I have recently been discovering that there are people out there who do not enjoy the season of autumn. That’s hard to imagine for somebody who loves the season as much as I do. Where I see beauty in the changing leaves and the magnificence of the circle of life, how death brings new life, others see people with a strange fascination for death. While I revel in gray skies and a break from the heat, they feel heavy burdened by the darkness and long for the heat to return. Where I get excited about layers and sweaters, and yes, even snow clothes, they ache for t-shirts and shorts and days at the beach. It does make me wonder how we can all look at the same things and see them so differently. I love all of the seasons, but fall holds a special place in my heart. I thought I’d show you fall on the homestead and around the neighborhood.
I will readily admit that for the past year, the weather has been far from normal for our region. I vividly remember working on flower beds around the house late into November without a jacket (a big deal for Wisconsin). During winter, we only needed to clear the driveway a handful of times and we had only one real blizzard that I can remember. Spring came early and hot, but then as we transitioned into summer, it was like there was a never-ending rain. But summer got confused and started turning to fall in August, and on the first day of fall, it seemed as though the weather remembered what it should have been doing all of those seasons as we experienced our hottest day of the year. Go figure. And all of October, the weather has seemed unsure as to what it is supposed to be doing. So far, this fall has looked nothing like a typical year, which is too bad, because I was hoping to share pictures with you of all of it’s splendid, fiery glory. Still, the weather is changing, it has been cooling, and the trees are beginning to do what they are supposed to do.
To be honest, this year just did not go as expected. There were some disappointments, let-downs, and many changes in plans. Yet I’m doing my best to make the best of things, and instead of getting upset about what could have been, I’m trying to see what I gain from these “failures.”
I almost hesitate to show you pictures of fall this year, because they just don’t do the season justice. We had an early flush of cold in August, just when we should be hitting peak temperatures, and the trees that always change the earliest began to turn a month early. When summer decided to become summer on the first day of autumn, the already changed leaves fell, but the rest of the trees remained green. Our normally continuous flush of color was suddenly broken up. And when the next batch of trees began to change, the first trees stood colorless and barren. We’re still seeing an unusual transition in the trees as I write this. All of my analyzing aside, it’s still beautiful. While most of the area directly south of our home is covered in trees, our yard has a large area devoid of trees, with a small, young wooded area growing up in the back portion. North of our house is mostly fields. Even so, there are beautiful views of the surrounding trees right from our yard.
As much as I love to stop and stare in awe and wonder of the beauty that comes from something so sad in concept, there’s work to be done. If we want to help bring new life into this land once again next spring, then there’s work to be done, like cleaning the chicken coop for the winter (not that there won’t be small-scale clean-up during winter, but once the temps dip below freezing, we spend as little time out there as necessary). We are wrapping up with chores on the final batch of Cornish Cross for the year (butchering this weekend), and the two coop areas both needed fresh bedding. And OH.MY.WORD. The cob webs! They just took off in August and I always forget to get the broom out and knock them down. I figured I’d let them be at first since last year we dealt with so many biting flies, but after awhile you get sick of spiderwebs getting caught in your hair, know what I mean?
Our chickens started laying fewer eggs at the first sign of colder temps, so we’ve only been getting 4-5 on average a day lately, but it’s still exciting to bring them into the house every day!We picked black walnuts from a relative’s house two weeks ago, and last week, we got around to hulling them. That involved running over them with the van, and then squatting around a smushed up, oozing, gooey pile, pulling out walnuts (still in the shell) from the pile to let dry. There were plenty of maggots in the mix that don’t hurt the nuts any, and end up making a good snack for the chickens!
And there’s plenty of garden clean-up to be done. I’m not sure how much we’ll actually get around to before the cold comes, but I plan on spending time with the kids out in the garden over the next two weeks to work on cleaning things up for springtime. Lord knows there’s enough to do in spring without having to deal with garden clean-up that didn’t happen the year before!
Yes, we have to make the most of our time outdoors, but we’re still spending plenty of time indoors as well. It’s time to start working on all of those projects that I would like to see finished before Thanksgiving (mainly cleaning certain areas of the house that I generally avoid otherwise 😉 ). We have also been adding to our fall decor here and there. Last week, I showed some cute garland that the kids made, but we also use pumpkins here and there in the house, the table runner we made for the Patchwork Table Runner tutorial, a wall hanging from my mom, a wall hanging I made for the classroom, and of course, some candles. We’ve rearranged our living room to get a feel for how it will look once we add in the wood-burning stove we purchased this year. Unfortunately, it’s not in the cards to get that installed this year. Maybe next year, if we’re so blessed!
