It's cherry pickin' time in KY. We weren't able to immediately recognize the trees on our property last year and we were so shocked to see the little red cherries growing. We were just fascinated by watching them grow and change to a deeper color.
Being rookies we didn't realize that the birds were watching them as well. We picked a few bucket fulls and called another family to come over and pick along with us. They came the next day and were as disappointed as we were embarassed. Even with 4 children, 2 moms and assorted ladders there wasn't even a bucket of cherries to be found in those trees.
My well experienced country neighbors just laughed. I'd had these great visions of sharing this bounty of cherries with them. I'd probably promised more cherries than an orchard can produce. I was so optimistic. I just didn't realize that the birds were working against us.
One of the lessons that we've learned on the farm is that animals wait until the fruit reaches prime ripeness. You can go to bed one night with a tree full of cherries and wake up ROBBED! It's not just the birds, it's the deer also. We had so patiently cared for our watermelon, cantaloupe and squash. We were told to wait until the stems dried up and began to wither before we picked them. Sadly we'd go back to check on the garden and our fruit would be half eaten and the tell tale deer prints would be there.
This year I was determined that we would be able to pick more of the cherries. The boys and I spent most of a day picking the cherries. It is so hard to get to the tops of those trees! I guess that's why those bucket trucks are called cherry pickers around here. We don't have a cherry picker so I stood on a large ladder, Joe stood on his 4 wheeler and Jake climbed up in the tree to use his climbing skills and bent the branches down for us.
After all the work picking the cherries, it was time to pit them. An hour or so into pitting those cherries, I suddenly became much more willing to share the remaining cherries on the trees with those birds. Fresh picked cherries are a wonderful treat, but they are considerably more tart. It takes soaking them in sugar overnight to sweeten them. I'm not sure if they are much healthier after we've soaked them like that, but it still feels good to make food straight from our trees.
There are so many lessons to be learned on our farm and I suppose learning the value of sharing with the animals is one. Maybe God sends them to keep us from overworking ourselves trying to harvest every little bit. Maybe it's to teach us to be content with what we have or something about “not counting all your chickens before they hatch”. I'm just so thankful that God gave us this property so that we can enjoy the experience of figuring out what those little red balls were on the tree and picking them together.