Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Silver Dollar City

Well, I know that I have reserved this particular blog for just happenings at the farm, but I can't resist a post about our wonderful weekend trip to Missouri.

We traveled with friends from here who also own a place on Table Rock Lake. Believe it or not, at age 47, I still had never yet been to Silver Dollar City or the Branson area, even though it is only about five hours from here.

We spent one entire day at Silver Dollar City, from about 9 to 10 AM through the night show which began at 7 PM. It was awesome. Their harvest festival was going on; and although there were crowds of people, there weren't so many as to make it difficult to navigate. I'm glad I was with people who had been there many times, however, or I would have become lost in the layout of the place.Amanda, Steven, and Me

I especially enjoyed all the craftsmen. Woodcarvers, glass blowers, basketmakers, coopers, blacksmiths, etc. Many times we would see an item and think "I could make that!" What great ideas they give, using old time skills that are nearly lost in America. The music shows (we saw two while there) were both fantastic - excellent singers and performers. We enjoyed our own music with the sing-along in the little church chapel, as well!

Steven and Amanda were with me. My other son, David, could not get off work to join us for the weekend. There was a lot of walking and we were very tired, but the weather was gorgeous and everything went very well. We even found time over the weekend to get out on Table Rock Lake in our friends' boat for awhile, and just relax on the mirror-calm water.

All in all, a very beautiful and relaxing weekend with family and good friends.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Camping and Fall Chores

It has been a gorgeous week weather-wise here, and I just wish I had more time outdoors to enjoy it!

Steven and I set up the old Coleman cabin tent in the back yard. We are airing it out, repairing it, and preparing it for our camping trip to Missouri in October. He repaired a few minor holes in the vinyl, and I attempted to stitch shut a few small rips in the window netting. We still need to scrub it down good with a mild detergent and rinse it off (it must have been put away wet last time); then it should be ready to go. We probably haven't used this particular big tent of ours in nearly 10 years. It's an "oldie but goodie."

Some fall garden crops were started by Steven a couple weeks ago - turnips, beets, some fall salad greens. Just a couple days before we got that 5 inches of rain. The turnips are up well - but the beets are very slow to germinate. Whether we get much all depends on how soon the first frost rolls around. The weather has been strange this year, so it's anyone's guess.

But it is definitely feeling like fall, and I feel like the year has just flown by. It is again time to start getting the house ready for the oncoming cold of winter. Trees are dropping their leaves and turning color; the nights are cool. So much to do and so little time to get it done.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And Even More Pears

Yes, we are still picking them up daily. I need to get busy canning. This is Steven holding one evening's crop.

Got the idea this weekend to maybe take some of the pear sauce we made in the slow cooker, and make a "cobbler" or "crisp" dessert dish with it. Plan to try that this week.

This is also Kansas State Fair week. We attended the opening day (Friday the 5th) and really enjoyed it, as well as had beautiful weather for our visit. We also love touring the livestock barns, and the poultry/rabbit building. Bought goodies in the 4-H building, where they sell the baked goods that were judged. Looked at livestock fencing and wood burning stoves. There is just so much to see!

We will probably go back to the Fair tonight. Had planned it for later in the week, but it is supposed to starting raining late today, and continue with rain for several days.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pear! And More Pears!

One day's pickings.

So here's the background story: My grandfather had a 100+ tree orchard north of the house. Most of it was planted around 1961 (the year I was born). Over the years, he kept a hand-printed chart of the orchard - which varieties he had planted where, and how they did, whether fruitful or not.

Grandpa lived until 1986. In the early 90s, a huge storm came through that killed most of the orchard, and I had the area mostly bulldozed to clear it out and start over. I left two trees in the orchard - one Bartlett pear that anchored the northeast corner; and one young small pear tree that was growing up in the northwest corner (the original whole north line was pear). On grandpa's orchard map, that corner had been a "Seckel" pear, which he had cut down himself and marked as "barren" on the map. But apparently it was resilient and grew back from the root. It shaped into a beautiful looking tree, with heavy blooms in spring, and beautiful reddish leaves in fall. But it has never had much in the way of actual fruit. We left it because it is a very pretty tree.

Well, this weird weather year of our ultra-late spring, very cool June, and much more cool days and rain than any normal Kansas summer, appears to have finally been the perfect year for production of Seckel Pears. And man! Has it ever made up for all those unfruitful years! I have never seen a tree so loaded with fruit.

According to all we have found Seckel Pears are the "candy" variety of the pear world. Very very sweet, yet very small -- just snacking size; about one-third the size of a regular full pear.

We have picked up pears (we wait for the windfall) every day this week, and then hand sort them into the best ones for eating now; the greener ones to ripen a few days; and the blemished ones, which we give to the chickens. We have pears everywhere at the house!

I would like to maybe attempt pearsauce or pearbutter, but it takes quite a bit of time, and these very sweet pears don't keep many days, so I'm hoping we don't lose too much to spoilage. There are still thousands up on the tree itself, so this should make for an extremely busy week!