The Dog Days of Summer Have Arrived

Here in Appalachia, the summer equinox has come and gone, and we have settled into the dog days of summer. These are the hottest and last days of summer, lasting from the first week of July until mid-August. The Dog days actually refer to the fact that the dog star, Sirus, begins to rise with the summer sun after the summer solstice. The trees are beginning to lose a leaf here and there and all the animals are shedding just a bit, reminding us that summer is beginning to fade. Mother Nature is subtly reminding us that winter is on his way and it’s time to begin enjoying the fruits of the summer’s labor and preparing our food harvests for winter.

The Harvest Begins
All around, garden crops are beginning to come in and our families are beginning to harvest what they have planted. Cabbages the size of a bushel wash tub are being shredded into kraut. Pictures are popping up of old-fashioned bean stringings with the entire family working up a bushel of beans together. Babies are getting their first taste of fresh homegrown beans and kids are learning how to string alongside their moms and grannies. Greaseys, cornfield, brown pole beans and white half runners cooked with new potatoes in them are appearing on dinner tables everywhere. Beans are being canned and dried for shuck beans in preparation for winter meals. Cucumbers are turning into bread and butter pickles in our kitchens. The tomatoes are finally ripening and canning is commencing in kitchens around the county.

Farm-to School Happenings
For our youth working with the Farm to School Program, the community gardens are beginning to pay off after the hard work of keeping them clean and weed free. Our young farmers have put up stakes and ropes for the pole beans to climb and are getting the first of their crops harvested to sell at the Owsley County Farmers Market. The families that they have been assisting are now picking their beans, pulling ears of corn, hanging onions and garlic to dry. Our families are filling their pantries and our youth are experiencing the satisfaction of seeing their labors bear fruit while assisting their community.