Yesterday was the last regular market for the season at Mt. Vernon Farmers Market. Thank you for making this summer’s market such a great one. It was a wonderful summer. If you need any tofu, soy milk, okara, or fresh bread this fall and winter, feel free to contact me. The Anacortes Food Coop is carrying my tofu and soy milk, and I deliver to them every week too. 配達もしますのでご気楽に連絡してください。豆腐や豆乳を前日注文すれば当日配達出来ます。一丁でもよろしいです。

Without markets to prepare for, it’s time to relax and enjoy the growing chicks. Grow produce and raise animals, and you appreciate that food is all about life.

The Bags Have It

Back in June, I mentioned using fruit ripening bags from Japan for our nashi 梨, Asian pears. You use them by covering the developing fruit with them when they are still small. The bags protect the fruit as they develop, and help them ripen. The results are in, and they work.

This pear which I picked this evening weighed 450 grams, almost a pound, 15.9 ounces. And it was juicy and sweet. I bagged half the fruit on the tree, and left the other half unbagged to see if there was a difference. The bagged fruit are larger and sweeter. We will be picking them tomorrow for Saturday’s Mt. Vernon Farmers Market, the last market for the season. It’s nice when simple things work.

Golden Fall Day

How many people get to pedal past scenery like this on their way to the post office? Chuckanut Mountain is so serene on a day like this.

Maples along the way are on fire. Trees have it all figured out. They know it’s pointless to go to all the effort of making leaves that last forever. Nothing lasts forever. Spring for a new set every year at least, and when this year’s set is wore out, let the wind drop them to the ground.

Back home, Claire and her ducklings are helping me plant garlic. Actually, I’m doing all the work. They’re just waiting for me to uncover some insect morsel for them to savor. Though it is a mystery what it is they are often eating. They see things my eyes, don’t, and when they spot it, it’s in their bill or down their beak before I’ve had a chance to see it.

I did see a duckling sample a garlic glove. After squeezing it between it’s bill a few times, it decided there are better things to eat, which means I probably don’t have to worry about the ducklings eating the garlic. I’ll sleep well tonight knowing that.

It’s a Good Day in October

It’s a good day in October that starts with fluffy clouds drifting across a blue sky, and ducklings who come scurrying out of the hoop house to greet you when you open their door.

The compost pile is breakfast for Claire and her ducklings. They bury their heads in the pile to gorge themselves on what they find.

It’s a good day in October with the beginnings of yellow maple leaves high in the trees.

For Claire and her ducklings, it’s a good day in October when I give them a generous helping of okara to gorge. It’s manners out the window for the ducklings. They use their bills to gobble so well, to dig in the earth, to slurp when they drink. It makes me want a duck bill. Humans would be so much more interesting if we all had duck bills. We could make so much more noise when we eat.

It’s good day in October that ends with a cool swim. The ducklings are making the most of their new pool. It’s long enough to paddle across, deep enough to go diving, and for ducklings, hours of fun.

Tread Lightly

Not having a Thursday farmers market to prepare for gives me time to start work on neglected forest trails. There is always something fascinating to see in the woods, like these mushrooms, squeezed between two logs. The chickens have taken chunks out of them, and lived. Is that a sign I can eat them too?

Out in the woods, Russel and hens are inspecting my work. Normally we hear his high pitched warning cries frequently, but this morning, he was so quiet, I wondered if something had gotten him. But there he was, deep in the woods, guarding the Silver Laced Wyandottes and young Buff Orpington who have taken a liking to him. In the deep brush, the chickens can eat all day, hidden from hawks and eagles flying over head. It’s easy to see that their ancestors were jungle fowl.

Back in the garden I do see that ducklings eat more than slugs and bugs. They aren’t against taking bit bites out of kohlrabi leaves, snacking on arugula, or foraging through sorrel beds. Everything comes with a price. If losing some greens to slug-gorging ducks is what it costs to have these predators of gastropods, so be it. It’s better than chickens who shred garden beds to smithereens with their feet and leave the slugs alone. In comparison, webbed feet tread lightly over garden greens.

Summer To Smoke

On a calm, sunny October day, we light a pile of brush accumulated over the summer. Sweet smoke billows up like incense. If I close my eyes, it seems like I am at a temple in Kyoto, savoring the soothing fragrance of a thousand sticks of incense. If I listen, the crackling of the brush sounds like monks gossiping.

It’s time to plant fall vegetables. These are cabbage seeds. Seeds are wondrous packages of information and energy. All the wonderful things humans have created don’t compare to what nature has devised in the way of seeds. We owe our existence to these tiny bits. Maybe by the time the iPhone M arrives, centuries from now, it will self replicate. After a year of use, it will produce a seed which you plant, and six months later, you’ll have a handful of shiny new iPhones you don’t need to purchase, and the old iPhone you’ll compost with the fall leaves.

High above, ducks and geese are making their way south. The joy of working outdoors this time of year is hearing migrating fowl coming from afar. Sometimes they pass just out of sight. Other times they fly directly overhead. It won’t be long, maybe three weeks, four or so, before the first of the swans arrive to spend the winter among us.

End Times, Beginning Times

It is the end times for the tomatoes. A week or two and they will be all gone. The next Sungolds I pop in my mouth, I need to close my eyes so I can remember all winter long how sweet they taste. These are too good to take to market. Since I can’t buy anything like them, I want to savor each one. It’s a sad truth for those who like to buy produce at Farmers Markets, the best produce the farmers keep for themselves.

It’s the end times for Claire and her ducklings. At times she looks ready to be with the other chickens. Each night I keep debating whether to take her back. When I do it will be a new beginning for the ducklings, on their own, and caretakers of the garden, doing their part to banish slugs forever. They are making their first timid forays out of the hoop house and into the garden. I am impressed with their fondness for all things slugs. There are none too small, none too big for them. I heard that ducks like slugs, but it wasn’t until I saw them slurp them down, that I understand the truth of that statement.

One of the weeds I am tossing into the compost pile has the most beautiful, delicate flowers. I’m pretty sure it is a weed, because the black berries that their seeds are turning into do not look like anything I planted this year. Though if those black berries are fruits with tiny seeds inside, I could be mistaken.

Daikon are worth growing just for their leaves. Not only are they pretty, they do wonders in a stir fry or in soups. You can also pickle them. They have enough fiber to flush your bowels clean as a whistle. A heaping plate of daikon greens, and you’ll be able to poop like a cow.

The end times are approaching for the sunflowers. Each time I see them, it’s like Van Gogh has taken his brush to the garden and gone mad, painting a splash of orange from here to there.

The treasure of spending a morning in the garden, is a bounty of produce for a hearty, fall soup. Soup so fine, it could only be served in fine china. I swear, no one for a hundred miles around, had a fine a lunch as we did this lovely, first day of October.