Thursday, September 27, 2012

Grape Harvest

   I stayed home with a cold today and ended up feeling better than I expected by late afternoon. Of course this was after I had already cancelled several activities.  Linda watched Britton, Lucy, and John this afternoon so I enjoyed their company somewhat at arms length in order to avoid passing along my cold. Its fun to hear their happy little voices, even if I can't be as close as I would like to be.

    Three year old John decided he wanted to be outside so I took a nice little walk with him along a portion of the access road on the north side of our lot. While we stopped to admire the ducks I noticed the grapes growing over the duck pen were getting ripe.  This particular variety of grape, named Valiant, is a very early concord type of grape. They have seeds, but are smaller than Concord grapes and ripen about three weeks earlier than Concords. The big clue for me that they are ripe enough to pick is when the little birds start to eat them. John found them to be a little tart for his liking, but they still make pretty good juice at that point. I've found that if I wait until they are completely ripened, the little birds collect too large of a tax on my grape harvest.
Ripe Valiant grapes growing over the duck pen

    After Beth had picked up the kids, I got out the steamer juicer and picked enough grapes to fill the basket of the juicer. There are still more grapes to be picked. I only got three quarts of juice from that first picking. My other three grape varieties, Interlaken, Canadice, and Flame, probably won't be ripe enough to pick until mid October.  I'm pretty limited as to what varieties I can grow in our maritime climate.  Interlaken and Canadice produce dependably every year. The Flame plants produce produce grapes every other year at best.  I know the official first day of fall was September 22,  but it doesn't really feel like fall to me until I start harvesting the grapes.
A nice variety of colors

   My three Americauna hens have started to lay. I've collected a number of the cutest little blue pullet eggs over the past week. The blue eggs go nicely with the light brown eggs from the Rhode Island Red and the dark brown eggs from the Domeniques. The runner ducks stopped laying a few weeks ago or I would also have white eggs in the mix. That should actually work out very well for us as the runner ducks started laying at the end of January and had close to a two month head start on the chickens.  If the chickens lay later into the year I won't have quite so long a period where we don't get fresh eggs.  I could increase the length of their egg laying period by adding some artificial light on a timer to the poultry pens. I suspect it may be healthier for the poultry if I don't try to squeeze every last egg from them in the shortest period of time. If I were in the egg business I would probably have a different attitude and demand higher production from the poultry.

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