The Colors of Fall…and Alpacas!

November has been much like October…on the dry side until recently…with warmer than normal days but our nights have been cool enough to bring out the blazing colors of our Trident Maples. IMG_9669We are nearing the end of November and even the most delicate plants such as lettuces, have survived several light frosts due to Dave’s watchful eye and precautions. He has dedicated himself to putting expansive blankets of plastic sheeting over the fall gardens and it is quite a job, especially in windy weather. He wears Platex gloves with added liners (for warmth) for this chore since the plastic sheeting is invariably wet and also quite cold. He has to be careful with the timing of putting on the protection as well as taking it off so as not to let the veggies bake underneath from the daytime sunshine. So, he is out there both early and late on the days when night time frosts have been predicted.

The prediction last night was for the first hard frost (prediction was 21-23 degrees Fahrenheit but we actually awoke to 19!) so we scrambled yesterday to harvest the majority of what was still out in the fields. The day began with light snow ‘showers’ so we waited until after lunch to get started. The problem we faced was a rainfall the prior day of more than half an inch which came on top of nearly 4 inches earlier in the week. That amount of moisture would have normally kept us out of the fields but the time frame to harvest was short. The swampy condition was evidenced by the heavy mud on our boots! Luckily they are water proof but we found if we stood in one place too long, we could get a bit stuck in the mud which made it all the more difficult to move about!

IMG_9697 We started out by cutting the peas…with a lack of time to pick each one off the plant, we just cut the plant at the ground and brought it all in to pick the peas off indoors later. It was sad to see so many blooms still on the plants as they were trying to put out more peas! Dave is holding a giant IKEA bag full of broccoli which we also quickly cut and brought in for processing.

IMG_9693The broccoli looked perfect but we took only the central heads and left the newer side sprouts to see if they would get a little more growth. We are always optimistic about extending the season just a little longer!!!!

IMG_9691Here is what we brought in. Although not traditional Thanksgiving Day food, I plan to take it to my sister’s as part of the dinner celebration.

IMG_9700We continued on with lettuce and spinach harvesting. Here is what we brought in on that score.

IMG_9698Although it didn’t take too long to harvest this massive amount of leafy greens, (brrr) it did take a while to wash it all up for proper storage and I gladly volunteered for that inside job. I’m thankful for our large prep kitchen sinks. I do a two step clean up by starting out with the a sink full of water on the left side which has a garbage disposal and eats up all the dirt and debris. You can see one of three varieties of spinach taking a dip here. After a thorough dousing, I transfer it all to a clean water bath on the right side, leaving most of the dirt behind in the first sink.

IMG_9701After both rinses, they go through our spinners to dry off and then into very large plastic bags that have been marked with the product and the date and into the prep kitchen refrigerators.

We were satisfied with bringing in over 23 lbs of produce but left some of the hardier items such as kale and carrots out under the plastic cover to harvest another day. Dave is out there today as I write, bringing in more.

Outdoor chores will continue all winter and Dave has begun the list of things to do which includes fence repairs, equipment and tool maintenance, grinding tree leaves to add to the fields and trimming tree limbs. The list is actually endless as we always find things that must be done and winter is a great time for catching up on project work. I will use my extra time with some winter knitting which delights me no end.

I was most thrilled to get an e-mail from my cousin, Janice, recently informing me that her alpaca yarn was back from the mill in case I was interested in any. WOW! Janice and her husband Scott have a farm in Virginia where they raise alpacas. I can’t wait to get my hands on some of this very dear yarn! They are sending samples so that I can figure out what I want to buy and I hope to get knitting with it quickly. What great yarn it is…not only is alpaca one of the nicest of fibers for light weight and silky warmth…it will have such special meaning to be knitting yarn from Janice’s dear animals!!! She kindly sent pictures and detailed descriptions of each of the yarns which I know takes lots of time for a busy farmer. Thank you, Janice! A couple of other family members read the blog so hopefully all will enjoy what she shared. Here is a photo of the samples of her skeins. They make me swoon because I already know how soft they will feel!

IMG_0803From left to right: The Farm Blend, Cria, Stormy, Clark, Lewes, Pixie and Fiona. All are in their un-dyed, natural colors. But wait…here is the best of all…she sent pix of her alpacas on their farm so that I could easily see which animals produced which yarn as well as fall in love with all of their gorgeous faces!

Here is Stormy, the palest of all…

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Here is Clark as a baby…IMG_1473And Lewes in the foreground just after his shearing…IMG_0492

Next is Pixie in the far background with the white underside and Fiona (the darkest of all) standing just behind her cria, (which is the word for a baby alpaca) named Max…

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I promise to post pics of the projects I plan to knit from this very precious yarn.

While I await its arrival, I’m working on a Bohus style sweater from a famous designer, Kerstin Olsson, who created this design in 1958 for a knitwear company named Bohus Stickning. This pattern is aptly called “Vildapplet” or Wild Apple. It is knitted using an angora/lambswool blend of hand dyed yarn starting from the top down. Here is the colorful yoke. The fall colors have been so inspiring to knit. IMG_9510 2Coulter has been the lucky recipient of some of my knitting efforts this fall but he is outgrowing these almost as fast as I can get them finished!

‘Little’ Coulter is now on the move…his favorite activity is “walking” by holding onto the hands of his mom and dad…but sometimes he just likes to drive around!

IMG_9601He turned 7 months old today and we are rapidly baby-proofing as he is one active boy!

2 thoughts on “The Colors of Fall…and Alpacas!

  1. Nancy, thank you for this wonderful blog. The maples leaves are breathtaking in their beauty and all the veggies as well. Bob and I saw those dear alpacas this past summer. So glad you are the recipient of some of that wonderful yarm. It is amazing. And Coulter is perfect picture of a very happy baby boy, but growing very quickly. Thanks for always including pics of him. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. love, aunt helen

    _____

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