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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Walk Into My Woods

Beyond the manicured back yard is a mostly untamed area still on our property. There's a large 3-season pond that attracts a pair of ducks each spring, a stand of 50-foot evergreens, and a sunny spot where the blackberries grow. This natural area is my husband's "man space." He comes out here to chop wood, cut back canes, dig a bit, visit the mountain beaver in his den, and just chill. When we get our honeybees, this is where the hive will go. As you might guess, this area attracts a lot of non-human visitors. 

This afternoon, I knew I needed more fresh berries for tomorrow's breakfast, so I took a quart container and headed out to our woods. We eat fresh blackberries with both breakfast and dinner this time of year. In addition to picking the morning's breakfast berries, I also picked another 3 quarts to freeze on a large tray to add to our humongous zip bags in the freezer.

Walk with me.

When you first leave the manicured area of the property, trees shade the walkway and provide good cover from the sun's heat. One daughter has used a couple of trees out here to suspend a hammock for summertime evening lounging. 

In a moment, the walk opens to the blackberry patch, a sunny spot nestled between our yard proper and the woods.

If I walk just a little further and to one side, there's a large pond. It's almost all dried up now but will fill again beginning in September. 

Beyond the blackberry patch and the pond is the woods. Part of the woods is on our property and part is on other neighbors'. There's another house back behind here, but the large trees block our view of those neighbors, and likewise, their view of us.

My husband has cut paths into the wild blackberry patch, so we can get to most of the berries. If I don't find a lot of ripe berries down one path, I simply walk down another. 

My daughters have been picking wild berries in a couple of public spots around our community, as those always ripen earlier in summer than our property's berries. With the berries on our property, we run the risk that rains will return before the berries have ripened, and the berries will be lost. So we pick around the community early in the season to guarantee a good supply for winter. The other draw to foraging around the community is we can find more ripe berries in one shot at the public spots (due to the expansive areas of some of those public sites), compared to our own patch.

Our own berries are now ripening and the public places have been mostly picked over. The ones at the local school will be cut back later this week in preparation for children returning to the playfield and playground nearby. And the other patches are not looking as good now -- too much sun, too much heat, too many pickers. Because our woods is private property, there's no chance of our berries becoming picked over before we can get to them, so we leave the ripening berries on the canes until they are big and juicy. 

Last weekend I made 1.5 quarts of blackberry jam with our berries. I'll enlist the family to pick for me on Saturday and make another 1.5 quarts plus some pancake syrup over the weekend. Our two large zip bags should be full in the next day. I'll begin on the 3rd bag this week and hope to fill it half full (that's about all of the freezer space I can give to berries.)

Blackberry season is short. Right now we are inundated with fresh berries. But in just the wink of an eye, the berry harvest will be a pleasant memory of warm summer days and sweet, juicy berries.


  1. You have a very lovely lot, both the manicured and natural parts. I know that both parts require a lot of work and it shows that you've done it.

  2. Your property is beautiful.


  3. My parents had 3 acres of property with the house I grew up in, and it was a wonderful place to grow up. Like you, we had areas that were more groomed, a dedicated garden, and woods. How nice that you raised your kids on such a lovely property. Is that a tire swing that I spy? :)

    We didn't have wild blackberries, but we did have wild strawberries and black raspberries (and a few old apple trees but the apples they produced were pretty awful, even for making into applesauce). We also had hickory trees which produced a LOT of nuts.

    1. You spied the tire swing all right, Kris. It's moved from tree to tree over the years and now hangs over the edge of the pond. More exciting that way.
      Your family home sounds like it was a wonderful place to grow up.

  4. Lovely property Lili. It's great that you have different areas with different functions. I'm still jealous of all those blackberries, on your property and off! I've read a bit about beauty berry jam and it did occur to me that I could forage those in woods near me. However, they don't rival wild blackberries!


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