Preparing for Fall

When Spring rolls in I can never imagine I will ever again be ready for winter, but it seems by the time Fall is here each year, I am ready.  Although we live on 104 acres, we only have to “work” the 8 we actually live on and keep alpacas and chickens on.  The rest we have an agreement with a neighbor to let him graze his cattle and keep those acres maintained for us by mowing,  planting, fertilizing as he needs to in order to graze his cattle.  

We just got our first load of hay from our neighbor, covered and stored for winter use.  Trying to get their little pastures renovated.  I cleaned out and reorganized the barn (really, not much there, but I kept putting it off, even knowing it could be improved).  It looks and feels so much nicer inside.

Keeping the hummingbird feeders full (they are migrating through and eating twice as much for the journey ahead) and watching the pecan tree so the crows don’t get the crop (they bear nuts every other year only).  The green peppers in the garden are absolutely huge and need to be picked and stored (chopped and frozen), and getting the flower beds renovated and weeds pulled (the zinnias, cosmos and cannas are still blooming).  The grass is still growing so mowing, and then caulking around and painting where needed outside the house.

We both work full time, so the weekends are our “work”-ends.  As much as I love working outside, I am now ready for a few months of “rest” (i.e., not “as much” to do outside).  Here in East Texas we will usually see our first hint of spring in February, so the wait is not too long.  We will continue to work outside all winter, but some things like mowing that take several hours a weekend will not have to be done very often to free up some time to work on other things and get ready for the holidays. I want to do some sewing, jelly and jam making, and other  fun-inside stuff.

I like to watch the migrating “everything” that come through here.  Last year, I looked up into the sky, and there were layers of  hundreds of hawks flying and circling and moving southwest.  It was a spectacular sight that I had never seen before. 

I watch the hummingbirds and Monarchs come through.  I look for the shed snakeskin in the pastures, and try to eliminate mouse hiding  places near the back door.  Cleaning up and hauling away any trash piles outside and in the garage.  The cooler weather and welcome fall rains and storms, with unhindered views of spectacular sunsets, are what I look forward to with much  joy.

northeast Texas sunset

northeast Texas sunset

Great giveaway

Three are soooo many blogs out there it’s hard to know where to start, but I am on a few that I try out for awhile and usually they have links to their favorite blogs that lead me to others. 

Today there is a giveaway on this one you might want to read about for healthy eating. The contest rules are in this link and are easy to follow.  Act now, time is running out.

http://jessiehawkins.com/?p=89&cpage=43#comment-727

My wonderful veggies

Tomatoes and green peppers
Tomatoes and green peppers

I had only tomatoes last year and got enough to keep us eating fresh tomatoes into November from a couple of plants.    This year I planted six plants and they are growing like crazy.  I have realized I planted them too close together and so at some points during the day they are shading each other.  I will change that next year.

I did not have green peppers last year but we use them alot and they are expensive.  Right now they are going for over $1.50 EACH at the market.  I planted six plants and they are growing like crazy too.  Possibly I even planted them too close so I will space them out better next year.  

green peppersJuly green peppers

 

I have raised beds that came with the place, but we plan to add some more since we have some of our old fenceposts stacked and stored we can use.

Here are some before and after pics.  I planted after the last big freeze at Easter; the cool weather and rain in the spring I think slowed down the growth and the vegs weren’t ready to pick until June.  As the weather cools into the fall they should start another growth spurt.

late spring tomatoes

late spring tomatoes

summer tomatoes

Alpacas in the Fall

Well we had a nice turnout for our National Alpaca Days.  It is interesting that no one actually was from this immediate area; they all drove a distance to see the alpacas, feel the fleece, get some literature and enjoy the country.  We hope to have a holiday farm day sometime in November and additionally have products for sale. We do have one pregnant girl that should have her cria by then. 

The chickens are all doing well and enjoy their coops.  I do have 3 guinea fowl that just don’t care to go in at night; they roost on top of the coop.  I call them The Three Stooges.  Unfortunately, a couple of the other guineas in another coop seem to be learning their bad behavior.  I have a feeling that will all change when the winter winds start to blow.  For now they are enjoying the crisp fall evenings.  I hear the owls hooting in the tree lined edge of our 104 acres when I am out closing up the coops and always fear they will be owl dinner, but so far they have avoided that fate.

The chickens are getting close to laying age and my calendar has a note to switch to layer feed in a couple weeks.  I have to get them fixed up with nesting boxes.  I found dishpans at the $1 store and will try them out.  Since they are plastic they will clean out easily and be lightweight and indestructible.

I am starting to think about Christmas gifts; with the economy we will scale back our spending this year;  I am also looking at making some cute soaps and sewing some hanging kitchen hand towels.  I subscribe to a blog, Tipnut, that I found to be fun and helpful, try it and see if you don’t find some info to help you out in some way  http://tipnut.com/

The only veggies I planted this year were tomatoes and they really didn’t take off until after the hot summer ended.  They are now loaded with blooms and I have already taken a dozen large ripe tomatoes with plenty more growing.   My favorite flower Impatiens have also revived after the hot weather; I thought they were gonners.  But they revived into large bushy plants that are exquisite in the shade.

My September/October shady garden

My September/October shady garden

Impatiens

Impatiens