We had a visitor last night. The dog was barking her fool head off about 12:30 so I went to investigate. I expected another skunk trying to get at the chickens but it was a large black bear that had dumped out the chicken feed and was enjoying his feast. (At least he left the chickens alone.) The dog was smart enough to just sound a warning and not engage him although the bear was pretty much just ignoring the dog. When I arrived with the flashlight and shotgun the bear ran off about 30 feet and stopped to look me over. I kept walking toward him and he took off for good. He was a pretty bear. His back and front third were jet black and the middle section was chocoloate brown. He was so fat he was almost as wide as he was long. He'd better go find a place to den up before someone puts his hide on the wall and the meat in the freezer. Maybe I should load one side of the shotgun with a slug from now on.
Winter is closing in and we've been playing catch-up since we got back home. The weather has been overcast most of the time with some light rain so we had to run the generator once to fully charge the battery bank. If you've never lived on solar power it's not good to run the batteries in a consistently undercharged state. If the sun hasn't fully recharged them after a couple of days we run the generator to top them off.
I called the Forest Service and we now have open burning so I torched three of our brush piles. It was too wet the first time and I couldn't keep the fires going so I waited a couple of more days to try again. They still didn't burn completely so I'll have to hit them again next spring.
The nice thing about winter weather is that we have the wood heating stove going and we can cook on it. I just fried up some bacon and I'm now cooking eggs in that skillet while I make toast next to it. When making toast we fold the aluminum foil over the top. Otherwise the bread curls.
We finished digging potatoes in the garden. We were fortunate that the ground hasn't frozen yet. The harvest wasn't great this year. We should have watered it a couple of times during the summer.
These are some of the spuds laid out in a storage room to cure a few days before being stored in the root cellar.
These are some that are sorted and ready to be placed in bins in the root cellar.
Susan's peeling potatoes for supper while I put a patch on a tube. It was too cold outside to apply the rubber cement.
The patched tube, ready to re-install in the tire. This is off one of the wheel barrows. We have two wheel barrows and often consider buying a third one. They are the workhorses of the homestead. Garden carts are okay for many jobs but wheel barrows are more versatile.
It's time to get the winter tires on the Cherokee. Usually we run studded snow tires in winter but this year they're just snow tires without studs. We plan on spending a lot of the winter in places where there is no snow or ice!
I have my own tire machine (purchased from Harbor Freight Tools) so I mount/dismount our tires myself. These are used snow tires in almost new condition that we got for free (almost).
I had a fair sized stack of firewood from last year left over so I put most of it in the wood shed without splitting it (I didn't have room there last year). I split this batch because it's what I call "trash wood" (it burns fast and not as hot as fir and larch). I want to get it burned soon before it gets real cold.
Each row is 2/3 of a cord of firewood. I filled up one row and part of another then had enough left to fill a wheel barrow before I quit for the day.
These are from one of our kid's garden. It was their first attempt at gardening and they had more than they knew what to do with so we brought these six pumpkins home with us. They'll make great pies and pumpkin bars. They had a good crop on everything that they planted but learned some important lessons as well. The most important will be the new fence they'll put around it next year. Deer are pretty to see but they love fresh garden produce. It tkes a good fence to keep them out. They estimate a 50 percent loss to deer over the summer.