Yesterday I took all four kids strawberry picking at a local family farm. Like most kids they thought it was the best thing ever for the first ten minutes when they stuffed their mouths full of berries as fast as they could pick them. But then the sun came out. And their bellies got full. And they got bored. And the complaining started.
Like any good parent, I told them to buck up, stop complaining, start picking and then regaled them with stories of days long-forgotten from my past. I heard myself telling them, "Did you know when I was a kid farmers actually hired kids to work on their farms? This was a fact my mom discovered when we first moved to Oregon. The next thing we knew my Mom and Dad and some other equally mean parents started driving us and a bunch of other kids out to a berry farm every day. They'd drop us off really early in the morning and come back to pick us up at 3 p.m. We'd have to pick berries all day long in the hot sun to earn money for school clothes. So don't you dare whine about picking berries for one measly hour. Hey - maybe we should see if this farmer would hire you to earn money for camp..."
After one hour, we weighed our berries. 25 pounds of fresh, warm Oregon strawberries. We brought them home and proudly displayed them on the counter for Curt to see when he got home from work. He walked in the door, stared in disbelief at our strawberry-laden counter and said, "What on earth are you going to do with all those berries and why did you pick so many?"
I spent six hours in the kitchen today with those blasted berries and I am now emotionally scarred for life. I may never eat another strawberry again. Just in case you were wondering, I thought I'd list out exactly everything you can do with 25 pounds of strawberries.
1. Spend an hour picking through them and throwing out all the rotten ones your kids picked because they weren't paying attention and just wanted to fill the basket so they could leave.
2. Give aforementioned kids free reign to eat berries until they get sick. That alone took care of at least ten pounds in 24 hours.
3. Sort remaining berries into three piles: mushy to use for jam, somewhat firm to use for pies and freezing, and store-perfect to eat last.
4. Slave away making three fresh strawberry pies that are now cooling in my refrigerator.
5. Make 112 ounces of freezer jam. Yes - you read that right. 112 ounces. Can I get a BOO-YAH!
6. Freeze two gallon bags of berries to be used later when you decide you actually like strawberries.
7. Clean up your kitchen that is now covered in a sugary-sticky mess.
8. Confess out loud that you will NEVER be a farmers wife and it's no wonder the ladies in Laura Ingles Wilder days died young. WHEW!
9. Realize you've totally become a mom in every sense of the word.
10. Start scheduling in your mind when you'll go pick some more.
Happy strawberry picking!