Heaps of friends have blessed us with their time in the last two weeks. Torrey isn’t a natural stopover point for just about any destination, you have to make an effort to get here, and we do appreciate it when our friends make the bother to come see us. They have come from Washington and New York and along the Wasatch front.
Husbandry and gardening: The geese and turkeys are on extra grain rations to fatten them up for the big day. Harvest starts in a week or so. We lost another duck. It’s unclear how, she just didn’t come home. Now that the irrigation canal is empty, she could have wandered out under the fence and been taken by a dog or raccoon.
R rebuilt the goats’ loafing shed to give them and their manger shelter from the snow during the day. I call it a manger, but it’s really a galvanized wash tub; they have destroyed everything else we offered them. I don’t know why we are even giving them hay right now. Fallen cottonwood leaves are a goat’s version of potato chips. The goats won’t make a dent in the leaves before the snow ruins them.
We planted garlic and shallots. As we have been cleaning up the garden, we started a big compost heap with the harvest clippings and duck bedding. I need to build it up to full height and water it some more. It will probably sit until spring unless the weather is highly cooperative.
Food, harvest and preserving: Carrots, beets, rutabegas and turnips are being stored in a cooler outside in the shade until the temperatures drop a little more. I still have to dig potatoes, celeriac and parsnips. I started a lacto-ferment to use the tiny carrots that won’t store, which will be good in salads in a couple weeks. The escabeche turned out hot (five jalapeños is a lot for half gallon) but not too salty.
We are emptying the freezer and it is an embarrassment of riches. I found a boneless goose breast, which we cut into medallions and had with an onion and blue cheese pasta. One night I roasted some chicken parts from the last big slaughter, over a bed of onions and celery drenched in apple cider and dry vermouth, served with garlic mashed potatoes. With most of the restaurants closed, I’ve had a chance to bust out some fancy autumnal recipes for our guests that show off the harvest bounty. I made a beef and root vegetable pot pie with a blue cheese crust (can you guess I am trying to use up some blue cheese). For our friends from Buffalo, we grilled lamb and salmon, plated with lemon rice and roasted tomatoes (still a few more in the garage to use up). I haven’t been making much dessert, but we’ve been finishing off with lemon curd, made and frozen when we were flush with eggs, and gingersnaps or shortbread cookies to dip with.
The ducks are barely laying an egg a day. R just deployed a light on a timer to see if that resets their biological clocks. We’ve been on a run of fried eggs for breakfast until a few days ago. Now we are back to oatmeal and fruit (with plenty of canned peaches, pears and apples or frozen berries to choose from). I might make some granola and yogurt to change it up a little more.
Finances: My goal for November is to eat from the pantry as much as possible. R is making a Costco run for pork (we are out of Canadian bacon and he’s going to be smoking goose anyway), but other than that, we have more than enough to eat like royalty.
Energy and conservation: Does anyone else wonder about things like how much energy we waste on LED idiot lights on every appliance, charger and device in the country? I don’t even need to turn a light on at night in the living room, it’s so bright from the charging dog collars, weather station, computer plugs and clocks that can’t be turned off. It’s got to add up.
One way we save a bit of electricity is by using a mattress pad heater. We built our house with individual electric radiators in each room, so we keep the bedroom unit on very low (we haven’t even turned it on yet this winter), and we can each dial in our preferred sleeping temperature. I invariably turn mine off in the middle of the night, even on the lowest setting. I don’t know why I find the mattress pad heater more comfortable than an electric blanket, but it’s been a huge comfort, especially on very cold nights if I remember to turn it on early to warm up the sheets before bedtime.
Other projects: Wyatt is learning to heel. Carson has learned to push shut a door on command. I want to rig up a rope on the opposite side of the door and see if I can teach him to close it that way too. Carson mastered most of his tricks as a puppy during the winter, when it was just the two of us cooped up inside together. Some weeks, I scoured the internet for stupid dog tricks in a desperate attempt to keep him busy. Wyatt is more motivated by food rewards and has learned almost everything Carson knows. These days, I make them alternate tricks, just to make them practice the “wait” command when it is the other dog’s turn for attention and treats. For this winter’s project, I want to teach them a trick to do together, if I can think one up, and to heel side-by-side to my left. Carson knows “other side” means to switch from my right to left side, but hasn’t generalized it to move to the other side of Wyatt. This could take a while; both of them want to be next to me if they can’t be off leash.
Community: I attended the annual board meeting and end of year party for the Entrada Institute. I’m excited about the ideas we had for next year’s program.
Creativity and recreation: We hiked the Grand Wash trail in Capitol Reef NP with our friends from Buffalo. We have hiked most of it, but never with an organized car shuttle. We are looking for new hikes we can take with the dogs. Once trapping season starts, our most convenient off-leash hike is off limits until spring.
Next week: It’s going to be a quiet week of catch-up. I want to make some soup stock from a bunch of duck, goose and pork bones I’ve collected.
Seasonal observations: What I notice most is the change in the afternoon shadows. The sun skirts above Boulder Mountain during the afternoon, low and slow across the southern quarter. Canada geese have been flying in noisy vees and a lone Sandhill crane issued some cranky complaints as it blew by.