Walks with Berries

Jun
25

It’s me against the birds. Every once in a while, I find a ripe raspberry that’s been half-eaten and I know they’ve been there, but most of the time I pull off the plump, juicy berries first. I go out collecting every day. It’s become a little daily ritual, my walk around the farm to all my spots. While I’m walking, I look for new spots–and sometimes I find them! I’ve found more raspberry patches than I ever imagined the day I found what I thought was just one patch by the driveway. I found more along the driveway, then I found them up by the house, below the driveway, and across the road.

I’ve gotten better at finding them along the sunny edges of the woods, and also better at identifying the new canes shooting up first-year growth. I know where more raspberries will be next year.

The raspberry-palooza is stunning. I’m obsessed with the raspberries! And where I find raspberries, I often find blackberries, too. But now, it’s raspberry time and they are going to peak soon. There are still many raspberries not yet ready, but I think they will be mostly done in another week or so.

Just in time for blackberry season. The blackberries are starting to show a hint of color. They will be ripening next month.

I’m actually starting to think I will collect enough raspberries for a straight raspberry jam. I have four cups now. I figured up a per-cup berry jam recipe so I can make jam with however many raspberries and blackberries I get. See it here: Berry Jam (By the Cup).

I’m getting bolder as my obsession grows. I collect raspberries high. I collect raspberries low. No ripe berry is left behind. I leap to raspberries along cliffs.

I clamber up banks and climb into underbrush and through trees.

You have to get down in there because sometimes the berries are hiding.

I hear the phone ringing back at the house and I don’t care. I’m collecting raspberries.

One of my favorite new patches is a huge sprawling patch of both raspberries and blackberries below the driveway, between the driveway and the sheep pasture (Frank’s field). There’s about a six-foot steep bank dropping off from the driveway down to a run that drains into our creek. On the other side of the run, the ground slopes down to the fence and the field beyond. I walk along the fence, reaching across the ditch to the berries growing along the steep bank.

The sheep will think it’s funny if I fall in. Or not notice, because sheep don’t care much about people. Unless you are carrying a feed bucket.

Someone asked on a previous post if these might be wineberries. Wineberries can be distinguished from raspberries by the reddish hairs on wineberry canes. These are old-fashioned wild black raspberries that are growing on our farm. I haven’t seen any wineberries here. We’ve discovered a few more raspberry patches along the road to our farm (and haven’t looked too hard there, so there are probably more), but these patches I’m finding on our farm were likely pre-existing and disrupted by the construction a few years ago–or carried down the road here by the birds.

The flora is exploding on our farm this year. Before the disruption of our construction three years ago, there had been a previous disruption by loggers when this farm was selectively timbered a few years before we bought it. Our driveway was built by the loggers, and the location of our house was a large cleared area used as a staging ground by the loggers who actually spread and graded, widening the area, which provided space for our garden and goat yard in front of our house. (If all this sounds confusing, remember that I have a Farm Map.) The wide cleared swaths out past the duck ‘n’ buck yard and out through BP-land were logging roads.

Because of the loggers, the hillside behind our house was also disrupted quite a bit before we got here and added to the general disruption. I’ve been planting ramps back there for the past three years and I am suddenly realizing this year that I have no idea how I’ll even find my ramps next year. The forest is bursting in West Virginia verdant abundance. I am perhaps trading ramps for raspberries. Next year, I’ll start planting ramps more mindful of the oncoming near-tropical explosion.

When I get all the way down the driveway in my raspberry collecting each day, I look up the driveway and barely recognize the entrance to our farm because of the growth.

Things are starting to look not only settled but well-established. My daily walks amongst the berries are a chance to notice, and to enjoy.

I walk along the precarious path between the bank below the driveway and the sheep pasture, reaching-reaching-reaching for my little treasures, and I think, I’m picking wild raspberries on my farm!

And I don’t even know which part of that last sentence is the most awesome.


