After dropping one daughter off at work, my other daughter and I did a whole bunch of manual labour around the yard.
The first thing we did was haul away the stuff I’d clean up in the old wood pile area, including moving the pile of debris to the back of the outhouse, and sorting through the pile of found objects and garbage.
I was able to get about an hour of clean up in the old wood pile area. I made sure to check the temperature before I headed out, and it was only 22C. Thank God it wasn’t any hotter, because even that felt way too hot.
Y’know, I’ve always wanted to travel, and go vacation on some tropical island. I still want to do that, but I am realizing that I’d just die in the heat! 😀
Nice to see my colander so full of berries! All clean and ready to pick over.
I got all the stems (of course, I found one I missed after I took this photo!) and the ones that were damages or whatever. I filled two 9×13 jelly roll pans with berries when I was done.
They are now in the deep freeze, to be transferred to freezer bags when they are frozen solid. After that, they can wait until we decide how we want to use them this year. 🙂 The freezing will help them release their juices later, too.
So… what shall we make? More chokecherry vinegar? Or try a jam or jelly this year?
While picking chokecherries, I also checked out one of the gooseberry bushes.
This is the biggest of the gooseberry bushes, and the one that got the most water over the summer, since I had the sprinkler going on the raspberry transplants. It has a fair few berries on it, while the others have either no berries at all, or almost none. The really dark berries I am holding are “ripe”, but so small, they’re practically inedible.
Note for future: transplant the gooseberries out from under other trees, and put them somewhere where they will get both sun and rain!
That was all what I was able to pick from both trees near the road, last year.
This year, that second tree is not doing as well.
There were very few berries, they were really small, and not consistently ripening.
I left this tree alone.
Then I went for the tree closer to the house. The berries there were much plumper, but the berries were also mostly out of reach. The lower branches don’t get anywhere near as much light, so there were fewer berries and they were redder. My daughter was able to come out and help by pulling the upper branches down so I could reach to pick them.
Check them out!
While there were a fewer berries, they had almost as much volume as the berries from the other tree.
Yes, they are also a lot more red and not as ripe. This is okay, as the less ripe berries have more natural pectin.
As I write this, the chokecherries are sitting in cold water to get rid of any critters that might have come along for the ride, and get the bulk of the dust from the gravel road off. Later, I will give them a thorough wash in cold water, then pick them over to get rid of stems and any messed up berries.
Last year, we made chokecherry vinegar, to use mostly as a drink mix, with our berries. I have not yet decided if we will do the same thing this year. I’ll go through some ideas with my daughters later. I rather like the idea of making a jelly, but that vinegar was really good!
At the very least, we’ll set some aside to freeze and use to make chokecherry mead at some point. 🙂
Today, I stayed in town for my daughter’s short shift. One of the things I ended up doing while there was picking up a magnetic lifter. You know, the kind of thing you would use when you drop a screw and it rolls under a shelf. I wanted to try and see if it would help me find nails in the dirt in the old wood pile.
It kind of worked.
The first challenge involved kittens, who thought it was a springy new toy!
The second was the fact that I wasn’t completely sure if I was feeling a magnetic pull or not. I did find a nail in my test, but I don’t know that the magnet is quite strong enough to find things in that much soil. Sometimes, though, it felt like there was a constant magnetic pull, even though I could find nothing in the ground.
The third problem was… well…
…let me show you.
My attempts to get a photo of the nail it successfully found in the dirt was foiled by Doom Guy, who was absolutely desperate for snuggles!
His claws are incredibly sharp.
He is also having some major respiratory problems. 😦
Which meant I was stuck with a sneezing, snorting, snotty cat that was poking holes in my body while trying to get comfortable in my arms.
Since I was in the area and not working on the area today (I try to keep Sundays as my day of rest, as much as possible), I decided to look beyond were I’d cleared, and get an idea of what I would be working in, next.
I found more of my mother’s flowers. Sort of.
I recognize those plants with the long, slender, pointed leaves. There is a bunch of them in the old kitchen garden. Those have finally started to show flower spikes. I doubt these will bloom at all. They are growing among many dead cherry trees that have new cherry shoots coming up at their bases. My mother had mentioned planting some flowers here, then blaming them for apparently killing some spruce trees I was telling her about. Except these aren’t near the spruce trees I was talking about. Anyhow, I did know she had deliberately planted flowers under the trees somewhere in this area, and now I have found them.
Once this area is cleared and more sunlight gets to the ground, I’m sure we’ll see more flowers, just as we are already seeing more flowers along the edges of the spruce grove that I’d already cleared a bit.
Then I found this.
That’s, my friends, a big patch of poison ivy.
Western Poison Ivy, to be precise.
We’ve been on the look out for poison ivy since moving here, and while we have seen some similar plants, I was able to confirm that they were NOT poison ivy. I had never seen poison ivy on the property before, even as a child who spent many, many hours roving wild among the trees. I had begun to hope I still wouldn’t.
The patch doesn’t seem to be very wide, but I also can’t see how deep it extends into the trees – and I won’t be able to until I start clearing back there.
