Monday, December 13, 2010


While I feel empathy for the parts of our nation currently suffering through record cold and blizzard conditions, along with many inches of snow (and I'm glad I am not there) -- part of me wishes at least a bit of that moisture could dip down our way.

We already have the very cold arctic air dropping our temps; but we are so dry. The city weatherman said this morning this is day 25 with no recordable moisture of any kind, and I think for our farm it has been even longer, because what hits in the city, often misses us. Plus the last system that promised rain just barely spit on us.

Fire danger is high, dust is blowing. My fellow bloggers, pray for some rain or wet snow for us - we really need some moisture. Sufficient pasture for livestock is very hard to find right now.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Blessed Year

From our table to yours, I hope you and your family had a very Blessed Thanksgiving, and spent it with the ones you love.

from left to right at our table, my Uncle Paul, his sister my Aunt Ida, my mother, my oldest son Steven at the head of the table, my son David, and my daughter Amanda.
(you can click on the image to see it larger - it is not-so-well-done merger of two photos, since my camera could not take in the whole thing at once)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wood Heat This Year

Well, we've put in a change this year.

We went from this last year:

To this:

(yeah, I know - two different cats too. That's not the point of this post, though.
Both cats are still alive and well)

There are pros and cons to the switch. I think the pros outweigh, though.

We loved our Franklin stove last year -- wow, the amount of wood it could hold at once, how grand it looked, how well it heated our home.

But the newer, smaller stove has many pluses. For one, it is much more airtight. We had trouble venting the Franklin stove last year because we were trying to manipulate its 10-inch diameter flue to work with our 4-inch diameter chimney. That was just too big of a reduction to allow air flow properly, and we often ended up getting smoke in the house.

Also, on the Franklin, I always had to open the doors to see if more wood was needed yet. I love the window in the newer stove. It is like watching a fireplace :) Plus it lets me know how far down everything is burning, without having to open the door. It does have a smaller chamber (takes smaller pieces of wood, and less wood at a time); but seems to burn somewhat slower as well, and radiates the heat very well.

Just like last year's stove, we got a great deal on this unit by purchasing it used from an individual off a Craig's List posting. We've found some great deals that way. It was pretty dirty and beat up when we got it, but Steven put lots of elbow grease into cleaning it up, replacing the inside firebrick, fixing all the parts, and polishing it to look almost like new. (The firebrick, too, are a big plus -- although it takes quite a bit of burning to get them all heated up and going, they stay hot/warm for a very long time, allowing us more leeway in getting the stove reloaded).

So far, so good. I'm very happy with it. We haven't had a true trial, though, until we get to the really bitter cold days, and see if it can keep up with our drafty old house.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy Birthday to Steven!

Today my oldest child turns a quarter-century old! (Which is amazing, of course, because I haven't aged one bit!) *smile* Happy 25th Birthday to my son, Steven. Praise God for you, and for your choice of continuing the legacy of our homestead.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Home Remodeling/Repair

Steven has been on a kind of home improvement kick lately (not that I'm complaining!) trying to get a whole lot of pretty big projects done all at once before winter. It's exhausting to me (on those days when I'm home to help) and lumber is expensive -- but I know all of this is worth it to try to maintain the 'infrastructure' of our place, as he says.

He has worked off and on for several weeks getting boards replaced on the garage, then sealing holes with insulating foam, fixing windows, prime coat painting and then top coat painting the whole thing. Our garage looks really spiffy and like new now.

Then he tackled the rotting-out lower house siding on the back side of the house - especially that large hole created by a opposum trying to use our crawl space as its living quarters. This is a lot of work -- very old wood siding (we want to keep from having to replace any more than necessary) and boxing boards underneath that need replaced or repaired. We got one section of it done last week, two more larger sections to go. Wood lap siding (as used to be used on all old farmhouses) is very hard to get now -- we only found one lumber yard that had a random selection of it at a very high price. But we got enough to finish that section. He also got all of that primed and painted to keep it from rotting out again so easily.

Well, I took a four day weekend, and one of the big projects this time was a new cave (outside cellar) door. I won't even put up "before" photos because it looked so horrible and rotted out, full of holes. Our house water pump is down in the old "cave" so we need to keep it warm in winter. To do that you have to have a decent door, which we haven't for several years.

First, we started with building up a new frame over the concrete for the new door to rest upon, as the old sill was pretty shot. Blessedly, these treated 2x4 boards were free recycle from some dear friends who replaced their privacy fencing and gave us all the old structural boards.

