Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall's Quiet Entry

It's happened again...

It snuck up on us so quietly, almost unnoticed, until it was right here under our noses. A cooler morning here, a warm orangish-tint to the evening sky there, a bit of a crunch and crackle under your feet as you walk through the woods, and the faint aroma of a campfire wafting in through the windows at night. Before we knew it, autumn had fallen all around us!

A week ago we were sitting on the beach in the hot sun at the lake house, wishing the lake water wasn't so green, so we could cool off in it! This weekend when we were at the lake, we were snuggling on the dock in sweatshirts and hats, looking at the stars and listening to the waves.

I love this time of year, I really do. And this year I seem to welcome it more than ever. Maybe it's because of the unusually hot summer we've had or maybe it's because it means it's closer to BABY day, but I am so glad it's here.

For our family, fall means two major things... Harvest and Hunting! The crop harvest is early this year, thanks to the heat of the summer and the dry fall. We'll have to see how the heat and the lack of moisture late in the summer affected the yields, but for now, we're thankful the crops are dry enough to take out of the field. We grow soybeans and corn. The soybeans are all picked and in the bin. We're working on the corn. My job is to bring dinner out to Cliff when he's out in the field and to take care of Gavin and keep the house running while Cliff is busy harvesting. One of these days I need to practice driving the big tractors so I can run wagons from the fields to the bins, but I'm always too nervous to do it when it really matters!

Cliff is hoping to get done with harvest soon, because he is also a hunter and hunting season is upon us. He'll soon be going to Canada for duck hunting and then when the harvest is done, he'll be heading out early in the mornings on the weekends for goose hunting. Yep, fall is here. I've seen the V's of geese already flying over the house. The birds that stick around all winter, like the chickadees, nuthatches, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers have suddenly reappeared after the summer and have returned to our feeders. Even the hummingbirds filled their bellies in preparation for their long journey to a warmer climate. The front flower beds were like a hummingbird fly zone and you literally had to dodge them some days as they zoomed past the front door!     

We're not only busy harvesting the crops, but also trying to get the gardens cleaned out. We planted smaller sunflowers this year than in years past and they're perfect for cutting! This bouquet of sunflowers and dahlias just sings "Happy Fall" to me!

Gavin and I took the wagon out to the vegetable garden one evening and picked what was left out there. We picked all of the pumpkins, our one watermelon, and the remaining tomatoes and ground-cherries. We let the broccoli and beans go as it's been too dry for them to remain fruitful without watering. We had already used all of the kohlrabi, we had only ended up with one lone carrot (sad, I know) and we had eaten as many radishes as we could before they became overgrown and tough.

Gavin is a great helper in the garden and really enjoys weeding and harvesting. This may also explain part of how we ended up with only one carrot. Many of the carrots didn't grow, then some got weeded out when they were tiny and just came out with the weeds as we pulled them. Some literally just dried up when we had no rain, and then when there were two carrots left, Gavin was helping weed in the garden and proudly produced the great big weed he had just pulled and showed me it's long orange root. It wasn't "ready", but I told him it was a carrot and cleaned it off so he could enjoy it! Thanks to my sister Carrie's garden, we still had one awesome meal of garden-fresh roasted carrots this summer!

My little clown was pretending to eat the pumpkin in the picture below. He was chewing and giggling and burping and everything! What a little ham!

 Gavin even shared some pumpkins with his cousin Collin.

None of the carving pumpkins that we planted this year grew, so we just ended up with pie pumpkins and the little tiny decorative ones, but they work for fall decor either way!

We arranged a few on the front steps next to our fall mums ($2.99 ea. at our grocery store and we just popped them into the pots that had our summer herbs in them) and stood a big branch that we found laying on the ground in the woods behind the tin bucket of pumpkins for a quick little touch of fall.

As we get closer to our annual fall party, we'll pull out our regular fall decorations and dress up the front of the house a bit more, but for now, this was just what it needed.

Gavin and I also spent several afternoons in the woods picking up pinecones. We filled 5 or 6 buckets with them before we decided it would be easier to just put them all in the wagon! There are a lot more than we thought! I have plans to make some holiday decor with many of them and we're going to bring some of them into his school for a craft project. Don't pumpkins and pinecones just say "fall" in a way you can't deny? I love it!

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