The kids and I have spent the last couple of weeks beginning Christmas projects. Yes, Christmas. I know, it’s hard to hear when it’s only one month into fall. But for crafters and DIYer’s, it’s something that needs to be thought of in advance. You know, when we were reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, it always struck me… they made their gifts early, too! This isn’t a new phenomenon. When you think about how much time it takes to make anything hand-made and factor in that we need to work on our projects when we have spare time or time free from the people who we are making gifts for, it’s really not a surprise that you need to get an early start. We started by making stockings, which were surprisingly fast and easy. I know it was my pattern and idea and all, and I knew it would be simple, but I really didn’t expect it to be that easy for the kids. And we started the first of our Handmade Christmas Gift Boot Camp gifts. The kids had so much fun with the paracord bracelets. We ran out of buckles and I had to get more so they could keep making them! I’m not sure which project I’ll tackle with them next, but we’re all looking forward to it. I want to make the gingerbread quickbread just for our eating pleasure sometime soon!
With the cold weather comes a deep desire in me to make hot chocolate… often. Though I’m trying to refrain myself as much as possible. I was given the opportunity to work with Michelle Visser of SoulyRested for her new book that is coming to print soon, Sweet Maple, testing a few of the dishes from the recipe chapter of the book. We tested maple butter, the maple chocolate chip cookies and also a maple marshmallow. Well, after a few misses on the marshmallow, she opted not to put that recipe in the book. She did tell me that she’s thinking about writing a post about it anyway. I wouldn’t say that the recipe was a failure by any means, just kind of finicky. In spite of the challenges, the second batch of marshmallows I made actually turned out pretty well. They were a little chewy for eating as a regular marshmallow (that was my own fault), but when put into hot cocoa… Well, let me just say that I thought it tasted heavenly! It’s different, but I loved it. I might just need to make another batch so I can pop a random maple marshmallow (or 5) into an occasional cup of hot cocoa 🙂 But our outdoor chores don’t stop at garden clean up and cleaning chicken coops. Scott needs to spend his time at home preparing for the cold weather… the blade for the tractor needs to be ready for scraping snow from the driveway, the snow blowers need to be ready, we need to have salt and sand for walkways, and equipment needs to be winterized.
I love the cool, rainy, cloudy days of Autumn, but this year there haven’t been many. In fact, there weren’t many last year, but when they do come, I feel a thrill of excitement. When I hear the wind begin to howl, I know my favorite time of year is here. A time to rest, recuperate, plan, snuggle, read. We had a tough year, but not in a way you’d expect. Yes, there was a lot to be done, a lot on our plate, but it wasn’t even that. This year was a mental year… one where you have to really learn to get beyond mental barriers. We struggled to get organized and prioritized, but when we finally sat down and made a list of priorities, suddenly, the mental burden was lifted and I think Scott and I both felt better about where we were at. For the first time ever, we have a better plan, a better insight into what is to come and how to make our dreams a reality, and our feelings of frustration and exhaustion and hopelessness have been beginning to dissipate, little by little.
We aren’t the only ones falling for Autumn! This post is part of the Falling for Autumn series hosted by the Happy at Home Blogging Network. Today I’m happy to be one of seven different bloggers who are sharing insights into what fall means to each of us. Come visit my friends with me!
Linda from Apron Strings & other things spends her days homeschooling her youngest four children, nurturing a heart for homesteading while living on the edge of urban New England.
Terri Steffes of Our Good Life lives in historic Saint Charles, Missouri, and writes about food, recipes, good books, travel and gardening, and decorating their craftsman style home.
Angela is The Inquisitive Farmwife and she loves learning new skills and sharing knowledge about the crazy journeys that life takes her on!
Michelle Curren (Mid-Life Blogger) lives with her husband in an empty nest on their rural homestead in the Missouri Ozarks and spends some of that empty-nest time writing about homesteading, gardening and homeschooling. This time of year, she’s digging in her garden and prepping for next year.
Kathi and her husband are racing against the first frost in central Oklahoma. She encourages and inspires your homesteading dreams through her blog Oak Hill Homestead.
Michelle is enjoying fall on her New England homestead while counting down the days until her book–Sweet Maple–is in print. In the meantime, she’s giving away a maple SUGAR eBook over on SoulyRested.
What have you been doing this fall to prepare for the colder months ahead?