Thursday, July 26, 2012

Berry Picking at Smolak Farms

Over the weekend, I forwent all my beach plans for something more exciting: berry picking. I'm a seasoned apple picker, but I must admit that I've never dabbled with fresh berries before. And to be honest, I just really wanted to pet the llamas and cows that Smolak's website boasts about.

Upon arriving at the farm after a scenic drive through North Andover, Michael and I stepped out onto a green field overlooking a pond scattered with geese and rows of bushes and trees sunbathing under fluffy clouds in the crystal blue sky. We gathered some baskets and containers at the farm stand and headed first to the plum and peach trees.

It still seemed a bit early on in the season for the stone fruits, but we got lucky and got a few ripe peaches. I swear few things feel better than eating freshly picked fruit. So needless to say, my first bite into a freshly picked raspberry was wonderfully delightful. It was so sweet and juicy that it erased all my fears of picking a cold and sour raspberry out of my fridge. But dude, raspberry picking is NO joke. I don’t know if raspberry bushes are usually this sparse or if the other pickers did a really thorough job before us, but man it was some back breaking work! Well, okay, I exaggerate; I probably picked a total of a dozen raspberries because I was too intimidated by the prevalent insect presence to be more aggressive about it. (The berries are sweet, man!) Blueberries on the other hand were a lot more pleasant to pick. They grew in much larger clusters and there were a lot less bugs meandering around their bushes, so I was much bolder in my blueberry picking efforts.

After berry picking, we finally got to visit the farm animals! They have an interesting collection of different types of foul, not to mention they have pheasants wandering around the farm, various goats, a big cow, and a few types of llamas. Animals are hilarious. The chickens were all crowding underneath a structure to stay in the shade and one of the giant llamas was just… chilling camouflaged against the wooden fence. Now I know I said that few things feel better than eating freshly picked fruit, but few things actually feel better than having an animal eat out of your hand. Maybe it’s just me, but having a goat or cow lick the feeding pellets out of my palm just slaps a dumb smile on my face. It was charming feeding the greedy goats, but having a cow stick its massive tongue through the fence to get to you is simply breathtaking.

After a morning of berry picking in the sun, we enjoyed some lunch at Smolak. I got a chicken salad sandwich on dill bread, which I must recommend to everyone if it is ever a choice. It was a bit tangy, on the dense side, and completely fresh. However, the highlight of my lunch break was the raspberry sundae from Treadwell Ice Cream. Everyone was getting the black raspberry flavor, but the vanilla ice cream with fresh raspberry syrup and a mountain of whipped cream was divine. I’m definitely salivating thinking about it right now.

Well, our visit to Smolak was definitely a fruitful one! We left with two containers filled with berries and a handful of peaches… which we all finished by the next day. 

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