Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Strawberries and More Strawberries

"Doubtless God could have made a better berry (than the strawberry), but doubtless God never did." William Allen Butler
I hate to say that I'm tired of strawberries. And I can't say that I'm tired of eating them. Just picking them. It's been a good year down here on the farm for strawberries. A very good year. We don't have a big patch but one day I picked three gallons. And they aren't those apple size strawberries you can sometimes get at Kroger. No, these are small and sweet, but it takes a lot of picking to fill your bucket. Especially when you're having to play the twister game to get them picked because you couldn't bear to plow or chop or pull any of those new strawberry plant runners. And now you certainly don't want to step on those luscious ripe berries. Seems like every time my foot slips it's always the nicest berry in the patch that ends up smashed underfoot.
These berries were hard coming. We used to keep a strawberry patch going all the time, but then it got weedy and my husband decided to burn out the weeds. He discovered strawberry plants don't like fire any better than weeds. So after a few years of no strawberries we were ready to try again. First we put them in a raised bed. They were beautiful, lush and green, that first year. You don't really have berries until the second year. One night in late September after they'd eaten all the apples off our apple trees and were still hungry, the deer ate every leaf on those strawberry plants. The next morning we had stems. But we don't give up easy. The next year we put the strawberries in the garden. Again green and lush plants. Again hungry deer. This was after I spent a good number of hours weeding all summer. They say third time's charm. But a fence to compare to the kind they build around prisons maybe did more than the charm. I weeded another year and said if the deer got through the fence and ate them off to the ground again, I was giving up on strawberries. But the fence worked. The first year wasn't too good for strawberries. Got a handful or two. Last year picked a bunch. This year abundance is the word. And I'm about ready for them to be through bearing. Then I can start picking the raspberries. On a farm, there's always something to be sure you get plenty of sunshine and exercise.
An interesting side note is that the character in my work in progress has been picking strawberries in my Shaker village. The Shakers made a lot of strawberry jam and what they didn't eat, they sold to the "world." So I'm figuring they had some big strawberry patches and that my character is probably even more tired of picking as I am.
Wish you were here. I'd bake us some of those old fashioned sugar cookies like my mama used to make and we'd have strawberry shortcake. Yum yum.

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