A day on the farm

05 September 2014

My dear friends, what a day we had today!!

Last night over supper, Rosemary turned to me and asked, “Have you ever gone apple-picking, Flat Kathy?”

“No,” I said, shaking my head regretfully. “Reggie had wanted to take me strawberry picking… and cherry picking… but I wasn’t in South Africa at the right time of year, so we didn’t.”

We have arrived at the Marker Miller Farm
We have arrived at the Marker Miller Farm

“Oh dear,” said Rosemary, evidently realising that I was feeling a bit melancholic. She patted me comfortingly on the head, and smiled at me brightly. “Well, my friend, tomorrow is your lucky day. I had a chat with our neighbours earlier today, and they said that it was the right time to go pick the honeycrisp apples at a wonderful farm not far from here.”

“Really?” I felt my spirits lift immediately. “When are we going?”

“It’s called the Marker Miller Farm,” declared Rosemary, consulting a document she had opened on her laptop. “They have a schedule for when it is time to pick certain things. So in July, you can pick peaches, red raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes, and green beans. And in August, you can pick peaches, red raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes, and Ginger Gold and Gala apples. And in September, they have up to 12 varieties of apples, as well as pumpkins and winter squash.”

“Gosh,” I exclaimed, peering over her shoulder. “That’s a lot of picking!”

Rosemary laughed. “Yes, it sure is. Well, I heard that it is now time to pick the honeycrisp apples, and our neighbour recommended that we go early in the morning. So we should get a good night’s rest, and tomorrow morning — ”

“We’re going to the farm!! We’re going to the farm!!” I shouted, doing a little dance of happiness. I could hardly wait.

As Basil and Rosemary and I drove out to the farm, Rosemary told me that the town of Winchester, where she now lives, used to be surrounded by farms. There are still a lot of farms and roadside stands everywhere – and acres and acres of apple trees of all varieties of apples.

Well, when we arrived at the Marker Miller Farm, there weren’t too many people about yet. No doubt it would get very busy later. Inside, the friendly assistants asked us what size bag we wished to buy.

Rosemary replied, “I think the small one is plenty big for the three of us.”

The sales assistant looked at me in an inquisitive kind of way, and asked whether I would be assisting my friends.

Flat Kathy tries out the swing... and discovers that it's not as easy as it looks!
Flat Kathy tries out the swing… and discovers that it’s not as easy as it looks!

“Oh definitely,” I said. “I may not be able to pick any apples myself, but if Basil holds me up high among the branches, I can have a look around to see which are the juiciest and most delicious apples.”

“Thank you, Flat Kathy, that is very thoughtful of you,” said Rosemary, as we headed across to the apple orchard. “It would be really helpful if you could have a look around the top of the tree for us.”

We put our hats on, because it was a sunny day. Rosemary lent me her pretty blue hat (which Paprika had given to her). And off we went to the rows and rows of apple trees. The rows are so long that you can’t even see the other end!

Luckily, it turned out that the trees were fairly short, which made it easy to reach the perfect apples for our bag. Some apples were lying on the ground, but we didn’t pick those up. Soon our bag was filled to the brim with fresh honeycrisp apples.

The farm has a wonderful playground and also big tables under a sun shade for people to rest or to eat food you can buy inside.

“I’d love to play on the playground for a bit,” I said, longingly gazing out at the swings, and the slide, and the jungle gym. “It always looks like such fun, when you see the children playing.”

“Would you like to try the swing, Flat Kathy?” offered Rosemary. “Come, I’ll help you.”

She tucked me into a bright yellow swing seat, and gave me a gentle push.

Flat Kathy is intrigued by this grow stick that allows children to measure how tall they are; she realises she's not as tall as she thought.
Flat Kathy is intrigued by this grow stick that allows children to measure how tall they are; she realises she’s not as tall as she thought.

“Wheee!” I shouted, laughing delightedly, as the wind ruffled my hair. Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. “Faster! Higher!” I cried, loving the sensation of being on a swing and almost – almost! – airborne!

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Rosemary, grasping hold of me, just as I was about to lose my balance and slide off the edge of the seat. “You keep forgetting that you’re not really all that sturdily built, Flat Kathy.”

“I know,” I said, giggling, “But it was fun! Thank you!”

Basil emerged from the farm store, where he had gone for a bit of a browse-around, while we were on the playground. He exclaimed, “There’s a sign that says we can also pick blackberries! How about it?”

“Oh yes,” I declared, “I’m definitely game.”

“You, Flat Kathy, are game for everything,” chuckled Rosemary, fondly ruffling my plaits and then straightening them out again so I didn’t look too untidy.

We quickly popped back inside the shop to buy a box for collecting our blackberries. But first we had to get instructions for which path to follow and where the rows of vines were that still had lots of berries. I just had to taste one – Oh! it was sooo sweet! Delicious!

Some of the berries were soft and the juice got all over Rosemary’s fingers. She was careful not to touch my yellow face!

“Flat Kathy, I don’t think you should pick any of these berries,” she cautioned me, alarmed to find that I was getting myself all entangled in the brambles.

“Those blackberry vines are thorny! Yowch!” I squeaked.

“You’re going to get all messy and sticky,” she exclaimed, rushing to my assistance. “I’ll never be able to clean it off! Wait, wait, don’t pull on anything!”

“Thank you,” I said, gingerly checking that I still had all my bits, once she had disentangled me. “I didn’t realise how thorny those vines are. The berries were lovely though.”

“May I suggest that you sit next to our box,” said Basil, giving me a stern grandfatherly look. “And that you just watch, while Rosemary and I finish filling the box?”

I nodded obediently. And watched, longingly, while my friends gradually filled the box with juicy, sweet, oh-so-tempting blackberries. Rosemary must have heard my stomach rumbling, because she winked at me, and surreptitiously fed me a particularly large juicy berry while Basil wasn’t looking. Oh heavens, I could have polished off the whole box!

At last, the box was full and we headed back to our car…we were so hot and tired!

On the way home, we stopped at a roadside farmer’s market, which had lots of vegetables that they had grown themselves, plus other seasonal items like pumpkins and gourds.

And there was a big grinder of some type but we couldn’t figure out what it was for.

They also had a couple of fun decorative items for sale.

“Oh look!! Rosemary!!” I cried, pointing excitedly at a humungous sculpture of a hand. “Can I buy this? I would love to send this back to Reggie in South Africa! Do you think the shop could wrap this in bubble-wrap and send it to Cape Town?”

My friends were laughing hysterically. “I can just imagine the courier arriving at their home,” laughed Rosemary, with tears in her eyes. “I’d love to see their reactions when they open the parcel!”

“Why don’t you just take a seat on it, Flat Kathy,” suggested Basil, still chortling to himself. “We’ll take a photo and send that instead. I’m sure Reggie will be grateful that we didn’t buy her a massive hand.”

We finally got home, just in time for a healthy and delicious lunch, and then had a good rest. Who knew that picking apples and blackberries would be that exhausting – and that much fun!

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