Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Season Ends

It wasn't a gradual thing. One day, it was a perfect, sunny and warm 65 degrees, then next, barely 50 and that's where it's been for the past few days. Tuesday morning saw lows that just hit freezing; this morning, the thermometer dipped below for a bit early on. It was interesting watching the frost form this morning; the roof of the gazebo went from a little rim of frost to a sheet of white within 15 minutes.

Monday was a day of activity. Moving the potted plants into the greenhouse for the winter. Harvesting the last of the green tomatoes and baby cukes. Getting the peppers wrapped in Reemay (a type of crop blanket). Getting a shrub shield (a fabric 'tent') for the lemon tree which is now too large to haul off the deck or into the house. Bringing in the hoses from the beeyard and the round pen. And most importantly, getting Gizmo into his winter jammies, along with making sure his pellet stove room had the cozy fleece throw on his couch.

The morning packwalk finally has me in socks (!), sweats, Sherpa hat and gloves. The dogs really enjoy it; lots of little critters scampering about, finding the last of their winter food to store and cozy dens to finish up. The scenary is of course amazing, with the hardwoods on the mountains turning brilliant, neon yellow among the deep, dark green of the Dougs and cedars. Deer are on the move - mostly because it is hunting season, but also following the food. Hoke just knows that given a chance, he could put 'em all together and bring 'em to me if I wanted him to. I don't have the heart to tell him that's probably not gonna happen. A guy's gotta dream, y'know?

The leaves down along Reese Creek on the east side of the ranch are changing almost minute to minute now. Yesterday late afternoon, the entire stand looked like it was on fire. I think in a few days it'll be at its peak. Begs that you grab a warm cuppa and sit a spell in the swing, drinking it all in. You should try it. It's amazing how peaceful it is and how fast you'll forget your frazzled day, doing that.

The greenhouse, fully populated for the winter. It's amazing how much warmer it is in there even when it's below freezing out

And that 19 pound box of (mostly) green tomatoes brings the season's harvest, from the two grafted vines, to about 105 pounds. It's destined for in-house ripening as needed, as well as green tomato relish and whatever else I can figure to do with them

The last of the tomatoes and cukes. I had to leave almost as much on the vines as I picked

The grafted 'Costoluto Genovese' and 'Brandywine' vines, picked of what I could store, with a lot more left

One of the last three producing cukes, 'Pearl', gives up its final bounty. Enough to make a small batch of pickles, or maybe just eat

Gizmo stays warm and cozy in his winter jammies, on his fleece-covered couch, in front of the pellet stove. He will only leave his 'den' for potty and food breaks for the next several months

Almost 9 am and still not yet above freezing today. It was around 29 when we headed out on our packwalk

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