July 8, 2011

Blueberries: Enough For A Pie?

We made a deliberate decision to sacrifice our blueberries this year. Or at least to potentially sacrifice them. The reason? Our animals needed the pasture for grazing so we decided to fence it in. I knew the goats would zero in on the blueberry bush, but their need was greater than ours, so it had to be done.

We did try to protect the blueberry bush, to fence them out. I thought I had a photo of that, but can't find it. It amounted to a ring of t-posts around the bush, with 48" welded wire fencing attached. Unfortunately the welded wire makes a perfect place to rest one's front hooves while reaching over to nibble on blueberry branches. Jasmine was quite the expert at that.

When we got the Pygmy bucks, the does were moved to the back field. By that time, the blueberry fence was badly pushed in on all sides. Still, only the perimeter of the bush had been munched on, so not all of the blueberries had been lost thus far. We figured the Pygmies couldn't reach as high as the Nubians, so we took the fence down.

Things changed again as we began to work on an overall plan to divide our five acres for our future Kinders. The does had pretty much munched down what they wanted in the back field, and, according to them, were starving to death. We decided to do a switch-up, letting the Nubians back into the blueberry field, and giving the bucks a go at the back field. I realized this could prove fatal to my summer harvest of blueberries, but wasn't sure what to do. Any blueberries would be fine actually, just please, could I at least have enough for a pie?

We'd already removed the t-posts from around the blueberry bush, so our next goat deterrent was (don't laugh!!!) this .....

Goat barricade of pruned & dead branches

Now, I'm not going to say whose idea this was. Suffice it to say that I was willing to try anything for the sake of saving some of my blueberries. Anyone who knows goats though, is at this moment, chuckling and shaking their heads.

Still, it actually worked somewhat. It took no time for Jasmine to find the weakest spot in the barricade and make her way through, but at least it slowed her down long enough for me to come up with goat deterrent #3 ....

Sprinkler goat deterrent

That's your basic, cheap, no moving parts, lasts forever, fountain type sprinkler placed smack dab in the center of the bush. I turn it on everytime I see a goat anywhere near that bush, and at random times throughout the day. Works like a charm.

When July 1st finally arrived, I anxiously went out to check the status of my blueberries. July is the month they're ripe and ready to harvest, and my mouth was watering for a fresh blueberry pie.

Blueberries beginning to ripen

Not only were they beginning to ripen, but there were plenty of them too. What a relief.

When it came time for picking however, the goats assumed that since the humans were allowed to touch the bush, so were they. I couldn't turn on the sprinkler at that point, but I was equipped with the next best thing...

The ordinary squirt bottle; one of the
best goat training tools available

One blast from a squirt bottle changed their minds. I hooked it into a belt loop for easy access, leaving both hands free for picking.

One morning's picking in a 2-gallon stainless steel bowl

We were able to easily pick a gallon of ripe blueberries.

Of course we will eat them fresh to our hearts content, but I need to decide how to preserve the rest. I've been experimenting with this for two summers now, and have tried dehydrating, freezing, canning jam, and canning pie filling.

We didn't care for the dehydrated blueberries, so drying was out. We loved the frozen berries in muffins, pancakes, and smoothies. Freezing toughens the skin a bit, which I didn't like in a pie, but didn't notice in quick breads. For a pie, the canned filling works well enough, though it's nowhere near as good as fresh. We did love the jam though, so that's a must-do every summer now.

Last year I froze 18 quarts of fresh berries, canned 10 half-pints of blueberry jam and 7 quarts of blueberry pie filling. One year later I still have 10 quarts in the freezer, one half-pint of jam, and 4 quarts of canned pie filling left on the shelf. Since my defrosted strawberry jam was so tasty, I decided to make jam with the frozen blueberries, and freeze all of this year's extras. I won't worry about the pie filling this year, since my harvest won't be as great.

And speaking of pie...


Absolutely my best ever. For a before-type photo and my recipe, click here.

by Leigh at http://my5acredream.blogspot.com/

You can also read this post & more at Before It's News

22 comments:

risa said...

Love. This. Post.

Renee said...

Very cute! I'm glad you were able to keep the goats from eating all your blueberries.

This morning we awoke to a flock of crows in the back yard. I was worried about my cherries that were no where near ripe yet...so I sent Lilly out there and they just laughed at her. So I stepped out and they took off.

I checked the cherries and they're still fine and still not ready for picking either.

