I walk the perimeter of the back forty a couple of times a day with the dogs. It’s far enough away from any distractions to make the walk enjoyable for me as well as them. One of our dogs, now elderly, is hard of hearing with bad eyesight and tends to wander in the road. There are usually only a handful of cars that pass the house on any given day but this way I don’t have to worry and he can spend quality time sniffing whatever dogs with dementia sniff.
I’m constantly amazed at the things that grow back there. Blackberries in abundance. I never really get to harvest many of them because there are also birds in abundance – fruit is a big food source for them and I take whatever is leftover.
Blueberries are everywhere around the edges of the mowing. There is one large bush in the open that I net every year and it gives me a good supply of berries to freeze. There is nothing like those wild blueberries in muffins on a cold, snowy morning in January I have to tell you. There are bushes all over but this particular bush I reserve for myself. It sometimes seems as if the birds are waiting when I go down to pick them thinking they’ll just help themselves while I pick. It’s a quiet interlude I look forward to every summer just to spend time in birdsong.
Then there is the pear tree. The lone survivor of a number of plantings on a long ago Father’s Day. This tree has come into its own in the past few years. It’s spectacular in bloom and there have been years where I thought all of the branches would break under the weight of the fruit. This, of all the “free” food that surrounds me, stresses me the most. There is SO much of it. Pears are picky about when they are harvested and ripened and the frost freeze cycle of the end of season can mess you up in the timing of it all. Did I mention there is SO much of it? The past few years there have been enough pears to fill the bucket of the tractor three times over. That’s a LOT of pears folks. I can them, I eat them, I give a lot away. I even used them as place markers on my Thanksgiving table with over 40 guests. There is not enough creativity in the world to deal with this kind of harvest. Hmmmm, pear cider . . .
Being surrounded by the bounty of nature (and perhaps the forethought of many now gone) is really a wonderful thing. In the past couple of years that is how I’ve begun to think about the food I grow. There is always the huge vegetable garden but I planted asparagus last year knowing full well that I would not be eating any of it until the third year. The glory in it is the bed can be good for over thirty years. It’s nice to know that someone will be eating that lovely vegetable in 2040 because I planted it. To me THAT is food security even if it’s only for three weeks out of the year.