“‘Berry’ Sweet Rewards” in the May/June 2022 issue brought back a lot of memories. Today, to cook a blackberry pie, we go to the freezer and pick up a package of berries. I grow the thornless berries on the part of our farm I reserve for fruit trees and berries. That was not always the case, however.
Growing up, blackberry picking meant following the rules set by my aunt, one of my father’s older sisters. Early on a Monday morning, meaning 5:30 a.m. in order to beat the heat, she would arrive at our house to pick up my mother and me to drive 4 miles down the road to my grandfather’s farm. Before leaving our house, everyone was inspected for proper attire, including heavy pants of some sort to fend off the briars. Next, we tightly tied a strip of cloth around our ankles so the dreaded chiggers couldn’t climb in and bite. We’d add a few dabs of kerosene to the cloth to further block the chiggers’ invasion. We’d also wear heavy shirts, with our wrists wrapped similar to our ankles, minus the kerosene. Lastly, we’d wear big ugly hats to avoid sunburn, and boots or heavy shoes. A supply of gallon plastic buckets that once held ice cream would be secured. These smaller buckets filled the larger containersâ€…–â€…usually some granite “canners” into which we’d empty our gallon buckets of berries. These containers were placed in the back seat with me, and off we went.
This excursion may have been a yearly event in the early 1950s, but it’s still a flashback to me every time I walk past some of our beautiful berry vines that grow just a short walk from our back door.
In response to Our View in the January/February 2022 issue, I wanted to share that I was born in December, so I’m a winter baby. Winter is my favorite. It’s quiet (no radios blaring, no motorcycles zooming everywhere, and no lawn mowers destroying the lawns.) Also, there are no pesky, hungry bugs, and I can remain sweat-free. When we get snow, I enjoy long walks and admiring the crisp, clean-looking world. I’m busy all spring, summer, and fall with gardening, harvesting, putting up food, house repairs, and chopping wood for winter, so when wintertime comes, it’s joy-oh-joy and a time of well-earned rest and relaxation.
Similar to Caitlin’s honeycomb quilt (which sounds absolutely lovely), I also have a multiyear project. I’m making a fiber braided area rug out of broom corn leaves. I tried using corn husks, but the raccoons kept shredding up the corn husks to get to the corn. The progress of my rug project depends entirely on how much broom corn I can grow each season.
For me, winter is also the season to explore new crafts (I’m learning needle felting now) and to catch up on my favorites (making and restocking lye soap and making artwork). Drooling over the newly arriving seed catalogs and fantasizing about the bountiful and colorful garden I dream of having next summer is also a great winter pastime.
Evenings in winter are devoted to the seasonal joy of snuggling up with a nice fuzzy blanket in front of a glowing fireplace, with a mug of thick hot cocoa and a good book or magazine, such as Grit.
Fending Off Feral Dogs
In response to “Walk with the Wild Side” in the January/February 2022 issue: Our area has dealt with all the animals mentioned in the article except moose. However, we have a different problem in Northern California and southern Oregon: feral dogs.
The dogs frequently attack livestock in the area. I’ve lost ducks and chickens on separate occasions, and a neighbor lost all their chickens and even their goats. I would like to know if any of your readers have similar problems in other parts of the country, and I’d like to hear about any solutions they may have.
Grit, Then and Now
I was a Grit paper boy in my farming community in Carroll County, Virginia, in the late 1930s. It was my first job, and I was 11 years old. There were 10 customers on my route, and I delivered papers once a week. The paper sold for 5 cents; Grit got 3 cents and I kept 2 cents. I saved my money and later bought a bike, because it was a long walk delivering to all the nearby farms.
Delivering Grit taught me to be responsible and dependable, because all my customers waited for me to deliver their paper in a timely manner. They were always so glad to see me, because Grit was one of their only sources of news and entertainment at that time.
I recently celebrated my 95th birthday. My daughter gave me a new subscription to Grit and also a copy of Grit from September 25, 1938, when I was a delivery boy. It’s still a great magazine for all rural communities. I’m proud to have been a small piece of Grit’s history.
Sent by Regina Clark, Rupert’s daughter
After reading “Dogs with Jobs” (Our View, March/April 2022), I wanted to share our story. Six years ago, my husband, Leon, and I returned around midnight from a wedding. We put the car into the garage, and out walked four tiny kittens from the garage cabinet. Now, I knew there were kittens in the garage, and I hadn’t seen the mother for a couple of days, so those babies were starved to say the least. (The mother never showed up again.) Luckily, I keep kitten milk replacer on hand, and we found some sort of bottle we could poke a hole in and use to feed the babies that night. The next day, we went to town and bought a kitten bottle-feeding kit, and for at least two weeks, we fed those babies every two hours, cleaned them, and generally took care of them.
Those four kittens thrived and grew up. Two went to good homes, and we kept two: an orange tabby named Orange Juice and a solid gray named Mr. Gray. These two have the single job of paying us back for saving their lives by simply loving us, and they do, as they’re great lap cats and feet-warming purring machines.
When I was so ill with shingles, my Orange Juice spent hours, day and night, on my lap giving me comfort. I call her my little “life saver.” Consequently, there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for Orange Juice or Mr. Gray. People often call me a “cat person.” That’s just fine, because I really am! I love my cats!
Postage Stamp Exchange
I’m looking for stamp collectors who would like to exchange United States postage stamps. I collect U.S. canceled stamps. I’m missing several from 2010 to 2018. I look forward to exchanging stamps with you.
31918 3rd Ave.
Elk Point, SD 57025
I’m looking for pen pals. I enjoy the outdoors, gardens, animals, and many other interests.
P.O. Box 17
Livingston, MT 59047
Heirloom Tomato Seeds
I’m looking for free heirloom tomato seeds.
7482 Upper Snake Road
Athens, AL 35614
I’m looking for back issues of a recipe newsletter called Fare Share, out of Arlington, Texas, in the ’80s. The publication is out of print now. I will return postage.
4467 W. 90th St. N.
Porter, OK 74454
Share Your Thoughts
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