Home page and where to get Shonin Risa's books: https://sites.google.com/view/risabear

It may be that lifestyle overshoot will prevent my dream of an egalitarian agrarian society from arising from the empire's ashes. But
I hold that behaving as if a better life could happen is still the right thing to do. Therefore this blog focuses on a decent and humane
way to live. Survival links post here.

Friday, August 07, 2020

I've Become Apple Mary

As usual, the early August post is much the same as the mid-July post only everything is bigger. We'll spare you the giant zucchini photos and will just mention that, sliced small, they have sustained Beloved's chickens and ducks during the season of basically no grass.

Here's the obligatory rooftop view. Near the top, assorted apple varieties. Low production year. At right, the Gravenstein. It has made a lot of fruit this year, but ... well, more about that below. Lower right, grapes -- low production year. At bottom, sunflowers, vigorous growth, no heads yet. Left, tomatoes and onions, lots of foliage mostly. Center, kale, collards, beets, beans, lettuce (in August!), carrots, all doing well. Towards the back, sunchokes are looking productive, potatoes are all right but will only make about five tubers per plant, more green tomatoes, winter squash and pumpkins. The bulk of the winter squash will be spaghetti squash, not our favorite but they are the ones that sprouted best, so we planted out the entire flat.

Here is a closer look at the tomato/onion bed. The pots on the tomato supports are for keeping the supports from punching holes in Remay cloths which we have to spread over this bed when the temperatures exceed 90F. It's the most heat sensitive bed.
Lettuce is thriving in the shade of the beans.
A closer view of the sunchokes. I haven't looked in the ground yet to see how their roots, Jerusalem artichokes, are doing, but they're probably all right. Some of the stems are ten feet tall.
Potatoes are beginning to look a little peaked but are not yet ready to pull. Behind them, the vining squash have overrun everything in sight.
A look back toward the house. You can tell it was owner-built and not well maintained over the years. We are the third owners. We tried, but oh well. At least it was something we could afford and it has served us well.

Now about that Gravenstein. Some years it makes a full crop, and raises our expectations, only to drop all the apples just before ripening. This is one of those years. They fall, bruise, wait about 24 hours to ripen, then become hopeless in another 24 hours. We've learned to anticipate this and make all our applesauce and apple butter from this one tree. I roam about beneath it, apples bouncing off my head and shoulders, carrying a basket and a sharp Japanese sickle affixed to a longish hazel stick. With the sickle I impale acceptable-looking apples, then lift and rap the sickle against the basket handle, so that the apple transfers itself to the basket. All in lieu of bending over, y'see. Then it's off to the potting shed to peel, core and slice, then process into apple butter in the big crock pot.


Oops, an end slice has a peeling -- I'll fish it out and add it to the leavings, which will go to the chicken yard and vanish quickly.

My supply of Mason jar lids is a bit short this year, and we can't find any at the suppliers. So to conserve them we're saucing into quart jars instead of the usual half pints. We're going to be looking at some serious applesauce recipes this winter, I think.


I've been to the dentist for some emergency care -- now, instead of later, in case the pandemic gets worse. They wore the best PPE they could get, which wasn't much, so I'm isolated from the family for a week. After apple buttering, gardening, and cutting up wood, I retire from the heat of the day into the hut, where I'm living at the moment.

Here, in a space eight feet by ten,  I have plenty to eat and drink, Internet access, and a few good books. A dear friend has sent me a copy of The First Free Women: Poems of the Early Buddhist Nuns. It's a new translation, in partial paraphrasis, of the Therigatha, or Gathas of the Elder Nuns, done into English by Matty Weingast. These gathas were written in the time of Buddha, twenty-six hundred years ago. I've just read:

gives birth
to the

What we do is who we become.

What we do is who we become ...


I guess I've become Apple Mary.

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