Farm Life

Farm Life

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dear October, Please Don't Leave Me!

      I love fall. Everything about fall. I can't get enough of it, and the season seems to be way too short. It screeches to an abrupt halt when snow laden branches crowd out brilliantly colored leaves. I do love snow, late spring is nice. Summer is mostly too hot, and humid, and do we even need to discuss mud season? The cold, rainy, windy months that cut to your core, and leave you begging for relief. Can you tell that I hate March, and April? So, could we please replace those months with more Octobers? Please?!?!  I love sweater weather. A flannel shirt day is perfect! I love to hear the crunch of fallen leaves, and the smell of wood smoke as it sends trails up to the blue sky where honking geese make their way to warmer destinations. I love walking winding paths into the woods now more than ever! Animals are scurrying around tucking their harvest into their homes for the long winter to come. My road is carpeted in pine needles, and brightly painted oak leaves. Maple leaves twirl in the air before softly landing in the accumulating color.


            Squirrels race back, and forth crossing my pathway to reach the abundance of fallen acorns. Crows sound off, and warn others of my presence. Turkeys gather around wild apple trees, and gobble up the sour harvest that has fallen. Birds flit about from tree to berry filled bush while singing the song of the perfect season. 

                The brook babbles an autumn tune, and quiets my soul. Auburn leaves float atop the cooling water, and I am enveloped in a crisp fall breeze. 

              And then there are the tastes of fall......Oh. My. Goodness. Can you really make it through this lovely season without a tall glass of freshly pressed apple cider?!?! I love to sit next to a cozy fire, and sip this sweet treat piping hot. Another autumn must have is pumpkin chocolate chip cookies! How about a freshly baked apple pie, or apple crisp with fresh cream? It really makes the season complete doesn't it? I will take anything pumpkin! Topping my list is my Dad's hand-cranked pumpkin ice cream! Made with the milk, and cream from our cows it satisfies the fall cravings even on a cool day. Now is the time to start up with all our soups, and stews too. In these cold weather states it is how we cope both physically, and mentally! Oh, what a hot bowl of chicken, and dumplin' stew can do for your soul on a bitter cold evening! 

Apple cider pressed from apples on our farm.
Apples that have fallen from our trees.
                 Picking apples, harvesting pumpkins, and jumping in leaf piles are all delights of the season. C'mon! Who wouldn't want to jump into a giant crispy pile of leaves?!?!
Every time I scan the pastures it is like looking at a postcard with a colorful background abundant in crimson, and golden hues. Everything is going to seed. Ending it's life to begin life anew. Nuts, and pine cones free fall from trees. Cat tails end with a fluffy goodbye. 


            October invites me outdoors, and hugs me close. I savor every minute in it's presence, and long for more time with this friend. I'm comfortable, and myself as I meander it's crimson leaf enclosed pathways. As the long days retreat, and a nip of bitter cold settles in, my heart aches for just one more October day. One more day to hold the hand of this season, as my heart dances in sweet October sunshine. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Preserving Our Prized Pumpkins

       My son loves to grow all varieties of pumpkins, and squash. He must take after me, because I think raising pumpkins is fun! He decided this year that he wanted to enter his prized produce into the Common Ground Fair. So, he babied them, guarded them from sneaky goats that licked their lips in anticipation, and injected the vines with milk. He hovered over them, and took note of any growth.            The day of judging finally came, and this mama couldn't help, but make the exhibition hall the first stop of the day at the fair. The tables were bursting, and overflowing with color. The purple of eggplants, and onions complimented the white of garlic. Orange carrots stood out near green peppers, and red tomatoes were a feast for the eyes. The assortment of grapes was a mouthwatering test of will power. And there it son's Polar Bear pumpkin. And right near his mammoth entry was a pumpkin quite larger. My heart sank, and I was sure that the other pumpkin would possess the prize. The judges were hard at work comparing one fruit to another. We went on our way, and tried to tuck our eagerness aside as we strolled the fair grounds. When judging was complete I was back at the exhibition hall in great anticipation. As I rounded the tables, I noticed that my thirteen year old son, had taken the first place ribbon for his Kakai pumpkin, his One Too Many pumpkin, his Strawberry popcorn, and his Polar Bear pumpkin!!! His pumpkin, although smaller, had been considered a better representation of that variety, and therefore was chosen to display a blue ribbon! He also placed second with some melons he entered. Needless to say, this mom was very proud, and he was excited with his prizes of gift certificates to Johnny's Selected Seeds.
My son's prize winning Polar Bear pumpkin.

First prize for Eben's One Too Many pie pumpkin.

          After the win at the fair we wanted to preserve the pumpkins. We don't believe in waste here on the farm, and so we wanted to cook the pumpkin, and have it available to us for eating this winter. Pumpkin soup is a favorite at my house, so I cut the pie pumpkin in half, and dug out the seeds. We then saved the seeds for planting next season. The next pumpkin I cook, we will salt, and bake the seeds for eating. I placed the halves into the oven on 350* for about 45 minutes. The oven time will vary for different sized pumpkins. When a fork could easily pierce the cooking pumpkin, I took it out of the oven, and scooped all of the meat out. I then pureed the pumpkin in the blender, and returned it to a pot where I added plenty of cream, and whole milk from our cows. Next, I added salt to taste. (You could also puree the pumpkin after adding the cream if you choose.)  Yummm! I simply left the soup to cool, and then poured the fall treat into freezer bags, being careful not to over fill them. I labeled them "pumpkin soup", so as not to confuse it with the plain pumpkin puree I plan to freeze as well. 

