Fall is in the Indiana air and the leaves are turning. Yesterday, in the tomato patch, it was downright chilly but not quite to the point of frost. I could see my breath as I picked tomatoes and they felt like they had been kept in a walk in refrigerator all night. They are slowing down though….only picked 274# yesterday.
I keep forgetting to tell you about the neat way that the convent creates their heat for HVAC purposes and hot water. They have a tractor trailer that picks up wood chips, that local landscapers and tree cutters have dropped off. There is a collection center across the street from Sisters of Providence and the tree trimmers just dump their waste there and the truck goes over and fills up and brings it back to campus. There is a metal shed type of building where the truck backs up and dumps the load. Inside are these conveyor tracks that very slowly pulls the wood in (they take all the wood left off and put it through a wood grinder to make sure it’s uniform in size). My understanding is that it goes into a furnace that heats the rooms and water for the whole complex. There are two huge brick chimneys coming out of the building where all this happens and the building is pretty large. Reminds me of the exterior wood stoves that homes have that can do the same thing….heat the hot water that is piped through it and also send heat to your home. This is just on a gigantic scale. I’ve been told that one tractor trailer load lasts for a typical day and 1.5 – 2 in the winter.
Here are some of things we harvested this week in the garden:
Look at all that celery….it was like loading a small tree into each bag. And it was so fragrant…Yum !
Beautiful Carmen and Bell peppers.
Bagged Swiss Chard…looks sort of like rhubarb but with beautiful stalks of pink, yellow, whitish.
On Thursday we had a potluck event for the CSA members. I finished work at 3:30 and then went to work with Sister Mo so she could teach me how to card the fiber I’ve been working on. This is the next step after skirting it. You take the tufts of fiber that are long enough and it’s laid on that ledge area so it spans the width of the carder. On the far right side is a crank that makes the drums turn and draws in the fiber. The “undesirables” are picked up on the small drum and the acceptable ones are wound around the large drum. When it gets covered to the point where you can’t see the belt seam and it seems full, the “batt” is pulled off the drum. You break the batt, with a large knitting needle type of tool, right at the belt seam. You just run the needle under the batt and pull up on it, separating it from the drum. As you turn the handle you pull gently to have the batt come off in one piece. You’re shooting for it to weigh (in its final weight) 1.0 – 1.2 oz. I had to run mine through twice to get all fibers running the same direction and looking nice and it came out at 1.1 oz…perfect ! The weight is crucial because if you use this to felt a hat, the layers have to weigh the same so it’s not lopsided when you put it together. That is what I’ll be learning next….how to make a felted hat. (This morning I finally finished skirting all the fiber on my table)….hallelujah ! So I worked on the carding till 5, went back to the dorm and showered and made my dish to pass and off to the potluck I went. Long day, beautiful night, great chats with the CSA members who came.
Friday, the new high tunnel got its’ roof installed. There was about 10-12 of us out there helping get the plastic on it. Ropes were thrown over the top of the roof and tied to the plastic. The way they did that was to wrap the plastic end around a rock or clump of dirt and then tie the rope around it. The wind came up as we started to do it and I asked Sister Mo to say a little prayer for us. She asked Saint Joseph to give us some calm so we could get this done and wouldn’t you know it, once we retrieved the end flap that had folded up over the peak of the roof, it got real calm and we were able to finish it up. We only wound up with one hole in it that was easily patched. Next week David will finish up the side and ends so we can get it planted. It’s huge inside and will hold lots of plants.
Tomorrow is Alpaca Farm Days all over the country and ours is from 1 – 4. I will bounce between the kids activity area and the tomato selling table, helping out. Should be a fun day if the weather holds out. We haven’t had much rain since I’ve been here but they are calling for about a 60% chance tomorrow. Hopefully it will rain early or hold off till afterwards.