Photo: Blondie with purple dewberry stains from rolling in dewberries. Note the purple patches behind her shoulder and on her upper haunch.
Every early summer, we go dewberry picking on the farm. Susie makes jam and cobbler from the berries. We have large patches of dewberries, but they are a bit remote from the house. But, apparently, we have an Early Dewberry Warning System (EDWS).
A week ago, as part of my pre-breakfast routine of covering about a half mile collecting the newspaper, checking the greenhouses, and feeding our equiwhiners (equine plus whiners, being our two horses and three donkeys), I was as usual confronted by Blondie and Princess snorting to tell me I was late giving them their oat breakfast. Blondie is a registered palomino American Quarter Horse, trained for barrel racing before she retired at age four to our farm. It’s been a while since she’s seen a bridle and saddle. Princess is a 30-something white rescue mustang given to us long ago by a friend who couldn’t keep her anymore. While she is saddle broken, it’s been a while since she been exposed to the degradation of being saddled.
While feeding the horses their morning oat rations, I noticed some purple spots on Princess. The purple spots were dewberry juice. Princess had rolled in the hay…well dewberries…and crushed some, transferring the juice to her white coat. I went to the house to tell Susie that our EDWS said the dewberries were ready to pick. She came out to take photos of the proof.
After my breakfast, the dogs and I traipsed out to our east pasture where there are large dewberry patches to check out them out. They were just starting to ripen; most of the berries were still green and red. Just enough were black (the juice is purple) that when Princess rolled on the vines, she got purple stains. Dewberry thorns are very annoying, but I guess Princess’ coat is thick enough to provide protection. I wish my ankles were so equipped.
This morning when the dogs and I went to the road to retrieve the newspaper before the donkeys devoured it, we found a pile of coyote scat. It was stained purple. Coyotes also enjoy dewberries.
The farm tells a lot of stories if only you know how to read them…
Species in order of appearance above.
Dewberry: Probably Rubus trivialis, but some authorities say there are ten dewberry species in Texas alone. Dewberry is related to the cultivated Black Berries. The fruit are smaller and tarter than Black Berries.
Susie: Specifically, wife and best friend (with a good sense of humor, I hope); generally, Homo sapiens. Sapiens is Latin for “wise.” That describes Susie, but unfortunately not all members of the species.
Horses: Specifically, Blondie and Princess; generally, Equus ferus caballus. Fondly known as equiwhiners due to their constant whining about wanting oats.
Donkeys: Specifically, Ma Ferguson, Frida, and Sonya Sotomayor, generally, Equus asinus. Guess the meaning of the specific name. Also considered to be equiwhiners.
Dogs: Specifically, Oso and Maya, German Shepherd Dogs (the breed’s official American name), and Sunshine, mutt (probably ¼ German Shepherd Dog, ¼ Husky, and ½ hound of some sort); generally, Canis lupus familiaris, a subspecies of the wolf.