Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘blackberries’

Vining Our Way to Deliciousness

August is jam, and cobbler month….which means one thing on our homestead……

Blackberries 2015

……the blackberries are full, ripe, and sweet.

Blackberries 2015

With the lack of water this summer, it is surprising to me how many berries are hanging on these vines.  Although a bit smaller, they are unexpectedly abundant…and very well protected.  Of course, the ever-present thorns that make one think twice before sticking in a hand to pluck that juicy, sweet-but-tart, purple gem are fiercely on guard…there are other soldiers in the vines battle to keep it’s bounty…….

…..and as I diligently pursued the prize…hornets, wasps, and bumble bees buzzed around me, and within the vines.  There was this one spot where the berries were big, beautiful, and oh so juicy…but after three attempts, I chickened out to the relentless, overwhelmingly loud message of, “DO NOT PLUCK THOSE BERRIES!”  from the hornets that had claimed that particular territory.  They were beautiful berries…..

Blackberries 2015

…..apparently, they did not belong to me!!  Hahaha  In any event, the pot was filled….

Blackberries 2015

Blackberries 2015

…..and filled pots lead to…..

Cobbler 2015

Blackberry Cobbler 2015

Blackberry Cobbler 2015

Blackberry Cobbler 2015

Blackberry Cobbler 2015

,,,,blackberry deliciousness!!

I hope you are able to enjoy something sweet, yet tart on this late summer day.  Thank you for visiting the blackberry bush today!!  I hope you have a most mahvalous morning, afternoon, and evening.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

Oh, Did I Tell You…

It seems like forever since I have sat down to write. It is that time of year. Mid-August usually demands a certain amount of sweat-equity…not only from the summer heat,

Oregon's best kept secret....

Oregon’s best kept secret….

but also from the demands of the oh-so-soft-spoken ripening garden. It has been dry, really dry.

The ground is so dry.

The ground is so dry.

Everything, is feeling thirsty from the lack of those wet, drippy things that fall from the sky. It takes a bit of an extra effort to keep the flock in fresh water (they get overheated very easily), to maximize the benefit of the water given to the garden, to water young fruit, nut, and Sequoia trees one by one by the bucketful, while keeping a balance with the water level in our holding tank. That tank holds water from our well…which in turn, waters this family.

"Yeah, I'm guarding the water!"

“Yeah, I’m guarding the water!”

In spite of water rationing for the garden, there is plentiful ripening. Harvesting of more than just a couple of tomatoes here…a pepper there…has begun! We are starting to enjoy the “fruits of our labor”, especially in the berry department. Wild blackberries are ripening at break-neck speed, and my little strawberries are right behind them. When you pick them at that juicy, sweet ripened stage from the vine, they don’t last long. The upshot of that is turning this…..

IMG_6460

….into this!!!

Making jam...

Making jam…

Strawberry jam

Strawberry jam

And this….

Bucketful of Blackberries

Bucketful of Blackberries

…into this…

Blackberry Cobbler!!!

Blackberry Cobbler!!!

Oh boy!!!

Oh boy!!!

A little time consuming, but totally worth it!!

Oh, did I tell you….

The newest addition.

The newest addition.

….welcome to the farm little Roni Jr. ….. hatched on my daughter’s half-birthday. Out of six eggs, this is the only one that hatched. After several days, Mama Hen abandoned the nest, and the eggs went bad. The baby is out and about free ranging with the rest of the flock, watching every move Mama makes.

Thank you for sharing the long days of summer on the farm with me!! Hope you are having a wonderful August!

Your friend,
Tami

A Study in Purple

Do you like the color purple?? According to http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/personality-color-purple.html , “Having either purple or violet as your favorite color means you are sensitive and compassionate, understanding and supportive, thinking of others before yourself – you are the person others come to for help – being needed motivates you but sometimes people take advantage of you.

Purple Aug. 2014

You are a gentle and free spirit. Your feelings run deep and you can be quite sensitive to hurtful comments from others, although you would never show it…you have a peaceful and tranquil quality…You are usually introverted rather than extroverted and may give the impression of being shy although this is not the case.”

We’ve had a lot of purple on the farm lately, mostly propagated by those things that I spend hours mowing down. They are spiky, intrusive, and relentless in their pursuit to dwell on this land. However, there is beauty, if just for a moment….

Purple Aug. 2014

Purple Aug. 2014

The purple dot in the middle of this abundant weed tells me this is probably the versatile Queens Ann’s Lace….

See the purple dot?

See the purple dot?

…as opposed to this, very similar looking weed, which is highly toxic (hemlock??) The lack of that purple dot is a HUGE red flag!!

Poison Hemlock?? No purple dot!!

Poison Hemlock?? No purple dot!!

This purple bed (and the two furry babies next to it) are missing the furry guy who used to lay upon it. (See https://haveadanehill.com/2014/07/29/morning-has-broken/ )

RIP Tucker...we miss you.

RIP Tucker…we miss you.

The purple flowers of wild blackberry bushes…

Purple Aug. 2014

…bring a bowl full of deliciousness!!

First wild blackberry harvest of 2014

First wild blackberry harvest of 2014

The beautiful sunset on a night full of thunder and lightning. Gorgeous!

