Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Winter Is Coming

Winter Is Coming

As much as I want to make something with that chicken fabric, sewing is going to have to wait. This is the list of things I need to get done soon, all involving gardening and/or food preservation:

  1. Put beans to dry in greenhouse. I pulled up the Vermont Cranberry and Jacob’s Cattle Bean rows yesterday and got them on trays. Most of the pods were already yellow and I saw no reason to leave them out in the garden. Cleaning out those rows will make it easier to do some other tasks. The pods should be fully dry after one more hot day in the greenhouse.

  2. When all the beans are pulled, run the wheel hoe through that bed and rake out the weeds.

  3. Prune raspberries and currants. This can wait a few weeks, I think, but it needs to be done this month.

  4. Tomatoes.

  5. Dig up potatoes. Can also wait a few weeks yet.

  6. Make applesauce.

  7. Can apple pie filling.

  8. Pick all the apple trees.

  9. Pick the pears and find some place to let them ripen for a few days before slicing and dehydrating them. (Also: Clean dehydrator.)

  10. Pick up black plastic from a farmer friend of ours and get it out on the parts of the garden where we need to get rid of the weeds. The husband has promised to do this for me.

  11. Prune the lavender hedge.

  12. Dig up Jerusalem artichokes.

  13. Put up hoop cover over lettuce bed?

Apples and pears are the priority for the next couple of days. I don’t want to be awakened in the middle of the night by a bear (or two or three—there is a pack of three grizzlies roaming the area) crashing through our little orchard. I was going to do apple pie filling today and applesauce tomorrow, but I think I am going to switch that order and do sauce today. Sauce is a bit easier. Making sauce first will also give me a reason to clean off the Red Wealthy tree and I can cross two items off the list.

Susan and I had an interesting conversation about apples last week while we were enjoying tea and dried pear slices under the spruce trees in her backyard. She has a large orchard—about 40 trees—and she keeps very detailed records about every variety of fruit tree she has ever planted. (She has a master’s degree in botany and tracks her plants closely.) I told her that when my sister and I were little, our parents used to take us to a place called Henrietta Hill every fall. There was an orchard there—I am pretty sure it’s Miller’s Apple Hill—and we would buy apples and apple cider. I remember that the store had a water dispenser with paper cups, but instead of water, it dispensed cider. I love apple cider, but I don’t buy it in the store anymore because it doesn’t taste like the apple cider I remember drinking as a kid. Modern-day cider is just too sweet. After looking at the list of apples grown at Miller’s, we decided that the cider I was drinking as a kid probably came from Macintosh or Cortland apples, and those aren’t varieties that I see for sale anymore. (Susan had a Cortland and took it out because she didn’t like the flavor, LOL.) We’re going to need to take out a couple of peach trees in the front yard that just aren’t doing well, and I think I am going to replace them with a Cortland and/or Macintosh next spring to test this theory.

Honeycrisps are big around here. I taste them and think, “Eh, they’re okay.” They do keep well, though.

Susan and I are very intrigued by the Montana Heritage Orchard program run by the MSU Extension Service. Our area is full of apple trees on old homesteads. This program seeks to find and identify old fruit varieties with a goal of saving and propagating some of them. Hopefully, we can get to one or more of the workshops. She has grafted apple trees successfully and would like to do some of these heritage varieties.

The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a “parade of snowstorms” for our area this winter. I am more excited about this possibility than the husband, but he’s the one who will be out plowing. I would like us to have a winter that weeds out some of the deadwood, though.

And it looks like we’ll be pouring a floor in the new shop some time in the next couple of weeks. Yay! I still think it would be a great place to have a party.


One of the places I stopped to check coolant on my way home from Seattle was the little town of Superior, Montana. There was a small farmer’s market set up on the lawn of the old school, so while I waited for the car to cool down, I wandered around. One lady had a booth selling all sorts of quilted items, including these bowl cozies:


This is another one of those “things I can’t seem to get around to making” items. I have a pattern, I have all the fabric and batting, but I never think about making one. The husband likes to wrap his soup bowls in potholders. Now he has his own bowl cozy.

Apples and Pears

Apples and Pears

High Maintenance Supermodels

High Maintenance Supermodels