Black Berries Matter

bowl of blackberries
bowl of blackberries

Black Berries Matter!

We got the starts for our thornless blackberrie bushes from Pete’s parents garden. My sister & brother-in-law (Ann & Dan) made sure we had them before they moved. As I spent time picking berries from our bushes my thoughts returned to past get-togethers and the people gone and some sad sighs escaped me.

But, the berries won’t pick themselves, so I continue on. I marvel at the abundance of fruit on each branch of the bush as I pluck the fully ripe off of each branch. The bucket is filling quickly and I feel thankful as I pick. There are complaining birds in the background letting me know that they would much rather be the ones harvesting these berries.

Remembering the past and how tight budgets were made me realize that these berry bushes were something that Menno Woelk very wisely planted. Choose a thornless variety of dark berries that were known to promote good health. Being without thorns was a great way to make harvesting their bounty enjoyable. The abundance in these hardy bushes provided very well for the family. Blackberry juice, jam, syrup, cobbler, and pie were readily available. Blackberries were so much a part of the Woelk family that when I asked Mom for a recipe to make syrup she simply grabbed a piece of paper and wrote it for me right there. It was a recipe she knew by heart because she cooked it so often.

It is amazing how a fruit can bring back thoughts of love felt at the Christmas gatherings, church programs, singing together and eating fabulous black berry cobblers. Singing Christmas carols for Dad at the hospital. Playing windup planes running around the house with children,  and holding babies. The 3-13 card games always ongoing and Mom crocheting or sewing quilts. Michael and his jeep stories. Stories about Milton and Donny escapades. Marilyn, with Owen gone away so soon.

Yes Black Berries Do Matter

There are an abundance of health articles proclaiming the good effects from including black berries in your diet. Google it and and see. Or better yet just look up some old farmer almanac info and find that the farmers way back when did know what they were doing.

Flowers From the Garden

bouquet 1 in a vase
bouquet in a vase

Unquestionably, there is nothing better than a bouquet of colorful flowers from the garden to brighten up my day. I hurriedly picked this group of flowers as I left the garden yesterday. There are some roses and a wide variety of the large dahlias in this group. I thought the dahlias in my neighbor’s garden (Jennifer Conner) were so beautiful that I took a chance and planted them myself this year. They are gorgeous and I absolutely love them.

bouquet 2 in a vase
bouquet in a vase

The yellow dahlia with red streaks was a casualty of the high winds a couple of days ago. I replanted and stake it but, I am not sure if anymore of these yellow spotted giants will come this year. On the right side is the purple giant dude who is an extravagant heavy blossom.

bouquet 3 in a vase
bouquet in a vase

The soft pink petals are from a “tropicana” rose bush. On the lower right is a fire engine red dahlia. In the middle of the bouquet is a white dahlia with pink edges who is just now beginning to bloom.

bouquet 4 in a vase
bouquet in a vase

Here is the crazy purple dahlia which was the first to bloom for me this year. He reminds me of a bad hair day or just too much moose situation. Beginning with a very dark purple inside, his petals reach out in all directions fading just at their tips to a lighter lavender. He is quite a show stopper!

What Wild Flower is This?

wild flower 02
Unidentified wildflower

Does anyone know what kind of flower this is? Honestly, I have been unable to find out what kind of flower this is and would appreciate any help from people who may know.

wild flower 01
mystery wildflower

I apologize for the focus being on the ground instead of the petals but am still putting this image up to help identify it.

wild flower 03
What wildflower is this?

If anyone out there does know where to concentrate my search it would be greatly appreciated by me as a real time saver. If curiosity killed the cat I’d already be dead.

Oh Say Can You See?

upper side of property
upper side of property

Line-of-Sight

How did those surveyors back in Lewis & Clarks time do this mapping of the land?

How do you map out the lines between the property corner markers when you can’t see where the other end is?  Us amateurs began with walking as straight as possible, using a chain saw to clear a “best-guess” path. Planting rebar posts with flags on the hilltops and tying yellow flags in the trees, so we can see. Hours of cutting bush and dead-fall tree trunks, stacking the resulting brush in piles to shred later. So much fun! Not!

wild flower
What wildflower is this?

Upper side of the property…

Fire Breaks

Finally, we are able to take bailing twine and stretch it out to see where our “straight-line” should be. We discover that we were off (way-off) as the twine line goes into a zig zag pattern, turning as it hits trees along the way. Dang, we must have walked the line hundreds of times before we finally got a clear path on the upper slope of the property. We ended up clearing a great “fire break” by the time we got the line straight between those two property corners. Brush is a tenacious thing to conquer.

Clearing the worst area first makes the sides and front of our property seem easier. With the brush removed and the line set, we now only have to dig a 2″ deep ditch to set the wire in, placing flags at 12′ apart on it. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

Remember those muscles in your hands, arms and between the shoulder blades on the back? We have 10 acres here with four sides 660 feet long. Spend a day swinging a mallot (I can’t) to dig a 2 inch deep ditch along one side of the land and you will definitely remember these muscles too!

Next, we look forward to retraining the dogs on where they can go without getting shocked  by their collars. We can anticipate walking the border with them until they learn.

Who prayed that we would get in shape this year?

Stop it, whoever you are!!!

Where Oh Where did that marker go?

south border Pete
Pete clearing the south border

As this project gets more and more INTERESTING we are finding that not all survey markers are created equal.

Getting Fit

It must be time for our legs to get into hiking shape. After the intense medical stuff last year for me, this type of work seems really challenging to me. We used our GPS and phone apps as we clamored over boulders and through brush trying to find the forth little metal stake.  Chain saw in hand. But, we encountered problems with the trees blocking access to the satellites. Where is that fourth marker?

