Friday, 24 September 2010

Autumnal Chores

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
As the nights get longer and cooler, my indolent summer grasshopper ways give way to a spate of ant-like autumnal activity. Of course, like any good ant, there's the annual season's end garden harvesting and putting by. Thankfully, a kitchen full of steam from vast pots of boiling water is now much easier to withstand in the cooler daytime temperatures. But the kitchen isn't the only place seeing activity.

By the end of August, the cellar stores are at their lowest point - only a few apples and the last bit of sauerkraut remain. Those move up to the refrigerator. The storage racks easily come apart and are taken outside. Next, the floor gets a good sweeping, then the walls washed down with a long-handled brush and a bucket of water with a bit of bleach added. Storage bins and the racks get scrubbed down too, and left to dry out in the sunlight. This annual cleaning keeps pests or bacteria from ruining the food we'll be eating throughout the winter.

Once the cellar is clean and put back together, it's time to start getting the inside temperature down. I open up the cellar door nightly, on my way back from closing up the chicken coop. A screened frame made to fit over the stairwell keeps critters and falling leaves out, while still allowing the colder night air to sink down inside and the warmer air rises through the vent in the back corner. Each morning, on his way back from opening up the coop for the day, Aries closes everything back up, trapping the cooler air down there in the dark. By the time the apples and root crops are ready, the cellar should be ready too.

The house has stayed warm enough that we haven't had to light a fire yet, but we know that time isn't too far off. The wood stove pulled out, the chimney gets cleaned and inspected. Soon, the wood and kindling boxes will need to be filled.

My nesting instinct really kicks in now too. I want a warm and cozy nest to curl up in when the snow starts falling. The lighter summer bedding and table linens are washed, line-dried, and stored, as heavier autumnal textiles take their place. The equinoxes are my reminders to turn our mattress - "equalizing the wear" so to speak. While I enjoy the newness of each of my seasonal changes in decor in their turn, the fall colors are my favorite. I love the golds of autumn, both inside and out.