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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on June 25, 2011  

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Comments

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  1. 6-25
    1:26
    am

    The birds are helpful too in the spreading of those raspberry seeds, I would think. :)

  2. 6-25
    1:27
    am

    OHHH And those pictures are stunning!

  3. 6-25
    6:34
    am

    We have these berries along one edge of our yard, at the wood’s edge. My husband has always called them “thimbleberries” to distinguish them from the wild red raspberries which will come later, around the same time as the wild blackberries. I have heard people use the term thimbleberries to refer to other types of berries, but that’s what we call them.

    i have mostly used them in muffins as we usually don’t get more than a cup or so. They are yummy fee food.

  4. 6-25
    6:36
    am

    that should be FREE food… sorry, it’s early

  5. 6-25
    7:13
    am

    I know just what you mean about that feeling of picking wild raspberries on your farm. I feel the same way every year, here. It’s worth dealing with the ticks and chiggers and heat and thorns to have that sun-on-my-back-berry-smell-in-the-air-juice-on-my-hands experience of knowing that I’ve discovered a secret treasure and the place is sharing it with me.

  6. 6-25
    7:34
    am

    I agree: Awesome!!

  7. 6-25
    8:27
    am

    LOL, it is really nice to hear someone so happy with their life. So many people just want to complain about silly things. We are happy here too. Building our farm up isn’t cheap, but there is so much to be proud of and all that work keeps us tired and out of the bars. HA HA I don’t go looking for berries too hard because we don’t really eat jelly or jam. I do like to pick a few for baking though. As for the ramps – don’t worry you will find them by their SMELL when it is time.

  8. 6-25
    9:26
    am

    What about ticks and chiggers? I grew up in Missouri and some of the areas were wooded like where you are, and this time of year if I stepped even a toe into the woods, I’d come back home covered in ticks and chiggers. Just awful. I do remember collecting dewberries as a kid though. Do you have any dewberries there?

  9. 6-25
    9:45
    am

    As far as I know we don’t grow raspberries very well here in Tenn. I think it must be the hot and humid summers. There may very well be wild raspberries somewhere around here but I have never seen them. We do have our share of wild blackberries and chiggers, snakes and ticks to go along with them so that tends to discourage me about searching for them. Used to grow the thornless berries but you could still get chiggers if you brushed against the canes. Nothing better than homemade jam made from blackberries you have searched for and picked. I envy you the wild raspberries! :happyflower:

  10. 6-25
    10:38
    am

    I am so glad you write this blog…it’s my escape from the real world that I look forward to daily. The raspberries, etc look delicious!!

  11. 6-25
    10:47
    am

    It is even worth the Poison Ivy! Beautiful pictures and I love you appreciate all you have been given care of.

  12. 6-25
    3:32
    pm

    Careful of the poison ivy and snakes!

  13. 6-25
    6:15
    pm

    Your place is absolutely beautiful and I LOVE your site ! A friend emailed me and this has become my new most favorite site so visit. Thank you for the beautiful pictures of your place, your wonderful blogs, recipes and everything. Keep it up ! :fairy:

  14. 6-25
    8:50
    pm

    Love reading your blog every day. Hope to one day live on a farm like yours.

  15. 6-25
    11:26
    pm

    Such a beautiful walk for berries. I hate ticks, chiggers and snakes! I love black raspberries! I would walk the hills for raspberries. Oh for a piece of black raspberry pie…not red raspberry but black raspberry…mmmm

  16. 6-26
    10:45
    am

    Ther is nothing better than raspberries and blackberries from the side of the road. Even the purple fingers are worth it.

  17. 6-26
    3:09
    pm

    I had a similar occurance this year. I have more wild black raspberries that I ever could have imagined and they are on my farm! :woof:

  18. 6-27
    9:28
    pm

    Hmmmm…somebody educate me, please. We have some kind of berry and I’ve always thought they were blackberries because, well….they are black! I think of raspberries as being red like the ones you get in the store. I don’t actually like those red berries or anything that’s ‘raspberry flavored’ but I do like the black ones, except for the seeds, thorns, chiggers, and ticks :no:

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