harvest Feed

Apples to Applesauce

October - 1 (2)
October - 1 (2)

Earlier in the week I took a walking field trip to an apple tree a couple blocks away from the school.  Each of my kindergarten students got to pick a couple of apples from the tree and we brought them back to the school to make applesauce right in our classroom during the school day.   

Click on the image below to read a post where I share the simple instructions to do this at home or in your classroom.   

6a01053643b439970b01b7c6ed8d58970b-800wi

As I mention in the post, I am not sharing this because it is new concept or even a unique, creative recipe.  I am sharing this today just as a reminder how easy this is!

Every child should share in the experience making applesauce in the fall!

Let me know how yours turns out if you find opportunity to make some yourself.


Meat Birds & Tomatoes


Meat birds and tomatoes - 1
Meat birds and tomatoes - 1 Meat birds and tomatoes - 2
Meat birds and tomatoes - 2
Meat birds and tomatoes - 2 Meat birds and tomatoes - 1 (3)
Meat birds and tomatoes - 1 (3)
These days we are up to our ears in chickens and tomatoes!

chickens

A couple of weeks ago we added 28 cornish rocks to our homestead.  These are our "meat birds" that we will butcher at the end of October.   Every year a group of friends and neighbors go in together on a large order of birds, we raise them on our own, then get together for a joint effort experience "turning the chickens to meat" butchering day work party.   These are meat birds, that will live a good, healthy, but short life on our homestead.

tomatoes

Our garden tomatoes have been extremely bountiful this year.   The past couple weekends I have been busy picking and peeling.   Last weekend I made salsa.  (7 pints)  This weekend I had so many tomatoes I made pasta sauce.   This was a first for me.   I was in the kitchen for a good part of the day, but it was gloomy anyway and I started a good audio book.

I used this recipe and was able to use tomatoes, basil, oregano and parsley from my garden.   I was very happy with the results.   I ended up with 13 pints!!!

-------

We are definitely putting a little more work on the front end of things, but the products of our efforts are pretty darn good.  


Around Here....

Around here - 6Around here - 5
Around here - 5

Around here...

The seasons are starting to shift.   The landscape of my lush green summer trail runs is changing to where I am seeing yellows, browns and even an occasional red leaf making its appearance.  Although we are in summer mode subtle changes are hinting of the onset of fall.   

The rhythms of our activities are changing as well as we are gradually gearing up for the start of the new school year.   I have been in school, getting my classroom ready for my new students.  This year will mark my 18th year of teaching!

The cross-country running season has also started.   Our eighth grader is training hard, gearing up for the first meet next week.  I am helping with the team as an assistant coach, as I have been doing the past couple of years.  We have both been running and doing some other cross training all summer long.  I am working through a running injury (plantar fasciitis), but still on track to complete a half-marathon in late September.   My daughter and I have been inspired by the newly published book:  Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.: Quick-Fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky.  There are lots of great recipes, tips and training advise including the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (pictured above) that my daughter has been making from the "Power Snacks" section of the book.  

Around here - 4

Around here - 4
Around here - 4

 Around here...

I have been keeping up with our bountiful garden and lining my pantry shelves with canned goods.  Lately, I have been busy pickling cucumbers and beans.   We are having a great year for tomatoes as well!   We're eating a lot of garden suppers (BLT's, salads, and quick pasta dishes celebrating and savoring the gifts of the garden.

Around here - 1 (1)Around here...

I am still working on new and different avenues of publication.   I recently received the exciting news (and payment!) from Highlights for Children that two of my submissions will be published in upcoming issues of Highlights High Five. 

Around here - 2
Around here - 2
Around here...

We are making progress with our sauna building!  James is working hard and the rest of us are pitching in when we can. We have the slab poured and we just started framing up the walls.   We will be slowing down just a bit as we wait for our trusses order.   We are so excited about this new addition to our homestead. 


Lake Harvest

Walleye - 2
Walleye - 2
Walleye - 2

IMG_0630
IMG_0630
IMG_0630

Walleye - 2

We are home from a weekend a bit farther north, at my parent's island home.   This past weekend we were able to claim a healthy lake harvest of Minnesota walleye and crappies that we have in our freezer for a future fish fry and also shared a meal with friends when we were visiting.   We are enjoying these last few weeks of summer, before we will be back in school.  

Hot and humid summer days are best spent on the lake!  We are grateful to have the opportunity to share these special times, making these memories with our children and with my parents at their home and on the beautiful lakes in and bordering Voyager's National Park.


June Blues

June Blues - 1
June Blues - 1
June Blues - 1I just had a feeling that we would find some today.

The weather has been just right, so I took a hike up and was pleasantly surprised with our first June blues!

There are lots of green berries as well.  It is sure to be a great year for harvesting wild blueberries!


From Sap to Syrup

Sap boiling day - 2


Sap boiling day - 4
Sap boiling day - 2 Sap boiling day - 6
Sap boiling day - 6
Sap boiling day - 6
Sap boiling day - 6 Sap boiling day - 12
Sap boiling day - 12
Sap boiling day - 12
Sap boiling day - 12
Sap boiling day - 20

Sap boiling day - 20
Sap boiling day - 20
Sap boiling day - 20Sap boiling day - 20
Sap boiling day - 20
Yesterday was sap boiling day!

