It was 37 degrees outside when I got home this morning. I am not mentally prepared for winter yet; I haven't even embraced the idea. I don't cope with change very well but once it is upon me, and I have no choice, I face the change and adapt to it. And so now I must face the fact that I can't come home from work on a humid summer morning and sit on the lawn to watch the chooks catch bugs. Now I have to don an extra jacket and hurry through the morning chores of feeding the birds and letting them out before scurrying inside to shower and curl up in my cocoon of blankets to sleep my day away. My consolation is that winter will pass and be followed by spring, glorious spring!
I wonder how the chooks will cope with their first winter. I deliberately chose breeds that could stand a harsh winter. There are no frou-frou chickies in my gang who will have to have heated coops to survive cold weather. I watch them eating their soup can full of sunflower seeds in the mornings and wonder, do they even feel the cold with all those feathers? I've learned that feathers have better insulating properties than hair so it stands to reason that my birds don't even care. And the ducks...they are happily feeding in the pond each morning! Don't those silly ducks feel that bone chilling water? The ducks have even more feathers than the chickens, so obviously they don't get cold in the water. I envy them. If only I were insulated so well!
This weekend is the Oak Harbor Apple Festival. We are going to have some good food there and then sit in a friend's lawn to watch the parade at noon. I love small town festivals. Marching bands, fire engines and food vendors make for a pleasant distraction from the chill in the air. I'm not a huge fan of apples though. My grandpa ran the family apple orchard along with his brother Richard. I guess I got burned out on apples when I was growing up. I can still eat apples but I prefer them when they're right off the tree and have never been refrigerated. It affects their flavor just like tomatoes. Baking with apples is different; it doesn't seem to matter as much if the apple was refrigerated beforehand. One of my favorite desserts is my homemade apple crisp! While I'm out in the orchard gathering apples for the kitchen I fill a 2 gallon bucket with bruised apples for the chickens. They nibble on the fruits over a few days until there's nothing left of them but the peels.
Farmers in our area are busy harvesting their fields. Everywhere I go I see them out driving their harvesters at all hours of the day. I really like it when my cousin harvests at night and has the lights on the combine turned on. It looks like a gigantic mechanical locust lumbering through the field, devouring everything in its path.
I checked saplings this week to assess my losses after this summer's drought. I've lost about 10%, which is what I figured last month. The ones that survived seem healthy and strong. Perhaps this is for the best. The drought weeded out the weak ones that may have been problem trees 20 years from now. I have a nice looking Scarlet oak and the little Sweet Gum is turning red. I'm so glad to see those two alive--I really want them on the property years from now. Their vibrant fall colors will be breathtaking! I planted a large variety of trees for color, food for wildlife (oaks, cherries, service berries, hazelnuts) and windbreak properties. It's a good feeling to seem them growing and sinking their roots into the ground.
The chickens set a new egg laying record today: 11 eggs!