Monday, October 10, 2011

Autumn Homestead Update

Fall tends to be one of the busier times here on the little farm.  I am usually scrambling to prepare for art exhibits, starting to create some smaller items for holiday sales, and dealing with the harvest, all while my husband and daughter are getting back to their school/work schedules and all of the extracurricular activities that come with it.

By now, our tomatoes are dwindling, and I've been removing the spent plants from the greenhouse, making room for a fall crop of greens.  We planted winter broccoli and cauliflower, plus salad greens.  We've never done a fall planting before, mainly because it has always been so much work just getting the harvest finished, let alone dealing with replanting.  I thought planting in the greenhouse would mean the veggies were protected from predators (all of the greens in the raised beds have now been munched away by deer) but I have been fighting a whole gang of caterpillars instead. 

The deer have been very audacious, coming into the fenced garden surrounding our house, eating our raspberries and grapes.  The other morning, I was wholly entertained watching Mike chasing a deer around out there in his underwear and t-shirt, barefoot, waving a plastic yellow softball bat.  These are the memories we will cherish forever.

We have a lot of grapes (though less each time the deer break in), and I have no idea what I'll do with them.  I'd love to make wine, but I'm not up to buying equipment and taking that on this year.  We could vitamix them, but what about seeds?

Our first hive was invaded by yellow jackets.  Within about a week, the yellow jackets drove out the honey bees and ate almost all of the honey.  The hive never did produce much honey, so I don't think it was healthy to begin with, but we were very upset by the loss.  We are just hoping the other two hives are safe - they look ok.  I've been trying to salvage beeswax from the dead hive, but it's full of brood, and a bit papery.

Now and then, I find time to make lotions.  I infused almond oil with lavender for my most recent recipe.  I didn't use any essential oils, so the lotion is subtle and simple.  I'll give you a little rundown:

First, I melted beeswax and the lavender-infused almond oil, while letting some borax powder dissolve in water:
Then I mixed them together while both were hot.  I put the mixture in a blender I use only for lotions.
Once it was nicely whipped, I poured the mixture into jars and let it cool:
The hardest part about making lotion is planning ahead.  The infusion takes a few weeks, and then it's just a matter of having the materials on hand and the right tools.  The rest is very simple.  It has a nice, mild lavender smell, and the beeswax/almond oil texture feels luxurious on my hands.

My printer has broken down, so I need to get a new one.  Then I can print some labels and get my new products ready for the holidays.  Even if I can't sell them, they will make great gifts.  I helped
Anouk and her friend make melt & pour glycerine soap the other day.  We added our honey and some sage oil.  I used one to wash my face this morning, and it is the best facial soap I've ever used.  Anouk is going to make her own products and call them "Little Tendrils."


  1. We made really easy grape juice one year when I was invited to harvest a produce box full of concord (Island Belle) grapes. We put grapes in quart mason jars with some sugar, crushed them with a wooden spoon, poured boiling water over them and water bath canned them. When you are ready to enjoy the juice, just open a jar, pour it through a strainer over ice and enjoy!! Yummy.

    I am almost positive the recipe is in the Ball Blue Book.

  2. I wanted to try this grape juice recipe, but the deer really ravaged our crop. I may get a jar's worth out of them. We are thinking of investing in a motion-sensor sprinkler this year. That sounds like a great idea, though. (I'd still rather make wine!)