Spring sugaring season was long this year, though the sap did not flow continuously.  The temperatures here in Northeast Minnesota started poking above freezing during the day early March, but then we encountered another cold snap that halted the flow.   So the spiles were in our school-yard maple trees for over a month this season.   Friday I collected the last of the sap, pulled the spiles and gathered the buckets with my students.  Yesterday, on a warm and sunny day I boiled the sap to syrup at home.

After our long Minnesota winter, spending a warm and sunny day outdoors was absolutely delightful.  

I have learned too, over the years, approaching the experience as a hobbyist, that I can boil 20 gallons of sap (or less) in about 8 hours.  This yields enough syrup to share with my kindergarten class at our annual celebratory classroom pancake party, and a few pints to savor over the year.   More sap would extend the boiling time.  I would get more syrup, but it makes the experience more burdensome (boiling into the evening time or night even).  I have found my "happy place" with this small-scale approach and I look forward to the experience and products of my efforts every year.

If you are interested in learning more about the process, check out this article that I wrote for mothering.com:

Megan Devine  mothering.com

 


It's Maple Syrup Season!

Maple Syrup Season - 5

Maple Syrup Season - 5
Maple Syrup Season - 5
Maple Syrup Season - 5
Maple Syrup Season - 5
After a weeklong stretch of temperatures below freezing at night and above freezing during the daytime, I felt the time was right for the sap to start to run.  And I was right!

I have been tapping trees and collecting sap to make maple syrup with my students and my own children for several years now.  Each year I am learning more and more, and I am becoming more mindful of the conditions that produce this pocket season, which I look forward to near the end of our long dark winters here in northern Minnesota.

I think this season, just may be a good one.  The buds are tight on the trees and the extended forecast looks favorable.  Time will tell, but I am happy to have started the process, sharing this annual experience with my children.  I also look forward to sharing this experience with my students at school next week.

If you are interested here's some links to my experiences in the last couple of years:

the buckets are up

Backyard Sugaring

kindergarten pancake party

And here is a post that I wrote for mothering.com about the process and my experiences with small scale spring sugaring as a family:

http://www.mothering.com/articles/family-fun-with-small-scale-spring-sugaring/


Around Here...

Fall collage
The colors are reflecting the change in the seasons from summer to fall.  Our weather has been rather extreme, hot and humid one day, then cold and rainy another.  

IMG_0328

IMG_0328

The garden is producing.  We have had a stretch of warm and humid days which has helped to ripen tomatoes.  I have never has so many ripe tomatoes in the fall!  I have been busy canning tomatoes and making and canning salsa to line our pantry shelves for our family to enjoy.

IMG_0328The bees are hanging in there.  The nectar flow has pretty much ceased in our neck of the woods.  The warm weather has kept the bees active, but hungry.  I made a sloppy candy board with a pollen patty and consolidated the bees into one super recently as I start to prepare and transition them with hope that this colony will make it through our long winter ahead.

Other happenings:

Athletics
We are keeping busy following our children in their athletic endeavors.  Fall extra curricular include cross-country running, a kids marathon race and flag football.

RaceI ran too!   I returned to the running scene and completed a local half marathon after having a competition hiatus for the last 13 or so years.  It felt good to accomplish this goal.

BdaySince I have last posted we have also celebrated this special boy's 8th birthday!  

-------------------

Oh how our life is rich and full!  This mindful practice of reflecting upon still images serves as a reminder of all of the beauty in my life, especially on difficult days. This simple practice fills me with gratitude and evokes feelings of joy and love.   I invite you to play along.


Around Here


Garden - 1 (1)

 

School Days - 4
Garden - 1 (2)

School Days - 5

School Days - 2
School Days - 3
Around here....

::Garden produce has been keeping me busy.  We are doing a lot of eating and I am canning and preserving extras tomatoes and cucumbers in the form of salsa, pickles and relish.

::We passed on our layers and invited about 50 new baby chicks to our homestead.  25 are laying hens (It will be about 5 months or so until we get our first egg.) The other 25 are meat birds, which we will "turn to meat" late October.

::This mama and her four kids have started school.  It has been a great first week - we are getting in the groove!

::We are enjoying the last days of the summer season.   It has been a beautiful weekend.  I started my day with a quiet hike.  Right now James is out fishing.  Both, wonderful ways to recharge for the week ahead.

 

 

 


Spring Sugaring

Maple 2Maple 2
Maple 2
Maple 2

Maple 8

Maple 8

Maple 8
Maple 8Another season of small scale spring sugaring has come to a close.  Today I finished boiling down the sap I have been collecting.e.   This year was not the greatest season I experienced, but bountiful enough to continue the experience and reap the harvest.  We had an early warm spell that accelerated the swell of the buds, when we had a longer stretch of good sap collecting weather (below freezing at night and above freezing during the day), the buds warmed up enough to "pop."   When this happens the sap gets a bit cloudy and it can subtly affect the taste of the syrup.  This too is when the tree needs the sap to form the leaves.    

I did collect about 20 gallons, which equates to about a full 8-10 hours of boiling.   I was happy with my yield this year - and the time commitment was manageable given other things pulling me in different directions this weekend.

I had opportunity to share what I have learned over my years of small scale spring sugaring with a larger audience as well. Check out my post on mothering.com to learn a little more:

Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 4.55.00 PM