Winter in September? Really!

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What did you wake up to on September 12th?  We woke up to four inches of heavy, wet snow with more falling.    It had been in the forecast for about a week already.  We kept telling ourselves that it couldn’t possibly snow this early, that it would happen closer to the Rocky Mountains.  It’s kind of like being in denial, right?  But low and behold it did come.  Thankfully though, we knew it was coming.   

In northern Alberta we are always prepared in our minds for cooler weather to start settling in the first part of September.  In the first week or earlier we usually see frost to some degree so we are already preparing the garden for it.   

The garlic was harvested the end of August and hung in the wood shed to cure. 

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  Next on the list is harvesting tomatoes.  We pick them green then lay them all out on sheets of cardboard spread out on the floor in a large walk-in cooler that is not being used at the moment.  As they ripen we will be making stewed tomatoes, sauces and ketchup.  We are also enjoying them fresh.   

This year we experimented with a fifty foot low tunnel for the tomatoes.  I am definitely a believer in them.  We had frost down to -1C and they survived just fine.  A few of the leaves that were touching the plastic did get touched with frost, but the tomatoes themselves were just fine.  This allowed a few more days to help them ripen more on the vine before we harvested them.  The low tunnel extended the season out for an extra week.  Next year we will be adding more low tunnels for things like peppers and beans along with the tomatoes. 

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A couple days before the snow was predicted we harvested all the apples.  When the snow did fall we stayed in the house by the nice cozy wood stove chopping apples for dehydrating, making juice and turning some into apple sauce. 

We were able to get most of the onions harvested before the rain started and all of them before the snow came.  They are sharing the cooler space too. 

The winter squash were also harvested and share the same space. 

All that is left in the garden are the potatoes and other root veggies.  We are hoping that once this snow melts the ground will dry and we will be able to get the rest out by the end of September. 

There is also much clean-up work to be done in the garden to prepare the beds for planting next spring.  We also have to sort through the curing garlic, picking out the biggest bulbs for replanting this fall for next year’s crop.  This year we harvested 2100 bulbs of garlic.  As we have been doing for the past few years this number will be increased again this fall.  Garlic and onion is a mainstay in our home.  There can never been enough.  I guess is comes from my Polish background.  We use onions in just about every meal.  There is always chopped, raw garlic to be found on a saucer beside our breakfast.  Garlic is also used regularly for the chickens and milk cows. 

The animals have taken the snow in stride.  We were sitting have supper when the wind picked up as the storm was descending on us.    The goats were all heading under the trucks for protection from the wind.  Goats actually tend to be big babies when it comes to inclement weather.  The portable pasture shelters that the chickens use in the summer serve double duty as shelters for the goats when the chickens are moved to their winter housing.  Unfortunately, it is not winter; therefore the poultry are still out on the pastures, so the goats had to find an alternative. 

Of the remaining poultry there are still turkeys and geese left to process for the freezer.  All the meat chickens are in the freezer for this year.  The turkeys and geese will be done just before our Canadian Thanksgiving.    

Our pasture raised meats are something anybody would feel good about serving their family’s.

Our pasture raised meats are something anybody would feel good about serving their family’s.

We don’t want you to miss out on our delicious pasture raised meat.  We still have a few meat chickens, turkeys and geese not spoken for.  If you would like to serve one of these delicious birds for Thanksgiving or even save it for Christmas click here to reserve yours.  This will be the last processing of the year for poultry. 

What do you do to prepare for winter where you are?  We would love to hear what your family does. We love sharing our farm with you. If you enjoy hearing from us, remember to sign up so you won’t miss the weekly updates.