Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Got in a fight with a bunch of long-nailed, feral cats.

No, I did not actually get in a fight with feral cats. But, I swear, my fingers, arms, and upper legs look like I threw water on a herd of cats... and they retaliated.

Sunday morning, I donned jeans, t-shirt, sweatshirt and tall rubber boots and went blackberry picking.

Blackberry bushes are mean, mean, NASTY beasts. With vines up to 1" diameter and thorns 1/2"+ long, they're a force to be reckoned with. But, those delicious berries? They're free for the taking if you just can get to them.

And get to them I did-- 12 pounds of them. My fingers and body paid the price.

I'm not joking. I'm pretty cut up, and there were redness and cuts on Sunday afternoon. Nothing too bad, and it doesn't hurt anymore, but it does look ferocious. There's a saying that if all Oregonians left the state, they would not be able to get back in after 2 years because the blackberry bushes would have taken over. I believe it. They're sprawling, invasive, mean plants. They're EVERYWHERE.

We went to a friend's farm, where she's tractor-pathed trails into her sprawling blackberry patches (she has a few acres). The best thing is that we knew those plants had not been sprayed. Picked away for about 2.5 hours, and walked away with our bounty.

All those berries were immediately processed by me. No point in waiting, so I hopped on it. The end result was something like 28ish jars of jam and a few pints of sauce. When the berry is free, you make the most of it. Photos will come, once my darling husband unearths the camera from his car.

Monday, a friend and I headed out early to get strawberries and raspberries. We must have been overzealous on the raspberries, because the farm owner gal said "Hey, can you stop?" I thought this rude, but I suppose I get it-- they have other folks coming throughout the day and they want there to be enough. But still. Grrr. So, we switched to strawberries. 6 pounds of strawberries later and 4 pints of raspberries.

I decided to stretch the raspberries and make sauce (you don't boil the raspberry juice down so much), and make jam with the strawberries. 17 jam jars of strawberry jam and 10 jam jars of raspberry sauce. LOVE IT.

My dehydrator has been going strong all weekend. First apples slices (oh my, yum), but now also pear halves and carrots. I decided to dehydrate carrots to give my freezer some more space. And really, with the water removed, all the nutritious value of the carrots is still in there. If I froze the carrots, I'd have to blanch them in boiling water first, removing some of their carroty-goodness. So far, it's working. I kind of love this.

So, photos of all of this to come. I'm also slowlyyyyy getting tomatoes in, which makes me very giddy. I blanched the skins off a few romas yesterday and froze them. Eventual sauce. Yum!

In other, sad news, rooster-boy is no longer with us. He had been living in the laundry room cage for a while, which was just not fair to him. He couldn't go back outside, due to his love of crowing in the morning (against city rules). I tried to give him away, but no luck. No one wants a rooster. So, with the help of my neighbor, rooster-boy is now dinner. I HATE DOING THIS. HATE IT. I'd been dreading it for weeks, but finally, I couldn't put it off anymore.

I know all of this is part of owning livestock, but it's really made me question a lot of things. It seemed so UNFAIR to kill a perfectly good animal (well, my neighbor did the killing act itself) when its only fault is its gender. My family wasn't starving, so that rationale for killing wasn't present either.

But, how do I counteract this feeling of guilt with the fact that I often buy, from the butcher shop, meat?

I don't know. But I think every person should have to go through this sort of dilemma. At the very least, you'll appreciate your food a lot more.

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