Then used more 2x4 to create the framing for the door itself. We overlaid that with 1x8 cedar planks. Lots of screws involved in this process.

(I love those pipe clamps - come in very handy! We used my old flatbed trailer as a work table)

(cutting off the excess length of 1x8's. Actually did this with a regular old manual hand saw - it was easiest. But boy, does that make your arm tired!)

Then we fastened the new (and heavy!) door onto the cellar opening frame, using four exterior grade hinges. Installed a new handle, and it looks great! Now, perhaps a coat of polyurethane or something to help it weather even better.

Steven today put in a post to use as a door stop/brace when we have it open, because it is a bit heavy for myself and my mom to muscle around too much.

Snug and secure for winter.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What's New at Our Farm!

Well! Much to write about -- lots of new things to share!

Recently Steven bought his first pair of turkeys and geese. The beautiful Bourbon Red turkeys will be his breeding pair to hopefully rear some baby turkeys next spring! I have to admit, these birds are really gorgeous! However, it was hard to get a decent photograph of them together. Mr. Tom sure likes to strut around and show off.

The pair of geese (which we HOPE are a male and female, we aren't sure) seem to be mild-mannered, and not noisy and annoying as I feared they would be. They are also beautiful birds.

I was surprised to find that even as large and heavy as they are, they still can do a low fly quite a distance! (much like pheasant do) They wandered out to the goat corral one day, and I closed the gate, thinking they would graze there for awhile, but they didn't like being locked away from the house, and flew quite easily across the corral and into the backyard.

Steven's plan is to put the geese, and perhaps the turkeys, out in the orchard next spring, to help keep the grass and insects there under control. The geese won't hurt the young trees, as goats or other grazers would.

Neither pair of birds seem really used to free range yet. Perhaps they had always been kept locked up. For the first couple of days, all they did was follow us around as we worked outside. We do pen them up at night, for their own safety.

Did I mention that a couple weeks ago Steven also finally got a new buck for his goat herd? Hopefully this will mean a nice crop of spring kids.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tree planting time

Have I mentioned before on here how much my son loves trees? I mean, really, really loves trees. Loves starting them from seed, transplanting them from pots to ground, trying new varieties, reading about trees, etc. etc. So that is why fall is one of his favorite times -- it is tree-planting time.

That is also why he was so excited to read that a local nursery was auctioning off their tree stock to clear it out. Even my ever-frugal son was willing to take his wallet and browse their rows and rows of trees in hopes of finding something special at a great price. Which he did!

Although he bid on several, at the end of the very long day, Steven took home the tallest tree in the sale -- a 20 foot Dawn Redwood! (Yes, I know you're saying, 'a redwood in Kansas?') He got a $400 tree for $40. I loved the tree as well, but was skeptical we could get it home in my old farm pickup!

After recruiting little brother to help with the heavy lifting, and the digging of a large hole, the Dawn Redwood is now securely in the ground behind the house. (My only requests were: 1) don't plant it close enough to the house that it falls on the house when it gets to be 100 feet tall; and 2)plant it far enough away that it doesn't attract lightning to the house).

It is an awesome tree, or will be. One of the very few deciduous conifers, it will actually turn a gorgeous cinnamon color in the autumn and them drop its leaves/needles for winter, greening up again in spring. The area we planted it will give it access to all the groundwater it wants at about 10-15 deep, once established, and we will clear some of the brush tree out of the area to give it more sun. Steven said, "This tree better live 150 years, as hard as that was to plant!" I told him in that case, he better be preparing to put lightning rods on it!

Yes - it stuck out this far from the truck bed all the way home - even with the root ball clear up against the cab of my full-size bed pickup! We just drove slow and took back-roads.

A big deep hole!

Steven and his younger brother David, after some very hard work getting the tree off the truck and safely into the hole, pretty late in the day. (The boys are both over six feet tall, if that gives you some idea of the tree height!) Some of the leaves have already fallen for winter, so we are anxious to see how it will look out when it leafs out again in spring!

We've done some other tree planting lately, as well, for windbreaks. I will write more about that later.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blog updating

Wow - I have about three or four separate posts I need to get around to putting up here on the blog -- but where does anyone find the time?

My other friends who blog daily, or often -- how do you schedule your blog time? It is always difficult for me -- resizing and editing photos, writing it out and formatting.

One of these days I hope to catch up, and then there will be something new here to read. By the time I get it posted, it might all be old news!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wasted week?

