Backyard Bounty, Country Living Edition

It’s been about 4 months now since we moved to our new property, and there has been plenty of ups and downs with that process. We purchased and moved to an 80 acre parcel of land with mixed pasture and forest. We had previously lived in town. It’s a small town, but it was still in town with neighbors and noise and all the annoyances of having people around all the time. The draws of moving to the country should be obvious given my hobbies, and it has been as good and better than we expected. One of the unexpected bonuses though has been the sheer amount of backyard bounty that I now have access to.



Backyard Bounty

What exactly do I mean by backyard bounty? I have written a post before with that as a title, and while this article is similar, this time I’m referring to my literal back yard. It has been a whole new experience actually owning a lot of land and being able to make use of it in a variety of ways. The options now available for me to pursue many of my hobbies without needing to leave the yard have been incredibly fun. I can hunt, quad, hike, have bonfires, black smith, target shoot, and more, all without having to travel. In particular, and the backyard bounty that I want to talk about today, is the unexpected amount of fruit and herbs that I have found while exploring.

It’s really cool to wander around and find new plants


Sage, who knew there was so much?

One of the first plants that I noticed as I was exploring was white sage, which I later found out was known more commonly here as ceremonial sage. As it turns out, this is the type of sage that is dried, bundled, and burned in the cleansing ceremonies of indigenous people. The local herbalist in town gave me a lot of great info about the plant. She told me how to harvest it, and even pays me a small amount to bring it in for her. Not a bad deal for something that I have nearly 20 acres of! While learning about this aromatic herb I also discovered a second variety of it known as buffalo sage growing in some areas as well. I’m not sure yet what I can do with that one, but I’m sure I’ll find a use for it at some point.

Gypsy helping me collect sage


Berries, Berries Everywhere!

The next thing that I have found an abundance of on my land has been berries. Saskatoon berries and chokecherries in particular. The discovery of the saskatoon berries was quite by accident. It was the middle of July and we were noticing (and getting very annoyed by) a large number of people parking along our field and walking around on it. Finally I was home one day when someone parked and so I hopped on the quad to go and question them about it.

Walking around on my treeline was a mother and her daughter and they were picking saskatoon berries. All of a sudden all the parked cars made a lot of sense! There was huge bushes, with easily in the hundreds of pounds of total berries ripe for the picking. Knowing that, I was more than happy to let people stop and pick them to enjoy.

Fast forward into August, and we got into chokecherry season. Like the saskatoons, I discovered around my yard giant berry bushes with again, in the hundreds of pounds total of berries. I hadn’t had time to harvest any saskatoons, however these chokecherries presented an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It was time for my first ever attempt at making jelly!

backyard bounty

Berries Everywhere!

Harvest, Cook, Eat, Enjoy

First things first, I had to harvest enough to be worthwhile. This ended up being incredibly easy, and within 15 minutes on my first berry bush I had already picked 7 pounds of chokecherries. I figured that would be plenty, so into the pot they went.

Cooking out the juice

Over the stove, I cooked them down until I had a pot of bubbling pulp. Once that cooled off a bit I strained the juice out using cheesecloth. Cooking it again following the directions on the pectin box I ended up with a nice thick beautifully purple colored liquid. This of course got poured into jars, sealed, and left to cool and set.

I had never made jam or jelly before, nor even canned anything, so I was nervous about how this would turn out. Chokecherries are not really edible fresh off the bush, but when cooked down into jelly they end up really delicious. The jelly turned out great and I gave it out to various people to enjoy.



So Much More to Discover…

These couple of examples are only scratching the surface of my backyard bounty. I have already found more fruit such as wild plums, and based on some research I suspect I will be able to find some other wild foods such as horseradish root if I look around next spring.

Add on to all of this, all the firewood I could need, naturally occurring high quality sand, and everything else I can do with all this space. It really is our own little slice of heaven, and we hope that we will be able to enjoy it for many years to come.

It’s good to have land

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