Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Berry Picking Techniques

There is a technique to picking wild blackberries.  Fisrt you have to dress in long sleeves and long pants.  My sister-in-law recommends chaps and I think this would be appropriate.  I currently look like I am a heroin addict.  Puncture wounds all over me.  I use a floppy Coolibar hat to help with the sun issue on face and neck. 


Then you have to use sunscreen on all exposed areas.  Then spray all openings with OFF!  I did that yesterday and forgot today.  After two hours of picking I found 4 ticks on my person.  I KNEW I should have gone back and sprayed myself as soon as I remembered, but I didn't.  You have to accept the consequences of your actions.  I just hope the consequences don't include Lyme disease!


The blackberries ripen at different times, so there will be small green buds and orange and red berries all the way to the very dark black berries.  Don't pick any but the black ones as they will be very sour.  Some look like raspberries and so pretty.  Do not be tempted.

Gently grasp the berry and sort of roll it with your fingers.  If it comes off easily, it is ripe.  Don't force it.  It is exciting (small town, small pleasures) to find a whole CLUMP of ripe ones.  If that happens I place my light weight plastic picking bowl under the cane and roll all the berries right into it.  This also gets you fewer pokes in the backs of your arms as you reach in to pick and back out to drop the berry in the bowl.  If at all possible push the bowl under the berry. 


I use my left hand and leg to push the thorns away from my which is why it has the most of honor!  I also stomp quite a bit as I want to let any snakes in there know that I am coming so they can move off.  Don't like snakes.

Virginia has rattlesnakes and cottonmouths and other poisonous snakes.  I grew up in the mountains and deserts of California and have had pet snakes.  I have killed and skinned rattlesnakes.  But I don't like them and would prefer to avoid them.  We have only seen black snakes.  We like black snakes because they eat other snakes.  They can leave a nasty bite, though.  Hence the stomping.

Then it is just a matter of perservering.  It hasn't really gotten hot, yet.  That all ends tomorrow, so I am glad I have two batches of jam under my belt.  I mean, in my pantry.

When you pick, you tend to wander along the berry patches.  I ended up about 10 acres from where Lee was using the tractor.  I hadn't seen the dog in quite some time.  Then I heard a sound behind me.  It sounded sort of like a combination of a snort and a cough.  My horse makes that sound when she is startled and unhappy about it.  We have quite a few deer living on our farm.  I was fairly close to the last place I had seen a doe and her spotted fawn.  I thought maybe she was warning me off.

Then I wondered if I could be intruding on a bear feeding on the berries.  I thought that I had read somewhere about bears making that sort of sound.

I thought I would drive to another part of the farm to pick berries.  Lots of berries.  No point in crowding somebody!

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