Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Blueberry Patch

My very first job was picking blueberries. 

Each June- the first week, old man Harper would set up plywood signs and announce to the town that he was, in fact, selling blueberries. The bushes were planted in neat rows to the side of a huge barn that housed chickens, turkeys and ducks. To get to the blueberry patch, one followed the signs off the highway, onto the county road, off on another county road, up a hill and down a dirt road. Then you were there. As far as a kid could see there were blueberries.

We were paid 50 cents a pound back then for picking. Around 7 am we'd shuffle into the barn, grab two tin buckets, and hoof it to "the patch". I always walked farthest from the barn and away from the other kids so I'd have an untouched row. By 9 am, I'd meander back to the barn with my full buckets, dump them onto a screen and sift out any bugs, leaves, twigs and small berries, and weigh my haul on an ancient scale. Then it was back out to the patch. Every afternoon when I got off work, I'd drink a cold Dr. Pepper and squish my eyes shut, seeing only blueberry bushes. My 12-year-old self thought that was cool. 

I think I made $100 a summer. Something like that.

Those memories came back today as I needed to do something with the blueberries in my freezer. Here it is, nearly June, and I live 3 miles away from the old Harper farm. The family's dead or gone now and as far as I hear, no one's picked berries there for years. Maybe I'll drive out anyway just to see. I don't exactly need the berries, but I am curious...

Do you guys make jam? Fruit spreads? Anything of that nature? I'm hearing great things about some of the books that say: yes, you can make a lot of the things you buy at the store. Books such as Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, and The Homemade Pantry: 101 Things You Can Stop Buying and Start Making. I'm forever fascinated with growing and making things myself. Think I'll give some of these things a whirl.

But first, the blueberries. Time to see to them. It is nearly June, after all....

10 comments:

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I'll be waiting to hear about the old blueberry farm! I LOVE good blueberries, especially in muffins!
V

Linda Z said...

What great memories. I think blueberries by great cobbler, and I like to eat them frozen. :)

Once, my husband and I thought we were going to have to move and we considered buying a blueberry farm in Oregon. I wonder what our lives would have looked like...

Katy said...

I make jam whenever my best friend and I both have enough time in an afternoon to do it. It's always easier with two people - the favourites are blackberry jam and raspberry jam, although we have made lemon and lavender jelly. One day I will make quince jam and fill the kitchen with that holy, golden scent. Gorgeous!

shoegirl said...

I'm currently dying to make this with some blueberries: http://www.chef-in-training.com/2012/05/buttermilk-blueberry-breakfast-cake/

If you make some, invite me over, please. :-)

Sissy said...

A friend and I attempted to make strawberry jam a couple of weeks ago and mine is more like sauce than jam, but I guess they saw strawberries are harder to work with because there is so much liquid in them. I don't know. And then I also thought about the fact that I don't find myself eating much jam. I think I would need to find something to make that I actually do use a lot. LOL.

Veronica said...

My favorite blueberry jam is the blueberry ginger jam over at Food in Jars. It is delightful!

Sara Warren said...

I'm curious to know if the Harper family is still there or not...

Brin said...

Sara, I think Mr. Harper's widow is there now. The sons have scattered far and wide and none of the grandchildren live down south....

Klara Gaglia said...

Hello Brin,
I'm very new to your lovely blog. I googled Q hook crocheting and came across your t-shirt rug. Love it! Anyhow, you mentioned a girl from a blueberry farm your mum wanted you to be friends with. Was this the se farm? What ever happened to the girl? Just curious :-)
<3 Klara G.
Western Australia

Klara Gaglia said...

I've just discovered your blog when a google search lead me to a picture of your crocheted t-shirt rug. Love it! I was wondering, you mentioned back then your mum wanted you to befriend a girl who lived on a blueberry farm. Was that the same farm? I'm curious what happened to her and if you did become friends. :-)
<3 Klara
Western Australia