Autumn has arrived but today was warm and sunny so I took the opportunity to cut the grass again, which meant first picking up a few day’s worth of windfall apples. Last week I stewed up a big batch and made three apple crumbles which went down a treat. After putting the mower away I took some time to have a good look round and it inspired me to get my camera. The first photo is of the largest of my three woodpiles, about half my supply for the winter. The lighter coloured wood is ash and above that is sweet chestnut, most hand sawn and all hand split. That should keep my Ulefos stove going for a while. In the upper left of the photo are some of the apples which haven’t fallen yet and on the right is rain water collection from the corrugated iron roof of the shelter – I just slit a piece of green plastic pipe using a jigsaw and clamped it round the edge of the roof. It is only a couple of square metres of collecting area but I used the water to help keep my pond topped up through the summer.
The second photo is of grapes ripening on the vine. Last year my grapes and potatoes got hit hard by a late frost but this year conditions have been favourable. I will wait a while longer before harvesting and juicing them. They taste fine straight off the vine but they are small and seedy so I prefer turning them into juice. I just put them in a big stainless steel pan or clean plastic bucket and mash them with a potato masher. Once they are all mushed up I pour the pulp into a large stainless steel colander, pressing down to get as much of the juice through as I can, and then leave it to settle before decanting into plastic bottles. I am not interested in making wine because it is apparently easy to end up with something almost undrinkable and I am not really into alcohol anyway. The juice on the other hand is amazing – almost like a syrup. I expect to end up with about a dozen litres of the stuff so the question of storage arises. I could pasteurise it by boiling but I feel that would somehow diminish its powers so I plan to freeze most of it.