The end of the 2018 growing season is upon us here in Maine. The gardens are slowly growing empty. I removed the rest of the tomatoes at the beginning of September. The potatoes have been pulled, the cucumbers have slowed to a crawl, and the peppers and beans are beginning the dwindle down. Next will be the rush of buttoning up the gardens for winter, mulching down the beds to keep the more delicate perennials happy, planting garlic, and canning the last fruits of the season, predominately apples.
This time of year always reminds me of an old pocket watch, the type you have to wind in order for it to keep time. As the kinetic energy slowly slips from the movements, the hands slow down and time begins to feel like its moving at the pace of molasses. It’s a slow, steady, and sometimes boring pace, dragging you through the happiest moments until even they start to become dull due to simply overstaying their welcome. Inevitably, you wind the clock back up because things have gotten too slow, only to be shocked as suddenly the opposite emerges. Time feels like it’s flying by, faster than it ever has! The winds are blowing crisper than before, the leaves are piling up by the minute on the ground, frosts come in consecutive nights and then don’t leave at all, and the next thing we all know, the first blizzard is pounding at the door, demanding to share in the comfort of our home.
Yes, this is the slow time. The time to indulge and try to remember that in mere days, if we’re lucky, we’ll be back to the break-neck speed so many of us homesteaders have learned to love.
Last night, when Hubster went to count chickens, he only counted 23. I went out to do a double count – standard practice when one is missing – and sure enough, Wafflette was no where to be found. We did a precursory look, but had to tend to another chicken’s injured toe.
While we were bummed that one of the hens might have become fox fodder, we knew there was a chance that she might have headed out somewhere to brood up. For the time being, I wrote her in the ledger as deceased.
This afternoon, I stepped out to collect eggs. Waking towards the barn, I saw a junked tote that I had set aside to bring to recycling. It had been flipped upside down.
“Might as well snag it to load up singe stuff from the basement for a dump troll this weekend.”
Imagine my surprise when I listed the thing up to find none other than Wafflette and two eggs! She looked up at me, stretched a wing, and then walked off for a drink like nothing had happened.
I’m starting to think she rather enjoyed her night of solitude.
I had a very plesant surprise the other day: my apple jelly set up great! It was the first time I had ever tried making jelly and I’m proud of how it came out. It may be a little on the runnier side, but it’s jelly!
The apricot/apple jelly from the picture, my second batch, is another story. It didn’t even thicken into a syrup. After much angst and research, I went back to the store to pick up a second box of pectin to have a go at it. The plan was to rectify things by re-boiling the jelly, cooking it longer and testing it in a multitude of ways.
Initially I started with nine jars worth of syrup. After cooking it longer, I ended up with seven and a smidge. Things looked to be testing well; even the rest batch in the looked to be jelling up. I went ahead and processed the seven jars in the water bath.
I opened up the test jar this morning. Looks can most definitely be deceiving. While the apricot/apple acts like a jelly from the outside, its still a syrup on the spoon. Granted, it’s a super thick syrup, but it’s still a syrup.
The plus side? It tastes just like the duck sauce from the local American-Chinese restaurant we order take-out from. So, while we don’t have apricot/apple jelly, we do have seven jars of duck sauce.