The last seven days around here have been picture-perfect weather by farm standards. Highs in the low 80s, low winds, just gorgeous. This is the kind of weather we wait for all year in order to get many of our projects done.

And all week, everyone in this household has been sick. Kind of a bummer, to finally have the weather we waited for, but then not feel good enough to do much with it. Steven is mostly well now (bugs never keep him down long), but myself and my mother are still really battling this cold.

On a very positive note, with the help of a very good friend and neighbor, Mickey, - Steven and Mickey were able to get the tractor started today! We have been unable to use it all summer (and you can tell it by the height of the grass that never got bush-hogged!) As soon as I feel well enough, I'm going after it fast and hard. I should be able to get everything cut down once - which is all it needs before winter. Some areas we leave standing for winter grazing for the goats. But we need to mow around the orchard trees, especially.

Won't be long until the days are short, the nights are long and cold. So much to do before then!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Back Home

We are back after nearly two weeks away visiting Texas and stops in-between. This was my first trip to what they call the "hill country" of Texas (we stayed in Kerrville) - and I was impressed. I think Steven was also impressed on the trip down, when we saw many rural homes that had Boer goats! Many more goats than we had! Unfortunately, we didn't have time to stop and talk with any fellow Boer goats owners in that area - but you can tell it is popular in Texas. (yes, we decided we would not be able to take any 'new' goats home in the backseat of our Chevy Impala).

(Speaking of popular - in a future post I want to address the proliferation of driveway gates in Texas - remind me to come back to that. I am a fence/gate person -- everywhere we go, I notice people's fences and gates. That is just my own interest.)

We experienced beautiful weather the whole time there. In fact, the only down side to our whole outing was when the car blew a head gasket and we had to have $1500 in repairs to get it home. But all is well now.

Leaving Texas, I took the long way home, and drove over to be able to meet in person my blog friend Susan of Queenacres. That was a great visit. I just love meeting new people; especially those who have much in common with us! Thank Susan, for the time and visit! I sure wish she were my neighbor up here - I could sure learn a lot from her!

Me with two of Susan's diary goats

I loved her two Anatolian Shepherds -- great dogs!

Steven was looking over their new crop of special chicks

Susan and I at her place! What a great visit!

Steven got to feeling a little under the weather on the way home, but we still made it through Stillwater and Perkins, OK to see cousins on both sides of my family. In order to keep this post from getting too long, I will post about those stops later this week.

Got back late on Saturday, and Steven spent Sunday checking out how everything fared while we were away. He lost his largest hen duck to a passing vehicle (*sadness*) but other than that, things were fine - his brother and grandmother took good care of the place.

He was amused recently to find that his bushel gourd plant had grown up the elm tree behind the house recently, and so now we have gourds hanging from the tree! :)

Monday, September 20, 2010


Well, it has been a very very busy month, and I just haven't had time to update the blog as I had hoped. I'm going to try to get this quick post up before Sukkot.

Labor Day - Steven and I spent removing everything from the greenhouse and re-leveling the floor in preparation for using all the extra used quarry tile we had been given to cover the greenhouse floor. Once Steven gets it all laid out, he hopes to haul in sand to fill the cracks. However, gophers and moles are not making his life easy -- they keep burrowing under the green house floor and causing soft spots and raised areas. (have photos of this project when I get time to upload them)

We are needing rain quite badly.

We are anticipating our trip to Texas this week, and hope to also get a chance to meet some fellow bloggers during our drive. But so much to do to get prepared, and so little time!

Seckel pears are all gone, but picked quite a few of the full size (Dutchess or Bartlett, not sure which) yesterday to share with others. Was able to get quite a bit of the mowing done, but still not as much as I would like to. Wish I could get this tractor working again.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fall Pears

...pear puree', pear sauce, roasted pears, pear pie, spiced pears, canned pears, frozen pears, dehydrated pears.... sell some... give some away.......

This week has been all about pears. Our Seckel Pear tree has produced so heavily this year (so have our Dutchess and Bartlett full-size pear trees, but we haven't even got to those yet!) that we are overun with wonderful, sweet pears.

Steven, not wanting to wasting a single fallen fruit, have made every day this week a "pear processing" day. Trying to save every morsel for possible future or winter needs, we are coring pears and sometimes peeling pears, and storing pears in every conceivable way you can store them. We have to process quickly, because pears don't keep very long and ripen very quickly on the kitchen shelf.

Speaking of kitchen shelves -- every counter in my kitchen is currently covered in pears; and pears in sacks on the floor. We get one brown paper bag full of pears done and I realize he has brought in two more. I think there were six full bags on the floor when I went to bed last night.

