I got an email from the fine folks at Lynd's fruit farm last night. When I saw it was officially blackberry season, and they would be open for limited picking, I made sure we got there early and picked before it was too hot to be out in the field with four helpers in tow.
The blackberry patch is located in Alexandria, Ohio and in order to be there as close to the opening at 8:00 in the morning, I had to plan ahead. I wanted to there as soon as the picking started so we could score the biggest and best berries available. Arriving late would mean extreme heat and plants that were pre-picked of the premium fruit. The early bird gets the worm mentality.
I laid out the grungy tee shirts and level IV clothes for the kids before I went to bed. I packed the van with bottled water, snacks, and a plastic trash bag to line the floor mats in case of spilled berries. We were out of the driveway before 7:30 and I realized I am officially a crazy person.
I am not sure if it is the berries or the experience of a real field trip that makes me do these hair brained schemes. Will the kids even recall how I made it possible for them to be stimulated and entertained every waking moment of the summer at Camp Helene? Dammit, I won't know until I am paying for their therapy, and by then, it is too late, right?
The kids really enjoyed picking the giant, juicy blackberries.
They all happily filled their cardboard quart containers (provided) for the first fifteen minutes. I continued to pick until my fingers were purple from the juice.
I noticed that Natalie was sampling almost as much as she was picking. One for me, one of the bucket, two for me, one for the bucket. Three for me, one for the bucket. At one point, I had to forbid her from eating any more blackberries. I looked over her direction to be sure she was following orders (as if) and I caught her purple-handed and covered in blackberry stains. This is her guilty grin,
soaked with the trace evidence. Priceless. Pure Natalie. This is the smile that indicates she knows she is doing something wrong, but thinks she can get away with it. I have to choose my battles and eating too many freshly plucked blackberries was not going to be my battle today. I will save a lesson in obedience and defiance for another crime at another time.
The kids lost interest in working and wandered off to play all kinds of chase and hide and go seek. They found the farm dog and took time to exhaust the poor thing.
I picked and picked some more. There was no way I had gotten up at the crack of dawn, drove 45 minutes, and stood out in a fly filled field for a measly two quarts of blackberries. Ughhhh, that would be a big fat NO. I stayed and scored 7 quarts by myself as my migrant workers were off doing lord knows what while collecting unemployment.
When we got home, I soaked the berries in sudsy warm water, swish washed, double rinsed and removed all the leaves and stems from the blackberry harvest. Blackberries are notorious for housing bugs and bug eggs, so I had to be sure to really get them clean and ready to freeze. I then placed all the clean fruit on dry dish towels
to air dry with the help of a fan. Once they were dry, I froze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, I bagged then in quart sized ziplocs for future projects.
My grand plan to take the kids out on an educational field trip was more work than I had initially planned. Now we have enough blackberries to prepare all kinds of treats on a rainy day. Oh how I would love a lazy, rainy day.
It was blackberry picking palooza here today. After a day like this, I need a day off, berry berry badly. Or with the week I am having, I might need to make my own blackberry brandy.
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