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Isaac got into a fight this weekend. His eye got all messed up but you should see his nemesis…dead.
But let’s back up a second. Sunday was a beautiful day so we decided to head out to the country to work on some things. We planted several fruit trees and blueberry bushes over the last few weeks. We needed to water them and also to surround them with fences to keep the deer and other critters out. The weeds had also gotten sort of out of control a bit too so I need to run the trimmer. It seemed like a perfect time to head out and enjoy some time together.
So, I ran the weed trimmer all over the place even trimming up against the beehives. I figured that I would be met with a few angry bees but I ran the trimmer within 20 feet of the hives for around a half an hour. I didn’t get so much as a single sting.
We dug and set 7 fence posts in concrete and then I broke out the tiller to break up some new ground to plant a few green beans. The kids were sitting in the shade somewhat nearby reading their books. So, I started tilling and the bees started in on me. I got 3-4 stings pretty quickly on but I decided to push on through. The kids and Emily were not having any trouble so I figured they didn’t like the tiller motor. I got maybe a dozen stings all together but no one else had trouble. Now why on earth I could run a trimmer right up against their hives without a problem baffles me since the tiller was a fair distance away. Anyhow, Isaac got a sting in the lower eyelid. It looked sort of ugly pretty quickly and went down hill from there. He was feeling pretty miserable and just needed to lay down and rest some I think. Poor kid…but you should see his attacker…she’s dead.
This entry was posted in Family, Nature and tagged Nature by warren
We have been busy as cats in a sandbox and it seems that we haven’t had time to do anything, much less anything interesting. Every now and then, though, we get a chance to take a few minutes to do something simple. Since it’s July (holy cow! It’s July?!), something simple means berry picking for us.
We have an excellent raspberry patch at the house so I can stumble out in my pjs and grab a handful of berries. Our patch makes many more than a handful though so we pick and freeze berries every day. Our raspberry patch is pretty interesting. Of course there are berries, but the new feral kittens hide out in there too (anyone want a kitten? Energetic. Free to a good home). I have seen all manner of bugs and spiders also. Honestly, our raspberry patch is a biology lesson (in a good way) waiting to happen! I love picking berries just to see what will pop out next!
By the way, did you know you can spread berries out in a single layer on a plate, freeze them, and then put them in freezer bags. The individual berries remain intact so you don’t end up with a berry blob.
Anyhow, raspberries are easy for us. It’s the blackberries that are painful. I think they have to be that way for folks to appreciate their awesomeness and I am willing to let Emily make the sacrifice. We all pick them actually. By “we”, I mean Emily and I pick them. The kids always seem to wander off into the woods at our secret blackberry location to “look for more berries”. Uh huh.
So, blackberries are especially good right now and I love blackberry pies more than any other pie (except maybe Emily’s strawberry pies). I have an excellent wife who not only helps pick the berries, but also makes me pies! Thanks you berry much! You are my favorite wife, Emily!This entry was posted in Food, Nature and tagged Food, Nature by warren
I am a bit behind on posting…well, a lot behind, but there’s another story there that I will tell later. Anyhow, I think I have mentioned that I hate winter and all things cold (except cold Mt Dew and frozen Snickers bars, and air conditioning), but I do get a special joy when we get our first frost. Our first good solid frost came Saturday morning. So, on Saturday morning, when I saw the sparkle of the ice on the leaves, I gave a 21 raspberry salute to all of the dang mosquitoes that died.
I am not exactly sure why, but we seem to have an extra helping of mosquitoes around our place. We go to other places around Charleston and it doesn’t seem to bad. I guess there must be swamp land near by…that or else my gutters are jammed up with leaves that hold extra water longer than they should even though I try to keep them clean in spite of the two gigantic trees towering overhead that shed stuff spring, summer, and fall (whew, what a sentence!) Yeah, probably swamp land.
Anyhow, we’ve had our frost and I got to to see the pretty look of the ice on the grass. My volunteer tomatoes and herbs are dead. Now, let’s get back to summer, shall we?This entry was posted in Nature and tagged Fall, Nature by warren
So…ahem…the blackberries are in full glory right now and we found a newish place to pick and this year’s berries are as big as I have ever seen (including those pretend ones you can get at the grocery store). We have picked several “messes” of berries and I have enjoyed 2 blackberry pies that my delightful wife has prepared. She made some good ones 2 years ago, but this year, the berries are purple and huge and AWESOME!
