Grit Blogs > Backyard Baers

My Favorite Time of the Year

Benjamin BaerWell, we had our first freeze Saturday night, so I guess that means autumn is in full swing, which is my favorite of the seasons. I love fall, especially in Virginia, the changing of the leaves, Thanksgiving, football every weekend, cooler temps, less time spent mowing grass and more time spent blowing/raking leaves. It also means our growing season has come to an end. We haven’t quite reached our peak fall colors, but it looks like this fall’s colors are going to be a little muted. Leaves are already quickly falling – I spent 4 hours Sunday blowing leaves – and probably already need to do it again. Things didn’t exactly shape up for excellent fall colors this year. We mostly had a dry summer and then a ton of rain at the very end, plus a lot of wind. These factors, combined with a somewhat late first freeze, have led to mostly dark orange and brown fall colors (so far, at least). In order to get the eye-catching vibrant fall colors you see in postcards and books, we really need rain throughout summer and then an initial freeze in early October, and the less hard wind the better. Some of the brutal winds we’ve had lately have blown leaves off the trees before they really even had a chance to turn. But, that is all in the cycle of the seasons, there will be good autumns, bad autumns, bad winters, good summers, bad springs, and etc., etc.

This past spring/summer was our first attempt at gardening, albeit on a small scale, but I’d say it was a success. The cucumbers we harvested were okay, but we did not find them all that enjoyable (we also aren’t that big on cucumbers). Our tomatoes, however, were excellent and plentiful. We harvested a ton of tomatoes, more than we could eat, and ended up giving several to friends and family, which we were happy to do. We also made some excellent marinara sauce and attempted salsa. The marinara was perfection, and it yielded so much it lasted several days and several different meals. The salsa, on the other hand, was not a success. And while we still managed to force it all down (well, obviously, I wasn’t gonna let it go to waste!), it was over an extended period of time. And though no one said it, I think we were all pretty happy when the bowl was finally empty. We’ll have to test different salsa ideas next year to try to match our marinara.  

We bought a dehydrator last year, so we’ve also started drying our own herbs, which was great because we really had an excellent herb garden this year. We also attempted jerky a few times. And while I again, forced it all down, it wasn’t exactly the quality we wanted. So, we’ll have to keep working on that.

We have several projects presently going on:

The sections of land I cleared out this summer are ready to go; one needs a fire pit and garden, and the other needs a chicken coop. The fire pit and chicken coop are presently in the works, with priority being given to the fire pit as we’d like to enjoy it this Thanksgiving. The chicken coop and garden area don’t need to be ready until spring. I’m not exactly thrilled about working on them during winter, I was hoping to finish it in the fall, but oh well, what are you gonna do.

We are also working on adding a heating source to our basement. Our basement is finished, but our upstairs fireplace doesn’t heat it at all (obviously) and our furnace doesn’t heat it very well. Sometimes it will be 70 degrees upstairs, and you go downstairs and it’s 50. More than anything we want a wood burning stove, we’ve always wanted one, and it would be perfect downstairs. We’ve done all the research for gas vs. wood and all, and the downstairs already has a line and is ready for a gas fireplace. But, what can I say, we really like the idea of a wood stove. We appreciate the conveniences that come with a gas fireplace, but it’s just not our style. And I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t already thought about the money we could save on gas with a wood stove. I have. A lot. And not to mention, I have so much firewood cut and stacked, I am dying to do something with it. I don’t know why I continue to chop and stack it, knowing we don’t have a use for it right now, but what else am I supposed to do with it? I’ve cut down so many trees, and cut them all up, I probably have enough firewood cut and stacked to heat our home for the next 2 winters. We continue to deliberate and look at options, but we are getting close to pulling the trigger on something.

PKB is celebrating her second birthday this week. Hard to believe she is almost 2 years old, two years have absolutely flown by. Enter: the Terrible Twos … sometimes I feel like we've already entered that stage. Here she is behaving and feeding some goats at a farm we visited. 

PKB feeding some goats