It seems like this has been a very mild fall. I am sitting in a very muggy, hot house, listening to rain patter on the roof this Thursday morning following a summery day of wearing a T-shirt and shorts to try to stay cool as I picked apples, cut corn stalks, and picked raspberries. We planted the “everbearing” raspberries some five or six years ago, and have had only this year’s “good” crop. Bearing at the same time we are picking apples, and offered by several farms in New Hampshire to round out their pick-your-own experiences, fall raspberries have been a fun, if not reliable crop.
In order to be able to pick a decent crop, we have had to prune out the old bearing canes and fit in the picking around our traditional fall chores. With this year’s mild weather and no frost at the farm before now, we have been able to pick four decent pickings. We offer the berries at our store, and folks have been very surprised to see the berries on the shelf. With weather in the 80s on Wednesday, it felt more like August than October around these parts. Going forward, temperatures are predicted to be hovering around the average mark, perhaps even a bit cooler than normal, so it will feel more like fall.
The foliage has been pretty good in the hills around the farm, but seem to be later than some years. It is not always the case that we even still have leaves on the trees for Columbus Day, but this year brought scads of people to the state to enjoy peak foliage up north and lots of color here. I am always amazed by the show of color with the maples, poplar and oaks around the perimeters of the farm fields making me run for my camera every year. We are lucky to live where we live and be able to enjoy the spectacular art show every year. As I watch the news and see the devastation that the latest round of hurricanes and tornadoes have wrecked across parts of the nation and the world, I am pretty thankful that I live where I live. A stretch of rainy weather, a few days of clouds, a snowstorm, or two or a few of those strong thunderstorms are usually the worst we have to endure. A few inches or feet of snow to make us grumble and the ever-changeable weather of New Hampshire seems to be pretty mild compared to other spot on the globe. Even though it is mild here by some standards, it pays to prepare.
I was wondering what weather forecasters are predicting for the upcoming months as we try to budget for snow season. According to a couple of online weather sources, it looks like an El Nino is brewing in the Pacific, which usually leads to milder temperatures for our winters with less snowfall. My only fear with less snowfall is more winter rain and ice. I am not looking forward to ice. But there isn’t much that I can change about the weather, and I need to find those coats and hats and mittens pretty soon and do what I preach to prepare for changing weather. My kids used to tease me about my warnings to prepare for changing weather with boots and coats and gloves and umbrellas packed in the car whenever we went anywhere at any time. I’ve lived in New Hampshire long enough to know the old saying that if you don’t like the weather right now, wait a minute because it will change. They haven’t teased me as much lately as they get caught in changing weather in their adulthood.
Whatever the fall and winter may bring, we are trying to get ready for it. I was hoping to plant a few bulbs for spring flowers, but my time is running out. We finally harvested the last of the winter squash and pumpkins and are about halfway through the annual chore of pruning raspberries, but haven’t even started cutting and splitting wood for the wood stoves and the maple arch come spring. We have harvested all but a few apples in the orchard, and plucked the last zucchini from the plants. We will continue having some tomatoes and peppers for a spell, as they are protected from frost and freezes in the hoop houses, but when the temperatures truly plunge, we will be out of the vegetable business for a good few months. We still have to prep soils for winter cover crops and mow some grass that should be mowed before the ground freezes, but we are heading in the right direction to be ready for cold weather. I guess it’s alright to have to stop your lawn mower and pick up your rake to clear leaves from the lawn. After all, it is fall.
After the muggy, hot weather of earlier this week I am actually happy to have to put on a jacket and search for a pair of gloves. The changing of seasons is the most alluring feature of our area. Just as you get sick of one season, another peeks around the corner and teases you with another beautiful season and another weather challenge. Enjoy fall, folks. Winter is coming!