Yesterday was the last day of summer, and it was a day of the great year-end harvest at a friend’s vineyard here in Greenfield. Mike and Kelly began to plant vines several years ago with the hopes of making their own wine one day. The first batch was made last year, and this year the operation’s really begun to pick up speed, as Mike’s finally built himself a great structure in which he’ll make and house his stock. The vineyard sits on Martha’s farm land, and when she’s gone, much of her property will go to a land conservation group in town, and the rest of it, plus the grand, two-hundred year old farmhouse will go to Mike and his family. He and I have known this farm since we were tiny, and it feels wonderful to see it enjoying a re-birth with his new business. My son derives a great sense of continuity knowing that I worked on this farm when I was his age, and he’ll continue to have a relationship with the place well into his own future. Who knows, maybe even his children will one day find themselves helping to pick the bounty at the end of a growing season.
The temperature for working outdoors was simply perfect, the grapes were at their targeted sugar composition, and the harvest was a success. (I will note that one of Mike’s young daughters had a rather bad accident which landed her in ER. While she’s ok, she did require some extensive sewing up. We feel horrible that it happened, but relieved that it wasn’t worse.)
Martha Carver’s grand farm house, once lived in by Elihu Wing, one of Greenfield’s earliest residents, and built in 1802 by his father, Prince Wing, who supplied neighboring Saratoga Springs with the horses needed to pull the increasing number of carriages in town.
As when I was a child, horses now live on the farm again.
We stop in to visit Martha. Just in time to meet egg farmer Dick as he makes his weekly delivery. He’s kind of a rock star in our world.
A visit with resident hound dog Masie. A real sweetie and Martha’s faithful companion.
I love all the little details of this house, unchanged since I can remember.
As a child I went haying in these fields. Amazing how land can find new purposes – and in such a relatively short span of time.
This is what we’re cutting free from the vines.
It took a lot of friends to help bring in the huge harvest.
There were kids and dogs everywhere.
It was kinda like a treasure hunt. Grapes were everywhere.
Elihu and Sam enjoy some grape juice. It was so very delicious – surprisingly tart, yet at the same time sweet. Hard to describe, but lovely to taste.
When we’ve filled our five gallon bucket it gets driven back to the weigh station.
This took about fifteen minutes to pick, and weighs in at around 18 pounds.
Then it gets hauled off the the wine making shed.
The total take for the day was around four thousand pounds. !!
Here’s where it ends up. The old farming gear in the foreground was in use when I was young.
First, the grapes go in here to get de-stemmed and seeded.
Then they go into that giant red vat. Gravity alone pushes the juice out, and it comes thru a tap into the waiting bucket. That’s the slow way – the faster, more labor-intensive (and thorough) way is to squeeze the juice out. Either way, the juice goes then goes through tubing into giant stainless tubs after it’s pressed.
Here’s where the juice is held for now.
The big space inside. There’s storage for casks on either side, just outside of the frame.
How cool is it that ‘Red Red Wine’ just happened to be playing as we got to the wine shed? Seriously. (Ok, so this is white wine, but still.)
This was an unintentional harvest; from our chicken poop/compost pile emerged this gigantic squash plant…
And lots of blossoms. I’m careful to pick just the male flowers to fry up for supper, as there are more of them than the female blossoms, plus females, of course, will turn into fruit if pollinated. One year we had a serious shortage of bees and had to knock up our blossoms by hand. For real.
Here’s a newly knocked-up blossom.
Here’s a cross-section of a female blossom. They grow closer to the main stem while the guys kinda stick out a bit more.
The result. Pretty! We’ll leave them to grow a bit more before we pick em.
We have so very few apples and pears this year. Just as well; my post-Atkins weight gain all started last fall when an abundance of fruit ‘necessitated’ I bake lots and lots of pies. !
I found a turkey feather where our old garden was last year. Turkeys are always roaming through our property. My mom feeds hers daily, and they come right up to her house. Mine keep a safe distance from bird-chasing eleven year old boys.
And our house atop the same hill. Our yard has four terraced levels to it, this was taken from the third one down from the house. At the bottom of our yard, the woods continue on down to the road below.
The pullets have started laying! But look at how small their eggs still are. Not all of the gals are laying yet, either. We’ll still have to buy eggs from Dick before we’re back to self-sustaining again.
It’s been a while since we’ve had any variety in the color of our eggs. All eggs, regardless of whether they’re green, brown or white, taste just the same. It’s just fun to have different breeds and enjoy the variety of colors.
After enjoying a fun visit and bonfire with our neighbors, we ended up setting our own pile on fire. We’d waited for the perfect night, and this seemed to be it. We even said goodbye to these crazy gingerbread figures we’d had around for a while. It was our own burning man.
I found some sparklers leftover from the 4th.
The grapes have been harvested, the eggs are in our fridge, and all of our scraps and sundries have gone to the heavens in the fire. Onward into a new season we go. Good-bye and thank you, summer. Hello and welcome fall.
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