PAT NEAL: The fall chore list

THIS MUST BE the most beautiful fall weather we’ve seen in years. But I’m not one to sit around and admire the view when there’s work to be done so let’s get busy.

The main thing you should remember about the fall chores is they are like the summer chores, except you have a whole lot less daylight to get them done.

As with chores of any season, it’s best not get bogged down in the details. Prioritize, delegate and move on to the next task with the rhythm of the season.

Now that the vines have died down, it’s a good time to dig the potatoes.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than digging a sack of spuds to put away for the winter — to thrust the shovel into the mellow loam, exposing tubers of varied hues. It’s like digging buried treasure. That’s why it’s too bad I loaned my shovel out to a clam digger.

That shovel was a rare antique in excellent condition. All my shovels are.

By not using them, these virginal shovels are like brand new.

That’s the secret to life in the country. Don’t use your tool and it won’t wear out.

So, I’m not going to dig the taters. It would be a complete waste of time even if I had a shovel.

It seldom gets so cold that potatoes will freeze underground.

Just leave them and they’ll be perfectly fine all winter even if you have to paw your way through a couple of feet of snow to get at them.

Delegate, prioritize and move on to the next chore.

Picking apples must be my favorite fall activity.

The Olympic Peninsula is blessed with an abundance of pioneer homestead orchards. Pioneer fruit trees can grow 50 feet tall and as big around.

Climbing one of these monstrosities is risky. How you get the apples on the ground without bruising them is anyone’s guess.

You can climb up a ladder to pick apples, if you have a death wish. I’m not going to risk my almost award-winning writing career just for a cider squeezing. No, it wouldn’t be fair to the reader(s).

It seems ridiculous that anyone would pick apples by hand anyway. These days, there are so many other more convenient harvest options available to the homesteader. Remember to multitask.

By blasting the limbs off the apple trees with a shotgun, (.12 gauge or bigger) you do your fall pruning while you get your apples picked. Which makes it even more tragic to run out of shotgun shells right in the middle of pruning, I mean apple picking season.

That’s OK. The bears got into the orchard and picked the apples anyway.

Prioritize, delegate and move on.

This year’s crop of firewood is ready to be put under cover.

There are few things I enjoy more than stacking firewood, but I’m going to hold off getting the wood in for just a while yet.

The country is alive with a record crop of bald-faced hornets and yellow jackets.

The fact is, if you should be unfortunate enough to chop wood on top of a hornet’s nest, it will be an experience you’ll never forget.

We’ll forego that opportunity and wait for a freeze to kill the bees.

That’s life in the country.

We move with the rhythm of the seasons. After a hard day of prioritizing and delegating, it’s nice to sit back and realize that the rain has begun.

The salmon are starting to run. It’s fishing season — that time of year when any chore that isn’t done, isn’t going to get done.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via

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