Don’t count your Berries before they Bloom


Agriculture is a fierce master. Whether you are rich or poor, meek or strong, an experienced farmer or a novice, the weather rules with impartial disregard. I would dance naked in the field under a full moon if I thought it would help. Hell, I’d dance naked in downtown Perth at midday on a holiday weekend if it would make a difference.

I was out west visiting family when my babies broke dormancy (and when I wrote my last blog). When I returned home and raced out to the field, anticipating to see multitudes of blooms destined to become my first salable blueberries, realization dawned with gut wrenching despair. I saw, instead, row after row of brown, dead branches.

Normally in the fall, blueberry plants turn a gorgeous red as they ‘harden’ for winter. But last year our record breaking heat wave was immediately followed by a killing frost and green leaves gasped their last breath and fluttered to the ground, without the benefit of turning red. Being the novice that I am, I wondered at the time if that would have an impact, but it’s impossible to predict what damage will be done until the plants break dormancy in the spring. That they didn’t get a chance to harden properly, combined with the fact that some stuff didn’t get done last year on account of my broken ankles, the result this spring was disheartening, to say the least.

My friend and mentor Charles (who owns Wilmot Orchards in Newcastle) says that the roots are not dead – that the bushes will grow back, it will just take a couple of years. Two years feels like a long time to me. I know that everyone whose lives are intimately invested in agriculture goes through things like this in one form or another. I have a coaster that reads – we can’t direct the wind, we can only adjust our sails. Well the wind had died and my sails were flapping loose.

After mourning came acceptance. The heavy weight of despair was slowly lifted by a gentle breeze allowing me to adjust my sails, as well as my mindset. The only thing to do is put it behind me and move on. But I’m moving on more slowly. That’s ok – it’s probably better for this aging novice than riding the waves at 50 knots pushed by a gale force wind. I will get as much of the netting done as I can but with so much crop devastation, it’s less urgent. I also have more planting to work on. It will all get done, as my friend Nancy says, in the fullness of time. I’m practicing staying in the present and taking it day by day. The bittersweet moral of this story is – you know what’s coming – don’t count your blueberries before they bloom.

7 responses »

  1. FSorry about your blueberries.Think positive.Maybe it happened for a reason and the old saying “When one door closes, another one opens”. xo

    • Thanks again Pauline. I also believe the old saying. I’m hoping they are good to go for next year. I’m also planning to go East this fall to the cabin. Look forward to seeing you folks. Xo

  2. I am so sorry Arlene. How disheartening to say the least. You are a very strong woman. It hasn’t taken you very long to accept and move forward. I have learned, as you obviously have, that living mindfully, in the present, takes dedicated work, but is so worth the reward. Why does it take these unfortunate challenges to motivate us to live this way?
    I am still in Italy but returning next week. Then I will be helping out my sister for awhile( knee replacement) starting June 29. If I can help you out with netting or pruning bushes, etc…while I am in Ottawa, please let me know. I mean that. Love to you and your blueberry bushes, Ann

    • Hi Ann. Thanks so much for your kind words. Yes, living mindfully is rewarding always.

      What fun to be in Italy. Sounds wonderful! I am sure we will see each other at some point this summer. Thanks also for the kind offer of help. I will keep it in mind. Enjoy your last week in the land of Delish pasta and food in general. Lots of love and hugs, Arlene

  3. Hi Arlene. Bad news about your blueberries and I am so sorry. I admire your willingness to push ahead no matter what. Your farm has been a telling test of your character. Are you planting additional bushes this year? If anyone can make it work, Arlene, it’s you my Kilimanjaro climber, my Everest conqueror, my sleep in a tent to get through school student, my broken ankle wedding planner and hostess, my biker down the west coast, my adventure traveller, my adventurous eater of my old food, my trekker of Manchu Pichu, my mother of three wonderful people. I am in awe and admiration. sS

    On Mon, May 28, 2018 at 6:09 AM The Flip Side of Fifty wrote:

    > arlenedoyle posted: “Agriculture is a fierce master. Whether you are rich > or poor, meek or strong, an experienced farmer or a novice, the weather > rules with impartial disregard. I would dance naked in the field under a > full moon if I thought it would help. Hell, I’d dance na” >

    • My dear Sue, you are a hoot. As always, thanks so much for the encouragement and support. And yep. I’m pretty good at eating pretty much anything. Especially your delicious marmalade’s.

      I am planting again this year – another 300 plants. I picked them up a few weeks ago and potted them up to keep them alive until I can get them in the ground. But that will be it. 👍😘. Hugs and love always, Arlene xo

  4. Big hugs, Arlene. I think of you often… especially as I drove by your farm last week. Hopefully the protracted dormancy of your plants this year will provide some breathing space to gather and muster yourself as you stay mindful and move forward. I love that it’s ‘just 300 more plants’. I got 20 seedlings into my veggie garden and felt incredibly accomplished! You truly are a force to be reckoned with!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s