Monday, September 29, 2014


The house at dusk

Dad has a man here and they are sawing down a tree by the pond for wood. We have plenty of limbs but snow too deep to get to them.
Ina Dobson, February 1936

Bess awaits the next adventure
I’ve noticed something about retirement: even though we have things to do and we seem to be busy doing them, the schedule has flexibility. So, I wasn’t surprised when the trip to the farm scheduled for Friday actually happened Thursday afternoon (Sept. . After a morning hunt that proved shorter than expected, Mike suggested we just pack up and head to the farm. The worst of the change in plans was that we came away without enough milk or bread. However, we’re making-do with the shelf-stable soy milk I keep on hand and biscuits.
I suppose it was just as well we came a little early. It rained Thursday night. It was pleasant to hear it plunking on the roof, but it’s still terribly dry here. The vegetation looks stressed. Despite the storm, Friday was again a decent day, so we headed out to the far edge of the north field where Mike felled a dead fir tree. None too soon, he said. The wood is usable but beginning to rot. 

 A neighbor notes that in the old days when wood was needed to warm the house, they simply went out and cut a tree, and the quote from Ina’s letter seems to confirm that. But I wonder -- wasn’t the wood green?

While Mike was felling the tree, the dogs and I explored, and I discovered another stand of wild plum trees. That makes three or four I know of on this property and another on the road. I had hoped that I had discovered a stand of chokecherry trees, but unfortunately I think it’s cascara, or bear berry. I’ve done a lot of online research – frustrating since it all looks alike to me. But, I decided not to take a chance because the cascara berries cause digestive issues. 

Meanwhile, the plums beckon. They freeze well and mix with peaches or raspberries for pie. If we were starving (which we are not) we would make good use of the plums.

Longtime readers will know that every year I wonder about the apples. This was not a great apple year. The trees at the pond didn’t bear much fruit, but there were some on the trees in the lane, so Mike (and the dogs) helped me pick some yesterday. Two varieties grow there. One may be a green apple but at this point the skin is so translucent as to be white, which has a mildly sweet taste when raw. I thought it cooked up rather tasteless but Mike liked it. The other is the red/green apple in the arms of the pine tree (“pine-apple”), which has a strong flavor. Both of these apples are small.

A farm stay at this time of the year includes some tramping of the fields with a shotgun. We had a nice meal of Hungarian partridge one evening.


Chris said...

Maybe when they said they cut a tree down they meant a dead one??

I think it's great that you're gathering the fruit and using it!

Hallie said...

The colors from that camera are amazing! The house at dusk is really something.

Kathy said...

Yes -- maybe the tree was dead. She doesn't say. It seems odd to cut down a tree mid-winter, but if you're out of wood, I guess that's what you'd have to do. Mike and I went out one January and cut up a pine tree that had fallen over in a wind storm.

I'm enjoying the new camera -- trying new things. But -- we need to talk about photo storage.