Sunday, September 2, 2012
Twisting up bittersweet
My first official run to cut bittersweet was Wednesday, a couple of days before I usually start. I went to one of my most reliable spots in Montgomery county, where I have harvested for twenty years. It has been reliably good for all that time and I felt confident, even though there has been a drought. The spot is sixty miles from my home and when I pulled up, I could see that the farmer had bulldozed it and the area which had formerly been thick with bittersweet was gone, like it never had been there at all. This has been an increasing trend. There were a few other spots in the same area. Gone, gone, gone. Bittersweet is a nuisance for farmers as it grows so thick that it pulls fences down, particularly when everything gets coated with ice in the winter. I was very discouraged as I drove seventy miles back to my shop. I decided to turn to my most reliable spots in Madison, Delaware, Henry and Randolph counties. This turned out much better and after another hundred and some miles and many stops at familiar places down familiar roads, after a full day cutting and packing bittersweet into the van, I had a full load and was able to return to the shop and drag it all inside to allow it to dry before being bundled. I may be getting too old for this, but I do love doing it. I was able to find some fresh new spots, but not many. I do not travel as much as I used to in my social work job and so I have not found new spots during the year before the bittersweet is ready. I am under a time constraint as I will leave for the Country Living Fair in just a few weeks. After bundling for two days, I have a big pile drying and after all the welcome rain stops, I will make another run to Grant, Blackford and Wells county. The shop looks like someone had a woodchipper inside and had been feeding bittersweet into it. I will clean it all up later. I have had a lot of people in the shop and they say they have seen my blog. Sales of my handmade rustic willow furniture have been good. I will also need to go out and cut a large load for willows to take with me to the Country Living Fair as I will be doing a continuous demonstration there. It is always an intense weekend for Linda and me, and we will work hard. We always enjoy the show and Columbus and we hope to visit some of our favorite pubs and maybe find some new ones. We hope the weather will be good as that is critical for an outdoor show. I have been advised that they have sold almost four thousand tickets online.