Wild Side: A great time of yearNow that the maples are glowing red and yellow, we have plenty of choices for things to do when we aren’t working and worrying about politics or the economy.
By: Dan Wilcox, Outdoor Columnist, River Falls Journal
Now that the maples are glowing red and yellow, we have plenty of choices for things to do when we aren’t working and worrying about politics or the economy.
The last of our gardens are coming in.
Leeks planted as slender grass-like sprouts in the spring now look like thick green-topped octopuses. The squash vines that kept the coons out of the corn grew big and succumbed to the first hard frost, yielding heavy butternuts and acorns. We took in all the green and hot peppers before the frost last Thursday night.
Old open-pollinated corn varieties that we use for corn meal grew to over 10 feet with several ears per stalk. Pontiac potatoes grew as is big as Buicks. Yukon Gold potatoes grew to Alaskan size.
The old trees in the orchard outperformed themselves this year producing a bumper crop of apples.
All that productivity makes for a lot of work. Getting ready for winter for us is a tradition about bringing in the garden, orchard, vineyard and firewood.
Carol canned buckets of tomatoes into juice, salsa and sauce. We gave plenty of them away to friends and coworkers.
The grapes turned into jelly.
Processing the bumper crop of apples was the biggest chore. Our low-tech cider press has a hand-cranked apple grinder and a screw-jack press.
Ken Hensel of River Falls and other friends helped us grind and press most of the apples into juice.
Last Saturday was a beautiful early October day. Gerry Keithley of River Falls, Badger and I hiked into the lower Rush River for the 9 a.m. duck hunting opener and set out some decoys in a quiet pool. We heard other hunters shooting off the point on Lake Pepin near Maiden Rock, but they didn’t send any ducks our way up the Rush River. It was a fine morning nevertheless.
We watched eagles and Badger got to go swimming.
Now that most of our fall chores are done, this time of the year is all about fishing for walleyes, hiking and hunting mushrooms, grouse, ducks and pheasants.
Our neighbors have been bow hunting and photographing big bucks with trail cameras.
The cool air is invigorating. The colorful scenery and the many choices for outdoor activities make this a great time of year.
Please send any comments and suggestions for this column to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.