It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Blackberry picking season has finally arrived! It’s the one time of the year when Gene lets me completely disregard common sense in pursuit of sweet luscious blackberries. Today we picked about 25 cups worth, and made 14 pints of blackberry jelly. There were even enough blackberries left over for a pie! In order to get the really juicy ones, you have to be creative. Gene had the brilliant idea of backing up the F-150 into the bushes, putting down the tailgate, then weighting down a 2×12 board. (You can probably see where this is going…) I walked out on the board and had access to a bountiful supply of beautiful berries. It was a little scary, so naturally I needed some liquid courage.

Picking the berries is like the games of Jenga, Operation, and Let’s Make a Deal all thrown into one painful pursuit for the perfect berry.  You never know what’s behind the next leaf – juicy berry, angry wasp, or ginormous spider. And no matter what you find, you can’t jerk away in horror, because it hurts. (That’s the other reason I like to involve alcohol – it makes me fearless.)

Using the truck worked out great (let’s see you do that with a Smart car – everyone should have a truck). We put a huge cooler full of water in the bed, and threw the berries in it. The water keeps them from getting crushed by the weight, which happens when you pick in the quantities that we do. It also saves a step in the end, because they’re already washed off. You just have to float off the detris, dead bugs, and worms. (Gene’s job, obviously). After we crushed the berries and drained the juice for the jelly, I gave the mash to the chickens. They loved it, and ate the entire bowl. In a few more days, there should be more to harvest. I think we will freeze the next batch; they’re awesome in smoothies.

Even more exciting than blackberry season though, we got bunnies!!!! and not just any rabbits – I would never settle for run of the mill, everybody has one boring old rabbits. No, I got two Giant Flemish Rabbits. That breed can get up to 45 pounds. Yup, we’re going to have two 45 pound rabbits roaming the pasture. I can’t wait!!!!! Chupi was pretty excited when we brought them home, because finally he isn’t the smallest critter we own. Boy is he in for a surprise. Harvey and Claire (because they need big sounding names) are so cute and cuddly, and they like to be held. You have to watch out for their claws though, they are seriously razor sharp. Not so worrying when they’re 2 pounds; but I’m thinking they could gut you when they reach their full size. Here’s hoping they stay friendly. 
The plan is to breed them, because people sell them on Craig’s List for $50.  I got ours for $25 a piece, and once Gene builds their Bunny Ranch, there won’t be much more cost involved, since they can use the same feed and bedding as the other critters. Gene is building them a reinforced hutch in the chicken’s winter enclosure. It will be about three feet off the ground with a ladder leading into it, so the chickens won’t be losing any space. Gene rigged a little play area for them today in the backyard, and they hopped happily around eating clover and a piece of chard I gave them from the garden. At night, they are currently sub-leasing a spot from the fancy chickens in the brooding box. We used Ceri’s old dog gate for a barrier, since we were just storing it in the garage (she can just step over it now). They also went with a Nascar-themed bedroom set, and seem very happy. The fancy chickens don’t mind sharing the box, in fact, they seem very intrigued by their new roommates and just sit and stare at them.

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