The cold weather is coming quickly and I’m rushing to beat it. In fact, we already hit freezing overnight temperatures a couple of nights in mid-October. Yet there is food to pick, dig or otherwise gather before I can close all the garden beds. And of course, there is still the store to close.
I hoped the weatherman was wrong and that the freezing temps would pass us by for a few more weeks. Alas, they did not. It was a Saturday, Jeff was on the road (Clara Belle was traveling with Jeff), and Tennyson was helping me at one of my last mobile ice cream events of the season. After a long day of scooping and serving ice cream, we loaded up the truck and trailer with the ice cream cart, tables, and rubber bins holding everything from ice cream scoopers to cups, cones, spoons, and napkins.
Still, I didn’t make it back before it was time to open the store for the night. I texted my sister. “Any chance you could run Clancy and Maggie down to open the store?” She texted me back within seconds, “Sure.” My sister is like that: always willing to help out.
Then there was the logistics of unloading the truck and trailer and still manning the store. The ice cream needed to go back to the store, but the rest of the gear is stored at my house. Tennyson and I came up with a plan as we made the 45 minute drive from Clifton Forge, Virginia. I dropped Tennyson at the end of our half-mile dirt road and he jogged to the house to get another car. (It’s not easy turning the truck and trailer around by my house). I continued on to the store where Clancy and Maggie helped me unload the remaining tubs of ice cream. By the time we finished, Tennyson had arrived back at the store. He stayed at the store while I took Clancy and Maggie back to help me unload at the house. Once the trailer was detached from the truck, I turned around and went back to the store to relieve Tennyson who needed to do homework.
When I arrived home that night, it was almost 10 p.m. I quickly enlisted the kids’ help. With bags and flashlights, we picked the remaining peppers, eggplant and squash.
Maggie and I even cut as many flowers as we could hold before running for the warmth of the house.
I had already picked the last of the tomatoes earlier that week. The next morning, everything was limp and dead. All that remained of this year’s garden were carrots, beets, and rhubarb.
On one of the few days Jeff was home this month, he helped me dig up the sweet potatoes. Some were so huge they were the size of footballs! And the kids helped me gather a wheelbarrow of pears.
Then, on a Sunday afternoon, I started washing and stewing the pears. It was midnight before I was done putting them all through my Squeezo food strainer. The next day, I cooked the sauce, heated jars and lids, and got all the pear sauce canned: 24 pints (I filled every empty pint jar I had), and 14 quarts. And there’s at least as many more pears still on the trees!
Of course, since our first frost, we’ve had more 80 degree weather. While leaf-peepers enjoy the beauty of fall in the Shenandoah Valley, I’m racing Mother Nature to wrap up at Rockspring Farm and Holy Cow! before the cold weather is here to stay. And I think I’m losing…