May Day – M’aidez, maybe?

It’s been a while since we updated the blog, mostly because of spring busyness keeping us occupied. The sheep finally got sheared from their annual wool coat, much to their relief, and can happily scamper around the pasture again.

Enough time has passed since the spring freezes to see that our orchard trees will not be producing any crop this year (although we haven’t checked out the wild trees yet). The extremely warm March weather stimulated flowering way too early, then several nights of mid 20’s F. killed off the blossoms and fruit buds. Even trees that weren’t in flower at the time had their buds damaged by the cold as they were too far along in their development. So no apples, pears, plums, or peaches this year. Fortunately, we had such a bumper crop of fruit last year that we put up way more than we would normally need and can ration the remainder until next year. We still have canned applesauce, lots of dried apples and some peaches, apple and peach juice and we even made extra vinegar last year. Too bad we ate up all the dried pears already.

So given where things are now, we have time to work out a new action plan for this growing season. We will focus on our berry, grape, and melon crops instead of the tree fruits. Although some of the earliest strawberry blossoms were also damaged by the freeze, even though their buds weren’t open at the time. It looks like the later blooms are doing OK. The raspberry’s leaves took a hit, but they are fall-bearing canes and the later sprouts are looking fine. The grapes weren’t fooled by the early warmth and they look normal. The wild blackberries should be unaffected as well. So our perennial small fruits should hopefully put out a sufficient crop for us. The other crop that can help make up for some of our fruit shortfall is melons. We usually plant a fair-sized patch of watermelons to enjoy when the weather is hot, but will increase the size of our Sakata Sweet melon patch as that variety preserves well. It’s an Asian melon that you can eat skin and all. It’s terrific when it’s dehydrated and good for snacking. We haven’t tried it in any cooked recipes yet, but necessity being the mother of invention, who knows? Lastly, while not a fruit but usually lumped into that category because of its uses, we have rhubarb. We usually just enjoy this during the spring, fresh season and don’t bother putting any up, but this year we’ll be drying some to help fill any gaps in our menus.

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