I like pears. But not so much so this week.

Seckels are a wonderful pear, I have to admit. A mini dessert-type pear that sits prettily in the palm of your hand, it is a perfect snacking pear and much sweeter than any other kind.

But I'm almost to the point people get when the zucchini starts overtaking their garden at the end of each summer --- my neighbors my find gifts of pears on their front porches in the morning...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Yoder Heritage Day

Had a great time this weekend at some of the Yoder Heritage Day events. I always love this annual gathering, the fourth weekend of August, to commemorate the founding of the small community of Yoder, Kansas. As they say on their little website,
"In 1906, A.M. Switzer plotted the little town of Yoder as a central point for surrounding Amish communities. Today, Yoder is still considered to be that. Though many businesses and homes have moved in around Yoder, the picturesque town has stayed the same size."

Bright and early we watched the teams of horse-drawn farm equipment plow up the sod in a demonstration on the south end of town. We toured the vendor booths, watched some of the childrens games, and most importantly, found a seat for the parade. Even though the parade doesn't start until 10:30, you had to find place by 9:30 or earlier if you hope to have a good view. So while I saved seats for Steven and for my sister, Steven roamed about checking out more activities. He purchased two wonderful old screw drivers from a junk/antique type booth, and picked up a few things we needed anyway at the Yoder Hardware Store.

Here are some of my favorite shots of that part of the morning:

After that, everyone walked to the north edge of town (town is only about one block long) and gathered around the arena for the buggy races and the horse events. There weren't as many Amish gentlemen entered in the buggy races this year than last, it seemed, but still a good show.

They had a horse/shooting showmanship display, and then started "horseback football" which pitted the local Amish young men and their horses, against a team from the Wild Mustang and Burro training program out of Hutchinson. Last I heard, the local gents and their very well trained buggy horses were quite a bit ahead in score in that game. (The game involved two teams of men on horseback, one small ball, and two barrels, one at each end of the arena. The goal was to get your ball down field and into the barrel to score. Much horse and men jostling occurred. They could pass it off to teammates, etc.)

There were many other events I would have loved to watch but we were limited on time. It was absolutely perfect, beautiful weather. Good crowd of people, of all types, from all over the country. I am always surprised how many use this as a "home-coming" event, and travel long distances to attend. The announcer for the parade as for a show of hands of people who traveled 100, 200 and over 300 miles to attend. It was impressive.

I also asked my sister to take a photo of my son Steven and I, so I would have a more recent picture to put up here on our profile.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Almost September!

I am so thankful for the cooler weather we have been experiencing this week! It is amazing how that helps lift the spirits and gets everyone in the mood to get things done. The full moon at night has also been bright and encouraging.

After a couple of August weeks with very hot temperatures here in central Kansas, rain has cooled us off and it has been beautiful. Last night we went to the poultry auction (sold our oldest rooster, New Hampshire, and our white-n-brown drake duck) and it was gorgeous weather for the outdoor auction. We thought about buying a set of turkeys, but they weren't quite what we wanted. There was a good turnout, although many of the "regular" people didn't seem to be around.

There were also some "tourists" at the poultry auction. Yoder will be hosting their annual "Heritage Days" this weekend, and that brings in people from all over the country. Well, some of them were there early (snowbirds in big RVs) and they came over to watch the poultry auction. We got several chuckles out of things we would overhear them say to each other about the birds -- it was obvious many did not understand anything about poultry!

On the way home we stopped at a farm to purchase a few bales of prairie hay to keep for the goats during the worst parts of winter. Always good to have on hand, and great to find a local supplier that we drive by once a month on our way to the auction.

Steven says we are now pretty much "set for winter" -- meaning we really don't need to sell or buy anything more (livestock-wise), except for a new Boer buck. He is looking for a young buckling (doesn't have to be registered) or younger buck, but has not yet found exactly what he is seeking, as of yet. I think that about him -- he is picky enough to get quality, and patient enough to wait and keep looking until he finds exactly what is needed.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I don't have any firewood cut.

That thought dawned on me yesterday when we finally got a break from the record-setting heat of last week, and enjoyed a gentle cool down with blessed rain. While traveling yesterday, I saw blackbirds flocking up, noticed the corn almost ready for harvest, heard locusts drone their evening chant, and saw young white-tail fawns in the pasture, which brought to mind upcoming dove and deer hunting seasons.

That's when it hit me -- it is almost fall, and I'm not ready. Not nearly ready.

