Mabon (Autumn Equinox)

Tuesday marked the autumn equinox and the official start of my favorite time of year!  It was a perfect fall day:  cool, dry, and sunny.  On the way home from work I stopped at our local cider mill and picked up a gallon of cider;  then,  I took a walk in the woods and gathered some things to make this simple Mabon mobile.  I’m very much looking forward to the cooler days ahead!

autumn path

A path through the woods.

mabon mobile

Leaves and feathers (and a seed pod) in the wind, anchored with acorns.

First Foods

It's still early in the season in these parts, but I've been enjoying lettuce (as well as wild foods– dandelion, chickweed, and violets) for a while now at least.  Now, at last, I'm starting to get some of the really good stuff!  This is a photo of one morning's worth of strawberries, organically grown and freshly picked.  We had the best strawberry harvest we've every had this year.  I even got to make a little jam!

Could be a very good year for fruit in general… this is the first year that I have fruit on my dwarf trees that survived the "June drop."  I have little pears and apples, though none of my nectarines made it (it's only in it's first year, so that is to be expected).  Of course the giant old apple and cherry are producing like mad, as always.  The blueberries aren't quite ripe yet, but we have lots of fruit this year for such small trees (they're only in their third year).  I think we'll have enough for pancakes and smoothies, but probably not enough for pie… we'll see.

At the moment we have a steady stream of peas, which we like to eat straight off the vine.  I keep a bowl on the kitchen table for snacking but it never stays full very long.  I look forward to seeing what will be debuting next!

More Bounty from the Garden

Herbs are amazing; they just keeping giving and giving!  I still have
most of my culinary herbs going strong in the herb bed just outside the
kitchen (most of the medicinal herbs are located out in the garden,
which is a bit of a walk).  So, yesterday I gathered a bunch of oregano
and white ceremonial sage.   I've been hearing so much about the
wonders of oregano oil, especially as it pertains to flu, so I decided
to make a batch for myself.  The white sage I've been growing for a while with the intent
of making my own sage smudges.  I finally decided to get around to it! 
It was pretty easy, and the result was pretty cool.  It's hanging from
a kitchen beam at the moment; I can't wait to be able to use it!

Comfrey & Plantain Oils

Today I pruned back the comfrey and, well, I just couldn't let all that awesome healing power go to waste, so I made up some comfrey oil.  I've read that comfrey harvested in the fall makes a stronger brew, so this will be a test.  I still have plenty of the comfrey salve I made up in February from dried leaves I'd harvested in the previous summer, and that works just fine– but I'm curious.  I've already had two requests for some of my salve from friends, so as soon as I  harvest the honey (in the next few weeks, hopefully) and have beeswax, I'll get the salves made up.  The oil has to set for about 4 weeks anyway, so the timing should work out just right.

I learned an interesting thing about using comfrey though– I didn't realize the part that contains the most allantoin is the stalk!  Here I've been harvesting just the leaves…  D'oh!  I have to say though, as I said above, the salve I've been making with just the leaves works great,  but that's from the dried leaves which tend to be more potent to begin with, so maybe that even things out.  **shrug**

I tried my hand at making some plantain oil for the first time this summer, but the color is very light.  It's supposed to be a "rich, dark green"… and that it is not!  If I can harvest a bit more before the weather turns, I plan to give it a second go.

SO, anyway… it's all a learning process and I continue with my experimentation.  But at least I am enjoying the ride. 

Local Harvest

The house is filled with the scent of jasmine incense mingled with the rustic peach tart I made for dessert tonight.  Bliss!  The farmer's market is great this time of year, baskets spilling over with all kind of wonderful local fruit.  All summer I've experimented with trying to buy as much as possible locally… not only fruits and veggies but also cheese, meat, preserves, and raw milk.  Now, I'm hooked.  There's just no comparison in taste and quality.  Of course, it will be more challenging come winter, but I am committed to buying what we can.  There are several winter Farmer's Market's around and though the selection is much more limited, I think we will still be able to do pretty well!

Finished the last of the corn this week… it doesn't last long, but while we have it, it is sooooo good.  The beans are finishing up as well.  Tomatoes and peppers are still producing like mad, and the house is overflowing with zinnias and dahlias.  Oh!  And I found one lone, perfect, ripe strawberry in the strawberry patch yesterday!  Talk about a late bloomer!

Finally, the honey harvest will be happening some time this month.  I can't wait–  I probably have a least a hundred pounds out there!  I've been getting my honey locally from a friend for years, but this will be my first time harvesting from my own hive.  That is about as local as you can get.