bowl of apples sitting on counter
Is organic food really worth the cost?

It’s Crazy Time Again: Harvest is Here

SSCN5526Even on a small hobby farm such as ours, harvest time means crazy time.  We spend lots and lots of time picking and preserving the fruits and veggies we’ve grown, cleaning up the garden to get it ready for next year, and preparing for the cold winters our northern state experiences.  It’ll be two years on October 1st since we moved from the suburbs to our hobby farm.  The first year was wrought with the busyness of unpacking, painting and the like.  The second year (our first harvest year) was absolute insanity.  We had no idea what we were in for: we simply planted our large garden and waited for the beautiful bounty, not having any idea how much work it was to freeze and can more than a few jars of pickles.  I seriously thought I might lose it that year.

Well, I can say in our second harvest season that at least we’re prepared.  The workload is bigger.  We are learning a bit more about how to preserve food, but are still largely newbies on that front.  But at least we have a clear understanding now that it’s a boatload of work.  We learned how to make and can spaghetti sauce this year, and did 7 jars of that; our half after splitting with a friend who also shared in the work.  This last week we did 5 pans of apple crisp, several jars of tomato sauce (basically the spaghetti sauce without the spices and with the addition of a T. of lemon juice per qt.) and several jars of salsa.  Last year’s salsa was good (I went off the recipe in the Ball Canning and Preserving Book) but this year we made our own recipe and it turned out FANTASTIC.  The addition of Chipotle Chili Pepper did the trick, as did more Cumin.  I’ll be sharing the recipe this week.  The new salsa has a nice bite, but not so much that it’s inedible for kids and others who can’t handle a lot of spice.  You’ll definitely need a glass of water or pop nearby, but the flavor is fantastic.

This year our 4 apple trees produced an abundance of fruit.  We did the 5 pans of apple crisp with BFF (she took two and I took two, and we cooked the other up immediately for our incredibly patient and helpful kids).  But after that, our trees were still plenty full of fresh and delicious apples.

We had frost on Friday night, so I wanted to make sure we got all of the apples down Friday evening, just in case.  My dear BFF let us haul her two oldest boys back here to help our kids, and the six of them cleared out all four trees in an hour – I kid you not.  They were amazing, and we sent home a large box of the very best apple with the boys for their efforts.

What’s left is, I’m guessing, a good 60 pounds of apples for us to preserve.  O M G.  This will be interesting.  Our plan is to make apple butter, some apple sauce, and to peel, core and slice the rest, freezing them in Food Saver Vac bags so they’re ready to use for apple pies and apple crisp during the year.

We also had another huge blessing: some dear friends who have more veggies than they could possibly use invited us over to take a good twenty pounds of potatoes, 10 pounds of carrots, and some other goodies as well.

The whole family worked yesterday morning to peel, chop, blanch and freeze the carrots (we did some sliced for soups, and some we left in big chunks for roasts and to serve with meals).  This doesn’t even include the carrots we have yet to harvest from our garden.  That should net us at least another 10 pounds.  We’ve got several bags of green beans in the freezer, and I’m hoping to make another batch of salsa with what tomatoes we’ve got left.

We feel so very blessed to have all of this food in the pantry at a fraction of what it would have cost to buy it outright, but man, the workload is intense this time of the year.  Along with homeschooling, harvest time leaves me very little time to do much of anything else.  So if I’m not around comment as much as normal, please forgive me and know that I will get back on track after all of this food is put away.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that although homesteading is a lot of work, we feel it’s worth the effort.  Not only are we learning to grow and preserve our own food, which lessens our dependence on the grocery stores, we are saving money and we are becoming more self-sufficient.

If you’re looking for more information on homesteading, you can click on our “learn more” tab at the top of the page, and from there click on the “Homesteading” section.

Have a happy autumn day!

59 comments

  1. Alicia says:

    Wow! My Mom used to be really big on preserving, but we’ve definitely cut back on that. She and her friend would make about 20 strawberry rhubarb pies early in the summer and split them. Then when the fall came along they’d do the same thing with the apples. So over the winter, dessert was never in question. We always had a pie to take somewhere, etc. I remember being in charge of peeling the apples and cutting the rhubarb, etc. We were cheap labour 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yeah, you kids are cheap labor. 🙂 You know, it really does help a lot doing the food preservation with a friend. Time goes by a lot faster when you have someone to blab with. 🙂

  2. This is great, Laurie. Since we live in an apartment, the only thing we get to grow are herbs. Kate has made some preserves and jams and just last week she made a pretty good chipotle corn salsa, which we have four more jars for later consumption.

    If we had a yard, we would probably be growing some fruits and vegetables as well. The good thing is I know where to come when I have questions and need help.

    • Laurie says:

      I think it’s impressive that you guys are canning some stuff even though you’re in an apartment!! Hope you get your yard soon, and yes, call on me any time for help. 🙂

  3. That’s awesome Laurie! Our garden really started to produce while we were gone and the kid who house sat for us pulled a bunch of it and thankfully was still good to go. It looks like we’ll be busy over the next week or two as well, though at a much smaller capacity. Now, if I could only get rid of those nasty rabbits!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, your rabbit issues sound like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, John!! Maybe it’s time to get the BB gun out. (I kid, I kid!!!) 🙂

  4. Kirsten says:

    That sounds like a ton of work, but it sounds like honest, fulfilling work, too. I’d love to give homesteading a try, but I don’t think we can ever make it work with my hubby’s career. Maybe one day, we will have different circumstances. Until then, I live vicariously through you!

