August 22, 2018
Steady rain falling on the slate roof is such a peaceful sound I could easily curl up in bed and fall back to sleep, but there are pops to make and work to be done.
It's been a wet and hot summer - well, dry to start, then deluges of rain just as the berries began to ripen - so daily picking has been a challenge. But the ponds are full and the gardens are lush and the flowers especially full and brilliant and I am feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for the harvests and all the berries we've brought in.
Strawberries are back after a year's absence and lots of folks are happy because for many people, this is their favorite preserve. It's also the favorite pop choice for kids, so our small harvest won't last long. I've learned that I can do a better job of harvesting all the berries from a small planting rather than most of the berries from a larger planting, and that the quality is always better when I can keep patches to a reasonable size.
Red currants followed the strawberries and continue to astonish us with their yields. That's a good thing too, because it's another favorite pop with kids - and Seedless Raspberry & Red Currant Preserve has become a very popular preserve.
Black currants followed with a paltry yield of about six pounds, which is not surprising since last year they yielded about a hundred. We still have a bunch, so supply of preserves and pops should be good through the holidays.
Raspberries - my most favorite fruit of all - put on a terrific show with well over 200 pounds of really beautiful 5-star berries. The rains were challenging, but our intrepid crew persevered and picked so carefully and thoroughly that we brought in some of the most beautiful berries we've ever seen. And the rains actually helped the season continue longer than usual, with fruit maintaining its size and quality. Lara, Elisha and Lulu led the pack of pickers, with Maggie and Jordan doing great work as newbies.
Blueberries are blowing my mind - so prolific this year that I'm running out of freezer space and might just have to lift off the nets and let the birds in. One thing is for sure, all those folks asking for blueberry pie will be happy this fall....and blueberry preserves, triple berry preserve and triple berry pie too! And little boys really love blueberry pops!
Blackberries, like the black currants, are down this year, which is a relief since last year we brought in about 400 pounds. There are plenty, still, for all our needs. And it's my favorite to infuse into vodka....(sorry, not for sale)
Looking ahead, elderberries are on the brink of harvest - really I should go out today and double check - and since they're too tall to net, we'll see how many the birds will leave us. Since they love to eat the berries while green, I can never really tell what we'll get 'til they're actually in the bag. And boy do we have birds here! The blackberry planting hosts at least three nests of cedar waxwings - clever birds who love all the same things I do.
And the autumn raspberries are loaded and the plantings filled with busy bees and other pollinators. We've just begun picking the first, but these beauties will take us through September and October right to hard frost. Like the summer raspberries, they demand daily picking to ensure quality, but the rows are shorter, the days cooler, and harvest isn't quite as daunting as for the summer crop. This is the variety we use for pies and pops, so it looks like there are plenty for both.
Tomatoes and peppers are coming in strong right now and we've put up the first Tomatoes Rustica and just waiting for a few more deep red peppers before we put up Pepper Preserve.
Well that's the roundup - but here's one more piece of exciting news!
We're crowdfunding for a solar cooler to bring our Frosty Fruit Pops to more places and more happy people. We already use photovoltaics to power our freezers, but this uses solar power to run a generator that will run our portable freezers - so when we go to a music festival, we can bring our own power so that there's plenty for the music! (Update: Thank you, one and all, for your generous donation to our crowdfunding campaign!!! Some of you are old friends, others are new friends, and some folks I don't even know, but I thank you all from the bottom of my heart! Thanks to YOU, PattiPops, Solar Powered Pops -- is happening!!!)
I guess that's all the news, and the sun is coming out so I think I'll rouse Abbey and we'll do a walkabout and check out those elderberries and upcoming raspberries. Ralph is busy as ever keeping things humming. Last summer his two big projects were the Bee House and Tiny Farm Store so he's been happy just focusing on maintenance (and mowing) this rainy year. Somehow, I just turned 65, and realize that some folks retire now. I acknowledge that I've slowed down a lot, but can't imagine ever actually stopping. I'm so grateful for all that Ralph does (at 67) and especially for Elisha and Lara who have taken over the lion's share of gardening for me (they leave me enough work so that I actually think I'm doing something) and helping so much to keep this place going strong.
And thanks to you, my friends, for your continued love and support!