Sunday, October 25, 2009

Last Week in October

The Fall colors are at their height now and this morning's 42 degrees feels crisp.

We've had some colder days and some hotter days and a little rain and wind in the last two.

On the farm, clean-up continues in the barns, the chicken house, and around the yards. The lawns are mowed for the last time this season. All the hay has been baled and put under cover. I'm feeding whatever freeze damaged vegetables are in the garden to the chickens.

In the houses, I am cleaning and sorting, too. The freezers are full enough to get us through without having to do a lot of driving in ice and snow this winter. After more than ten years since the last move, I've finally gotten down to the last parts for furniture, like teak book shelves and a corner computer desk which have been leaning up against a wall in the basement. Once these find their places and are put together, I'll be able to do a thorough cleaning and re-organization of the basement. Gee, it feels like I've just completed a giant jigsaw puzzle.

I had the propane tanks for the greenhouse filled to provide emergency heat if it gets too cold for the small electric heaters to keep the temperature above freezing. All the potted plants are tucked in, but there remains clean-up and organization for those days when it's raining or too cold to want to work outdoors.

We also maintain a little propane at the house in case the electricity goes out. For now, electric is cheaper than propane. I finally caught on last year, when we did not need to use propane at all, that the company was routinely charging us for delivery of propane, even when the tank was full. I don't know how many hundreds of dollars -- probably more than a thousand -- were charged for propane not delivered. Although I made a complaint to the Department that regulates utilities in Virginia, nothing could be done because the Propane Industry is unregulated in the State of Virginia!

As you can probably tell, that still burns me up.

At the time I had finally caught on (I'm slow, evidently, and too trusting) there was a series of articles in the Roanoke Times about similar problems that others were having. I think the State Legislature should be doing something about regulation, but am not aware if they are. So, for now I'm monitoring the gauges on the tanks which show only the percentage left inside. There is no system of reporting usage other than the initial ticket saying how many gallons they delivered. You must more or less know the capacity of the tanks and try to extrapolate from there.

So, I'm trying.

Ta ta.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


The winds of Autumn showed up just as we changed seasons. I forgot how windy it gets up here after Summer's over. We had a little rain in-between hay harvests. Yesterday's efforts filled the big loft with square bales. There's one more cut field, which will be round-baled, because our old bodies could not take another round of picking up square bales and getting them up in a loft.

Other signs of Autumn: the neighbors are dumping buckets of black walnuts on their driveway to be run over by the pickup truck and hulled.

The local vineyards are picking grapes. I bought some Cabernet Franc yesterday and have already started in on them. The Chardonnay is bubbling along nicely and the Blackberry Wine is almost ready to be bottled.

It's nice and chilly in the mornings and the leaves are just beginning to turn. Yesterday, I watched about twenty five Canada geese fly over the house on their way to somewhere.

Red sweet and hot peppers await processing in the kitchen and the cooler is full of Hubbard squashes and grapes.

I've made some progress in the old house, lugging furniture and accessories out of our basement to furnish it. Windows are getting washed in both houses and we have some plans for improvements on the farm.

I have the impression that we are beginning the preparations for a long, cold winter. Today, I'll begin to clean out the greenhouse and from now until frost, I'll be loading the Mule with plants that have summered on the porches to transport them down the hill to the greenhouse.
Thought for the day: "Be Yourself; everyone else is already taken." Oscar Wilde