Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Best Part

We spent two days serving beef samples to shoppers at New Seasons Market in Portland. It was a fun trip, but I was sad to find the birds had all left town when we got home. I took a drink to the deck that evening and all I heard was one lone owl. I complained to Mark about it. He told me that before we left he had seen the swallows all lined up on a power line with their bags packed.  

I’ve been saving some of summer’s bounty for the winter - bread and butter pickles, pickled beets, apple pie filling and peaches. The peaches were beautiful – they practically climbed in the jars on their own. I also froze 8 dozen ears of corn from the local truck garden where you pick it yourself and pay in the box with a slot in the top.

There must be something deep in our DNA that tells us to preserve fresh food for later even though modern commerce has eliminated the need for it.   

I drove to the local farmer’s market today. On the way, I noticed fall decorations on a few of the homes and one Halloween display. I totally understand autumnal enthusiasm after a hot summer, but here’s the deal. Don’t rush this part! These poignantly perfect days of late summer! It can still be hot, hot midday. We still sweat. But we pack a sweater because it’s chilly in the margin. The tomatoes can ripen now. The grass is growing again, those shiny, deep green leaves of regrowth, a grazier’s delight. The garden is overflowing, fruit is at peak flavor, and every day without a killing frost is a Godsend.

I found five monarch caterpillars today. They were on the fresh green leaves of milkweed that had regrown since being grazed earlier in the summer. Cattle love the leaves and had stripped every plant in their paddock, but the plants bounce back quickly and are now playing host to the yellow and black lovelies. The old plants that weren't grazed are yellowed and dry. We need both stages of plants. The old ones have spread their seed. The young ones are feeding caterpillars and won’t make it to seed ripe. One example, among many, of the synergies within nature.

Mark and I took a walk-about on the ranch last evening. We observed the wild paddock that had not been grazed since last winter. There were lovely perennials to go with the cheat grass, and lots of plant litter to cover and protect the soil. Curiously, grasshoppers are more plentiful here than any other place on the ranch. What’s up with that?

Then we pulled puncturevine plants, one of the nastiest weeds known to man, and which would happily invade any disturbed bare areas, like driveways and corrals, around the ranch. We use a claw hammer to pry up the base of the plant and avoid the spiny burrs that pierce fingers and tires.

Oh, the agony and the ecstasy of September.  

referring to Betty Crocker


a Septemberesque evening

so happy to find these!

these plants are fresh and green

these plants have seeded out