When I was little, I remember our family driving down the road and my mom would say, “Albert, did you see all those blackberries? Go back…let’s get some.” And my dad would always turn around. We’d find a sack or something in the car to take the berries home in and then we’d be on our merry way, with our contraband blackberries, juice running down our necks and stained hands. Those days almost always ended with a blackberry cobbler and vanilla ice cream. That sweet luscious berry, made into a thick syrup with an equal amount of sugar, floating in butter and pie crust. I liked the seeds, or “nuts” as my brother called them. He didn’t. So Mom would always make a special batch for each of us. I love blackberry cobbler. I don’t know if it’s because it tastes divine and like my childhood or if it’s because as I grew up, many times it was made from berries full of memories of us picking them on the side of the road.
A few weeks ago, we were out walking in our field. Since it’s our first year on the farm, we take regular strolls around to see what flowers or plants are popping up. Well, on this trip, we made our way to the giant dirt pile that we have always hated….like we were ready to start excavating it to level out the pasture. And there we stood, at the bottom of the big pile of dirt admiring thousands of little blackberry flowers. We had just installed the bees a few feet from there, not knowing that this would be a wonderful source of food for our girls.
Yesterday, as I was picking our first batch of the beautiful, sweet berries, i had so many thoughts running through my head….. I could hear my mom saying things like, “Make sure you get the ripe ones but leave the ones that aren’t ready yet.” Or “Wear long pants and bug spray. Chiggers and snakes love blackberries.” My Aunt Carolyn said that to me yesterday so it must have been something she and my mom learned from Grandma and Grandad.
I was overwhelmed thinking about the circle of life on the farm. Someone planted those blackberries on that mound of dirt and the tiny flowers provided food for the bees. The bees pollinated the flowers and then they made berries. We pick the berries and get to enjoy them. Then we will enjoy the honey from our bees. It’s pretty freaking awesome how it’s all connected.
I sampled the berries and relished in the thought that it’s just the first picking. I thought about how wonderful it is that my daddy always pulls over when my mom wants to pick something from the side of the road. My sweet husband does that for me too.
I was thankful for all those cobblers we got to eat growing up….with and without the “nuts”. And for those days, that mom just let us eat all the berries and there weren’t enough to make anything.
I thought about how much we disliked the ugly pile of dirt. Yet, as I made my way to the top of the mound through the stickers and the chiggers, I realized that the prettiest view on the farm is right on top of that hill. I looked around and saw the five piglets that came home this week. I saw the pond where we’ve already made so many memories. I could see the edge of the garden which looks a bit like a jungle right now. But I know there are baby tomatoes, peppers and squash that are already growing. I watched as my husband moved dirt around to make a good place for our goats that come home Sunday. I love that hard working man who loves animals as much as me.
Some people think we are crazy for stepping off and doing this farm thing. After all it’s just a big mound of dirt….but when I look around, I see blackberries growing. And there will be cobbler in my very near future…with the “nuts”. (To my brother Ben, I will make you one like you like it too).