It’s been busy around here lately – getting ready for homeschooling again after our summer break (more on that later!).

We caught two raccoons who were pilfering the barn.  They were extremely sleek and plush.  We’ve tried so many things already to deter them…locking, rodent-proof bins with cinder blocks on top, metal trashcans tied shut, and finally locked wooden bins with reinforcing.  They are like the super-raccoons from the Pom Poko film.  We released them at a nature preserve several miles away, but there are still a lot more attacking the barn.  A friend of ours loves eating raccoon and will take any we can catch, but they were so cute and looked so much like our cat Teasel, Mirin and Rose insisted we let them go.

We got a few pears for the first time ever from our stone pear trees.  A wild grape vine growing low in a cherry tree on the second grazing line was covered with delicious grapes this year.  They were sweet, but pleasantly tart and had so much more flavor than regular table grapes.  It’s amazing how wild plant foods have so many more phytochemicals than domestic fruits and vegetables.  That’s why I can’t help chuckling to myself when I come across Paleo blogs fantasizing about being cavemen and making grain-free donuts.  All the fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores are so modern and hybridized.  They are all bred up for things like shipping and storage qualities.  Even with gardening, I have to admit that things like carrots as we know them are a very modern food.

We made pickled eggs by putting cold hard-boiled (peeled) eggs in pickle juice with a slice of beetroot.  It’s a nice way to re-use pickle brine once the pickles are gone.

Clothilde was in rare form last week.  She got a tamarind seed stuck up her nose on the drive home from the farm.  It had been a rainy, unpleasant evening, everyone was tired and grouchy, and she had not been thrilled to be buckled into her carseat.  It took us a minute to realize she was crying and screaming because of the tamarind seed, and not because she was cranky and wanted to be home.  In distress, she was not very articulate about it.  Luckily it came out easily once we got her to hold one of her nostrils and blow.

As always this time of year, we start longing for winter.  Rose and Mirin decided we were going to make gingerbread cookies and have a tea party one day.  It wasn’t as nice to have the oven going in August as it is in December or January, but it was a fun diversion from the bugs/humidity/heat outside.  This is our version of deep winter – going outside under the wrong circumstances actually can kill you (I almost got heat stroke seeding the pastures in August one year – luckily we had the cold plunge filled up and I just jumped in). Generally we celebrate this season by inventing cold drinks and ice pops, eating watermelon and visiting the springs, but baking cookies was fun.

Despite the heat, the cherry leaves are changing color and starting to fall.  The seasons are shifting.

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