Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Angry Blueberry Birds

Saturday, we made our annual U-Pick blueberry journey to a local U-Pick farm called Castleberries, in Port Crane, NY (near Binghamton).  Both spouse and I love blueberries, and they keep a long time in the refrigerator.   We always pick once a year, and sometimes twice.

There's nothing like freshly picked blueberries (or any other fruit, for that matter): fresh, sweet, and warmed by the sun.  I don't put sugar nor cream on them.  I have always eaten them au naturel.

One interesting feature of this orchard is the way they scare birds away.  Birds are the bane of blueberry farmers.  On our way to Virginia a couple of weeks ago, we saw an orchard with nets draped over the bushes.  We sympathize.  Castleberries may do this, but they also have a special system in place, one they have used for years. We call it the Angry Birds system.  (long before the game of the same name.....)

Loudspeakers blare out what are probably bird distress calls.  Or maybe, in bird language, the recording is saying "horrible tasting berries!  Poison!  Stay away!"  At any rate, it is fun standing out there in the sun, enjoying the outdoors, and periodically hearing these frenzied birdcalls.  My son, when he was younger, used to get a kick out of it.  Which, I guess, shows how long this orchard has used this system because youngster is an adult now. 

It must work, because they have never updated it.

The variety of blueberries being picked was a new one to us.  I don't know its name but the bushes had an unusual habit - the branches drooped, almost weeping.  It wasn't the best set up for someone with a bad back (me) because I don't like to sit on the ground.  Sitting on the ground would be the best way to pick.  I decided not to do that.

Another strategy is to go to the back of the rows, because most people don't want to bother to walk all the way out to the far end of the picking area.

It was hard going between the rows and I got frustrated wading through blueberry branches - which, fortunately, do not have thorns.  But finally I found a bush loaded with berries, and I settled down to picking, sweat streaming down my suntan-lotion protected face. (Wegmans Dry SPF-55:  works great.)

We picked about 6 pounds, and will be sharing some with family when they come up in a few days.

The berries really are sweet, too:  so much better than the blueberries I sampled two weeks ago at a Virginia farmers market. 

I guess blueberries make August worthwhile.

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