seasons, I love fall the most. Christine will tell you she favors the coming of spring, but for me fall is where it’s at. Sure, spring and summer both have their places in my heart, but there’s just something magical in the cooler temperatures, the transitioning colors, the crunch of leaves, hot apple cider, late night bonfires, and the host of traditional fall activities that speaks to my soul.
It is a season of both work and play for us on the homestead. The last few weeks saw quite a bit of preparation for the coming winter. Each day we lose a couple more minutes of daylight, and with both of us having off-farm jobs that means there is just a little bit less time each day to complete the daily chores. But winter is coming. That’s for sure. And so we work and we prepare a little each day.
Here’s just a small sampling of the many tasks we’ve completed in our end of season preparations:
- Final harvests and taking down the summer garden. It’s so sad to see her go!
- Planting cold hearty crops for the fall and getting our onions (nearly three hundred of them!) and garlic bulbs in the ground before the onset of winter.
- Preserving the last of the harvest. We’ve also tapped the first of the fire cider to ward off the seasons colds and flu.
- Cleaning out soiled bedding in the chicken coop and laying in a new deep bedding for the winter.
- Finishing up the lower pasture shelter, complete with a thick layer of straw and pine shavings for the warmth and comfort of the goats.
- Moving the worm farms into the shelter of the chicken coop. This will shelter our vermiculture operations from winds and protect against the colder temperatures.
- Final mows of the grassy areas around the homestead. Including mulching our downed leaves in place or raking them over flower beds as a natural insulation for perennial plants and bulbs.
- Spraying the last of the compost tea over our late planted beds. In doing so we effectively empty the barrel before the first hard freezes risk a rupture due to ice expansion.
- Planning for 2023. Ongoing. Yikes… that’s a big one! More gardens, more flowers, meat birds, and innovations all coming to our homestead soon!
With all the work to do around the homestead we can forget sometimes to have fun as well. As John Muir asserted, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread; places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike.” It is here, for me, that fall brings out the fullness of its beauty and charm.
Fall is a time of festivals, fairs, and fun. It is the ideal time for apple picking adventures, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and trips to visit our local farms. We’re blessed to have many local farms nearby that provide us with a host of autumnal activities in which to partake.
One of our favorites is Kingsway Pumpkin Farm. Even before we moved to Hartville this amazing farm was on the list as a yearly “must see” experience. With animals, rides, mazes, food vendors, and other attractions this destination never disappoints. Many a pumpkin found its way to our front porch after a hayride through the pumpkin patch of Kingsway.
Unfortunately, Christine didn’t make it to Kingsway with us this year. For good reason though. Our granddaughter, Avery Jean, needed more time with Gammy and to meet her aunt Lexi. So while Christine and her oldest traveled to Indiana for a weekend, the younger kids and I hit the nearby farm. Wouldn’t you know it though, the other half of our homestead found themselves farm hopping over the weekend too.
Apple picking is another family favorite tradition. While definitely a different vibe than the pumpkin patch, the apple orchard holds its own allure. Fall always seems to provide the best backdrop for photos as well. So when we had a sunny and warm Sunday to ourselves, off we went to Beckwith Orchards in neighboring Portage County. Sadly, it is getting harder and harder to find orchards that still permit you to pick your own fruit in our area. But, having seen many family owned orchards close their doors permanently in recent years, we’re grateful for the opportunity to walk the grounds and spend our day on the Beckwith farm. Fall lends itself to many a fine family portrait.
It has been a long year. A year of challenges. A year of lessons and learning. A year of reaped rewards, harvests, and happy events. A year of growth. A good year.
A year on our homestead.
We’ve gotten through it all by making time for work and time for play.
As we prepare to wind up that year and settle into winter months ahead I look forward to the last lingering days of fall. I secretly dread the coming of winter, but autumn shows us it can be beautiful to let things go. The sun rises after the dark of night. A rainbow comes out before the end of the rain. Spring follows the harshness of winter. And all the things that lay dormant once will rise again.
(Maybe Christine is on to something with her love of spring.)