Posted by: morrowsl | May 19, 2019

Strawberry Fields Forever

I made a delightful discovery recently. I saw an add for a Pick Your Own strawberry farm in a town about an hour from Remote. It seems that everything is an hour from Remote!
When we lived in the city, we were an hourish from a Pick Your Own blueberry farm and I managed to get out there a few times.

Unlike blueberries, which don’t fully ripen until the extreme heat of July, strawberries are more of a cool-weather fruit. So I hatched a plan to go berry picking and invited Mike along.

He did go with me once to get blueberries.

It was not his favorite adventure.

So, I was completely and pleasantly surprised to hear him say he’d go. I think maybe he was curious to see Pilot Point and if the only way to do that was to join me or go alone, he opted to have company on the trip.

Pecan Creek Strawberry Farm was everything it claimed to be. Easy to find. Easy to navigate. Overflowing with ripe strawberries ready to be harvested. Staffed by super friendly people.

There were, however, some drawbacks. None of which were the result of any wrongdoing on the part of the farmers.

To start, Pick Your Own farms are a favorite of moms worldwide as places to kill a couple of hours obtaining sustenance for their family while providing entertainment for the youngsters. And burning off the supercharged energy of all children, regardless of age.
Not to mention a chance to get some really adorable photographs to share.

The parking area was getting pretty full when we arrived, in spite of the fact that the farm had been open less than half an hour. Free parking though in the grass field near the entrance.

There were two lines. One for buying berry baskets ($3.00, reusable, buy once and bring with you on subsequent picking trips), and one for weighing and paying. We bought our baskets and asked for suggestions on finding berries. We were told that most people seemed to be drawn to the fields on the right, so we went left.

A quick stop to read the house rules and assess the best rows for starting.

I’ve said it now many times. We’ve had a lot of rain this spring. We had a lot of rain last weekend. When you get too much rain, no matter how dry the soil may have been before or how much sand is in the soil to aid in absorption, the ground simply stops taking it in. When you create gullies and it rains a lot, the water is going to collect in the gullies. If the soil has any clay at all, it isn’t going to drain very well.
We quickly realized that all of those things factored into our ability to reach any plants that hadn’t already been picked over by those unwilling to work very hard. We walked on.
Eventually, the rows became less irrigation ditches and more drying mud beds, so we took a hard left and entered a row about halfway down the field. I very quickly regretted my decision to leave my waterproof boots at home. But, tennis shoes are washable. As are socks and feet.

Mike bent over one row, I bent over the other. Together we picked in silence while all around us kids were squealing, babies were crying, mommies were offering encouragement and teenagers were being grossed out and overjoyed by the deep mud.
Most of the ripe berries were on the smallish side, but we’d been assured the little ones were just as tasty as the big ones. Every so often, I’d find one that had been left too long and had gotten squishy.
More than once I thought how much the chickens would love berry picking!

Coming to an area so filled with water I had to stop, I straightened up and looked for Mike. I realized that he was probably getting hot and tired, and that we’d both need water soon. More importantly, I needed a bathroom! So, I asked if he was about done. My basket was a bit fuller than his, so we switched and started working our way toward done. He stepped over the row to pick on the next one (rule breaker!) and I navigated my way across the small pond between picked and untouched to finish out the row.

My basket was overfull long before I finished the row. Stepping out, I was met by a group of giggly, wiggly teenage girls trying hard not to get totally muddy, but stepping in all the worst spots. I directed them to the row I’d just vacated and told them there were plenty of big berries for all of them. I just about landed on my ass in their rush to be first picker!

The grass was tall enough to allow for some shoe clean-up.  The weigh and pay line was short. But behind us stood a mom who’d overdressed (strappy pants outfit and sandals) with a toddler boy who was likely too hot and too hungry to be as sweet as he looked. In his fist was a huge strawberry. He was trying his best to wrestle a basket full of equally large berries, with long stems for chocolate dipping, from his mother’s grip. Nothing she said was penetrating his determination or the high pitched wail. I made eye contact and suggested she go ahead of us.

She was grateful.

So was Mike!

In the hour we were there we picked ten pounds of berries that, once processed, yielded about eight pounds of fruit. I froze the largest ones whole and made two versions of sauce out of the rest. Five half-pint jars of sauce and three bags of chopped and sweetened. And two bags of hulls and mushy berries to freeze for the chickens.

All in all, a pleasant experience and one I know will be repeated in the years to come!

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