Late autumn brings an almost end to the growing season at Barefoot Permaculture’s gardens, in the southern Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. Already, several hard freezes have put an abrupt end to hoped-for lingering crops, such as basil, tomato, and sweet peppers.
Winter squash are piled up under a side kitchen table: hard-shell promises of soups, pies, flans and such.
Our usual larder of pears, apples, and Asian Pears, nonexistent this year due to squirrels, stinkbugs, and in some cases, a light fruit-set, propel us to drive to Edneyville for a few bushels of our most favorite apple: Goldrush. Unfortunately, these are commercially grown (though minimally sprayed) yet, they are Goldrush, from one of a very few growers to have them.
This moist, grey morning, reveals seven healthy looking squirrels within a 10 ft radius, feeding under the black sunflower seed bird feeder. No wonder so many of us lost massive amounts of fruit this year to marauding squirrels: the past few mild winters have allowed for successful nesting, resulting in what seems to be an over-abundance of young, healthy squirrels.
Honeybees are all snugged in for a long, winters’ sleep: or so we bee friends hope! A cold winter means little bee activity, and little honey stores consumed. Whenever we experience many warmish winter days— such as above 50 F— bees fly in search of what may be useful to the hive, and so doing, consume more food. Every overwintering beekeeper has concerns regarding each hive having enough honey to see them through the cold season.
We did not remove any honey this year… yet. We may do so… or not. And if we do, we will need a few warm days so as to not disturb the cluster.
My busiest time of the year is late summer and early autumn: harvest time, closing down the garden, putting up firewood, and broom-making time (for my involvement in the Southern Highland Craft Guild show in October).
What a time to receive an offer I could not refuse: to travel to The Kingdom of Jordan and do a permaculture design for The Royal Botanical Gardens.
I had no choice: drop all my planned-for necessities, and go! (My next posting will cover this topic).
Returned home with barely enough time in which to make a necessary number of brooms. Took part in the 4 day show, and then packed up and departed for Cape San Blas, on the Florida panhandle (above Appalachicola) for a 2 week vacation.
Chiwa and I arose each morning, prior to sunrise, made a cup of excellent coffee, and walked out to a low dock, just above a spartina marsh, and welcomed the dawning, accompanied by Bald Eagles (mature and immature), Harriers (Marsh Hawks), Virginia Rails, Reddish Egrets, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue and Little Blue Herons, Willets, Black-Bellied Plovers, Western Sandpipers, Pelicans, Cormorants, Loons, as well as several varieties of gulls and terns.
We also had mystical encounters with a Great Horned Owl, Florida Red Fox, Loggerhead Sea Turtle, as well as several varieties of gulf sharks (e.g.. Bull and Spinner)
We kayaked in the Gulf, Bay, and in a beautiful Cypress/Tupelo swamp, depending upon the wind’s whims.
Sunsets we experienced on a beautiful, very private, west facing strip of white sand beach: celebrating with gin & tonics…
Several Asheville friends also were present, all of us staying at The Old Saltworks cabins, in a mature forest located on the southwestern portion of the bay. We got together for shared and pot-luck dinners, as well as very local, fresh shrimp, oysters and fish.
Yum! And just how a vacation should be…