It is hard to think about wood cutting in the heat of summer. It's hot work anyway, but who really even thinks about the coming winter when it is 105 outside? I know that last winter I told myself I would use summer time to go mark the best deadwood and get a supply cut up and put away for this winter. But somehow those plans never came about. Winter seemed like a long ways off.

We were blessed last year (our first year to heat with only wood heat) to have quite a bit of "pre-cut" wood in the back 40 -- some that had been cut by friend several years prior and left to lay -- all we have to do was pick it up and split it. But that supply is all gone.

Technically, with good planning, a person should be cutting two years in advance -- like I should be cutting now what we will use in the winter of 2012 -- to allow plenty of time for it to season and rest, even though I only cut deadwood. So I am not only months behind-- I am YEARS behind.

You probably think it odd that I talk about chainsawing wood - since I'm female, and have a grown son at home. But actually that is an 'understanding' we have around our place. I'm kind of the "bwah ha ha ha Tim Allen" type when it comes to power tools; while Steven detests power tools and likes to do as much as he can by old-fashioned hand tools (and he absolutely hates the noise of power tools). That is why I cut, and he splits. I still think I get the better end of the deal - especially because he still does all the gathering and stacking and loading and feeding the logs toward my saw -- all I have to do it stand in one place and cut. (he wears ears plugs when I do this). We have it going as a really good system, actually. Understand, he could use the chainsaw if necessary (and has). This is just the way we choose to do things.

I think this week I'd better make a priority of getting the saw out of the shed, taking it apart for maintenance and cleaning, a little tune-up, fresh fuel, sharpened chain, and get busy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer Heat

I feel I should post an update — after all, it is August already — but don't find that I have a lot going on to talk about lately. This is the part of the year where we simply endure the hottest days of summer (109 degrees yesterday) and keep the critters watered and don't get a whole lot more than that done.

Steven has been painting the garage (I will hunt for a pic to post) so it a stark bright white now, compared to our other buildings. Eventually they will all get a fresh coat.

The weeds and grass around the place are armpit high in places, due to my tractor and bush hog being inoperable at the moment. They will just have to stay like that for now — fall and winter will come soon enough, and that will knock everything down to where we can get a handle on it again. We aren't big on "appearances" or aesthetics (making this 'look pretty'), but more interested in using our time on improving the overall infrastructure of the farm, and on growing things that provide food for us year round.

We don't have air conditioning at home (never have). My mother pointed out last night that she has made it 72 summers without a/c, and she figures she came make it through this one and all the future ones, as well. In the evenings, as the shade begins to lengthen, we sit in chairs on the lawn and enjoy the breeze. While sitting there, (instead of in front of the TV like so many people stuck inside with a/c do) we can busy ourselves with shucking corn, or shelling beans, or eating melon, or doing nothing but talking to each other. I think it is a fine way to spend an evening.

Monday, July 19, 2010

County Fair

I don't know what it is about County Fairs and State Fairs, but I love them. Part of it is tradition, part of it is mingling with others who also like "country" stuff, and part is just the fascination with all the entries and displays and offerings.

A couple weeks ago went spent an evening at the Sedgwick County Fair. It was a perfect evening for our visit - overcast to keep the heat down, not too windy, not too many people. We had a great time.

Of course we always go through all the barns an inspect every specimen of livestock and make comments ("not near as many sheep this year"). We admire the vegetable garden entries, and enjoy the Fair food (my favorite part!).

Below are a few photos I took that evening.

Waiting for their turn to show off.

Steven and his sister enjoying some fair food.

(I liked the red & white one)

(Well, she quit washing the sheep right as I snapped the photo. Oh well)

One of the pen full of bulls for the Bull Riders Blowout (which we did not see)


This little gal went home from the fair with us! This pullet was being shown by a young 4-Her, and Steven liked her coloring to fit with his breeding program. So we made a deal with the owner, and she became ours. She has a very tame temperament too! (Wish I had a photo of her standing up instead of lying down like this)

= = = = = = = =

This week at home, our young peach tree split in half under the weight of too many peaches on the branches! :( That was sad, but we saved all the peaches, and I will probably can them this week. We're not sure if the remainder of the tree will survive. Our pears and other fruit trees are also very heavy laden this year (it is a good fruit year) so we will do all we can to prop up their limbs or thin down the amount of fruit per limb so we don't lose any more branches.

