How To Spend A Perfect Fall Day

What do you to to enjoy the perfect combination of a Sunday afternoon, gorgeous weather, and beautiful leaves?

Hopefully your friends have their annul fall get-together/birthday party like ours do!

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Lisa and Will’s farm is seriously scenic and the ideal setting for a fall party.  We sat under these picturesque trees by a fire and feasted on fresh oysters, apple cider, sausages with sauerkraut, and pumpkin muffins.

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Our friend Tanya drove up as well, which made the day even more special.

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Check out the log stools!  I’d really like to do this at our place; Paul’s not convinced (in other words, too much work for him right now).  They made fantastic seating for today, though!

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Oona and Neve wore themselves out running around the farm with all of the other kids, playing on the hammock, and in that awesome hay fort.

Meanwhile, look at the leaves!!!!

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Then there’s the pond…….I’m rather smitten with Lisa’s pond right now.

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I mean, really.

I’m not sure it’s actually possible to get more “fall” than we did today.

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Look at this lovely little road next to the gorgeous pond.  Now imagine walking down it, leaves crunching underfoot, the smell of a wood fire hanging in the air, while you sip your apple cider.

See?

FALL!

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Today I am feeling so very fortunate for days like today.

Here’s so many, many more.

 

 

Oktoberfest!

This past Saturday we headed out to the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Va for their annual Oktoberfest celebration.  It seemed especially fitting this year as our dear friend Diana recently moved to Wiesbaden, Germany, and has herself been enjoying Oktoberfest.

Granted, there was no way our Oktoberfest experience was going to surpass hers.  Still, we had never been to the museum before, and it seemed like a perfect way to spend the first beautiful October weekend.

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We met our friends Jessie and Keith and their two kids and sampled some German food and beer before heading out to tour the homesteads.

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To be honest, the food and beer were a disappointment; there was very little to be had and the beer was all American mass-market. Thankfully, the music was fantastic and our company was fun.  The kids had so much fun wandering though all the museums that the rest didn’t matter.

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I loved this lovely stone wall and gate.  I want it at my farm!

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I also love these windows!

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Check out the chimney!  I could very easily live in this old home from 1600″s England! (You know, until it gets too hot, too cold, or too spider-y).

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The Nigerian Pygmy goats were Neve’s favorite.

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Happy Sheep!

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The 1800’s American homestead could easily make a cozy home as well! It was a little more buttoned-up against the elements than the English cottage.

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Look at that lovely wide-plank floor!

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Unfortunately the view just to the right of this, where the barn and cows stood, was marred by a giant “Cracker Barrel” sign rising up on the other side of the highway. I couldn’t manage a decent photo that didn’t include it.

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This cow was such a love!  He licked Neve’s face and let us all pet him to our hearts’ content.  I was ready to bring him home!

The kids have already asked to go back again, so I foresee a new October tradition!

Autumn At Last

Our favorite season is officially upon us!

We celebrated with a small campfire, hot cider and maple-glazed donuts, and Mad Libs, staying out until it was dark and we were too cold to stay without getting blankets.

In other words, it was perfect!

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Happy Fall, everyone! Let’s enjoy these fleeting moments while we can!

At Summer’s End

We’ve definitely noticed a shift in the weather and the light over the last few weeks. It’s ever so chillier at night now, and night itself has been arriving earlier and earlier. Accordingly, our evening feedings have been getting pushed a bit earlier every day to avoid going out in the dark.

Morning chores are so much more pleasant these days; we’ve even been wearing sweatshirts or flannels out!

Even so, the garden continues to churn out summer’s leftover bounty in the form of cherry tomatoes and raspberries.

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We’re getting a nice bowl full of raspberries every day.  This is from a raspberry plant I bought two years ago at Lowe’s (basically it was a stalk at that point!). We’ve decided we’ll put another stalk in at the opposite end of the garden and let them grow towards each other.

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I’ve also been getting bucket loads of cherry tomatoes.  The craziest part is that I didn’t end up planting cherry tomatoes this year.  These are volunteers from years past.  I think the main factor in their success, though, is that these are located fairly close to the beehives.  I’ve been getting so many I’ve taken to simply freezing them whole for later use in sauces.

The big work has been the basil.  It was starting to show signs of disliking the cooler temperatures at night and I decided it was time to harvest.  I brought two big bushes worth and made pesto. I filled three Weck jars (2 half liter, one quarter liter) and got to work making pasta.

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I ended up with 283 ravioli, distributed among 12 freezer bags.  I would have broken 300, but Pippa stole about 20 off the counter when my back was turned. Jerk.

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We love pesto ravioli, and this was an exciting sight for everyone when it was all done.

I still have another basil plant to harvest, and I can’t decide if I will make more pesto ravioli or if I will simply dry it for use as a seasoning.

Decisions, decisions.

