It will come as no surprise to anyone that it’s harvest time on the farm. It’s a deeply busy time of year. Exhausting work, really.
Our first wave of tomatoes finally hit hard, so we washed and cut for hours and then simmered for hours more to cook out the water.
Then came the milling, and cooking out the water even more. Our milling is done with a small hand mill. It removes all the skin and seeds well but it does take a bit of effort.
Then the skins, seeds, and any last bits of tomato go into the dehydrator. This will make tomato powder that we can use in place of tomato paste or we can use as a seasoning. It really brings most BBQ potato chip seasoning recipes to a whole new level.
Lastly, we have a bit of an assembly line. With the tomato sauce boiling, the lids and rings boiled, we fill our jars; first with hot steamy water from the tap so they are not shocked by the temperature change. Then we dump that out and fill them to the brim with boiling water to sterilize. One at a time we dump the boiling water out, drop in 1/4tsp citric acid, pop in the canning funnel, fill the jar, wipe the rim, then hand tighten the lids before popping them into the canner. This part goes quickly, with each person in the household helping with a different part of the process, so I don’t have any pictures of it. We used a water bath canning method but you could also pressure can.
And then the canning is done! We made 17 pint jars of sauce but only canned 15. We will use the other two over the next 2 weeks and they will be stored in the fridge. They have nothing in them but tomatoes and citric acid (to preserve freshness). Two ingredients. Perfect.
We put the last plants in the ground – a small crop of peas we’re not expecting much out of. these were the peas from the pods that we saved that looked ugly – like they had gotten mold on them or developed wrong. The culls. If we get a crop of peas from them, great. If not, they will rot in the ground and feed the worms. And that’s not so bad in the end. G pointed out that our season started and ended with peas. It was a happy moment for me. It feels appropriate, like the start and end of the season being marked by a cyclical event.
We also have a lot of babies on the homestead right now. We have several kits from our castor doe, Donut, growing up big and strong. (Unfortunately the runt did not survive the litter leaving the nest box, but the rest are well.) These two are harlequins. One – the girl – we believe is torted, which is not ideal but we can make due.
We have a fresh batch of six baby chicks hatched under one of our broody girls. And another incubation under a broody well under way.
And a lovely litter of nine from our New Zealand White crossed with a rex.
Look at the lovely, pearlescent and dilute colors on these two. They absolutely shine. Unfortunately, I believe the lighter one might be a self tort, beautiful but not very useful for my needs. I’m holding out hope it’s secretly somehow a lilac.
So as you can see, it’s the busy season. Harvests are in full swing, preservation is taking place, and the animals are having their last babies in warm weather. Before we know it, the chickens will stop laying for their molt, and may not start again until spring, and the rabbits will build their nests deeper and thicker, and the dogs will spend their days running in the snow. But until then, every day will be work. Our next task will be hot sauce, then more tomatoes, then more chicks and rabbits until the season finally ends. It’s exhausting, but busy in a good way.
I hope you’re staying busy in a good way too.
I feel your pain. Same here. Those red jars of tomatoes look great and will be so enjoyed in winter!