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It was a good day in the berry patch
Em and Thatcher

GAYS MILLS - Did September sneak up on anyone else the way it has snuck up on me?

Although being a working mom is something I enjoy, I get the idea that there are just not enough hours in the day now.

All summer, I’ve had intentions to do things. Get my garden in on time, butcher my chickens, go camping, go swimming, make jams and jellies, the list goes on.

Well, my garden got in late and my tomatoes are still pretty darn green. I have 15 extra chickens clucking around and pooping on everything I love. I went camping once, and swimming never happened. That jam and jelly? It’s still full sized berries waiting in the freezer.

Berry picking is something we managed to find time to do. I’m not sure how, but we’ve ended up with a whole lot of berries this year.

It is perhaps because it is one activity we can do with Thatcher and that both Chasca and I enjoy.

Recently, we squeaked in on the take end of a friend’s raspberry patch. Working between the raindrops we plunked Thatcher into “the baby backpack,” and off we went. 

Chasca took one row as I took the other hoping to cover as much of the patch we could before the looming black clouds opened up on us.

The flock of chickens that came by to greet us quickly amused Thatcher. They cautiously clucked at us, curious of our intentions in the raspberries.

Although Thatcher cannot actually say “chicken” he can in fact identify the feathered friends. “Buck Bucks! Buck, buck, buck, buck! BUUUCCCCKKKK!!!” he joyously clucked while bouncing vigorously on his papa’s back.

 Unfortunately, the chickens didn’t hang around just for the amusement of my son. Seeking greener pastures and cow pies to peck, they carried on.

Our poor curly-haired son sadly whined for the flock to return. When they didn’t, things started to go down hill.

“Toss him a berry!” I hollered across the rows. It was obvious that Chasca heeded this advice as the squeals stopped, but only momentarily.

As soon as he gobbled down his portion he would squeal for more. Lucky for him his dad was born to pick produce. He has large hands with nimble fingers and a wingspan that could rival an albatross.

I glanced over my shoulder at the pair of long lean berry lovers. Little legs were kicking joyously as one long freckled arm reached back and forth to a small out reached hand. The other picking furiously without missing a beat, depositing the precious red fruit into a hand made basket attached to his belt.

“Well, if he’s picking that well I can probably eat a few more,” I thought to myself as I shoved a handful into my gob.

No sooner did I stuff my face than I heard a strange, gobbling noise coming from below me.

A large, elderly, golden retriever was at my feet looking rather pleased with himself.

The lovely old dog was carefully getting its fill of all of the lower berries on the plants. I was so impressed.

“Chasca! This crazy old dog is eating all of the berries!” I squealed. “

It’s probably what keeps ‘em young” he responded. I continued to eat my fill, watching the old dog.

As the rain slowly started to fall, another couple pulled up to pick.

I furiously began to pick more to top off my basket from what I had eaten. The dog seemed to sense my urgency, as it resumed at my heels eating up the ripe red berries.

“I think we have enough, let’s leave some for them, I picked the one row clean,” the ever-polite Chasca told me.

As we scurried to the truck the baby once more entered a state of discontent. He’s really not a fan of his fancy, expensive, uber seat. Berries to the rescue, once again.

Once we got rolling down the road, the redheaded albatross used his impressive reach again to grab handfuls of berries to reward himself for a job well done.

We immediately froze the surplus beyond a pint for munching. I know I’ll be thankful for those berries in the middle of the long cold Wisconsin winter when I think summer will never return. I’ll be able to open that little Ziploc freezer back and go right back that rainy August afternoon—complete with the silly old dog, demanding baby and meandering buck bucks.