The Week In Review

I started this week doing the quintessential New England activity. A friend came over and taught me how to make Concord grape jelly. I live next door to the town of Concord, where that variety of grape was invented and so named, but, this is the first time I’ve ever made jelly, or canned anything! It’s now cranberry season and I have a basket of local pears on my kitchen counter. I’m thinking that will be a good combination. Have you canned anything this week?

I bought a huge 48 star flag at a country auction. After washing and airing it out, I hung it in the the hallway. It will remain there long after this drawn-out election season is over.

We were invited to a neighbor’s annual cider pressing and pig roast. We drank his homemade hard cider and ate and ate. I brought popovers. I baked them in a sunflower patterned muffin tin. Look how charming they came out!

The Gems finished their pumpkin.

Buffy rebounded from her last health crisis. She’s behaving like her old self and she’s part of the flock. But I notice her having difficulty getting up on the roost at night. I think that this will be her last winter. Of course, I’ve said that before and she’s proved me wrong. Meanwhile, Betsy is molting. Her tail is gone. New feathers are erupting on her neck. She’s feeling quite sorry for herself.

The weather was glorious. Stepping outside was like stepping into a gem-studded kaleidoscope.

At the end of the week the weather took a turn towards winter. Freezing temperatures were predicted for Friday night. I harvested the last of the green beans and gave the vines to the goats and chickens. I brought in the lone, small zucchini and a few tiny peppers. The ground was white in the morning. The zinnias died.

But a few raspberries remain.

Today it has warmed up a tad. It’s raining. This is the most dangerous time of year for chickens – much more so than when it is dry and freezing. They get wet and cold and that brings on respiratory disease. There’s mud so they can’t dust bathe (which is why I give mine a tub with sand and food-grade DE in their run.) Most of the hens are molting. Florence looks like a discarded feather duster. Here she is eating the green bean vines in the compost pile.

Not everyone is molting. Amber, the I never go broody Orpington, continues to lay!

Candy is waiting out the weather. She’s already wearing her thick fur coat. She knows that winter, her favorite season, is right around the corner.


  1. Wow. What a busy week! I haven’t done much this week, apart from going to school and getting my deer. We also are putting a roof on our rabbit pen, and building a goat house. Candy looks so cute sitting there, she has to be my favorite out of all the chickens and the goats. Hope your next week is as fun and busy as this one was!

  2. Uff da! frost already! We have clouds and wind, but it’s almost 70F. I have a window open and a ceiling fan twirling away to refresh the air. Sometimes when I come in from outside, my place smells like an old woman’s apartment: dusty*.

    *with popcorn overlay…..

    Thanks for posting your lovely photos for all to see!

      • Great idea…will consider this as I prowl the farmers markets this week. There have been lots of PLUMS!! And the hardware store yesterday displayed an amazing variety of canning jars….Will seek out recipe!

        Are all the hens taking a meeting this morning? Nobody outside. Is that a NEW pumpkin??


        • Love, love, love, plum tarts. Did you know that you can halve, pit and freeze plums raw? I have a vacuum sealer and they defrost perfectly.

  3. I’m still kicking myself for not buying one of those flags at that little antique place you took me to, where I bought my braided rug and Red Sox pennant…. my history is useless, when did Alaska and Hawaii join in?

    • Librarian here.
      Alaska 49th U.S. state January 3, 1959.
      Hawaii 50th U.S. state August 21, 1959.


  4. That Amber is one egg laying machine! I went to the Utah Poultry Fancy show yesterday. 90 percent of the chickens were bantam White Wyandotte, bantam White Leghorn and Bantam Modern Game (skinny bird with extra long skinny legs). There were 2 what I would say are heritage Australorp hens and 3 Rhode Island Red hens. They were so beautiful Terry. I now have and idea of what size a “heritage” breed size chicken grows to be. This will help me enormously with constructing a place for my flock I want to start, along with the info from your FAQ, and following your blog, I should be set. I’m just deciding what breeds to order for delivery early 2013!

  5. it’s these types of posts when I enjoy your blog the most! Here’s to a fast and not so snowy winter!

  6. My speciaity was raspberry jelly. I still make it occasionally but now I have to buy the raspberries. Thankfully, BJ’s sells large containers of them at a fairly reasonable price. A co-worker several years ago had a fig tree and he would bring me bags of figs. Even after he retired, he would show up with them! So I learned to make fig jam. But I always go back to raspberry jelly. It’s more work having to strain it to get the seeds out but well worth it in the final product.

