Excitement and Raspberries

It’s been an interesting day… very quiet at the moment, as the kids are off at a friend’s party. But about 10 am, Dad came in and announced that the guy with the excavator was coming this afternoon to clean the farm lane, the pad for the second greenhouse, and the pad for the shops. Oh, good grief!

Half my raspberry patch is going under the pad for the second greenhouse, and hadn’t been picked the last couple of days. So up I jump from trying to write (I was stuck, anyway) and holler for the kids to grab buckets and get out there with me. We picked over a gallon today out of the patch, and there is still more to pick later when I have more energy again. Sadly, some of them will be gone after tomorrow (they dropped off the excavator, but won’t start til tomorrow.) so I picked those first. I’m unhappy about losing such a productive patch, but the work needs to be done. It will change the landscape of the garden from giant weed-patch back into garden, first of all, and is the lynch-pin to getting the blacksmith shop built and operational.

Dad wading out to mark the greenhouse pad.

This mass of goldenrod, raspberries (mostly wild) and bindweed covers where a decade ago there was a thriving market garden. This time next year I hope to see it garden again.

Where in the weeds is Johann Gregory?

Even the wild raspberries are huge this year.

I’d taken this picture to show how big the berries are this year, but it also illustrates how I pick. I pull up the vine gently and pick from underneath. Gently is the key word there, as ripe raspberries are none too firmly attached, and if you yank they will fall off. Raspberries grow on second-year vines, and they lend to lie down as if tired by the time they bear ripe fruit. I don’t know if it’s the weight of the snow over the winter, the weight of the fruit, or both, but fresh canes grow straight up and bearing canes lie down unless supported. With the Pickin’ Patch we are keeping off by the bees, we will run wires up the row from 4×4 posts and that will keep the canes upright and pickable a whole lot easier.

Now THAT's raspberry iced tea!

We were out there in the hot sun, and I was holding my cup and picking as you saw… with the result that a whole lot of stuff fell in my cup. I don’t care about leaves, bugs I fish out, but after I’d dropped a couple berries in it gave me an idea! They were delicious, too. 🙂

Bug houses

There were a couple of bugs hiding in that flower. If you don’t like bugs, or snakes, or slugs and snails, don’t go berry picking. Find somebody like me who likes the little critters, and ask me to come pick your patch. I’ll get some berries and so will you without widlife encounters. I didn’t get a picture of the fat garter snake – she was too fast for me.

We had more snails than I realized in all that wet greenery.

Lots of berries… most of them unripe, and gone after tomorrow.

When the guys came to drop off the excavator, I was stuck by the resemblance of one of them to the guy in Grumpy Old Men. Neither of them are spring chickens, but they’ve been doing this longer than I’ve been alive, so I’ll keep my mouth shut and my ears open and maybe learn a thing or two.

It is as wide as the Farm Lane. Should do the job - we only hired the guy for ten hours.

After picking for close to four hours, we pulled about 6 quarts of berries out today. I will head out to pick the kids up shortly and when I get home may pick some more. I may not get any writing done, but I’ll have some fun. There are few things I enjoy more than being out in the berry patch.


Whose Mouth First Puckered?


This photo was taken last year, but I was talking to Dad about Rhubarb yesterday and it got me thinking. Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated with wild edible foods. I learned what I could eat, what I wanted to eat (not always the same thing!) and how to safely identify those plants. In my Dad’s Air Force Survival Manual, I read about the techniques you can use to identify unfamiliar wild plants. They read something along the lines of taking a bite and holding it in your mouth, then spitting it out and waiting to see if your mouth went numb or tingly. So now I want to know… who, confronted with a lush, lovely rhubarb plant, tasted the stems and decided it would be just yummy cooked with lots of sugar?

The leaves and roots of rhubarb are not at all edible, and I’d be willing to bet a bite of oxalic-acid loaded rhubarb leaf would most emphatically make your mouth both numb and tingly. Only the stems are edible, and eaten raw out of hand will make you pucker like few other substances. Yet they have become a beloved part of our spring ‘fruit’ line-up. I personally make rhubarb jams, pies, and cakes every spring. We have a 60 foot long bed of rhubarb in the garden. I have found old farms that have no standing buildings by the still -thriving clumps of “pie plant” that always grew near the kitchen door. So far as I know there are no records of who first tried rhubarb, or what the results were. Too bad – I’ll bet it was a fascinating tale!

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