Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Adventures on Blueberry Hill

I imagine this little guy is saying "There's nothing to see here... Nope. I'm a stick. A boring old stick. I swear! Nothing interesting at all!"

So, here we are in Vermont, where Mum always makes the most beautiful tiny boquets for our table and window sills...
Because it's blueberry season, we're doing lots of picking for the farm stand. When enough berries have been harvested we still go down and pick mummy berry. We have found it easiest to drag tarps to pick them onto, since they fall off the bush so easily.
Mummy berry is a fungus that affects the blueberries. You can see some on the upper right of this branch- it makes shriveled, hard, and often white berries instead of the big fat blues we crave.
The life cycle of the mummy berry is interesting. Those hard white berries fall off onto the ground, and sometime in the springtime it makes mushrooms, which shoot off spores, which infect other berries later on in the season. Because of this we pick the mummies and burn them. Composting them would just allow them to grow, and we don't want that!

Thankfully there are WAY more good berries than mummies, and it doesn't take long to pick a few gallons.
With some of these Jon and I have decided to make E.M. You may remember E.M. from my Argentina blog ( it stands for effective microorganisms, and it's something we used on Mama Roja regularly. All you need to do is take organic local fruit (with skins), put it in a container, put some sugar on top, and allow it to ferment. In Argentina we used a 5-gallon bucket of fruit and 2.2 lb of sugar. When I did the math, that was about 1/2 cup of sugar for our one-gallon glass jar of blueberries.
We then put a cloth over the top with a rubber band around it (because you want this process to be aerobic, but don't want bugs getting in there) and we'll leave it in a dark place for 3 or more weeks until it makes lots of great probiotic-rich juice. You pour off the juice and drink little bits of it as a healthy bacteria boost for your system, and leave the rest to continue making more juice. When it stops, just add more sugar (as long as there's fruit pulp there still) and it will keep going for up to a year sometimes.
LakeFest is this coming weekend, so we had a chance to carve some local water critters for kids to make block print prayer flags with at the festival.
Here is Jon's muskrat...
I carved a river otter and a painted turtle...
and then this bull frog...
and Jon did this awesome spotted salamander too! It was so fun that we found it hard to stop!
We found a couple of birch trees at the top of the hill that needed to be cut out of the hedgerow...
So Jon cut them down,
and we measured out pieces to make our loft with. We're hoping that once it is built it will look like a birch forest inside the yurt.
Amazingly, we got those two entire trees in (and on) Jon's car before we headed home!
Oh, how I love Vermont, so lush and green and full of life. Every time I come back here I never want to leave. How blessed we are to have two such wonderful places to call home!

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