This morning started with a visit to the pea patch. The current rows are nearly finished. I sold most of what was picked today already and will hopefully have some for Sunday. I have two more rows that are just starting to flower and if everything works out, I will have peas for another three weeks.
Afterwards I decided to go on the hunt for some new mulberry hot spots. I need a lot of mulberries for tomorrow and it was unlikely my normal route would yield enough. One of the very best parts of picking wild fruit are the unexpected surprises you will find. It is still way too early for most of my finds, but this year’s weather is anything but normal. I first found choke cherries. I spent most of my life believing they were poisonous. They are just really sour. I use them to make pancake syrup and YUM! The next find was a new mile long stretch of mulberries mixed in with a black berry bramble and an assortment of red and black raspberries. SCORE!! It gets better. Since I moved to Kansas I have been in search of gooseberries. I have seen evidence of their existence but could never find their window of ripeness. Today, I hit the window perfectly. For three years I have promised my grandpa I would make him a batch of mulberry/ gooseberry jam. This year is the year. He turned 90 in May so hopefully this will be the perfect late birthday gift. I hope everyone understands why those berries are not for sale.
While out I found one more treasure, wild cherries. I also found a few wild black berries. Tom may be able to cut wheat tomorrow after all. I noticed the sand plums are out in full force and I found evidence of what may be wild grapes for later this summer. Wild grapes are almost unheard of anymore so I am particularly interested in seeing if I have truly found Big Foot. The past few years we have had late May freezes and a lot of the fruit has not materialized. There is a lot of wild fruit this year. My jelly making and pie baking customers will be so happy.
Picking wild fruit is not for sissies. It can be grueling, even dangerous at times, but I love it. I wear my wounds with pride. Things like wild cherries, mulberries and chokecherries offer hazards such as unhappy blue jays and bees protecting what they believe to be theirs. Bees are a double-edged sword. I need bees to pollenate my produce, but I am slightly allergic. With bees the best defense is to walk away for a bit and then come back. I also avoid wearing colors that are common to flowers and I do not wear perfumes or scented deodorant. I always ask myself three questions when dealing with bees: 1.) how badly do I want the fruit; 2.) how persistent is the bee; and 3.) do I actually have my cell phone with me. My dtermination is determined by the answers to those questions.
Blackberries are thorny and usually in the wild will be along a steep embankments. I fell today coming down one bank. I was alone on a road nobody goes down. Don’t worry I did not land on the fruit. Gooseberries are more than thorny. If you were to rake your arm across a gooseberry thorn you would likely walk away with a serious injury. Black raspberries are a whole other matter…snakes. I hate snakes but I have found the high pitched scream as you run in the opposite direction technique to work about as well as anything.
The final hazards lie within the actual roads. The best fruit can always be found on the worst roads and I am the insane woman traveling down these roads, usually in our sedan. We are way over due for rain and I was on a SAND road. Tom has received that call many times over the years. He is to the point he just expects it. At one point today my tire sank so deeply into the sand I was about to call. God found favor on me and I decided after that to find a new road.
The final rule to always remember ... even the most remote roads will turn into well travel highways at the worst possible moments. Parking cars on the wrong side of a blind hill is danger waiting to happen. I have also noticed when Mother Nature calls and I decide I can no longer wait, somebody will come by…Every time.
This afternoon was spent picking a few tomatoes and what are likely the last of my sour cherries. I also watered a few things. While I fixed supper the girls discovered that my blueberry bushes are fruiting. They looked like gerbils. These bushes were planted last fall and I will not have any fruit to sell until next summer, but the blue berries are coming.
When I am alone I pursue some of the more difficult areas and save the easy picks for when my girls are with me. Tonight Autie went with me while Livie hung out with Tom. I learn a lot about my girls in moments like these. We brought our Minnie Mouse scooter with us and yes got it out every time we stopped. There is a bird that when it sings it sounds remarkably like a kitten crying. We have had very bad luck with our kittens this year and the yellow kitten has vanished. We have prayed for yellow kitty's safe return the past few nights. Autie swore that bird was yellow kitty and she was going to walk through neck high weeds to save it. I am torn in moments like these. Tom and I both know that kitten will never come home because it died. The girls cried so hard when the first two past we could not bring ourselves admit it. I still don’t know how I manage to coax Autie out of the weeds, but finally we moved on to a new set of trees.
Autie is so looking forward to mulberry cereal in the morning. She worked hard and has earned a few berries. The most boring of cheerios magically take on a new life with a few mulberries. I love that kid. We pulled into the driveway at bedtime and Livie was climbing out of the combine. Everyone will be crabby in the morning.
Most of the fruit picked today will delivered to my drop customers and to People’s in Manhattan, KS tomorrow. I will hang around tomorrow night to sell a little more, plus some romaine lettuce, collard greens, fresh herbs, hanging baskets and bedding plants. I hope you will stop by. If you live in Nebraska, it is not too late to add yourself to my delivery list. My prices are very reasonable and my quality is outstanding. If you are thinking about it, go ahead and give us a try.