A beautiful sunset!

A beautiful sunset!

Purple is a beautiful color…don’t you think?!!! Do you see purple in your area of the world?

Thanks for sharing my morning…I hope yours is fantastic!! Tami

Blackberries + Sugar = Jam!!!

I’m almost embarrassed to admit how excited I get over those little, basic, skills that people have been doing as part of normal, everyday life for countless centuries. Being a newbie at all things even remotely related to homesteading, (with the exception of growing small planter gardens) taking my blackberries and turning them into something I can spread on toast (preferably San Francisco Sourdough!!!) makes me so happy!! I feel like an out-of-the-ordinary homesteading geek…..meaning if other homesteaders (I totally do not even feel that I am qualified to fit into that category) read this blog, they would probably think I’m a geek-homesteading-wanna-be! This is all such a huge experiment for me…I feel like a kid in a candy shop!!

Last summer was the first time I attempted to make blackberry jam. Looking online, I found that you can make jam with our without pectin. Pectin?? What the heck is Pectin?? So I chose not to use that unfamiliar product, and go with what I knew….berries and sugar. I found a recipe at http://savorysweetlife.com/2009/08/how-to-make-blackberry-or-raspberry-jam/ that allowed me to do just that.

Basically, its 1 cup of sugar, to 1 cup of berries and 2 tbsp. lemon juice. That’s it! Simple and to the point. I like fruit products that are a little more tart than sweet, so I reduced the sugar amount to about 3/4 of a cup (or a little less, but more than a 1/2) for each cup of berries. I also prefer seedless jam, so I blended just the berries, then smashed the liquid through a strainer leaving the seeds behind. The result was a very smooth, tart, yet sweet, delicious blackberry jam. Without Pectin, it doesn’t last as long in the fridge…but in my home, it gets eaten up pretty quickly. So here is the process…(most of these pictures were taken from last year’s jam production.)

The stars of the show....Wild Blackberries!

The stars of the show….Wild Blackberries!


The Ninja blended berries!

The Ninja blended berries!


Blended blackberries getting ready to separate the fruit from the seed.

Blended blackberries getting ready to separate the fruit from the seed.


The pulp and seeds left from working the blackberry juices through the strainer.

The pulp and seeds left from working the blackberry juices through the strainer.


Now combined, sugar and blackberry juices boil for 5 minutes.

Now combined, sugar and blackberry juices boil for 5 minutes.



The boiled jam now simmers for 15 more minutes.

The boiled jam now simmers for 15 more minutes.

[
Had a bit of a spill over here...sticky mess!

Had a bit of a spill over here…sticky mess!


And all of a sudden...it's blackberry jam time!!!

And all of a sudden…it’s blackberry jam time!!!


Uhhmmm...YUMMMM!!!  Blackberry jam on sourdough toast!!!

Uhhmmm…YUMMMM!!! Blackberry jam on sourdough toast!!!

The Gift of the Vine – Oregon’s Wild Jewels

Who's picking those berries??

Who’s picking those berries??

Ever wonder where that purple mustache came from on your German Wirehaired Pointer’s mouth? Every wonder why your Great Dane runs an 1/8th of a mile down your driveway and stands staring at the bush growing by the pond? Ever wonder why you buy this product in the store when home-grown is soooo much better?? Wonder what I’m talking about???

WILD BLACKBERRIES!!!!!!

The start of our Wild Blackberry season!!

The start of our Wild Blackberry season!!

While the neighboring honey bees were hard at work pollenating our wild blackberry bushes, my angst about very little bees in my garden grew. However, this year’s crop of blackberries is tremendous, even with the lack of water we’ve had this summer. No doubt their roots are tapping into the year round pond in our front pasture, and although the fruit is smaller, it is abundantly positioned on the vines and packed with berry yumminess!! We have so many yet to ripen….

Waiting on the precious jewels of Oregon.

Waiting on the precious jewels of Oregon.

Wild Blackberries still to ripen

Wild Blackberries still to ripen

This is why my dogs stare at the bush growing by the pond, and come back with purple moustaches…

The last couple of years, I’ve learned a few things about picking these gorgeous, yummy, jewels of Oregon. It is best to go berry picking in the evening as the sun is setting, or in the morning just as the sun is starting to rise. If you don’t, you’re going to be contending with honey bees, bumble bees, and wasps…none of which I want buzzing around my hands, arms, or face. Be prepared to pick more than you need, because half of what you pick won’t make it to the bucket…your mouth (or your dog’s) may exhibit a purple hew after picking. Wear long sleeves, as those thorns really do not want to give up the treasures within their vines. I’ve yet to find gloves that can really work for picking berries. Any suggestions?? Finally, make sure you remember what you were wearing when it comes time to do your laundry…you’ll want to pretreat those blackberry spots left on your clothes…or you can always tie dye if you forget. 🙂

Glad I was wearing long sleeves!

Glad I was wearing long sleeves!


Who's picking those berries??

Who’s picking those berries??


Penni helping to pick...Tucker is back there too!

Penni helping to pick…Tucker is back there too!

Not bad for 15 minutes worth of pain, scratches, and fun. This is true family bonding time… 🙂

The 15 minute bounty!!

The 15 minute bounty!!

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