Hello again from Rural Resources in the heart of Greeneville, TN! I have decided to play an old time favorite game, Hide and Seek. I believe the rain thinks it is the winner, but I have not given up. I am still searching for Mr. Rain. I won a couple of battles, small as they were, I will take them. If anyone finds it, give me first call! We have only had right at 1 inch of rain during October. There is sight for rain Thursday here, so I plan to find my rain cloud! It needs to finally be found from the ridge which it has been hiding behind.
While searching for the rain, we have had some activities we would like to report on. Our garden has been producing at the farm. It has been a struggle with little rain and trying to water the garden as we can. We have had some great looking turnips, radishes, and lettuce mixes coming out. Our garden manager, Taylor, has planted garlic for next year and been working with two volunteers on keeping the garden weeded and produce harvested. Taylor is getting ready to setup two additional raised beds to move some of our strawberries. Our two current beds are so loaded, that we need to transplant some out to make room for new future growth. It will be nice having two more beds of strawberries next May! I see some strawberry jam in the future, if we don’t eat all of them first. The teens have been out helping to harvest the teen garden and preparing their home gardens for fall and winter. Some teens are going to continue to grow and have received row covers for those frosty mornings we have received. They are also wanting to grow as far into winter as they can, so our plastic has just come in and we will be setting up hoops in their garden spaces to hold the plastic when it gets cold enough this winter. Their goal is to be harvesting into January. We are going to be setting up a section of the teen garden with hoops and plastic so we can demonstrate to the teens how much longer they can extend their growing season. We have been very excited with the produce that has been coming out of the gardens and what we will still be pulling out in another month! Here is some of our produce we have harvested. (notice that no one in the pictures have found the rain either!)
The green beans came back when we tilled them under from summer production. They are looking really good! The frost got them a bit, but as warm as it is this week, we are planning to have a nice green bean harvest for this fall! This was an unexpected blessing.
So, I had not found the rain, but I did find Taylor sitting down on the job! She was working on harvesting some okra seeds. She grew some okra for the teens this summer that her family has saved for many years. The last bunch she left all alone, begging to be picked. She just would not pick it! She waited until they were brown and not very appeasing to the stomach. She waited until the perfect time to harvest the seeds to save for teens next summer to grow at home. She harvested a half of pound okra seeds to hand out next summer. She is planning to do a lot more seed saving with the teens this upcoming growing season. Even though Taylor did not find Mr. Rain either, the one thing she did manage to find was a winter coat. You would have thought it was 20 degrees outside, and not the 40ish. She made me cold just looking at her!
Our turnips and radishes were amazing! One of our teen families wanted a large bag full of turnips and greens to take home! Still no rain found, even after playing in the garden. (maybe I should wash the tractor!)
One of our girls just had to pose in the midst of our lettuce mix and radishes. It never fails, every time I ask her to look and smile, that sassy hand and hip go into action!
Still searching for rain, we decided to take a road trip to Berea, KY. During our fall break, we took four of our high school teens over to tour the campus. One of the teens held an interview for admission to college next fall. Berea is her first choice in her college educaiton. She has received notice of acceptance to four other colleges, but is waiting as patiently as possible to get word from Berea before making any further decisions. Our other teens fell in love with the beauty of the college. Two of them are sophomores and very interested in applying during their senior year of college. We also ran into our former teen, Faelyn Campbell, who left in August to study at Berea College. She is our first teen to go off, setting the footprint for several others to follow her west. The teens also decided to seek out the “Hands”. Since we could not find rain, we hunted down the 12 hands of Berea. We found 11 hands, and the 12 was at the hand hospital for some cosmetic surgery. Maybe next year I will finally get to see the 12th hand! My favorite hand, pictured below, was of the farmer.
Returning home from Berea, I still did not find any rain. Rain did sneak in one night about a week later while I was sleeping. It woke me up! It had been a while since I have heard rain falling on my tin roof. The noise, at first, startled me. Then, I fell back asleep to the gentle rhythm of the drops hitting the roof. When I woke up in the morning I thought for sure I would find puddles everywhere. But, NO! It only looked a bit damp. Well, it was enough to green up the grass again and dampen the ground that we did not need to water the garden for a couple of days. So, back to hide and seek again!
In continuing the search of rain, programming continued. A bit of fall fun was required. Surely it will rain during the outdoor fun. Outdoor activities always attract rain. So, off we went to the Greeneville Farmers Market where we painted pumpkins with the teens, teens helped other kids paint, and made caramel apples. One of the market growers provided the pumpkins and we went to a local orchard and picked up some granny smith apples. The teens came, painted pumpkins for the pumpkin painting contest, painted their faces to be in the spirit of Halloween, helped other younger kids paint pumpkins, and passed out caramel apples that they did not eat. We had a good time, but still did not find any rain! Maybe because we were under a pavilion the rain thought we couldn’t see it. Well, we had a good time, and here are a few pictures of our fun project:
Alright, still seeking rain during the month, I decided it was not going to damper my fun. So, to end the month in a good note, what better time we could have than making apple butter! We spent Saturday outside over a fire, stirring our witches brew in a copper pot. The granny smith apples went in and came out as apple butter, with a lot of time stirring, stirring, stirring, and more stirring. Taylor’s grandparents brought their kettle and her grandpa’s great-grandma’s stirring stick from when she used to make apple butter. The apples cooked down very nice. When they were cooked down, Taylor’s grandpa added in sugar then cinnamon oil. Tasting began! Yes, I totally volunteered for this hard sweaty job! Oh, it was so good! It cooked for about another 1-2 hours then we were able to jar up the beautiful brew. We ended up with 5 dozen jars of apple butter Saturday, and still had more apples to bake down into butter. After taking them home and finishing to bake them down in my roaster, we ended up with another 4 and half dozen jars. We preserved nearly 10 dozen jars of apple butter this weekend! Anyone else’s mouth watering yet?! We will probably be selling several as a fundraiser for our teen program. I have people already putting in how many jars they want. A few jars will be saved for the teens to take home and for some of our catered meals for this fall. Hmmm can that many cases last past a week with me around?!
Well, we are off to November now, preparing for a big Thanksgiving dinner, preserving pumpkins, planting winter crops, and still seeking Mr. Rain cloud! Now, I will look into Thursday and hope to find my rain cloud. If my cloud stays a bit too far away, I will make a lasso and pull it over to my gardens. Don’t worry, when I get enough rain out, I will send it on it’s way to you! Have a Happy Thanksgiving.