November 15, 2012

Confronting Turkey Slaughter

It was our intent to raise our own Thanksgiving dinner this year, but as we close in closer to the date, the reality of slaughtering our own gobblers is keeping us up at night. We agreed that it was essential to confront where our food comes from if we were ever going to be truly serious about living even a tiny bit more sustainable. The truth is more than 95% of our food still comes from the store, the factory farm, the local market. I find it funny that a co-worker commented that it was disgusting that we were killing our own turkeys ( as he chowed down ironically on his 6" roast turkey sandwich from Subway).

The deed will happen this Saturday, rain or shine. I will spare you all the gore but I will cover it on this blog somehow, so, just preparing you all. Our heirloon, free range turkeys will provide a dinner for our closest family and friends. Living and growing in Massachusetts, makes this all very close to home - 30 miles from where the first Thanksgiving took place, our heritage breed turkeys, which are half wild turkey, will meet a fate not unlike their ancestors, on a cold, November day as the wild cranberries ripen in the marsh out back.

November 13, 2012

Crabby Matty's Real Estate Deal

As the crab apples come into their own season, I too become crabby, since I now have to deal with selling a second house on our property. I dream of a day when I will not have to pay two mortgages and two sets of utility bills. Until then, fewer posts perhaps as I scramble to focus on painting, cleaning and making the place look snappy.

It's true - you can now buy a house on our property right here in lovely Worcester, Ma. Really. I am selling our second house, which looks like our garage ( you never see in pics here because we never were able to landscape it, but it overlooks our woodland and garden, and shares our 200 foot driveway, plus it has a private entrance of it's own.

I am in the middle of selling a house and part of my garden, which pains me, but it is something which needs to be done. This is why I've been posting less, as I paint, clean, repair and landscape a former 3 car garage which was built for my sister 12 years ago on the corner lot which was once my property. At 62, she has some problems, and in an effort to help her, I purchased her home, which also meant that I would dave 1/4 of my garden, and help her at the same time. So - I'm a bit crabby until I can sell this burden - imagining that day hopefully soon when I won't have to pay two mortgages and two sets of utilities, as I have been doing as a good brother for ten years. Help me Obi wan.

You sometimes see this house in many of the photos here on this blog. If you know of anyone looking for a quirky, modern home with a 2 car garage on the first floor ( it was designed to look like a 3 car garage to match our house) but with a huge open living space upstairs - like living in a treehouse in a park- then let me know. one hour from Boston, right on the Mass Pike, crazy low price since hey - I'll say it - this is Worcester, after all, which never helps prices,  ( even though Auburn MA is 1000 feet away!). A hip modern house in the woods can be yours for $169,900. Spread the word.

The property, which once was the left-hand corner of of our property, of course was once my parents home and before that, my granparents' home. But with the housing market still falling, and my renter who rented the upstairs of the house, a fabulous open space built under my direction with a contemporary open living space complete with stainless steel kitchen, a large master suite with a fireplace and cathedral beamed ceilings. This quirky space which basically has 1700 sq. feet of large open kitchen opening into a large great room, and then one large single bed room is now for sale. I only share this in case any readers are  looking for such a space in a commutable distance from Boston ( 40 min - 1 hr) Providence, RI (1 hr) or the Route 128 area. Centrally located, the prices are crazy low here in Worcester. Quiet road, heated 2 car garage below the house, and a mother-in-law's suite. The quirks? No landscaping, no front door, tine yard ( but great for a city garden).

This brilliant golden crab which we saw on the campus of Smith College this weekend, reminds me to order a few to make a hedge that will brighten autumnal days.
A bit more about the house.....

The great things about the house in case you want to spread the word? A Laundry room on the second floor, the entire space is new-ish ( built in 1996), a long balcony deck which overlooks our entire garden and woodland, a massive brick fireplace in the bed room which also overlooks the garden, and it's in a quite, dead end unpaved road which runs aside our property, so need I say, it is quiet. The sort of bedroom where all you hear at night is crickets, and birds in the summer when the doors to the deck are open, and in the winter, the crackle of the fire and the snow falling over the woodland, as the house living area in on the second floor, and the garage below.

Viburnum opulus with bright, red berries keeps local song  birds happy for the entire month of November.

And now for Puppy Cam...

Our tiniest runtlet is surviving, but her eyes are not yet open. Still, 1/3 the size of her brother and sister. Amazing.

Momma Lydia keeps an eye on all puppy tasks.

November 11, 2012

Winter Vegetables

Espalier apple trees and winter vegetables survive an early snowstorm which dumped 9 inches of
snow on our garden this week.

This week we experienced an early snow, thanks to another coastal storm. It's not unusual for us in central Massachusetts to get heavy un-seasonable snow, as we are located in a snow belt. Worcester, MA is positioned directly in the center of Massachusetts and as the state extends into the north Atlantic, the rain/snow line for many autumn, winter and spring coastal storms exists directly over Worcester, MA, due to our elevation and distance from the ocean. It's OK. I love snow, although, not this early.

Our raised vegetable beds are still packed with winter veggies. Most are covered with either remay cloth, or cloches, such as these I want to show you today. Heirloom lettuce, growing under plastic cloches can extend the salad season well into November, and even into the first few weeks of December if the weather cooperates. As long as the night time temperatures stay above 24 Degrees F. one can harvest lettuce. I am growing iceberg leaf lettuce, and red Romaine under these cloches. Yeah, I like Iceberg, and I am not afraid to admit it.

Red Romaine Lettuce survives an early autumn snow under the protection of cloches.

The soil is not frozen yet, so radiant heat from the earth continues to keep many young vegetable crops alive in the garden, thus extending the salad season a few extra months.

Rosemary topiaries can handle cold weather and frosts,  but I will bring these into the greenhouse once night time
temps tumble below 24 degrees, or when the pots begin to freeze solid. I find that my rosemary plants bloom better
when subjected to some colder winter temperatures.