"Commentary from the Countryside"
Thoughts on current events,
history, homesteading, preparedness, real food, and anything else I find interesting, from a cranky, middle-aged woman's common-sense perspective.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gift Day

I suppose some will call this "Black Friday", a day to rush about and spend money.  I'd much rather stay home and avoid all the crowds.  Besides, standing in line to buy a video game just doesn't make sense to me.  No, I call this a "Gift Day" because of the weather. 

The term, and ability to recognize such a thing, started when I was a kid cultivating beans in the summer.  This was back before huge tractors with comfy, air-conditioned cabs and 20-row cultivators.  Heat and humidity were never good for me, and there I was, on a noisy ol' tractor with a 6-row cultivator, going back and forth under a burning hot sun....(yeah, I had to walk to school through the snow uphill both ways too)...anyways, it was miserable.  But every now and again, the wind would back 'round to the northwest and sweep across the Great Lakes, scouring out the humidity and bringing fresh, cool Canadian air.  Such a day was a "gift day" - bright blue skies, comfortable temperatures, the sun laying gold and brilliant over the fields, a soft breeze rich with the smell of hay fields and fresh earth.  I always felt such a day was a gift from God, bringing relief, rest, and just a small idea of the glory yet to come.

Today was such a day.  Late November in Michigan, and we had sunshine and warm breezes, not the damp, gray dreariness we would expect.  The air was thin and golden, smelling of sugar beets, leaves and woodsmoke, and the sun was gentle, reaching tentative rays through the bare tree branches, highlighting the last few yellow mums.  Outside chores were a joy, and a few hours in the deer blind gave the perfect vantage point on a sunset of glory flinging banners of pink, purple, and deep fiery red across the western sky.

Loading a dehydrator tray.
Dried apples going into storage jars.
No venison yet, but the apples and carrots are done, which marks the end of the garden harvest for the year.  A 2.5 gallon bucket full of apples slices put through the dehydrator yielded 5 quarts of dried apples now safely stored away in glass jars.  I'll turn to these apples throughout the year for pies, applesauce, apple bread, apple-oatmeal cookies, and so on.  It's amazing how easy it is to dry, store, and use apples, and how versatile they are for many recipes.  End tally for the year's apple harvest is 50 quarts of canned applesauce and 8 quarts of dried apples, not to mention what we've used for fresh eating.  And all from my one old tree! I'd have to say home-grown apples are a must for any homestead pantry.


  1. So, are you going to share any of your recipes for apple chips?!? I have a few gallons of them that I dried this fall. We eat them as snacks. Yummmm...

  2. A few gallons? How many bushels did you start with? I'm working on a new recipe for adding finely chopped dried apples to cookies, I'll let you know how it works out.