 

Early Fall Farm Report

Early fall is upon us (at least in terms of farming and shepherding!).  It’s time to start making lists of all the work that has to be done before the weather turns cold (and dare we say – snowy?).

First on the list was getting the Angora goats sheared.  Their fleeces grow so very fast that they get sheared twice a year, as opposed to the sheep who are sheared only in the spring. Since the summer was so mild there was some concern that the fall would turn cold quickly, so we wanted to get the goats done early enough to grow back just a bit of fleece before we get any chilly temperatures.

Emily came down a few days ago and unfortunately once she set up the skies turned dark and the thunder began.  We whipped through getting them sheared and the fleeces bagged and got no pictures. But I took some this evening after feeding time, though not all the newly-naked ones were cooperative (I’m looking at YOU, Martin and McPhee!).

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Wembley and Margaret (or Sad Margaret, as we call her, since her ears tend to droop down and her fleece covers her eyes in a way that makes her look perpetually morose)

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Miss Hannah. Doesn’t she look velvety with her new ‘do?

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Roquefort, the Silver Fox

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Keswick

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Cassie

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Lucy

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The goats have worked a hole in the fence by the hay.  Not because they don’t already have a fresh hay bale sitting conveniently out in the field or anything.

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Wimbledon

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Monticello

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Fettuccine the Wonderdog

Soon we’ll be cleaning manure out of the field to till into the gardens for next year, scrubbing out the water troughs, winterizing the chicken coops, and setting up a winter pen for the flock.

Right now we are enjoying spending time outside with the flock in these glorious early fall temperatures.  Stay with us awhile, fall!

First Apple Picking Adventure 2014

This weekend we did our best to welcome fall by meeting with friends for apple picking and cider pressing.

The weather didn’t feel so very fall-like, with temps in the lower 90’s, but it was at least sunny and bright.

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Tanya’s son Alex cracks me up!

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Only the Golden Delicious were ready for picking, which was sad, but it also means we get to go back again when the Winesaps are ready (and hopefully there’s more color in the trees!).

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Oona and Alston played hard all day.

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Look! A rare Emily sighting! I don’t know how she can manage to be so covered up on such a hot day.

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The orchard still has plenty of peaches available.  That, along with the super hot weather made this seem mightily out of place:

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Trina provided us with hayride tickets, and though we baked a bit, the kids had a blast.

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Maddie made her feelings about the temperature plain.

After our apples were picked and paid for (along with many cider donuts, of course!), and we’d had our hayride and spent time catching up, some of us drove back to Lisa’s house to press some apples into cider.

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This. Little. Cutie.  I cannot resist her.

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We got four of these out of roughly one bushel of “B” apples. In retrospect, it’s probably good we didn’t get a whole lot more apples to press, since the kids lost interest and were ready to climb Lisa’s trees and chase dogs and chickens.  And run they did; they had a lot of fun running off all of their energy outside.

Lisa made a fabulous Texas-style chili and Tanya brought cornbread to go with.  Along with the fresh cider and fabulous company and the kids wearing each other out, I didn’t think the day could get any better.

But I was wrong!

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Lisa made me a pumpkin cheesecake for my birthday! And it. was. DIVINE!

When Tanya presented me a bottle of a hard-to-find wine, Lisa decided to open up a lovely Burgundy from her (rather extensive and enviable) wine cellar.  It put an already magical day over the top.

September, you are off to a fantastic start!

Losing Time

How…and I mean how did it get to be mid August already?  Yesterday the local public schools had their first day of school.

Seriously.

Honestly I could never understand this area’s fixation on being in school in August of all months.  Isn’t that vacation month for most people?

Not that it matters for us; my kids won’t be back to school until September.  Still, that isn’t all that far away, and that is where today’s hang ups are coming from. That and the fact that it is rainy 76 degrees.  Fall weather.  Fall weather in a month that is traditionally oppressive and over the one hundred degree mark.

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The morning glories are blooming, which makes me crazy happy, and it means my birthday is just around the corner. Yet it’s still weird because I am just now getting my first ripe tomatoes off the vines (having planted them late didn’t help).

I am in no way ready for back to school, though. I am enjoying mornings of lazing about and reading whatever I please. I am not ready for the stress of worrying about making sure everyone is learning what they need to be.

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There does feel like a lot of pressure to enjoy summer as much as we can for the next few weeks, and I’m not sure how to accommodate that other than to just let us all enjoy doing as much nothing as possible.

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There’s been plenty of staying up late watching far too much crap tv, and I am loathe to give it up.

Fortunately I have one last get away between now and then.  I’ll be headed up to a wedding in the Hudson Valley in a few weeks, and I am excited to see family that I haven’t spoken to in far too long.

I guess my point is, I need to slow down a bit and enjoy the slower pace while I can and not let all the back-to-school/fall-is-coming messages all around me sink in too deep.

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Fall and school will get here soon enough, and I don’t want it said we didn’t enjoy summer as much as we could first.

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