  5. Wow!! I am so impressed Laurie!!! I know that it is hard work, but I am sure it is also extremely satisfying to see how far you have come and what you can do when you put your mind and energy to it. Every time I read posts like this from you, it makes me want to ditch our “city home” and move out to a farm and make things happen! Congrats! 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, I’m not sure if impressed is what you should be – sometimes I think “certifiable” is a more appropriate term. 🙂 I do think you should head to the hills, though. It’s awesome out here in the boonies. 🙂

  6. Michelle says:

    Love this! Send some apples my way 🙂 60 pounds is a ton!

    With our next home, we are definitely thinking about homesteading (would do it now but we are hardly ever home) and actually have been talking about it a lot. We are very excited, but it does seem like a lot of work!

  7. Amy says:

    I love these posts, Laurie. It’s so interesting to hear about homesteading, and I’m truly in awe of what you do. Good luck with all those apples! 🙂

  8. Wowzers! That’s a lot to preserve. I’m impressed that you guys do that much. I want to get into growing and preserving my own food, but I don’t expect to do nearly that much as I’d just have to provide for me, not a whole family.

  9. I can’t imagine how much upfront work it is now but you’ll be enjoying your hard work later this winter. I imagine anything homemade probably tastes 10 times better than it’s store-bought counter-part. 60 pounds of apples would intimidate me. We like apples, but that’s a lot of apples to handle! It’s great that your kids are right there helping you out and learning at the same time.

  10. Kathy says:

    When we were in the country I canned and froze all kinds of things.
    Freezing, IMO, works better for peaches, apples, applesauce, peas, berries (straw, blue, black and rasp)and corn. I tried a freezer slaw recipe to use our cabbages, but we didn’t like that so well.
    Canning was the preferred for tomato juice, green beans, carrots, potatoes.
    After preserving all the apples we could possible want, I took bushels and bushels to work to give away. And our neighbor came and helped us pick the fallen ones off the ground and he took them to his cows. Your horses would love them as well, Laurie. I wonder if you have a root cellar, or at least a colder place in a basement to store some of the things you might want to try keeping fresh. Something to think about building, especially if you thought about it as a storm cellar as well.

    • Laurie says:

      We totally want a root cellar some day, and yes, the horses get lots of apples and love it. 🙂 We have a basement for a storm cellar, but not sure if it’s cool enough to act as a root cellar. One day, I hope. 🙂

  11. I read Anne of Green Gables many times as a young girl, and I read it out loud to each of my daughters. I have a very idealized image of life on the farm, but you’re shedding some light on how much hard work is involved. I bet you have people in your life who say things like, “Oh, how laid back your day-to-day must be! How lovely and relaxing to live in the country.” I don’t envy the hard work, but I do envy the team work that you and your family seem to have going. That’s a precious thing. I also envy all of the apple crisp you have now!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, the team work is indeed great, and the apple crisp is the best!! We took the kids to see a production of Anne of Green Gables here and it was so much fun!!! And a great story to boot. 🙂

  12. Oh how fun! We have done some freezing this year but I am hoping to learn how to can next year. It is such a joy to eat food that we’ve grown … and you can’t beat the money savings!

  13. Those apples indeed look like real apples, Laurie! I love seeing real food and am scared when I think about how the supermarket fruits and veggies look like. Even though it’s a lot of work, being able to eat stuff that you have personally grown, harvested and canned is certainly an amazing feeling!

    • Laurie says:

      It really is, C. It’s nice knowing that we are eating fruits and veggies that haven’t been genetically modified or covered in pesticides, and the home grown stuff tastes SO much better. 🙂

  14. I talked to my parents on Sunday and they have tons of apples to deal with too! My mom is making apple butter (which is a personal favorite of mine) and applesauce because the grandkids love it. Then she just chops and freezes a ton of apples for crisps, pies and other desserts. She hasn’t harvested the potatoes, onions and carrots from the garden. She freezes the onions but I think she keeps the carrots fresh. She must not plant an overabundance of them. Otherwise they would spoil and my parents aren’t the type of people to waste food! I definitely miss the fresh garden bounty but I ain’t gonna lie – I don’t like working in the garden. I don’t mind helping to preserve or bake/cook but digging around the garden isn’t fun for me. So glad you have all that good food to enjoy this winter!

    • Laurie says:

      Your parents’ place sounds wonderful!!! I agree, the gardening is tough work. We have been doing all of our weeding by hand for the last two summers, but everyone is in agreement that a tiller is a must next gardening season. 🙂

  15. Kim says:

    That is so impressive and I can’t imagine how proud you’ll be when you cook up a batch of something later this winter that you grew in the garden. Way to go.

  16. I think it’s wonderful how you can preserve your food and become more self-sufficient like this Laurie. This is really inspiring to read and it definitely makes me want to attempt a few veggies again, even though we just have a yard. We can still do containers for tomatoes and strawberries I guess!

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