It is extremely hot here this week - dangerous heat index warnings (like, around 110 degrees heat index). Not a lot we can do but take it easy and make sure all the animals are cool and well watered. Since we don't have air conditioning in our home, we have learned to endure the few days of summer that are almost unbearable like this; enjoy the other summer days that offer a breeze and a more modest warming to get things done, just as our forefathers did!

This week Steven also purchase a Black Copper Marans rooster that someone had listed on Craig's List. He is young, but very handsome. This all fits somehow into Steven's master plan for his poultry breeding project.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Photos to share

Haven't updated in awhile, so thought I'd share some photos of what we have been busy with around the home place.

First, several of our chickens went broody around the same time, so Steven put about a dozen eggs under each. As we got into the very hot weather a week or so ago, the success rate wasn't as high, but we still got several chicks. These will probably be our last batches for this year. Steven will go through and select the ones that best fit with his breeding program, and sell any others at the poultry auction.

Also, we still have some of the older chicks, which are doing well (we already sold a few of these). The brownish/strange colored one is a cross between our Iowa Blue hens and our New Hampshire rooster.

Steven also did some maintenance on the windmill head. He makes it look like its so easy. (I should note there were also hornets up there who didn't appreciate his interference, and buzzed around, but nothing stung him)

Then this weekend, we got a deluge of rain that pretty much flooded the pasture. You can click on this link to see the whole album of photos of it.

The rain has made the weed-work in the garden quite taxing. That is why I'm not sharing any garden photos with you this time. *wink* Things are still growing, it just isn't pretty. However, our young peach tree is really loaded!

and Steven found a bird nest in the lower branches:

Friday, June 25, 2010

This week

Canned up some gooseberry and some cherry pie filling - so maybe I can make pies in the winter this year.

Steven got the garage all patched up with new lumber in the weaker areas, and then sealed. Now it is ready to paint as soon as I can purchased paint. We are trying to do what we can to keep our old outbuildings from deteriorating any further by doing some maintenance/fix-up/restore on them now.

Been a very hot week, but that has helped with all around us who are cutting wheat. I think the wheat harvest is about all done for our area. I did some mowing last night, but it was really tall stuff out by the orchard trees, and I think it 'did a number' on my sinus', the way I'm feeling this morning. But it needed done.

Tonight is the poultry auction, of course.

Oh - and I forgot to add -- one of our hens hatched out a new batch of chicks yesterday! *smile* We have three hens 'setting' and this was one of the three. Should have more on the way soon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


It is June. That means gooseberry picking time!

We have both gooseberries and currants growing on the farm (thanks to my English-heritage grandmother who planted them years ago and allowed them to spread through the wooded areas). So every June the fruits begin to ripen, and it is a race to get them before the birds.

Gooseberries and Currants are somehow related, you can tell immediately by looking at both plants - the leaf shape and structure are the same, the conformity is very similar. But there is one big difference - gooseberry bushes are very very thorny, whereas our black currant plants are not. (We are not sure what variety/type of currants we have. They could be jostaberries) The gooseberries bloom with white flowers, the currant blossoms are bright yellow and smell very spicy.

Most of our currant bushes are planted up near the house, and frequently fall victim to wayward goats, who love the bushes (I'm sure they would decimate the gooseberry bushes as well, if they could get into the lower pasture where they are).

I actually don't care much for the sour taste of gooseberries (you have to add a lot of sugar to them when making a pie or jam) - however, my son loves them. (He likes more sweet-tart plants, like rhubarb and gooseberry). It is somewhat a family tradition in our household to go gooseberry picking at least once per year. It takes the full year to get over remembering how painful the previous picking episode was. *smile*

So as Steven, Amanda and I picked and talked, you could often hear "Ow!" "Ouch!" "Ooooo" and we weaved our fingertips between the thorny branches to try to grab the berries. This is not an easy task. Yes, I have tried it with gloves on, but you need the nimbleness and dexterity of a gloveless hand to have success. The berries hide in the underside of each branch and are actually quite hard to spot at first, but as you gently find a thornless spot on the branch to hold and lift to look underneath, you see loads of gooseberries ready to pick. This year has proven to be an especially bountiful year for everything fruit-bearing at the farm (peaches, berries, pears, etc. - all bloomed heavy and are loaded with fruit). We didn't get very far through the half-mile hedgerow where the bushes reside down in the shade of the osage orange trees, before our buckets were filling up fast, and our backs were aching from bending over to pick.

After nightfall, Steven sat in the living room removing the tips and tails (bits of stem on either end of the berry).

Tonight, I suppose, I will bake a pie.