Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hope springs...

There is something about planting a tree. Really something when it is many trees. Something about hope. A tree, while small and splendid, is not meant for those seeking instant gratification. When I had the range management folks out here they told me their saying. "When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago." Or, second best, last Saturday afternoon.

I am already lusting at the thought of picking a ripe honeycrisp and experiencing the universe in a bite (I really like those. A lot.) Oh, Eve, I get it. The temptation. Apples are so many things to me. Comfort, love, nourishment, fall in New England, cider, cider donuts, friends and leaves and cool nights and brisk air. The scent brings a flood of memories held and those to come. Not to mention the peaches and cherries I planted. I don't know when we will have fruit, but fruit we will have if I have to take a little heater out there come spring to ward off frost. A naysayer said I may not have any luck. I told him that may well be, but I got me a whole boatload of stubborn.

I finally got the orchard planted. They look lovely tall and straight. All ten fruit trees in a lovely pattern in the northeast corner of the farm. They are somewhat protected on two sides by other trees, to the south there are three large grain silos and to the east the neighbors outbuildings and treeline. I imagine in a few years it will be an enchanted place.

Growing up in New England apple orchards were everywhere. A couple people showed surprise recently that apple trees, or fruit trees in general, could grow there. I looked surprised myself and hope I didn't come across rudely when I stated of course. There is an amazing bounty there. I guess our reputation for harsh winters has something to do with the notion. But it isn't so much the deep freeze of winter that limits, but rather that Colorado has the undesirable habit of heavy frosts or hail storms at the most inconvenient of times. Like, all year, especially July if memory serves.

This weekend was especially busy. J went elk hunting in the mountains outside of Gunnison. I spent the weekend semi solo. Actually, I was surrounded by friends, so solo I was not. I went visiting friends, planted trees (thank you bobcat man for digging my holes!), introduced the guineas and chickens to each other, danced with the girls to a rockabilly band, hit a movie, and tackled the three tubs of once green heirloom tomatoes I had to pick suddenly because of our early fall frost.

I always have pioneer longings. Filling my pantry with food I canned. Filling my freezer with fresh pesto and veggies. Well, my job and commute don't exactly allow for that. Once a year I pull off a major endeavor but salsa and pasta sauce were not in the cards. Instead I pulled my favorite cheat. I halved and quartered them and then roasted them in olive oil, sea salt and pepper. 400 degrees for about an hour. Once some of the skin was caramelized or slightly blackened I let them cool, put them in freezer bags, and voila, heaven. I add them to everything and the roasting makes their flavor so much richer. It truly was quick and painless.
Green. Very green. And so many. They were really good sliced on homemade pizza.

About two weeks or so and they were ripe. We did loose some of them.
Sliced and ready to go.


Now, what to do about the two tubs of squash.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Sooo, our big farm party ended up being on the coldest day of the week and the morning after our first dusting of snow. Sunday of course was sunny and beautiful. We were lucky enough to miss the majority of the snow. Even so, J and I built a big cook pit, a fire pit and had a shindig with band anyway. It was a blast and we saw a lot of folks that hadn't yet made it out to the farm.

We cooked 100 lbs of beef and pork roasts, 15 lbs each, in the ground and then threw some on the grill at then end or left it to blacken a bit on the coals. All the food was wonderful and it was truly a great way to celebrate our efforts and our big potato harvest that morning.

All in all, even with the cancellations from the weather, we had 75 folks come through all evening.

The rest of the weekend was rest. Many movies and leftovers and apple crisp later, we were content. Today I had the day off (thank you feds) and while the majority of the day I had a sinus headache, I was able to build the chickens larger temporary fenced area. It is a b***h putting t-posts into concrete (aka northern Colorado dirt), but in the end I prevailed. As did the girls.

Now, to water the fruit trees before dark.