The woods are glowing with the colors of autumn and harvest is in full swing at Phoenix Farm. Even with two months of extreme drought in mid-summer, no rainfall at all, the plants have provided us with a bounty. The apple and pear harvest began in August. Bartlett pears are bountiful, juicy and delicious. All our produce is organic so please overlook the less than perfect appearance of the fruit. We do not apply any spray to the trees. We get fruit naturally, the way it was intended.
Our first heavy frost was two days ago. The afternoon before, I harvested all my red bell peppers. The plants did very well in the partial shade of the corn, providing me with some monster-sized vegetables. The total harvest included two more peppers, already enjoyed.
For the fisrt time in several years we had a grape harvest! Perhaps the dry weather encouraged the grapes. The three varieties we grow are represented, purple, red and white. Last evening I processed these grapes and got enough juice to make two recipes of grape jelly. Yum!
The indian corn is still ripening. A few ears were ready so I picked them before the birds could destroy my fall decorations. This year the birds are causing unusual damage to this crop. It may be the drought limited the availability of their normal wild seed food sources. Last week a flock of migrating grackles descended on the corn patch and I ran out arms flapping to scare them off.
The air is full of migrating flocks. Canada geese honk overhead, noisy grackles by the thousands pass through, gangs of robins alight on the lawns for a few minutes before rushing off south, and several flights of red-winged blackbirds stopped to rest at our pond this week.
The weather is still quite warm. To have so little frost this late in the season seems to be our new normal. I am hoping the warmth continues as it did last year right into December. The drought seriously hurt our hay harvest. We made only three-fourths of the bales needed to go through winter. If the horses can graze all November as they did last year, I won’t have to buy as much hay at the premium price resulting from drought scarcity. I’m letting the beautiful leaves and warm, golden days distract me from the worries of hay shortage.