Little Crazy Matas eating all of his berries

Little Crazy Matas eating all of his berries

picking

picking

Our berry bush

Our berry bush

The view looking down into the little "valley" where the berry fields and orchards are.

The view looking down into the little "valley" where the berry fields and orchards are.

I’ve heard that Glastonbury is the center of all things “U-Pick”, but have yet to pick anything.  So, we went on a search for a U-Pick farm, and discovered Rose’s Berry Farm.  We followed the signs along New London Tpke., through residential neighborhoods, past some building that looked a bit like a warehouse of some kind.  When we turned into the drive to the Berry Farm, we were met with a beautiful view of the road cascading down into the berry patches.  The view was so beautiful, and I was surprised to find so much farm land ahead of us.  I was expecting some dinky little patch.  This instead was an enourmous operation.

To the right at the bottom of the drive is a playground, with ample room to picnic and play.  To the left is the store, a gazebo, and the place where the truck comes and picks you up to take you to the patches that are farther away.  A woman gave us a big bucket, and shuffled us off in the right direction.  We were met by a teenager, who showed us the four blueberry bushes that were to be “ours”.  What a well oiled machine, and no competing with other customers for a place to pick.

Little Crazy Matas didn’t allow even one berry to make it into his box, and he was blue around the mouth and fingers by the time we were done.  The older two helped me fill my large pail halfway.  All told, we left with three pounds of blueberries, and probably ate a pound’s worth more while picking.  We hope to go back next week to pick raspberries.

We ate a lot of them just plain, alongside some nuts for a snack, and also on top of some vanilla ice cream as a treat.  I decided to try my hand at a Blueberry Buckle, to bring to the Quaker Family Sabbath Meeting that we were attending on Sixth Day evening.  I found a recipe on the Food Network site.  It turned out wonderfully, although slightly raw just in the very middle…although no one seemed to mind.    I tend to overcook cakes and muffins, so I think I jumped the gun on this one.  It was served after a meal of curried lamb, brown rice and goat’s milk yogurt…the lamb and the yogurt from the farm that we had the Meeting on.  More on this Meeting in another post, it was lovely beyond expectations.

Seventh Day morning, and I woke up before the Tall Man.  The children and I made “Adirondack Flapjacks”, which is really just a nostalgic name for pancakes…although it did involve separating eggs, and whipping the whites until stiff to fold in the batter.  We used up the rest of the berries (I would say about a cup and half’s worth) with about a 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup water.  I boiled them down to make a syrup for the flapjacks.  It turned out beautifully, and I am wondering if there is some way I can can this syrup for use in the winter.

When I am out with the children doing something like picking berries under the sun surrounded by farm land, I am almost immediately able to lose my hardened “Mean Mommy” exterior.  When we are gathered with some common purpose, away from the distractions of a house filled with junk, we get a glimpse of life as it is meant to be.  We were just playing at “work”; our survival certainly did not depend on these berries that we picked.  However, it reminds me that our family’s goal of becoming more self-sufficient (where the berries ARE something we depend on to add to our food stores).   When I read the Little House books, I see such a wonderful picture of a family living and working not for some secondary gain (money, entertainment, and “self-fulfillment”), but because G-d told us that we were to live by the toil of our own hands.  The meaning and purpose of life really was about G-d, family and the very simple blessings (and toils) of an authentic life. 

I want it, I want it!  But I realize that if all of a sudden you were to pull the plug out on modern living for me, my family would die very quickly.  I do not posess the skills to live self-sufficiently.  It is a lost art on this generation.  If the groceries stores and U-Pick farms were to close down, we would be about two weeks from starvation.  In this day and age, I think that we need to be prepared for a situation where the grocery stores are closed.  We are working towards it, but still so obviously far from the goal.

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