Thursday, August 10, 2017


House and grounds from south this morning (Aug. 10). Smoke is worse each day.

Mike left early Wednesday morning (Aug. 9) to motocache along the Lochsa, so the dogs and I had a quiet day. Our morning walk was “out west” – behind the house to the canyon rim. As the morning was slow to warm up, I baked cookies. About 10:45, I closed the house, picked up my picker’s pail, and invited Bess to join me in picking hawthorn berries at the draw. Initially she seemed interested, but uncertainty set in and she decided not to chance it. (She is Butchie’s granddaughter, remember.)

Haws -- August 2
So, down the lane I went to pick berries by myself. I found some lovely reachable branches loaded with berries. Apparently the “haws” are a favorite of the birds because they are disappearing rapidly. As I picked, a little bird sat on a branch within the tree and scolded me.  

Neighbor's place before harvest
I picked about an hour and came back with plenty – about three quarts. Subsequently I poured them into a stockpot, covered them with plenty of water, and simmered them for 20 minutes. The haws are pithy, seedy, and bland, but the homesteader in me just can’t pass up available berries. The first cooking didn’t yield much juice, so I added more water to the berry pulp and cooked again, then strained the juice through cheesecloth. I now have a quart of “hawberry” juice.

Having finished my work, I settled down to quiet activity in the afternoon. While Nellie snoozed on her pillow, I crocheted. Bess was outside.

Taken from the kitchen porch
“Bark. Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark.” Bess’ tone was urgent, but I figured someone was coming in. Tossing my crocheting aside, I ran to the door, and the moment I opened the door, I heard the telltale rattling buzz of a rattlesnake. I called Bess, and she obediently came immediately. Then the three of us – Bess, Nellie, and I – stood in the dining room and watched the snake through the window. Mike doesn’t like to kill the rattlers, but when he isn’t here to carry them away, I have to protect the dogs. Long story short, that’s what happened.

Bess in June's field, looking north
Well, you might think that was the end of the story. Certainly it was enough excitement for one day. Mike came home, and Bess tried to tell him all about it. I filled in the gaps where language failed her.

Grain harvest concludes on neighboring farm to the north
Then, in the evening – about 8:30 – Bess warned again, this time from the other side of the house where the raised beds are. I heard the rattle from the open living room window. Mike called Bess into the house and grabbed a light. Cautiously the three of us followed the sound, which I located as coming from under the tire with the strawberries. We could do nothing about that, so we left it alone.

My dad believed that rattlesnakes came in pairs. He would search for the second one and sometimes find it. KW



Mike said...

Leaving on a bike ride this morning I saw 3 ruffed grouse cleaning up the berries Kathy had dropped the previous day.

Kathy said...

Bess could have had those berries. Both Bess and Nellie love the berries that drop from the Hawthorn trees.

Hallie said...

That looks just like the snake I almost stepped on!

The blackberries appear to be coming on now. We hope to do some urban scouting today. We'll see how it goes--from what we could see from the car, there were some that were ready, but others need more time. Our stores of jelly are depleted, so it would be good to replenish our inventory. We MUST plan on elderberry fest if we hope to bolster our stores enough to make it through winter.

Kathy said...

So far, I have not managed to bolster my stores of jelly with this year's berries.

In searching the supplements shelf at the store today, I noticed one labeled "Hawthorn Berries." I'll have to research the benefits. However,this year's crop many be depleted.

Hallie said...

We can share! Nick was just proposing that we pick more blackberries since it's so quick and easy. In the fruit business, we call this "low hanging fruit." Har har