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.

Happy Fall!

Happy Fall!

It looks like our first frost may happen this week, right on schedule. Some forecasts are even calling for snow in the valleys—that doesn’t mean it will stick, but it will be cold enough to fall from the sky. (I am glad I got the snow tires put on when I did.) I suspect the tops of the mountains may be kissed with snow even as I type this, but they are hidden from view by a layer of low clouds.

The husband and I picked up a couple of pieces of black plastic from our farmer friend yesterday afternoon. It’s out in the garden waiting to be spread out. The husband sorted potatoes yesterday afternoon into burlap bags, vacuumed out the root cellar, and put the potatoes in there. Our “root cellar” is actually the anteroom with the bulkhead doors that lead from the mechanical room in the basement to the outside. We discovered that putting a layer of 2” foamboard insulation below the doors keeps the potatoes at the perfect temperature and humidity for winter storage. He built shelves in there to hold the bags of potatoes.

I got the rest of the Honeycrisp apples off the trees. They should be safe from marauding bears now. The pumpkins are still out in the garden. I’ll have to pick and stack them soon. The grapes will need to be picked before the frost, although they are taking their sweet time ripening this year. That leaves the lettuce patch. The short pieces of rebar and the PVC pipe are already stacked in the garden. I’ll pound the rebar into the ground, put the PVC pipe over it, and then the husband will help me get the fabric stretched over them. We’ll keep that patch going as long as we can.

I’ve been going out to the greenhouse and shelling beans here and there as I get a few minutes. The Kebarika, Jacob’s Cattle, and Vermont Cranberry beans are all done.

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I might cook up some of each just to see how they taste, but I am keeping these for seed for next year. I have tons of Great Northern beans and those Wal-Mart Verde Valle beans. We’ll eat those.

Today’s project—because it’s cold and rainy outside—is tomato sauce with the previously-frozen tomatoes. I also threw in some that have been ripening inside and are ready.

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Being the lazy canner that I am, I don’t bother to skin or seed the tomatoes. They go into the kettle whole and I just boil them down until they pop open and turn to mush. When this has reduced and thickened, I’ll run it all through the food mill to strain out the skins and seeds (those go to the chickens). The sauce that comes out goes back into the kettles to cook down a bit more before processing. I don’t add any seasoning because I want to be able to use the sauce in a variety of ways.

The end is in sight; as soon as the tomatoes are done ripening and turned into sauce, I should be done with this season’s canning marathon. I’ll process batches of various foods here and there over the winter as seasonal produce becomes available (I’m looking at you, Meyer lemons), but those will be much smaller.

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Marcie loved her apron, and she made me a tomato pie (with gluten-free crust!) for dinner last night as a thank-you:

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It was yummy. This also happens to be sitting on some of Tom and Marcie’s pottery—I bought a whole set of dishes about 15 years ago. The plate is a bit greener than it appears but I am having trouble getting the color right. It matches my kitchen. I love my Mountain Brook Studio pottery.

Beginning the Metro Hipster Bag

Beginning the Metro Hipster Bag

Digging Up the Spuds

Digging Up the Spuds