I also learned that my apple tree completely shades my garden in the morning. no wonder it is taking so long for my plants to grow!

Sherri B. said...

I went over to look at your pie..Yum!! It is no wonder that your plate is almost licked clean. Thanks for the tip on the Spectrum's shortening and the no fail pie crust, any help for me in that area is appreciated.

Have a great weekend!

Melissa said...

Your "fence" to keep out the goats reminded me of the "fences" I saw in Kenya to keep goats out of places. They had low hedges of things that goats didn't like-- cactus-y stuff. That's where they piles any "brush" they might have. Thanks for bringing that back to my memory.

bspinner said...

I love this posting especially the last picture!!! I've always wanted blue berry bushes but can't get Bill to plant them. Did you lose many to the birds?

Shannon said...

I'm so glad that blueberries are good for you because I sure eat a lot of them and I don't think I could stop if I wanted to!

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

LOL! I had to laugh at the first goat deterrent too but when you are desperate, anything goes. I have used that very thing to deter groundhogs. Doesn't work that well. I use a spray bottle to train cats. Works like a charm!

I freeze cooked pie filling. Since I usually cook it half way before making the pie, anyway, this works great for me and the cooked fruit keeps it's freshness better frozen.

LOVE blueberry pie. Your's looks fabulous! I don't have my own blueberries yet, but they're coming! I want them for wine :-)

Nina said...

Yum! Blueberries. I've 5 bushes planted but they are still quite small, having only been planted last year and this. I'm hoping that next year I will get at least a few to harvest.

Your goat fencing looks quite functional. I've seen fences and barricades of brush which seem to work very well. Using what is at hand is always a good way to go, especially if it works.

Once, someone told me that spray bottles worked to train dogs. My dog loved the spray bottle and would bounce in glee and lick the spray.. sigh.. not quite as effective :)

Peaceful said...

omg HURRAY!!!!!

Jane said...

And to think that most people have to just worry about the birds getting the berries first :)

Susan said...

Goats are wimps about getting wet, aren't they?!

I usually use half shortening, half butter for my pie shells, a tip I picked up from Julia Child. Makes a very tender, flakey crust with a great flavor. And not to work it too much, since that increases the gluten and makes the crust tough. Wish my blueberries would hurry up and grow!

Woolly Bits said...

lovely pie photo:)) I won't be able to make one with my small amount of blueberries - but given the fact that it's still in a small pot I was surprised to see that fruit have set! still green though - it'll take several weeks for them to ripen here, so no july blueberries for me:))

Rose said...

I love your blueberries! How many bushes do you have, when did you plant them, and how many blueberries do you harvest? I just put in strawberries last year and am getting berries and would love some blueberry bushes. Are they time consuming? What can you tell me about them? Thanks.

http://simpleeverydayliving.blogspot.com/

A Wild Thing@Sweet Repose said...

What we do for pie!!!

Mama Pea said...

Delightful post about the goats. I smiled all the way through everything you did to deter them. :o} Glad you got enough (plus) for a pie. Our blueberries won't be ripe for almost a month yet but it looks like a good crop coming.

Eleanor@Planned Resilience said...

That was a smart idea to use the brush. I once saw a nature show where Africans were using thorned brush to make fences to protect their goats and cows from lions. Maybe next year you should add some rose bush trimmings.
Nice harvest, by the way.

Mary Ann said...

Hey! I thought the fence deterrent was a great idea! The blueberries look great, my husband loves them. I'd like to try them here.

TheUrbanRabbit said...

Awesome post! We want to grow blueberries in california but we don't have a shaded area that will work for them...we live in an apartment :(
Going to enjoy some angel food cake!

Joanna said...

Do you use hot wire for goats? Also, cattle panels work great as modular goat fencing. When we had goats, we'd use the panels to keep them out of anything they weren't supposed to be in. We used them for perimeter fencing, plus a hot wire for reinforcement.

The grazing-paddock cross-fencing was woven wire on T-posts with a strand of hot wire about neck height to keep them from sticking their heads through the fence. No escapes, and the only mishap was when my stubborn greedy pygora got his head stuck in the loose hay mow at 2am. I was so glad to get rid of those buggers for a milk cow!

Theresa said...

LOL, yes, goats HATE water.

Mr. H. said...

Good job on keeping the goats away from your bluberries...love that sprinkler idea.:)

Julie said...

I just planted three bushes this past week. Here we have to put them in pots or they will freeze in the winter!