  7. im like candy – can’t wait for winter. live in s.w. wi. tho, so it won’t be long now. we’ve already gone thru the pretty colors and now we’re ankle deep – in places more than that! – in leaves and that’s nice too. fun for when the dog and i do our walks. today we can’t. we’re getting a rain to make up for all the times we didn’t get any when we needed and wanted it desperately. chas (my dog) came from an animal shelter 5 or 6 years ago and has never forgotten his regimen. he takes me out in the a.m.. before 9:00 it had better be! and then we go again anywhere between 4 and 8p.m.and that’s the way the world turns, mom, he says.
    today both times it was raining hard and q very abbreviated walk around the yard was about as far as i could get him to go. both of us have had a day i’m canning. have done it for years. will keep you posted when i see you’re doing the same thing

  8. Those hens sure hollowed out the pumpkin! It is just a shell. I have not canned anything but I made a pot of chicken dumplings for lunch today. Sooo good… Don’t let the Hens see this post. :-)
    Your grape jelly is beautiful. It looks like a royal purple jewel.
    In the south east, where I am, October is the month for Brunswick Stew. All of the Methodist Churches make it and sell it by the quart. Yum!
    The Baptist Churches are known for casseroles and cakes. This is why most Southern women are pleasingly plump. Fig preserves and scupponong jelly are favorites here. We generally get our grape jelly from Welches. :-) Pear preserves are also a favorite. Good luck Terry with your pears and cranberries.
    My favorite TV cook to watch is Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa). She uses cranberries and pears in a lot of her dishes.
    Terry if you get a chance, will you show us your coy pond? They are beautiful fish.

      • Scuppernongs are a Southern grape, Terry, sort of like a large Concord, that takes over acreage in the South. I had a Scuppernong vine on a vertical trellis a foot or so out from my dining room window when I lived in Norfolk VA in the ’70’s; it was like having a living William Morris tapestry with all the birds and bugs and curlicues, and it grew nearly a yard a day during its Spring growth spurts. I used to make scuppernong pies and wine out of them.

          • Can’t offer you that, but I *am* digging out a pair of 10-year-old table-grape vines — one Himrod, one Reliance — both are good seedless green grapes, on their own roots. I just don’t have enough sun to keep them happy, and I won’t spray. Anyone in the DC area (or visiting between now and March) want to come dig, and go home with pedigreed vines?

  9. Love the pumpkin photo! We make orange marmalade every year when our oranges ripen in February and March.

  10. Bwhahahaha! Florence looks just like my Adrien! The poor dears! Feather duster! HAHA! Nice looking jelly! My fave! I made a dozen pints of strawberry jam the other day and last month I made the best jalapeno dippin sauce! I’ve been a canning fool all summer. I scored loads of local organic FREE tomatoes and canned 12 pints of pizza sauce and 3 gallons of marinara for the freezer. Your popovers look fantastic! I gave my chickens a pumpkin last week as well! They even ate the skin! Thanks for the great pics!

  11. Well, I spelled it wrong. It is Scuppernong. It is a muscadine grape that is grown in the South. It has very thick whitish green skin. You can google it and read all about it. There are also pictures on line. The grape is absolutely wonderful tasting but the skins are bitter. If you ever eat one you will want more. They are also huge in size. When I was growing up we lived in a house that had a cement pond right out the back door. Sort of like the Beverly Hillbillies :-) only we did not swim in it. It was covered with a lattice frame that bore scuppernong grapes. We actually called it the fish pond. It was full of gold fish, minnows mosquitos, frogs and probably a water mocassin or two. Hurricane Hazel blew up the Eastern seaboard back in 1954 or 55. She blew the pond right out of the ground! My father had to fill it in with big rocks and dirt. The concrete frame of the pond was broken all to pieces. I can still hear that wind howling, growling, moaning and groaning. The rain came down so fast and hard that our entire neighborhood was flooded. The water was clear, not muddy. It was strange to see the green grass floating under the water. If I can find someone who ships their scuppernong jelly, I will let you know.

  12. Oh I love concord grapes. I haven’t had them since I was in the single digit years, though. I will be making cranberry jalapeno jam this season for the first time. If you still catch this post – why would Candy like winter? Yeech!

    And on a humorous note, the hens are in their new coop for the first time tonight. I peeked in on them and they are crunched and squished on one tiny fragment of the roosts, just like they have slept the last four months in their tiny baby chick coop. It looks hilarious! At least they could roost “tall” as the ceiling is waaay high, but no, they look like the ceiling is too low. I hope they are not permanently deformed lol.

  13. Great photos and recap of the week. If you want to sell the grape jelly, I’m sure you’d have some takers. It looks delicious even in the jar. Store bought can’t just compete with fresh jelly or preserves. The popovers look yummy too. I just adore Candy and look forward to seeing her each day especially at night as she waits for you to arrive with her favorite treat.