Pumpkin all cooked, and scooped from the skin.

Cooked pumpkin.

Running cooked pumpkin through the blender.

Pumpkin soup.

Yummm! Ready to eat!

          The reason that I made this into soup with all the cream, and milk added is because our milk, and cream is in abundant supply right now. This winter our cows will be dried off for calving season, and we will not have a generous amount of milk. This soup is ready to heat, and serve. I will freeze plain pumpkin for baking cookies, and other goodies. 

Please feel free to follow me on facebook where you will get frequent updates from the farm.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

An Afternoon at the Cider Mill

     We are in harvest mode right now. We are busy preserving all the fruits of our labor in any way that we can. We know that winter will soon be upon us, and before we settle in we need to be prepared.  An autumn on our farm is not complete until we have some fresh pressed cider in the freezer. So, a few days ago, I took on the task of collecting our cider apples with my boys, and their friend. We have been blessed with a variety of old crooked apple trees that have been here on the farm for over one hundred years. Their ancient branches hang low with the weight of heirloom apples. All combined, they make a fantastic cider!
My son, at the top of an old heirloom apple tree.

Yep, hard hats come in handy for this task!

The boys always love to pick apples, but I believe they enjoy eating them more.....


      With the kid's help it makes for quick, fun work. We gather as much as we can for our upcoming appointment....

The more of a variety, the better the cider.

We collected approximately fourteen bushel.

      This afternoon, after church, we loaded our sweet, and sour mix of apples into our van, and headed for the cider mill. 

Happy to be helping mom carry apples.

My five year old, watching the mill do it's work.

      The apples are loaded into the hopper, then travel by conveyor up to the top of the mill. Here they are ground, and emptied onto sheets of burlap. The burlap is then folded over the ground apples. A large plastic plate is then placed atop the burlap pillow of apples. Slowly the many levels of crushed apples are squeezed into a sweet drippy cider.

Cider drips from the mill.

Now into our jugs.

The apple cider then travels through a hose, and into our waiting jugs. 

            Our reward today was thirty gallons of sweet autumn goodness! Our harvest will be stored in the freezer, and pulled out in the depths of winter for a fresh taste of fall. It will warm your soul on a bitter cold evening, fixed hot with spices, and I look forward to sipping sweetness by the fireside in the midst of January's icy grasp.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Our Autumn Tradition

      It all started sixteen years ago when I decided to celebrate my oldest boy's first birthday in a big way. I love fall. Everything about fall. So, this was a celebration I was so excited to host. We had a hayride powered by our Belgian work horses. We had grain sack races, a giant pile of colorful leaves for jumping in, pumpkin snacks, and fresh apple cider. We couldn't have asked for a better day! A sunny autumn day here in Maine with blue skies, and a crispness in the air perfect for flannel shirt wearing. The guests seemed to truly enjoy themselves, and this first birthday party started a tradition....
October 1998. My son, Ethan, driving the horses with his Grampa.

               Each year we continued our celebration with everything fall. We always had a crowd, and no matter the weather we always enjoyed ourselves. One year we ate homemade ice cream while crowded around a bonfire as snow flakes fell softly around us.
       Five years ago we used our autumn time party to celebrate our parent's 35th wedding anniversary. We went big, and built a stage out in the hay field. We invited a local country singer, and had a bonfire blazing. There was endless amounts of food in fall flavors, and folks stayed into the darkness of the evening. Ever since this night our get together has been known as the Post Family Harvest Party. It grows each year, and this year we welcomed nearly one hundred guests! The tables overflow with potluck creations, and a bonfire burns with a crackly coziness. Fresh apple cider  bubbles over the fire, and hot soups, and fall desserts invite you to the long table. Clogging gets the evening started, followed by singing, and an array of instruments. 

My clogging friends, and I.

My son, Eben, playing the fiddle.

Lit up stage.

  As the hostess, my days leading up to the big event are filled with all the details. Flowers, cornstalks, and pumpkins decorate the field. The outhouse is swept clean of spiderwebs, and lanterns are filled with oil. Bean hole beans are covered with soil to cook until tender beneath the earth. Lighting is arranged, and the generator gassed up. I love decorating for fall, and this is where the fun is for me.....


Autumn requires Mums!

Lots of mums!

My outdoor wood cook stove. Perfect for keeping potluck dishes hot.

Harvest party 2012


This year marked my parent's 40th wedding anniversary. We celebrated with a memory tent filled with photos.

         Last weekend was beautiful, and the weather was perfect just as it was sixteen years ago! The temperature was mild, and nobody had to wear earmuffs, and mittens this year. Our harvest party requires a lot of work during one of our busiest times of the year, but oh it is so worth it! For an evening we get to put aside the thoughts of the coming snow, and the urgent tasks to be completed. We immerse ourselves into the gathering of dear friends, and family with fun, and laughter that echos across our pumpkin patches, and corn fields. 
        Many years ago, I never realized that a tradition had been born, but oh what a fun tradition it is!! 

Buffet lighting.