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September is Harvest Time Down on the Farm

By Ron Eichner

Hi folks, September is the month when summer fades into fall. It is the peak month of farm harvesting, timely sowing, or planting seeds or transplants in gardens or farm fields.

The first Monday of the month of September each year is Labor Day, and for decades, school started after Labor Day, but not in recent times. Labor Day was first celebrated on Tuesday, September 25, 1892, in New York City, planned by the Central Labor Union. Oregon was the first to declare Labor Day an official holiday in 1897.

The average American worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, at the height of the Industrial Revolution. There are discussions for a four-day workweek, pushing for more personal and family time. Most family farms are stuck in the past with, as I say, "a life sentence and no parole!" The trade unions and labor movements proposed a day to celebrate labor, which should also be a sign of thank you for all the labor everyone does daily.

September 10 is National Grandparents Day, and the following day, September 11, is Patriot's Day for those that lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and even later years due to health-related issues. September 17 is Constitution Day, when the U.S. Constitution was adopted. Without our God-given Constitution, which should be protected, we would be a totally different country.

This September's Harvest Moon in the northeast of the United States is the fullest moon of the year. When you look at the full moon, it appears to look very large and bright if the sky is clear. The Harvest Moon reaches peak illumination on Friday, September 29, at 5:58 pm EDT. The first day of fall each year is either September 22 or 23. This is when the hours of the day are almost equal to the hours of the night. This year's Autumnal Equinox occurs at 2:50 a.m. EDT on Saturday, September 23.

With fall frosts lurking each year, a farmer's joy is to go frost-free until the fall harvest is over. However, that never happens. If a frost or freeze is predicted, then covering the crops or irrigating the crops until the ice melts off the foliage is needed. Unfortunately, irrigating loads the soil with water, and cold, damp soils aren't friendly to crops. My grandfather always reminded my dad and me "that if we can get through the September full moon, we should go frost-free until the next full moon cycle." As a fourth-generation farmer, I have seen a first frost in August and as late as November. Having a farmstead and some fields in a valley, you always get the last frost in the spring and the first frost in the fall.

Interestingly, clear nights are the coldest, and it is always important to pay attention if a frost is forecasted. Will it be clear or cloudy overnight? Clouds on a frost night are a farmer's friend.

Each year September is harvest time and harvesting and preserving go hand-in-hand. What is seemingly a lost art is the importance of preserving fruits and vegetables. Before having the convenience of what grocery stores offer the public, most families had extensive gardens for several reasons. Canning, drying, and freezing allow you to control your preserving foods to eat healthy year-round. Preserving foods with a plan will enable you to stock your shelves or freezers with the harvest. Much information is available; a handy one is Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.

The oldest edible food in the world is honey. Honey was found in an ancient Egyptian tomb over 3,000 years ago. The honey hadn't spoiled due to its antimicrobial properties. Honey has a low water content and contains a bit of hydrogen peroxide; bacteria and other microbes can't grow on it.

The cheapest modern method of preserving is pickling. You pickle foods with vinegar and other acidic liquids. You wash, trim, and soak fresh vegetables in an acidic liquid in the refrigerator. Fermented foods like fermented sauerkraut are necessary for good health, especially your gut.

One of the world's oldest man-made foods is cheese. Unlike many foods, ancient cheese was recently excavated in Poland; it dates back 7,500 years. Our farm market offers four types of farm products; raw milk cheeses made by Adam Dean at Pasture Maid Creamery in New Castle. You can purchase them in half-pound cheese block sizes.

Just to let you know, my two flocks of turkey poults are doing great, and my role for six months as Mother Hen is to express, “the joy they will bring to the table.” Feel free to stop by Eichner’s Whole Farm and Greenhouses at 285 Richard Road in Wexford. Bring a friend and be a friend and get “the rest of the story.”


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