Happy Autumn Equinox everyone! This is my favorite time of year. I’m anticipating the approaching holidays, the cooler temperatures make it possible and pleasant to cook again, the foliage is beautiful, and one of my favorite vegetables—winter squash—is ready! At the farm, the weeds are easy to manage, the vegetables aren’t wilting in extreme heat, and the work days are a little shorter since the harvest load is lighter. Autumn does, however, have unique challenges.
While the groundhogs have been spending less time in the fields while they get their dens ready for winter, the deer are beginning to become a real nuisance. They have started eating strange things (for deer to eat) in the fields, such as prickly radish and cucumber greens, and are even jumping over some of our fences to nibble at our lettuce. Fortunately, we anticipated an increase in deer pressure this time of year and put an electric fence around our fall carrot seeding to really deter them. So far so good!
Another challenge we face at the farm is harvesting on cold, dewy mornings. Without proper gear, it’s easy to get too cold, too fast. I spend most of our work days in my overall rain pants because it isn’t easy to dry off during the day anymore.
We also try to keep our hands dry by using latex gloves when we harvest. They do a terrible job keeping our hands warm, but thicker gloves don’t give us the proper amount of mobility and dexterity we need to harvest plants like kale, scallions, and carrots.
Exposing our hands to the elements at this time of year can be tough on skin. A few years ago, I adapted a recipe for an herbal hand salve that I absolutely love and I use it a lot in the fall and winter. Here’s the recipe, below. You can adjust the quantities of oils and wax to make it either softer or firmer.
Herbal Hand Salve
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup beeswax beads
- Lavender essential oil
- Rosemary essential oil
- Peppermint essential oil
- 4 or 5 4oz mason jars
- Double boiler for melting ingredients
- Using a double boiler, melt the olive oil, coconut oil, and beeswax.
- While the oils and beeswax are melting, place 15 drops of lavender, 10 drops of rosemary, and 8 drops of peppermint into each 4 oz mason jar.
- When the beeswax-oil mixture has melted, carefully pour it into each mason jar. Let cool for 12 hours or overnight before using.
For easier cleanup, when the top of the double boiler is empty, pour the hot water into it and soak to loosen the beeswax-oil residue.
Until next time,