Thursday, October 20, 2016


“This is going to be the best day in the foreseeable future,” Mike said on Wednesday. “I’ll go hunting, and if I get back in time, we should go to the farm.” In addition to checking on the place, we had several things we needed to do, not the least of which was to pick the elderberries. Sadly, this year Hallie and Nick can't be with us for Elderberry Fest, but we're out of jelly and the berries are good -- perhaps exceptional -- so I'll carry.

But -- there was that element of doubt that we would actually go, so I went about my usual household activities. I was making raspberry pretzel salad for dessert when Mike arrived home from hunting (2:10) and suggested that we follow-through on the plan to go to the farm. I put a plate over the pretzel crust I had made, put the cream cheese and raspberries back in the fridge, and packed leftovers for our supper. We were on our way by 2:45.

It was indeed a lovely day. Travel was slow because of a project to replace guardrails on the river road (Hwy 12), involving miles of reduced speed. We had to wait at Myrtle for the pilot car to lead us through the Cottonwood Creek area to Cherry Lane.

This picture of an elderberry bush was taken October 2.
It was after 4:00 when we arrived at the farm. Without further ado, I headed to the elderberry bushes behind the house (to the west), scaring up a large covey of Huns as I went. Lovely clumps of elderberries were ripe for the picking, but they were high and I was low. Mike came along and picked most of them, using our hook to pull the clumps within his reach. We filled a large bucket with berries and that was the fastest part of the process.

Back at the house, I spent an hour preparing the berries for the pot as dusk fell. I set them to cooking with six cups of water and then worried that I had added too much. Once the berries were cooked, I divided them between two strainers to drip overnight. 

I still had some berries in the bottom of the bucket, so early this morning I processed them – this time with very little water – and allowed them to drain a few hours. Then I mixed all the juice together and put enough for four batches of jelly into the freezer.

This morning it was chilly, cloudy, and rainy. We congratulated ourselves for having picked the berries yesterday.

By mid-morning we were on the way back to town, this time by way of Hwy 95. For the fun of it, we stopped at the thrift store in Craigmont. Mike bought an old bolt cutter, saying he’s always wanted one, and I picked up a storage bag of lovely (but small) fabric scraps and an antique package of metallic rick-rack. KW


Hallie said...

These photos made me giggle. Methinks I see a Bessie Boo in the back of the truck and the photo of the jelly shows Dad's head framed perfectly in the teapot handle. Pretty tricky!

Kathy said...

So funny! I deliberately captured Bess in the Dakota (her favorite place in all the world), but I knew nothing about framing Mike in the pot handle -- didn't even know he was there. I would never have seen it if you hadn't pointed it out.

Chuck said...

I noticed the rape field on the north and south sides of the house are green, but the June field seems brown, yet. Got any ideas?

Kathy said...

Hi Chuck!
The fields are an interesting phenomenon. The rape is growing densely in some spots and not coming up in others. I did notice that sprouting continues, however. We know nothing about how rape grows and haven't seen the farmer since he planted. I also wonder what will happen when winter hits.