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Friday, August 28, 2009

Dotted Bruin

Our camping trip to Dotted Bruin was quite an adventure. We picked the rainiest weekend of the summer, maybe the year. I've already described the hike on the muddy horse trail. The Wood Artist had us out looking for a natural phenomenon. The trail was almost non-existent. Just as we were looking for it a second time, a large group of men and boys came charging down the trail. They struck off through the woods right at the marker. We asked if we could follow them. They cordially agreed. It turned out that they were a group from a local church who were off having a guys' outing, middle school and up. I suddenly felt rather awkward to be the only female crashing the party. They teased me a little and I offered to withdraw if they wanted to skinny dip! They hooted and welcomed me on the adventure.
After careening down a steep mountainside through bushes and over logs, we came to a beautiful river. We had to wade, sometimes over our knees, for about 1/2 mile. The rocks were treacherously slippery and I worried about everyone. Mr. Blueberry Eyes grabbed the hand of one of the guys leading the pack (a complete stranger) and went on like a madman. (So much for unsocialized homeschoolers!)
When the leader crossed the river right above a 50 ft. water fall on slimy, slippery rocks with rushing water all around him, I protested that it was certain death! He didn't listen. I finally looked at his friend and said, "Oh, yah. This is why you don't bring women along!" He grinned knowingly. Then we had to clamber up a steep bank along a cliff, then slide down a long mud/rock slide (above). At last, this is the view that awaited us. It was stunning! Wow! Nature can really throw you some treats if you choose to go in search of them!
We headed back before our new friends. It started to rain on our way back. We were wet up to our thighs and the cold rain poured down on us. We tried to keep Mr. Blueberry Eyes spirits up by telling stories and singing. He really was quite a trooper. When we got back to our tent and changed into dry clothes, we dove into our sleeping bags to build up some body heat before venturing out to cook our dinner - chili'n'cheese over corn chips. - Nanette

Monday, August 24, 2009

Huckleberry Fever

I suffer from huckleberry fever. It is a real condition that increases the heart rate, breathing rate and often ends in fantasy and halucinations. It is marked by an almost uncontrollable imagination of bigger, better and ever superlative patches of purple gold.

Episodes Huckleberry Fever are often brought on by tellings -
stories others relate that set the imagination running. It is quite similar to fish stories.
A couple of weekends ago, however, my condition exploded into full-blown hysteria in the most innocent of encounters. We were camping at Dotted Bruin. (Names have been changed to protect my patches.)
The Wood Artist had us tramping about the forest in search of some grand natural phenomenon. (More on that later!) We had traversed a most annoying trail for about 1 1/2 miles through deep mud caused by pack horses/mules. Suddenly, there it was. The kind of huckleberry patch you only dream of.
They were everywhere. They were big. They were so heavy, the bushes were bowed with the weight of them! Wouldn't you know it! We didn't have our buckets! We ate to our hearts content and then emptied our water bottle and filled it (40 oz.) in about 15 -20 minutes. It was the stuff of fantasy! To get the full effect, click on the picture to the left.
I wanted to go back with buckets, but couldn't convince Mr. Blueberry Eyes to muck through that much mud again!
A couple of days later, we found another patch. It was good, but didn't compare to the fantasy patch. Still, we picked about a gallon. Within two days it was sitting in pretty little jam jars. We have an agreement that we won't touch it until the first snowfall. Needless to say, I will likely never recover from the affliction. Berrily Yours, Nanette

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yup, That's How I Feel, Too

This picture of Old Faithful cracks me up! We gave him a bath the other day. The water was very warm and he snuggled down into his bath and simply would not get out! He loved it!

Tonight I'm feeling like that. I'm so tired. I made 14 quarts of pickles and 12 jars of huckleberry jam. That was after a morning of unexpected errands in town. I'm not complaining. Just tired.

And, why is it, that I can't really revel in an accomplishment because the next harvest is past-due! I guess I just need to rejoice in each accomplishment and savor the moment.

I have so much to write about - our latest camping trip, taking Mr. Blueberry Eyes shopping for first grade supplies. But that will have to wait. It is nearly 10 p.m. and I have a box of very ripe apricots that need to be in the dehydrator ASAP. Tomorrow I will spend the day fetching Laughing Water and some of her scout troop from a town 3 hours away. They've been gone for two weeks. I miss her dreadfully.

TTFN - Nanette

Monday, August 10, 2009

Picking a Peck of Pickles

I think one of the most joyous celebrations of summer is pickling cucumbers. The brilliant greens, the pungeant smell of dill and garlic. Yum!

I wasn't satisfied with the recipes I had, so I took to the internet and found a recipe that had so many rave reviews, I couldn't help but give it a try. It called for the cold-can method, which, I've learned is discouraged by the FDA or whoever it is that advises these things. But the old-timers swear by it. So, I decided to try it. It was all so new to me that I felt like a complete novice. But in the end, I have 9 quarts of very beautiful looking pickles. The secret, supposedly, is to soak the cucumbers in ice water for at least 2 hours. The pack them with the spices and cover with boiling water. They look fabulous. The only problem is that we have to wait for them to cure for eight weeks before we will know for sure just how yummy they are.
I have a bajillion more cukes coming on, so I see a lot more pickling in my future. I'm going to try making some with jalepenos.
Here is a picture of the end result. My camera didn't quite capture the lovely color.

I'm thinking that we should have a coming out party eight weeks from now!
What pickle secrets do you have? - Nanette

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Green Beans and Lightning

It has been so long since I've posted! It seems that life, and particularly the harvest has taken me by storm. Here is a picture of a part of my garden. I really must take more pictures as it has changed so much since the last batch of pictures.

This other one of Laughing Water is out of focus, but I thought it was so funny because she was helping me make hot pockets in her swimming suit!

Last week I got 5 pints of Saskatoon berry freezer jam made and dried a box of apricots. I made some pickles, but I will make another post about that.

Yesterday we spent an hour singing and storytelling for our local home for veterans. Then we headed to our favorite nature spot. We found a trail we never knew about about charged up to a mountain I've always wanted to climb. We made it only to the saddle of the mountain, because we got a late start. Also, once we got to the saddle, a lightning storm was coming. We had to run like maniacs to get off the mountian before it struck. What fun!

Now I have to go figure out my new pressure canner and can a lot of green beans! - Nanette

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy August 5

I'm rebelling. I simply must sit down and relax. I have a sink full of basil that is soaking and needs to be prepared for pesto-making. I have a large bowl of saskatoon berries in the fridge that needs to be made into jam or syrup, and the first picking of pole beans and Boston pickling cukes is screaming for attention. But right now, I need to sit down and breathe.

I've been running around like a crazy woman trying to do laundry, ironing, and get peas and beans frozen. I prepared a tray of dill to dry in my oven with only the heat of the pilot light. In addition, Laughing Water is preparing to go on a two-week trip with her scout club to a huge camporee, so I've been sewing on badges, hemming britches and generally making sure she has everything needed.

The above picture is of Mr. Blueberry Eyes' mud hole inside the garden gate. The picture to the left is of my pole beans climbing up the center poles in the hoop house. I don't have to grow them in the hoop house, but I chose to grow them this year where they will fix nitrogen in the soil for a subsequent tomato crop. This picture was taken a week or two ago. They are much bigger now.

TTFN- Nanette