Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

Fall is a busy time around here.  The farmers are in the fields hurrying to get the corn and soybeans harvested before winter comes.  The combines and tractors run 24/7 in years that there is a lot of rain or bad weather.  Everybody is trying to get their homes and yards ready for the onslaught of colder weather.  Leaves and temperatures are dropping, adding urgency to everyone’s preparations.  The weather people on TV and radio begin whispering that dreaded word: snow.

Here it’s been both the same and different.  I’ve spent some time doing this:

The view from the driver's seat.

That’s a picture taken while I was combining.  It’s one of those jobs that is very boring but very important.

I’ve also been making a lot of these:

autumn 7

Those are pears in medium syrup.  Yes, the pears that Elise and I picked when I went to Kalona are finally ripe.  I have two crates finished and two crates still to go.  I’ve put up about eighteen pints and half a dozen quarts so far as well as a bunch of different jams and such.  I’ve also put away a few gallons worth of pear juice for making pear jelly later on in the year.  Last year, the pears from this tree were very small and difficult to work with because of the drought.  This year, they are huge by comparison and very, very juicy.  One of the interesting things that I have learned from working with so many pears this year is that pear juice is very fragrant when being cooked.  It really smells lovely, though not especially pear-like.

Autumn 4

The above photo is of apple and pear juices.  As you can see, they look very similar.  Different batches of both juices will be different colors of pinky-gold.  Thus, it’s really super important to label them.  Here’s how I label my canned goods:

autumn 6

I’m fairly simple in how I label my canned goods.  What’s in there and the month-year.  I don’t write down the day it was canned as it just takes up space and time and isn’t usually all that necessary.  Some people do in case there is a “bad batch” of something, but for me, often having the day on it would only narrow it down to two or three batches (and that’s if I’m not in the full-swing of canning that day!).  Sometimes I don’t put what’s in it if it’s something like plain green beans or my standard sliced pickles.  Everything else though, gets labeled to avoid confusion.

Before I started in on the pears, I was working my way through the rest of the apples.  One of the jams I tried for the first time was a lovely cardamom and apple jam.  The flavors blend remarkably well and the cardamom adds an exotic kick to the more plebeian apples.  I’ve also seen one for pears with cardamom which I will try, but I’m a little worried that the more delicate flavor of the pears will get overwhelmed.  So we’ll see about it.  In the photo, you can see the cardamom pods still in the jam.  I also do this with vanilla pods when cooking with them.

autumn 8

I’ve not been doing a whole lot of knitting or crocheting.  I’ve been working on some Christmas socks when I have free time and a crocheted blanket when I’m sitting watching tv shows.  My sweater in progress has been sidelined for the moment as the holidays are approaching and that knitting needs to take center stage.

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