I’ve been looking up how to get rid of it, and not looking forward to the job. At this point, I think I will just leave it for next year. I can avoid the patch when I’m clearing behind the outhouse and moving the debris pile I’ve raked out of the wood pile area. If I have time this year to clear into where those flowering plants that aren’t flowering right now are, I can avoid it on that side, too.
While picking a few more raspberries, I noticed some significant differences in the nearby chokecherry tree, compared to last year. Specifically, the ripening berries are already larger than the fully ripe berries I’d picked from this tree last year.
This location is closer to the house, where it gets shaded for much of the day by nearby spruce trees and the maple grove. Last year, I pruned this tree back and, thanks to my watering the transplanted raspberries, it got watered along with them.
I decided to check out the other two chokecherry trees among the lilacs that run along the north fence, where they (the lilacs) do a bang-up job keeping out the dust from cars passing by on the gravel road.
There are not a lot of berries on this one that I could see, and they are mostly very green; I made a point of getting a picture of the reddest ones I could find. These berries are quite a bit smaller than the tree closer to the house, though I’d say they are the same size as last year.
This tree is mostly hidden by lilac bushes, with a few branches leaning over where I mow. No watering happens this far from the house, other than what nature provides, and there has been no clean up or pruning of any kind. This tree is also in the section bordered to the south by a row of trees that was self-sown when my mother had raspberry bushes there. She transplanted the raspberries, but left the trees, splitting up a section of the old garden. The last time it was plowed, there was some attempt to plow along the north side of the trees, too, but with the trees there, that area is unusable for gardening.
She is not understanding why I see them and their location as a problem.
While this tree does get a lot of sun, that row of self-sown trees is large enough that, at certain times of day, they do shade it a bit. This is also near the end of the row of lilacs. After that, there are mature elms along the fence line that shade the area in the evening.
There is another chokecherry tree among the lilacs, and when I got to it, I found quite a surprise.
This tree has massive amounts of almost ripe berries!
Like the other tree among the lilacs, the only watering it’s been getting has been whatever rain we’ve had, and there has been zero pruning or clean up. The main difference is that there are no tall trees to shade it; just the lilacs it is growing with. Which means it gets full sun almost from sunrise to sunset. This time of year, I’d say about 9 or 10 hours of full sun a day, plus maybe 1 1/2 – 2 hours of non-direct light.
I would say the berries are about the same size as last year, though they are slightly bigger than the other one among the lilacs.
Earlier today, I was able to acquire a starter kit of equipment to start brewing mead. In looking up recipes, I’m excited to try some combinations. We’re already going to be using honey locally produced by my cousin. Some of the recipes include fruit and berries. I look forward to trying it out using our own sour cherries and chokecherries. Over time, we could also try it with raspberries (we won’t have enough this year) or Saskatoon berries (I think we’ll have to start over with new trees, though), haskap and other types of fruits and berries we will be growing as time goes by.
I think our first batch will be plain honey mead, as we learn the ropes, but I will be freezing cherries and chokecherries as we gather them (freezing helps with the release of natural sugars) to use in later batches.
I’m pretty excited about trying this out!!
Seeing how the same type of tree is doing in three different locations is giving me good information for when we are ready to plant other types of fruit, berry and nut trees around the property.
It’s been a busy few days of out-and-abouting, but today I hope to get actual manual labour done in the yard.
While also being careful of my broken toe, of course.
Yesterday, my older daughter and I got glamour shots of the kittens, to use in our attempts to adopt them out. We got a bunch of photos, uploaded them, went out to retake some for a couple of kittens, uploaded them, looked them all over again.
Went back out to track down the kitten we missed. 😀
My goal of the day was to finish using the weed trimmer around the yard, then hopefully starting part of the lawn.
Then I read the forecast for the day.
There were thunderstorms predicted for the evening.
On doing my rounds and finding the grass was already dry of dew, I skipped everything else and started mowing. Aside from a couple of short breaks to eat and hydrate, I’ve been outside all day.
The forecast ended up changing to rain, and now even that seems to be off the radar, but the job is done.
The last section I work on is the path to the back gate. As usual, I’ve been making the mowed area slightly wider then before, but in that area, sections are just too rough, and I know there are rocks and logs hidden in the grass somewhere, so I’m very careful about that right now.
While going past the back gate, I found myself looking at the other side each time. It hasn’t had new gravel on there in decades, so it’s grown over. Grass is one thing, but I was seeing saplings start to grow, right under the gate we rebuilt last year.
Then I remembered I still had the gate key in my pocket.
That looks much better!
On the list of things to eventually get done it to add gravel to our driveway. I’ve talked to my brother about it, and he says our little gravel pit is mostly out of gravel and wouldn’t have enough to do the driveway. What I would really like to do is extend the driveway from one gate to the other, so that this entrance can also be used without lurching over the rough areas. At least part of it is from someone driving through the area when it was muddy; a pair of tire tracks cut through, deep enough that I figure the driver was doing a lot of spinning to not get stuck.
This would be pretty low on the priority list, compared to things like a new roof. When the time comes to get estimates, I hope to get 3; a shorter term goal to do the main driveway, a mid-term goal to do the parking areas and up to the old pump shack, and a long term to extend the rest of the way to the back gate.
Until then, I’ll just keep it mowed, so the trees don’t take it over.