Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Persimmon plans

My son, never one to let me get away with anything, asked me what I was going to do with my embarrassment of persimmon riches.

Well, the first ten pounds went to a friend who has her own plans for her batch. I harvested another five pounds this morning and turned them into a persimmon puree (at right in photo). As best I can tell, five pounds of fruit yields about five cups of puree. One story on the internet said you should peel the persimmons before freezing them because the skin contained tannins. There's no way I'm peeling persimmons, so my wife suggested using a food mill (at left in photo) and it worked beautifully (after she showed me what a food mill was.)

The puree is so sweet it can be eaten with a spoon. I'm not worried about tannins. In the past two weeks I'm sure I've eaten several pounds of raw persimmons right of the ground with no ill effects.

I'll freeze the puree in plastic bags and we should have some good persimmon bread during the holidays. Now, son, pester your mother about making persimmon bread.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bumper crop of persimmons this year

Deerfield persimmons are plentiful and sweet in 2010. The three trees in our front yard -- each at least 75-feet tall -- shower persimmons on us every time the wind blows. When I get serious about harvesting I just go out and bump the tree with my tractor. (Note to self: Wear a hat next time, dummy.)

On Sept. 14, 2009, my diary entry told the story of the Legend of the Persimmon Seed. For some reason that entry leads all the Deerfield Diary posts in the number of page views. Folks out there just seem to be interested in persimmons.

For all you city slickers out there, a warning. Never take a bite out of a green persimmon. You have never before puckered like you will pucker with a bite of an unripe persimmon in your mouth.

Monday, October 25, 2010

All hands on deck for a major fall project

The photo above is one reason I've been dilatory of late in making posts to the Deerfield Diary.

We have a deck that surrounds the part of our house that the architect chose to call "the retreat." The deck is more than 600 square feet and is (was) made out of California redwood. California redwood is great if it stays in California. When the wood is placed in the humidity of the South, it gives up eventually and rots.

The deck is only 17 years old and I thought I could get by with replacing some boards, but a closer inspection told me that what I needed to do was rip out all the decking and start all over. Thankfully, most of the substructure that is made out of treated pine is in good shape. The tear-out of the decking filled up a 10-foot trailer three times. The tear-out was made additionally challenging because the structure was put together with galvanized ring-shanked nails. I had to use a four-foot crowbar, a cat's paw, a metal-cutting grinder and a chainsaw.

As you can see in the photo, the deck was designed with a radius. If redwood is kerf cut it can be bent into smooth curves. Unfortunately, kerf-cutting decreases the life-span of redwood even further. It only made sense to go back with pressure-treated decking. Unlike most decks, the flooring of this deck uses 2-inch lumber instead of the normal 1-inch. Every piece of decking must be cut on a unique angle. My one class in geometry in 1962 is being severely taxed. I've been working on the deck off and on for a month and I hope to finish before cold weather arrives for good.

The eternal struggle

Our place in Deerfield, depending on your viewpoint, is blessed or cursed with intense vegetation growth. Clear a spot, turn around, look back and the new growth has taken over once again.

About the only way get ahead of the undergrowth is to bring in a serious machine. The one above is an ASV Forestry Mulcher which essentially is a stump grinder on steroids. It can do in a day what would take me six months to do by hand. The beauty of it is that it does not tear up the ground like a dozer would. Root systems remain to hold the soil in place and prevent washouts.

I had the mulcher in several weeks ago to clear about four acres on the summit that overlooks our property. If I don't start bush-hogging the area next spring, the brush will be back with a vengeance and I will be back where I started. My neighbor, who took the photo of the mulcher, likes to call it the Battle of Vawter Mountain.

More happiness for bluebirds

Several times a year our Boston terrier alerts us to commotions in the woodstove where we usually will find a bluebird trapped in the soot and ashes.

While cleaning out the flue this year I added some hardware cloth (screen mesh) to the flue cap to keep out our feathered friends.

If the bluebirds are happy, we're happy.