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Monday, October 14, 2013

The Long Autumn

Hawthorn Turning
Autumn's come in hard. Sweatshirts and gloves in the mornings when I take Pepper for walks in the hills. The grass is drying; the apples are crisping during the cold nights; hawthorn bushes and trees are turning yellow and red. Mountain bluebirds are feeding outside our living room, and the deer are bedding down in the meadows. The knapweed keeps flowering, and the wild asters are hanging on. The burn pile is growing, and the hot wire our neighbor strung to keep in his steers grazing on our land is being rolled up

Rolled-up Fencing
The Growing Burn Pile

A couple of days ago, Pepper and I saw a young porcupine in its black-needle phase, waddling among thin pine saplings, probably looking for breakfast. Given stories Karen has told about her mother's dogs' encounters with porcupines and the resultant vet bills, I was glad I had Pepper on a lead. Would he have gone after the porcupine? I don't know. He'll rush deer and turkeys, but only for a few yards. That's more than far enough to catch up to a porcupine.

Dying Old Apple Tree
We've been harvesting fruit for a few weeks. The plums have been picked and frozen. The old pear tree by the lower house has been picked clean, with some given to family and neighbors (we tend to share produce in our valley. One couple distributes eggs from their hens; another has given us home-grown tomatoes and vegetables). We've - well, Karen has - been picking apples; so far we've taken about five cases to the Post Falls Food Bank, and Second Harvest is sending gleaners to our place in a few days. Unfortunately, winter and time have taken their toll on one of our oldest, best eating-apple trees down by Anna Spring.

Donovan Caulking New Front Window
Old Window

Karen's son, Donovan, has taken autumn renovations very seriously. During the past couple of weeks, he's been replacing the 1950s single-pane windows with modern double-pane sliders. He's doing a really good, fast job. Makes the house look better and much more energy-efficient.

We've been in our house about 13 months now, and the builder's been here working on warranty repairs. One more visit from the electrician to secure a ceiling can light and from the job-site manager to replace some railings, and it's done. And everything from now on is on our nickel.

The steers and our neighbor's pigs have gone to the knacker, and today I picked up our pork ration for the year. The butcher was doing a great business today. Pickups were rolling in and out. That was my second stop of the day - the first was getting an MRI on my dog/bike-accident-injured thumb. Tomorrow's a follow-up with the orthopedist. He suspects cartilage damage, and if it is, I'm probably going under the knife, and cycling season's over.

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