One of the things I love most about farming is the changing of seasons. Each season has its own delights and challenges. Now that we’ve had two hard freezes, it feels like we have finally moved solidly into autumn and are beginning to stare down the start of winter.
This autumn has been particularly beautiful in terms of foliage. It must have been the right combination of weather factors to create an amazing leaf display that has lasted now well into November. The trees letting go of their leaves also marks the time we let go of the garden. Last weekend’s below freezing nights means much of the garden has died off for the year. It always feels bittersweet. No more tomatoes and peppers. Even many of the hardy greens have succumbed to the freezing temps. But the bugs have also all but disappeared and we can pack up the mower and weed whacker till spring.
The change of pace is a welcome gift of autumn. Spring and summer are frenetic and my to do list is a seemingly endless litany of seed, plant, weed, water, harvest, repeat. Now my attention can move to all the projects I put off through the summer. Fixing broken tools, putting up new fences for the hogs, installing a high tunnel, painting the shop, upgrading our wash station, expanding the greenhouse. With less demanding my attention outside, I find myself “farming” on the computer – reviewing records from this year and starting to plan for next year. I expect the seed catalogs will begin to arrive any day!
And, of course, the seasonal shifts in food are what I love the most. As much as I gorge on tomato sandwiches during the summer, I’m actually tired of them now and ready for the switch. Roasts and soups have been gracing the table lately. And more time inside means more time to focus on bread baking. We’ve been enjoying sweet potatoes with many of our meals and sweet potato pie is making an appearance, even for breakfast! Fresh greens are a nice balance to the heavier dishes of fall with kale and mizuna both in regular rotation. And mushrooms! Mushrooms with as many meals as possible.
I can’t find who to attribute this to, but I’ve been thinking about this quote all season, “Autumn shows us how beautiful it can be to let things go.” Something about this season in particular reminds me how important it is to live and work with the change of seasons. I am sometimes tempted to push the limits of the season and try to extend our growing either earlier or later. And in some ways we do this regularly, by starting seeds inside in the winter and using row covers to protect against the late and early frosts. But the truth is the garden and my body both need the rest. So, as the trees let go of their leaves, I am letting go of the garden with all the challenges and triumphs it brought this year. Now to rest and dream for next year.