A journal of our day to day; homesteading and homeschooling in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Picking blueberries and raspberries
Last weekend I took the kids berry picking with my folks. My mom watched the kids while my dad and picked in a frenzy. We had a thirty mile drive and though we saw other berry pickers, no one had picked at this spot yet this season. The picking was superb, so many big and beautiful berries it was hard to focus and harder yet to leave. I picked these three tubs in three hours. Picking wild blueberries is hard work. Lots of squatting and bending over - bend from the hip to save yourself an aching back later.
Yesterday I picked cultivated raspberries (Boynes and Kiskas), at a friend's garden. I picked close to twenty pounds, about five gallons in a few hours. Again, the berries were so plentiful that it was overwhelming. Fortunately a friend offered to watch the kids and I took another friend with me to pick, otherwise it would have taken all day to do a thorough job picking.
There are numerous fruits and berries that don't grow here. In fact, the biggest temptation to move elsewhere is the wide variety and ease with which I could grow fruit and nut trees, along with other perennial plants and heat loving vegetables. Yet, I try with some success not to dwell on what I can not have and make the most of what is available. I am so thankful for blueberries and raspberries. We also have an abundance of cranberries. Other berry bushes and fruit trees which I would like to establish on our property include currants, nanking cherries, elderberries, gooseberries and apple trees. I would like to check out some of the hardier pear and plum trees, as well as some of the hardiest grapes. There are a few varieties that survive the winters here, although I have yet to hear of anyone having major success with these.
I've been looking over my berry picking and jam notes from the last few years. I've also been taking inventory of how much jam, syrup and frozen berries I have leftover from last year. Last year I made five batches of blueberry jam, one batch of syrup and had four jars of jam leftover, no berries. I made three batches of raspberry jam and two batches of syrup. I still have six jars of jam in the freezer and a couple gallons of raspberries, but only because I thought I was out the last couple months. Took some deep cleaning the freezer to find them and now they are front and center to be consumed first. Blueberries seem more versatile to me. They aren't seedy, so they don't clog the kid's smoothie straws. I am so use to dropping them into pancakes, that I find plain pancakes kind of boring without them. I could never have enough blueberries in the freezer or on the shelf. Wild Alaska blueberries are nothing like cultivated or store-bought blueberries. They pack a ton of flavor. They are so intense that we rarely make a straight blueberry pie, rather we cut them with apples or other mild fruits or berries. So I'll try not to turn green with envy when I read about other bloggers drowning in peaches or cherries, and I'll just think blueberries, raspberries...at least I have berries.
We are a family of four (with one more on the way), living in the Arctic Boreal Forest above Fairbanks, in the Interior of Alaska. I write about our simple life and trying to keep our life simple in a day when the typical American life is anything but. When I first started writing this blog I had a toddler and a baby and we were a growing homestead. I wanted to share our day to day and all the lessons we learned along the way, from mixing our own chicken feed to goat kidding season and cheese making. As our children have grown, home schooling has really taken over and I have had to examine every aspect of our lives to keep our days simple yet fruitful. These days you will still find me posting and sharing pictures of our chickens and garden, berry picking and salmon processing. I also hope to be writing about home schooling decisions and lessons as well as other interests and hobbies the kids and I explore. Reader interest and feedback is what keeps me writing, so please leave lots of comments!
The here and now of our homestead is what I'm writing about. Compelled by a sense that we are participating in something significant, heading back to our roots... this is my attempt to share what we are learning along our journey. For those of you on similar paths, whether you are raising kids, a flock of chickens, a couple goats or run a farm, well I'm hoping to learn from you as well, so feel free to put in your two cents!