Multiple days of sweating were followed by us calling our neighbor to  help us locate our shared marker. He walked us right to it, leaving both of us feeling quite stupid right then.

As you can see, this marker was a unique hidden little bugger. What does a land surveyor do when he can’t find any ground to plant a stake in. Why, of course he puts a small nail in the boulder formation, then marks it with a piece of rebar at the base of the rocks. Um Huh. Unfortunately, over the years layers of moss and forest debris accumulate on the boulder making it virtually impossible to see the little nail in the rock.

I’ll be sure to get a picture of that little bugger for the next post.

Underground Dog Fence

NE corner
North East Corner survey marker

We are installing an underground dog barrier fence for Max and Hurley to be able to roam the full property (10 acres).  First off, it took us a while to be able to save enough to buy the system. After we finish, (if we survive the installation) we are hoping the dogs will love being able to run the whole property instead of just a 90 ft diameter around the house. Above is our first corner marker.

Easy-Peasy!

Ha Ha! We made the mistake of assuming this dog fence project would be an easy 1 or 2 week project! A couple months later, we are getting it done and hoping one more week will have the line buried and functioning.

Isn’t this a great idea?

NW corner
Northwest corner
NW corner marker
Marker NW corner

Here is our second corner marker located. They are not that obvious to find are they? Our process started with the land survey corner markers on the North side. This is where we have cleared the brush previously, so it seems pretty straight forward. The search isn’t too bad because our electrical line is buried close to this property line.  Luckily, we already cleared this side and the front of the property when we built the house.

dog fence road
dog fence road frontage

Three corners down, one to go.

A search & rescue event begins for the fourth survey marker located on the roughest steep ravines of the property on the south east side. The property is a virtual rain forest with ferns on the bottom southwest side morphing to a quite a steep slope with some really great rock formations.

Wow! The adventure really begins!

 

Strawberries This Morning

strawberry harvest
Two days worth of strawberries.

I waited two days then picked strawberries again. It seems like a lot of work but worth it. The harvest amounted to 20 cups after cleaning and coring. Whew! Twenty cups is a lot of strawberries but it boiled down (literally)….

strawberry syrup
4 quarts strawberry syrup

to four quarts of strawberry syrup….

fruit roll-up
strawberry fruit roll-up

and two sheets of fruit roll-up in the dehydrator this am. So, you can see that gardening is keeping me busy this summer. This is the first time making fruit roll-ups so my fingers are crossed that they will come out yummy. It is always nice to have something for the grandkids when they come visit.

Weeding & Picking in the Garden

strawberries
12 cups strawberries
strawberry jam
strawberry jam

Picking

After finishing other outside projects around here, I step into the garden to pick ripe strawberries. Todays pickings amount to 12 cups after washing and coring. Here is how they cook up into strawberry jam in the evening. Sweet home aromas! I love the smell of jam cooking, drifting throughout the house during the summer evenings.

corn rows
weeding the corn

Meanwhile, back at the garden. After picking strawberries and setting the water, I look for the shadiest area to choose where to weed, and today it is the corn.

Weeding

Gardens are always in need of weeding, no matter how conscientious of a gardener you are. I am comfortable in my Bloomsday long sleeve shirt, jeans and wearing an old lady straw hat along with sunglasses. The breeze is heavenly, the birds sing to me as the butterfly’s and hummingbirds swoop in and around. Heavenly. It is truly amazing how calming and relaxing this chore is. Mindfully, stretching the back, arms and legs while requiring that I use my knees.

I weeded the first three rows completely. Looks pretty. However, noticing that I was running out of sunlight…. I did a “pre-weed” on the remaining four rows of corn.

What is a “pre-weed”?

I stand and pull the obvious big weeds as I am walking down the row, instead of getting each and every little weed out (on my knees). I’ll go back and fully weed these rows next time around.

Asparagus Time

Asparagus time is very welcome in our garden. Unfortunately, this time is short when this heavenly vegetable graces our dinner table.  So sad it is coming to a close already.

As you can see, it is a veggie that produces welcome little stocks daily that push up from their root base. We love to go pick these with our little knife. There is no better tasting vegetable that a handful of asparagus stocks picked right from the garden before dinner. We are most certainly spoiled gardeners. By the way, did you know that one of our nations past president, Thomas Jefferson, loved asparagus too? He evidently loved gardening too.

The only problem with asparagus is that it takes a couple of years to get established. It takes a little preparation and patience. You can see the trenches we dug into the garden this year. We planted seed for more asparagus here and will slowly add more dirt into the trench as they grow in height. This encourages lots of root growth. The seeds are from our one established row of asparagus that we enjoy now. When these new ones do sprout and show themselves, they will look like whispy little things.
In a few years we should be able to share with other family members, can or pickle or simply sell at a farmers market. We believe that asparagus is well worth the work involved.

Mystery Blossoms

If a person were presented with this mystery photo, would they be able to guess what it is a picture of? It seems like quite a normal blooming plant doesn’t it?

This plant used to be quite prolific here in the Inland Northwest. However, the Washington state powers to be decided that it was a nuisance, and began spraying to eradicate it.

Fortunately this was not completely successful and these wild guys are becoming more common again. People are able to enjoy the great products made from these berries.

Have you figured out what plant blossom this is yet?

It is good to keep an eye out for these little treasures as you drive or walk around. Look for bushes anywhere from waist high to towering overhead. These mystery berries are well worth looking for.
Okay, these are choke cherries! The choke cherry is easy to find and pick if you look for them. They make excellent jams, syrups, and cobblers. Happy hunting!