Thursday, October 25, 2018

Cider pressing and fiber messing (aka spinning and knitting)

When we bought our land 16 years ago, we knew we wanted an orchard. So after clearing land, we planted a bunch of little trees: apples, cherries, pears, plums...

You have to be patient with an orchard - it takes a while to establish. But we have been reaping the benefits of our fruit tree labor for a while now. 

Case in point: this year alone, we pressed cider on three different occasions, with hundreds of pounds of apples from our place.

Some of this is getting made into hard cider, lots of it is frozen for juice.

This is a job for a few people at a time: some are picking apples, some are washing them, and some feed the apples into the chute.

Then the cut-up pieces are being transferred into the pressing chamber, and the handle gets cranked.

And then comes the tasting, where people elbow each other out of the way to stick a cup under the steady stream of fragrant cider flowing forth, exclaiming how good it tastes.

Also, enough containers need to be rounded up for fitting all this golden liquid. After filling them all to the brim, there's cleanup.

As it often happens in our wilderness neighborhood on a weekend, people tend to stop by to visit, and of course, they get pulled into the cider making operation, much to the delight of all the little ones.

Come along and see what happens on a day like this!

Picking apples, and getting the ones on the ground before the bear and deer eat them

Washing station

Feeding the apples into the cutting chute

It helps to have willing and enthusiastic helpers

Putting the cut-up apples into the pressing container

Ha! Suckers! You thought you would stop by for a chill visit? Well, so much for leisure and relaxing!

The kids love to eat this foam. Better than ice cream.

Filling the containers
Besides harvesting all the fruit from our orchard, we also got all the food out of the garden. Pumpkins, squashes, gone-to-seed lettuce for the chickens, the rest of the cucumbers... 

Now all that's left is Swiss Chard, Kale, and Collards greens, plus lots of carrots and beets in the ground.

Last week, I put the garden to bed. I really like covering the soil to protect all the lovely soil organisms and micro critters in there, so I either sow green manure or spread straw.  (Not hay, since it has weeds.)

Now that the weather has shifted to almost-frost, rain and storms, the time for hibernation has begun.

Hibernating for me means plenty of knitting and spinning.

I've been on a sock-knitting kick, since it's moderately mindless and relaxing, and oh-so-necessary in a house full of active people who need socks. All. The. Time.

Last week I went to the Northwest Fiber Fusion event and bought a gorgeous batt of wool that made my heart rate speed up when I saw it. I'm spinning it into yarn for a hat and fingerless mittens. I think they will be gorgeous.

Now it's your turn. Leave me a comment in the comment section below and tell me what hibernating looks like for you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Health update, Goat Peak, and Peek-a-boo Lake hike

So you gals and guys are blowing my mind. I can't tell you how touched I am about the overwhelming response to my recent health scare post. I received so many wonderful, positive messages, helpful advice, and even a sincere offer to pay for some of my tests! 

Honestly, y'all are just too nice, and you are making my heart happy. And that's what we want: my heart to be happy.

I'm going to see a cardiologist in the middle of November to track my strange irregular heartbeat issue. I still think it's anxiety and stress.

I've been de-stressing, slowing down, knitting a lot, enjoying the heck out of my family and friends, and making nettle and lemon balm tea, plus a tea called "Happy Heart" from Mountain Rose Herbs.  

I'm also taking Hawthorne and Coenzyme Q 10. Let's see if I can love my heart back to a normal heart beat with all these lifestyle and nutritional changes, shall we?

Another wonderful therapy that's good for my heart is spending time with my family and friends, preferably in a beautiful natural spot.  A couple of week ago, my honey and I drove over the pass to the East side to hike Goat Peak, with a fire lookout on top.

On the drive up to the trailhead, we met not a goat, but a cow.

Last week, two of my dear girlfriends and I hiked to another beautiful spot called Peek-a-boo Lake, off the Mountain Loop Highway.

These are friends I've known for a long time. We've seen each other through a lot, including attending our kids' births, supporting each other through sicknesses, and attending each others' weddings.

Part of my getting-healthy-scheme is making time for friends. It feels so nourishing and supportive, so life-sustaining and important.

We hiked, chatted, gorged ourselves with wild blueberries that were already half frozen on the hillsides, sunned ourselves at the fairy tale lake, and enjoyed the solitude (except the solitary fisherman who seemed very taken aback by three chattering girls and even more pissed off when my dog ate his lunch. It's true. I felt terrible about it).

Ahhhh, my friends, autumn is fully underway.  Mushrooms are popping up everywhere, foliage is gorgeous, temperatures are dropping, the garden is fully harvested, cider is being pressed...

But since this post is already too long, I'll have to show it all to you another time.

For now, I'll leave you with images of fall... 

Hope you are doing well, and thanks for being such an awesome reader and supporter of yours truly.  Truly, it means a lot.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Feeling blessed at Cascade Pass

On Saturday, I went hiking with two of my kids, and one of my good friends and her daughter.  

We hiked up Cascade Pass, a total of 6 and a half miles of the most gorgeous scenery you'll ever see.

The whole time, our jaws hung open with the beauty, although we all have hiked here many times before.  It never gets old.

Do you want to come along?


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