  14. I love this post. Your blog is one of the first I open when I get to work. ( shhhh! )
    The flag looks gorgeous hanging on the wall. Buffy makes me smile and Florence the discarded feather duster makes me laugh. I agree with you that this weekend was a lovely one here in New England. We had nothing left to harvest in our garden but I did cover a few of my Mums so my front steps will continue to look pretty for a few more warm-ish days.

  15. I’ve been very busy here! We harvested our honey! That was alot of fun and spending the time with my dad was the best! I have put up tomatoes (a must at this house! I use them for everything!) and spaghetti sauce. Peaches were done weeks ago. Today is salsa day! I’m happy to report that I planted grapes this spring and have a handful to taste. Next year will bring even more to do’s but it’s worth it!

  16. We had a light frost in the DC suburbs this week too — so I picked a gallon of green cherry tomatoes the night before, and put them up yesterday as halves both by themselves with vinegar/dill/garlic/cumin/celery seed, and as part of a mildly sweet pickle with fennel bulb slices/cauliflower/carrot coins, seasoned with coriander, turneric, fresh ginger, peppercorns, fresh bay leaf. We’ll open the first jar in two weeks to see how they turned out. I am wondering if I should have soaked the mater halves in pickling lime first, though, to keep them crispier. Anyone else who pickles cherry tomatoes want to chime in here?

    I also put up my second batch of apple pie filling (really just extremely chunky applesauce) — and yes, I canned cranberry-pear pie filling last year — really nice with a bit of cinnamon and maybe a twist of clementine rind — not too much or it will overpower the pear flavor. Comes out a really pretty pink. By the way, rhubarb-pear pies are every bit as good as strawberry-rhubarb, and the pear chunks keep their shape better than strawberries do.

    • I’ve always worried that canned pie filling will cook up too sweet and mushy. What do you think? I’ve had great success simply freezing the raw filling in the pie crust and baking off when needed.

      • I think of those jars of filling as instant desserts — pour into a pan, top with oatmeal-crisp topping or biscuit dough or canned croissants cut into strips and woven into a lattice, bake it up, and you’re there. Or if you want a bottom crust, blind-bake it before pouring in the filling. If you use very little sugar in a mix of apples that hold their shape (honeycrisp, rome, nittany, greenings etc) plus a few macintosh or golden delish that break down into foam, they come out fine, and it saves on freezer space. Still, I tried canning my pie cherries last year and they turned out soggy, frozen cherries make so much better pies — I am thinking of trying pickling lime on them next year to see if that improves the texture. Has anyone done that?

  17. I just came in from planting lettuce and beets in the garden. The one good thing about getting no snow here.

  18. I canned apple butter a week or so ago. We love the warm spicy scents while that’s cookin’ up!! It makes nice Christmas gifts too.

  19. Candy in the snow is so cute, I remember her from last year! Buffy has surprised all of us I think, she is SuperHen. My girls look a right mess, bare throats, scruffy bottoms and eating LOTS! They were not impressed with the marrow I left for them, they liked Braeburn apples most :o) . Love the popovers…….

  20. Lovely looking jelly! Now let’s see that pear-cranberry spread. Are you still going with ginger? Follow me on Twitter, I’ll show you what I canned this summer! @hsealbreslin

    • I have tried and tried, but I just can’t do twitter. There’s something about it that drives me crazy (and not in a good way!) I’ll have to post a pic of the pear-cranberry-crytallized ginger conserve I made. Yummy on roast chicken. (Chicken bought from a local farmer who pastures her flock.)

  21. Hi Terry, I have been watching your webcams for the last few months and find them and your articles fascinating. I’m here in Essex UK and back last January rescued 3 ex-batts. My first sojurn into hen keeping. They (Thelma, Louise and Lara) were very bedraggled but soon produced feathers although Louise continues to be extremely patchy. I added 2 ex free range hens a few months later, Pepsi and Shirley and after a couple of weeks arguing they settled into my small flock. Sadly both Thelma and Lara have gone to the hencoop in the sky owing to their awfully hard and stressfull first 18 months of life. Poor things were so worn out laying day after day in artificial conditions. Having said that Louise continues to lay almost daily eventhough she hardly has any feathers. I console myself with the fact that Thelma and Lara enjoyed around 8 months of kindness and freedom.
    The days are getting shorter now and the weather is really dank and miserable, but the girls are still giving 1 or 2 eggs daily. I bought a pumpkin after seeing your hens enjoying theirs and the girls really love it, it gives them something else to do.
    Thankyou for your lovely website, I will continue to watch it with interest.

    • How nice to hear! Those ex-batts do have a hard life, and even in the best of conditions don’t have a long lifespan. They were lucky to end up in your care at the end.