Frosted, and planning ahead

Well, it finally happened. We had a lasting frost, and temperatures were still below freezing when I came out to do my morning rounds.

My husband has still been up to feeding the outside cats earlier in the mornings, and has included putting warm water out for them, too, which they are really appreciating! It’s still not cold enough to plug in the heater in the cat’s house or use the heated water bowl, though.

While there was frost still on the ground everywhere else, this area was already warm and sunny. The kittens enjoyed that while watching me do my rounds!

It does show why what we planted along the chain link fence lasted so long. The tomatoes and gourds are finally done for, though. We can now start pulling them and prepping the beds for next year.

While we will be pulling everything else, the sunflowers can stay for a while longer. They sure are a cheerful sight on a chilly morning!

The chard was still quite covered in frost, as these beds are shaded longer in the mornings. We’ve never grown chard before, but from what I’ve read, getting hit with frost can improve their flavour. I don’t know that we’ll grow chard again. They did well, but none of us really ate them much.

I was already planning on pulling the lettuce. That last batch I gathered was so bitter, it went straight to compost instead of the salad I was intending to make with them.

A bit of a surprise was walking by the purple corn, the remains of which we were leaving to go to seed. They were pretty dry by now, yet most of the stalks were eaten last night! They had been left alone for quite a long time, so this was unexpected. Odd that, with so much fresh food still around, and even with the lettuce and chard uncovered, the deer would go for these dried up stalks.

We are going to have a lot of work to do over the next couple of weeks. We’re supposed to warm up again next week, so we do have time. The sweet corn blocks and, eventually, the sunflowers will be pulled, but nothing else will be done in that area until we get the berry bushes we intend to plant there. My daughter has been researching the ones we were looking to get, and Autumn Olive has been taking off our list; apparently, they are considered invasive! The Buffalo Berry and Sea Buckthorn are still on the list. Sea Buckthorn is also considered invasive in some areas, but not our climate zone.

The bean beds, pea trellises, squash tunnel and summer squash areas will all be used again next year, but mostly we need to focus on preparing the main garden beds closer to the house for next year. Once we get our straw bale in, we’ll start mulching some areas for new beds. We are already making lists of what we intend to plant next year, and will start buying seeds and trees over the winter, month by month. We will use that to help decide where to prepare new ground for planting next year.

At the same time, we are making lists of things to stock up on. Though things are looking mild, we’ve been either snowed in or had our vehicles freeze for two winters in a row now, so we want to be prepared in case something like that happens again. With food prices increasing so much over the past few months, and expected to get higher, it’s getting more difficult to buy those few extra things every month. Particularly since so many other people have realized that “prepping” is a really, really good idea, too!

Having grown up here, as a subsistence farm, I am very familiar with a lot of “self sufficiency” and “prepper” habits. That was just what everyone did, because there was no other option, really. So I’m no stranger to the lifestyle. At the same time, I am always wanting to learn new information and more about how to do it better, so I spend quite a bit of time researching. Which means I’ve lately been seeing a lot of homesteading resources – “subsistence farming” just isn’t a term that’s used anymore! – and “prepper” sites. Lately, it’s been feeling downright weird to go to them, as they are increasingly focused on giving information to people who are totally new to the concept, due to current circumstances. For us, this is just stuff we need to do. We are isolated just enough that we know we have to rely on ourselves if things go wrong, and there are always thing that can go wrong. The power could go out. We could get snowed in. We might have to evacuate due to wildfires. At least flooding isn’t a concern where we are, but running out of water is. We can’t just hope over to the corner store if we run out of things, like we could while living in the city. We can’t even assume we will have telephone (meaning the land line; we already can’t rely on getting a cell phone signal here) or internet for communication. The land line is pretty reliable, at least, but our internet starts kicking out as soon as there is a stiff wind, or if there are storms to the south of us. Of course, on top of all that, we have my husband’s health issues. He and I were just talking this morning about his prescription refills. He gets his daily meds in bubble packs now, including those that are restricted. For the longest time, he couldn’t get refills for his restricted medications until he was, at the earliest, 3 days away from running out. Now, his bubble packs aren’t even done locally. They’re done in the city and shipped to the local pharmacy, and with how crazy things have been, they’ve actually lifted some of the red tape surrounding restricted medications. Which means we should be able to get a couple of months of refills, instead of just one month. He just got his refills recently, so we’ll be trying to get an extra month of refills, next time.

Anyhow. It’s just been really strange to go looking stuff up for ideas and inspiration. So many people are now doing the same thing, with absolutely zero background in it. In one way, it makes me feel thankful for how I grew up. On the other, it’s frustrating, when people start panic buying, without any sort of planning or organization in mind, and it ends up causing problems for everybody.

Ah, well. People need to learn somehow. We just do what we can!

And right now, that means cleaning out the last of this year’s garden, and preparing for next, and making sure we are stocked up for the winter.

The Re-Farmer

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