As the warmth of summer quickly fades we find ourselves being catapulted into fall and making plans for the winter and 2018 growing season. Many of our garden plants are quickly shrinking back or slowing down and the last of the fall plants are starting to peak (mostly pumpkins).
Our Harvest Dinner was a huge success! Pictures are posted on Facebook. With all of the interest this year in the bees, it was only natural that honey would play a star role in our meal. A special thank you (again) to dad, John and Amanda for the relentless effort put into making our dinner special.
Speaking of bees, we are going to be treating our hive for mites this week before preparing it for the winter. Winter preparations will include building a foam insulating structure around the hive to help maintain its warmth while still allowing airflow (preventing mold and condensation). This has to be done with extreme mindfulness in order to ensure our bees survive until spring. Matt even plans to build a windbreak around the hives using pallets.
A second bee update: we have purchased two hives! One hive will replace the hive we have on loan and the other will be an additional hive. We hope to have enough bees in the spring that we will be able to split our one hive into two. Eventually, we hope to have three hives. This is mostly because with the rate of hive failure in Michigan, we want to ensure we always have some bees around. This winter we will be working on cleaning them up and painting them. We are strongly considering a call to action event where we will be asking people to help paint. These will be a showcase on our farm and we want to be reminded how much community support we have had to get us to this point.
Before winter hits we will be doing a final till of the garden, including an additional space to expand the footprint. This will be made easier with the help of a gracious volunteer! (my uncle) We will be working hard in the upcoming weeks pulling potatoes out of the ground and taking down our rabbit fence so we can get the tractor through.
Matt will be working on regular maintenance of our grounds keeping equipment this winter (oil changes, filter changes, etc.) Meanwhile, I have plans to research regulations for preparing and selling foods from a home facility so we can 1. reach more people and 2. help with the cost of running the homestead. I also plan to chart out some of the 2017 costs, timelines, etc. so we can have a more smooth growing season in 2018. For example, we know we need to plant more carrots next year and I would like to have an earlier harvest (which means more germinating).
I spent some time reading through my earlier blog posts today and realized that we really didn’t do too bad for our first year! There was a lot we learned and some things we did really well but can fine tune. It was actually pretty encouraging to realize that as little as we knew, we pulled off a pretty nice harvest. Now that we have an idea what grows well, etc. we will also be able to (hopefully) donate more next year.
Which brings me to a final thought: What would you like to see donated at the community share table next year?