On the way back from the mailbox, I decided to hang a right down through what we call Plum Alley and check the strawberries, fully expecting a bunch of squishy, inedible red blobs. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? Two rows of strawberries needing to be cleared! Oh, my! What a surprise!! In the midst of what has to be one of the rainest springs we've ever experienced, my strawberry plants honored me with a first picking of huge, sweet fruit, with little damage (when I'd expected mushy remains of my dream of having a good strawberry patch for a change. Well, round one turned out to be a welcome gift! The fertilizer and faithful runner-removal paid off.
I was hard-pressed to believe that my plants had withstood the major deluges we've had, along with the greedy birds, rabbits, deer and slugs. I believe in this bowl, I had perhaps six berries that were inedible. That's it! The bowl above measures 19 inches across, and the cup in the bowl is a 1/4 cup measuring cup. The berries are very upright. They are fruiting well above ground, so despite the muddy circumstances, the majority were well above ground and made out just fine.
And talk about sweet! Several years back, we decided on the Honeyoye variety. (most pronounce this weird name by calling is Honey Eye.) It seemed as if this variety could probably cope with our clay soil and produce without being mulched. They're described as bearing heavy yields of large, beautiful, crimson fruit. And that has turned out to be true!
They're almost in the freezer, now. As I was finishing picking the last plant in a double 80-foot row ,it began to rain again. MM had helped me by picking one bowl by himself, but he didn't have a rain jacket, so headed for the house.
For a moment, rain pelting down...I just parked on my knees in the grass and --literally--soaked in the simple joy of such bounty.
For those who may have wondered about Jessie, our elderly Border Collie, I thought I would add a couple of photos of her playing what we call "bumper ball." This is a major milestone, folks. In October of last year, she was unable to eat much, to walk much, had totally lost her sense of humor, and was most probably in a lot of pain though she never complained.
She still has difficulty arising from her bed, but she stuggles with it until she makes it, and then dutifully follows MM around the farm on her normal chores, getting more fluid in her stride as she keeps up. She isn't very fast, but she is still dedicated to fetching chickens and nosing out rabbits. She barks a little, and obviously still loves to play BB (bumper-ball).
The game is easy. MM sends the basketball down her way along the railing, then when it arrives, she gets behind the ball and noses it back to him. The game could go on all day unless the ball accidentally hits her bad leg, whereupon she goes down with a soft thump. Undaunted, though, she pushes herself back up to rights and the game starts all over again...unless she's had enough. It's a simple enough game, and it's truly a gift for us.
It was Barbara of Folkways Notebook who observed that "dogs are tough." Indeed, they are! Jess's right rear leg doesn't function very well and she carries it a lot; but she's determined to keep going. And she's been a real trooper. We're still not sure what happened, but last fall, she lost mobility and desire to do much of anything. One day she was fine. The next day she was not interested in life.
We babied her over the winter, kept her inside, and she was a lovely house dog, so respectful of her interior surrounds where she'd never spent any time. Now, eight months later, she's still on the mend, (and we're still babying her) but she is gaining daily. She is now 11 years old, and as such, is the second oldest member of our family. We value her enormously and honor her for her faithful service over this past decade. She's doing quite well and in her own way, she's an inspiration!