Of course, we live in West-by-God-Virginia where mountain goat commandos go to train. Our new location is significantly more hilly than previous years so picking in our new secret spot has been interesting and a little prickly. I have to wear soccer cleats so I don’t slide down the hill through the briers. I really wish I was more successful at that. Anyhow, because of the danger (yes, the hills are steep enough that it is dangerous), the kids are not picking this year. They mostly run around and look for new spots for me to scale. I think they have grown up a good bunch though. They still fight like mountain goat commandos and mountain lions, but not while we are working on berries…and that’s worth a big hee-haw from me!
Aside from the hills being interesting, our new spot is farther into the woods and we have been assaulted by a few ticks this year. Ticks suck. I think I hate ticks and roaches more than about anything…not sure why because bugs in general don’t offend me, but I am personally offended when I see either of my nemeses. Alas, I shall push on in pursuit of the berry. The blackberry pie calls to me…I must heed its call!This entry was posted in Food, Nature, WV and tagged Food, Nature, WV by warren
Last Sunday we picked a powerful lot of strawberries and canned most of it as jam. We were all jammed up (at 53 or so jars which should last us a year) and still had plenty of berries left. My beautiful and loving wife finally heard my subtle hints that a strawberry pie was in order. Though subtle, my wife understood my need for pie. She just knows what I need…because I was subtle after all!
We looked around at various recipes, some from family and some from cookbooks, but we (meaning she) decided upon one from the Interwebs.
Anyhow, Deana Carter sings about strawberry wine and being 17 and all that stuff. I am not too old but I guess I am not 17 either…I’ll take strawberry pie and 38 any day!
Still, this is a cool song:
Anyhow, so here is the recipe:
Take a bowl and put two cups of strawberry in it. Crush the strawberries completely and add one and a half cups of water to them. Pour this mixture in a pan and bring to boil. Let the mixture simmer for about five minutes. Next, strain out the juice from the mixture and add about one cup of water to it. Add one and a half cup sugar, six tablespoons of cornstarch and half a teaspoon of salt to the pan. Pour the strawberry juice strained earlier in the pan too. Bring the mixture to boil, let it simmer till it becomes thick. Remove the mixture from the stove and let it cool. Take a baked crust and put some whole strawberries in it. Pour the mixture prepared earlier on it. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve the strawberries chilled.
(from here)This entry was posted in Food and tagged Food by warren
We went to a you-pick strawberry place in Cottageville, WV on Sunday. It’s about 35 minutes away (though for the kids, it was a 2 year long trip) and was a nice Sunday drive. We got to Hartley Farms and found a huge field of the biggest and best strawberries I have ever seen (though I didn’t know that part right away). The proprietor took us over to a row and told us to, “have at it”. I fully expected to have to search and dig and really work to find a few scrawny strawberries. We picked 2 years ago at a place closer to home and it was pitiful. Hartley Farms was $0.55 per pound cheaper and there were hundreds of big fat berries everywhere!
We filled 7 ice cream buckets to overflowing and weighed in. All told, we had about 32 pounds of berries! The best part is that the kids even helped pick! We jumped in the car hoping to get home before Isaac ate every last strawberry. Though he made a run at eating 32#, we did make it home with a few berries. All four of us started making jam though the kids were tired after a batch each. They wanted to take a jar to their teachers that they had made.
Emily and I continued on into the night making jar after jar of jam. Isaac in particular like strawberry jam so the 43 half-pints we made may last us the year (and may not). We still have somewhere around 8 pounds of berries to go…not sure if that will be jam or something else yet. We have a fair bit of cleanup yet to do. Of course, it is impossible to make jam without making stuff sticky and our floor is sticky indeed. I have mopped it several times but my socks still leave little fuzzy footprints when I walk in the kitchen.
And by the way, when you make strawberry jam, make sure you use a huge pot to boil your mixture. We forgot since last time and we boiled a pot of sticky strawberry syrup over the edge of the sauce pan we had and onto the hot burner on our (wretched) glass-topped stove. You guessed it…it caramelized and tried to burst into flame. We never saw fire, but our house was full of smoke before I could get the mess cleaned up…so, word to the wise, use a huge pot to boil the mix! Luckily we had a better pot so subsequent batches were fine!This entry was posted in Canning, Food, WV and tagged Canning, Food, Strawberries, WV by warren
We have a secret spot where we go to pick blackberries. Of course, blackberries have thorns so our screams probably make our location a little less secret than it otherwise would have been. Still, we go blackberry picking every 2-3 days while they are in season. Last night was our first venture to the patch.
Emily and I are coming up on our 15th wedding anniversary and we’ve known each other almost 20 years. I have known her parents about the same length of time. Last night was the first time we have taken them along with us. It was hard to decide whether I knew them well enough to trust them with my secret location. Finally I broke down and we all went picking.
Last year we went so much that we were overrun with berries. Don’t tell Emily but I am hoping for the exact same problem this year. With the first batch, Emily made a blackberry pie last night. I have breakfast lined up for the next few days for sure!
