Finally, an October that is ripe with potential for making memories of crisp morning walks, blue-skied days of harvesting pumpkins and of nights sitting around the fire pit toasting marshmallows.
Although the bright October weather that allows for those kinds of activities are more common around here than the dark, stormy days that dominated the month in 2018 and 2019, those years are the two freshest in my memory.
I’m grateful that this October, at least the first half of it, will replace the recollections of shoveling heavy, wet snow, sawing up trees felled by the white stuff and the soggy aftermath that left our yard filled with muddy ruts.
Instead, I’ll recall the sounds of leaves crunching beneath my feet, the sight of clusters of hardy yellow primrose still abloom and the earthy smell of soil that finally was dry enough to overturn.
Besides enjoying the recreation the fine fall weather has afforded – family walks down the road with our dogs, decorating the yard for fall and playing in the leaves with our puppy, Nova – it has been conducive to getting the farm ready for winter.
We checked the first item off our to-do list when we picked the remaining produce in the garden earlier this month. Brian, Ellen and I gathered squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, potatoes and carrots on a sunny Sunday afternoon. We are sharing the pumpkins with friends and family, cooked and froze several of the squash and baked a roaster filled with tomatoes. We will eat the squash this winter and use the tomatoes in stews and soups. The potatoes will be baked, boiled and mashed for dinner, including our big Thanksgiving celebration.
On successive weekends, we cleaned the horses’ pen in the barn and helped a couple of buyers load up the hay that I had left, and didn't use, and moved the half dozen bales of straw we had left to the chicken house, where it will be used as bedding for our flock of three chickens.
With the horses and their feed and bedding gone, we now have to ready the building for storage of vehicles. The barn, which really is a round-shouldered wooden Quonset, now is back being used for what my grandpa intended when it was built in the 1950s – equipment storage.
We still have a few more things to get done before winter is upon us: cleaning out the eaves troughs, putting away lawn furniture and mowing the lawns one last time (We mow instead of rake because it leaves good mulch for the lawns.)
The forecast for this, the third weekend in October, sounds like the weather will be far from ideal for our last big push, but I am holding out hope that the unseasonable weather will be a little blip on the radar. I’m counting on a return to relatively warm, dry weather before cold, snowy weather sets in.
I’m looking forward to a few more weeks of crunching through the leaves on the ground during walks with Nova and an hour spent flinging out the ones that landed in the eaves troughs. Although, I enjoy the former much more than the latter, I can tolerate even the most onerous chores if I can tackle them during pleasant fall weather.
Ann Bailey is a Grand Forks Herald reporter who writes a personal column twice each month.