Using the Handy Dandy (my name for it) fruit picker, I am able to reach quite high into the tree, as the handle is about 12 feet long. The basket, with its curved tines, catches each apple (we hope!) as I tug gently, then lower it to the basket. At least that's the way it should go...but often doesn't! These are Gravensteins. They're a little smaller than we'd like, but we'll take anything. They'll go into apple crisp or applesauce.
The grapes are ripening, but have a ways to go...
The blackberries are fabulous this year. Big, juicy and sweet....and THORNLESS! Wow! What a pleasure to pick them without wading my way through stiggery vines! I have put the netting over them until they are ripe and it not only keeps the birds out, but the June Bugs are too large for the net, as well. The blackberries are the size of half a ping-pong ball!
The photo is less than scintillating, but it does show the density of the netting. It's small, probably 3/4 of an inch, and it does a great job of keeping the birds out. It's a bit of a tangle when it's time to remove it from the berries, but it's very strong, and therefore takes some abuse without tearing. It's a great way to protect the fruits of your labors!
A quick segment for Milk 101..
I'm thrilled so many of you are enjoying it. Thanks so much for comments!
A word about making butter: If you're partial to the old-fashioned dasher or even electric churn, what I am about to say might be heresy! I own a treasured Daizy Churn I've had for years. I've successfully churned a goodly bit of butter...but the process was, at times, unsuccessful...or at least, interminable!
It was a gamble as to whether or when the butter would break. Through the kindness of the head of the Dutch-Belted Assn., Winifred Hoffman, I learned to make predictably successful (in a short period of time) butter.
Here's what you do: take COLD cream from fridge. Do not warm it. Put it into your food processor; put the lid on; process until it breaks. (You'll see it separate in the bowl.) Depending upon how much cream you put in, it should take about 3 minutes. Pour off the "buttermilk" using a colander, then put it into a bowl or pan and pat it out until there is no cloudiness and the rinse water runs clear. Add salt if you like (1/4 tsp. per 1/4 lb is the suggested amount. Put it into a mold and then in the fridge. Less salt (or none) if you are watching your salt intake. Just pat it out and then put the butter into some kind of mold and put it in the fridge.
Your color will vary from intense yellow in the spring, to pale yellow, if not almost white, during the summer. I make as much butter as I can during the time we are milking so that when we must dry the cow up in preparation for her calving, we still have butter. I simply freeze it. Just like I do with eggs during the laying season, so I have eggs during molts and during the chickens' non-laying season. I freeze eggs in ice cube trays, one egg per slot.