Back 40 berries
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Going on an adventure
One of the best things about raising kids in the country is that we don't have to go anywhere to have an adventure. We have pasture, timber, creeks, barns, and lots of other things to explore on our 40 acres. I took a hike out back on July 1 with my boys, Jake, 11, Luke, 9, and Will, 7, and our new dog, Dave. We packed a picnic lunch, grabbed some bags for berry picking, and headed out back. Come along and see how we have fun, country style!Date Published: July 5, 2013Date Updated: July 5, 2013
Setting up camp
Luke brought his hammock and set it up between two trees in our favorite shady spot. This area is right alongside a small creek, with lots of trees to climb. We have talked about picking up a second-hand picnic table and benches to leave here, but for now, a sheet on the ground works just fine. We did see a fair amount of poison ivy, so next time I'll bring back some spray to get rid of it.Date Published: July 5, 2013Date Updated: July 5, 2013
As we were finishing our picnic lunch, I glanced over at a bush by the fence, and saw some green berries. Gooseberries! I had no idea we had gooseberries growing wild back there, but we found several large bushes, and quickly set to work picking them. Our arms got a little scratched up from the thorns, but we were too excited to notice. We picked about 4 cups of berries, and left bunches on the bushes.
Watch a video full of helpful tips for growing gooseberries.Date Published: July 5, 2013Date Updated: July 5, 2013
Will decided he'd rather tromp around in the creek bed than pick berries. As you can see, it's pretty much dried up, but he found lots of deer and raccoon tracks in the mud. Our property is part of the White Breast Creek watershed, so when it rains, this creek bed fills up and feeds the big creek, which eventually dumps into Red Rock Lake, where we enjoy boating and fishing in the summer. We have several springs on our property, too, and one of them runs right into this bed, just downstream from where Will was standing. He got pretty muddy, but that's just a sign that he had fun!Date Published: July 5, 2013Date Updated: July 5, 2013
Ripe for the pickin'
We have bunches of wild raspberries growing out back, but this is the first year we've actually picked any. It's a little tough to get to this area when it's wet, and our timing has just been off. This year, we lucked out, and stumbled upon several canes with ripe berries. We'll be going back in a few days to pick even more. I am thinking of digging up some of the berry bushes that grow wild out back and transplanting them closer to the house, so it would be easier to pick the fruit at just the right time. On this hike, we ate most of the raspberries we picked, and brought back enough for pancakes the next day.Date Published: July 5, 2013Date Updated: July 5, 2013
While Luke was helping me pick berries, he saw something move in the grass. He thought it was a grasshopper at first, but then realized it was a tiny little toad! He carried it around for a while, then let it go by the creek bed. Earlier on our hike, we saw a toadstool the size of a dinner plate, and Luke thought it would make a good mansion for the tiny toad.Date Published: July 5, 2013Date Updated: July 5, 2013
Not ready yet
Our wild blackberries still need to grow a little before they ripen. We'll check back every couple of days, and hopefully we can get to the ripe berries before the birds do! Here are a few of my favorite blackberry recipes. I can't wait to make them with our fresh berries!Date Published: July 5, 2013Date Updated: July 5, 2013
On our way back home, we looked up and saw that the mulberries on our many mulberry trees were perfectly ripe. We tasted a few, and they were delicious, so we picked as many as we could easily reach. We plan on trying a mulberry-picking trick where you lay a clean sheet on the ground underneath the tree, and shake the branches. The ripe fruit supposedly falls to the ground. We shall see! I had never actually tried mulberries before, but they were so sweet and delicious! We had some on ice cream for dessert.Date Published: July 5, 2013Date Updated: July 5, 2013
There are wild grape vines growing all over our property, but on our hike, we discovered a fence behind the barn that is covered in grape vines. They are loaded with grapes! I know the family who called our place home for 50 years grew grapes and made wine, and I'm guessing these grapes are left from them. We can't wait to taste these grapes when they're ripe, and maybe make a little jam!Date Published: July 5, 2013Date Updated: July 5, 2013
Ready to bake!
The boys sat down at the table and cleaned the gooseberries, which kept them busy for quite a while! The berries are ready to use when they're a yellow-green color. They will eventually turn a darker reddish color, but at that point, they're overripe and not as tart. (We ate some overripe ones right off the bush, and they are a bit sweeter.) My mom went through her recipe file and found a gooseberry crunch recipe we just had to try!Date Published: July 5, 2013Date Updated: July 5, 2013
From bush to plate
The gooseberry crunch was a hit! The boys described the gooseberries very well: they look like beans, but taste like rhubarb. This tasty recipe has a crisp crust on the bottom, plus lots of crisp sprinkled on top. The gooseberry mix takes on a bit of a caramel flavor, which blends wonderfully with the tart berries. As good as this crisp was fresh out of the oven, it was even better cold the next day! Get the recipe:Date Published: July 5, 2013Date Updated: July 5, 2013
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