I plan to make some blackberry cobbler and some blackberry wine as well. My dandelion wine is looking great so I am going to try my hand at blackberry too. It’s funny to be making wine since neither of us drinks, but it’s the adventure that I enjoy!
Anyhow, blackberries are in season in WV and I have the stained and scratched up hands and arms to prove it! Are you getting berries where you are?This entry was posted in Adventure, Food, WV and tagged Adventure, Food, WV by warren
My mom scanned this picture of my Grandpa (back row, left, ca. 1935) and his family. I love old pictures like this where everyone looks so happy to be together. The funny thing is, my Grandpa is full of joy! He’s is all about hilarious…
Every time he sees strawberries, he gets a smile on his face. 70+ years ago, my aunt was made in a strawberry patch. I didn’t know that color was invented back then let alone “time in the strawberry patch”. Way to go Grandpa (and Grandma)! From the story…I think they liked strawberries quite a bit!
Much later (I saw this in real life), one of his neighbors had a rooster which annoyed everyone nearby. The neighbor eventually moved on but Grandpa didn’t want to let it end…he had a recording of the rooster and continued to play it each morning for folks nearby. The funny thing is, one of them was a taxidermist so returned the favor…he stuffed a groundhog and set him upright in my Grandpa’s garden. Grandpa shot it over and over before he finally walked over to check on the obviously deaf groundhog that didn’t hear his misses.
I knew several of the original family and they were all wild, to say the least. I don’ t know why they all looked so sour as I have never known a more smiley bunch. All I can figure is that this picture was made before they invented color…or maybe it was right before they invented strawberries.
Anyhow, in related news, I have an order in for 50 strawberry plants for this spring…I’m just sayin’This entry was posted in Family, Fun and tagged Family, Fun by warren
Fortunately, I love blackberry pie and my Mom has the World’s best recipe which I am sharing with you, my closest personal friends. My Mom’s pies are the best in the world – bar none. I cannot share all of her secrets but this one is one of my favorite pies she makes:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
5 cups fresh berries
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp butter
Heat oven to 425. Prepare (or buy) 10 inch pastry. Stir together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Mix together with berries. Turn berry mixture into pastry lined pan. Sprinkle with lemon juice and dot with butter. Cover with top crust which has slits cut in it. Seal and flute edges. Moisten fingers and dab on crust. Put butter dabs and sprinkle top with sugar. Bake 45-50 minutes until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. Fight off everyone else in household to horde pie for self.
There are a few critical steps. in particular, you must cut the initial of the pie-type into the top (in addition to the “slits”). For example, the blackberry pie pictured here has a “BB” carved into the top-crust. Initially, Emily was not going to follow protocol on this pie. I informed her that without the intials, the pie should be dumped straight into the compost as it would have been rendered inedible.
Emily tells me I have a “pie problem”. I loved (and finished) the squash pie from a couple of days ago. I have blackberry pie on the brain. I chalk it all up to getting my winter weight on so I an be ready for hibernation!
�This entry was posted in Food and tagged Food by warren
We seem to have come to the end of the blackberries. When we started picking at the end of June, we could easily pick until our baskets were full. I never weighed the berries we picked but we harvested a lot of berries. All together, we made 54 half pints of jam, 10 pints of syrup, three pies and we froze around 8-10 more quart-sized freezer bags. We went a few nights ago and the berries have surely dwindled (or else someone else found our spot!). We got enough to fill a quart freezer bag but no more. Although a little eariler than planned, we had figured on stopping picking sometime around the end of summer. There is an English wives’ tale that goes something like this…
When the Devil was kicked out of Heaven on October 11(the date of Michaelmas though I have seen it posted as September 29 also…one is old Michaelmas and the other modern Michaelmas I guess), he landed, cursing and screaming, on a thorny blackberry bush.
He avenges himself on the same day every year by spitting (or some say, peeing) on the berries, which makes them inedible.
Apparently, there is some truth to leaving blackberries alone in the Fall. The climatic changes of Autumn apparently are ripe for mold to breed which may make the blackberries unsafe to eat.
There is another English tale regarding blackberries…
Once upon a time, a cormorant (a seabird that dives for fish), a bat, and a blackberry bush entered the wool business together, buying, shipping, and selling wool. Unfortunately, their ship, loaded with wool, sank on its first voyage, and their business went belly-up. Ever since, the cormorant dives into the sea looking for the ship. The bat hides from his creditors in a cave, venturing forth only after dark. And the blackberry bush grabs wool from any passing sheep, trying to replace his loss.
I also found an interesting site that has some explanations of old traditions associated with the Celtic season/month