Our Lemon Monster has been standing out in our backyard, hands on his hips and impatiently tapping one foot, while his beautiful, plump, bright yellow fruit heavily dangle from his branches. He was just 'asking for it'. Each year we think he looks forward to the tussle between us, whereby he fights to see how many 'digs' he can get in, per lemon that we purloin from his branches. We fight him over every lemon, but then make it up to him a couple of weeks later with a very nice extra special, extra expensive dousing of 13-13-13, which we hollow out ~ about 15 or so holes all around his drip-line and fill each with approximately one cup of this particular blend of fertilizer. He seems to love it, since he thrives on it, rewarding us with such great harvests...the Grump. And, away we go again.
This year, due to an extra nice winter, the fray took place a few weeks earlier than normal.
Our dear Yankee, "snowbird" friends, Mr. Ed and Mrs. Jean from Rochester, New York and
Florida had only heard about our lemon picking escapades, and on occasion, had been given some of the lemons and bottled juice, but had never been here to witness what the process entailed.
Mr. Ed loves working up north, harvesting buckets and buckets of Maple sap and then standing over his syrup stove for hours on end, patiently boiling down his 'liquid gold' maple syrup. As a matter of fact, he's one of these fellas that's interested in a myriad of subjects and is always on the go, and open for adventure. His brother-in-law's house was destroyed by a tornado, so he and Mrs. Jean loaded up his chain saws and drove hundreds of miles to the rescue; he went out on a fishing vessel to learn how to deep sea commercial fish, they've traveled world wide to experience life on many levels and to learn new things. (So, Peg and I thought "maybe...")
We called them with the promise of gallons of lemon juice (Mr. Ed LOVES lemons and Mrs. Jean LOVES making all kinds of jelly)...and as much citrus as they wanted, if they'd like to come and take part in the harvesting of the Lemon Monster. They talked it over and decided it sounded like a fun project, so they loaded up and drove twelve hours from their place in Florida all the way over to help us.
They showed up Sunday evening, the last day in January, and early the next (foggy) morning, Mr. Ed and I began pickin' on the Lemon Monster.
With a li'l ceremony and much enthusiasm, we placed the first ripe, juicy lemon into the big blue wheelbarrow. That was fun.
THEN...for the next hour we stooped and stretched and groaned and clawed our way into the tree, harvesting about 90% of the lemons, with no help from the Lemon Monster, who fought us tooth and especially "nail!". He 'got' us several times.
We always leave some hanging there for future use, like when we want a bit of fresh lemon zest, or for a neighbor, etc.
With quite some effort from both of us, we got the heavy wheelbarrow of fruit shoved and dragged over to the back door, brought out a dishpan,
and loaded it up,
then dumped it into the sink to be rinsed and scrubbed by Mrs. Jean to get off any dust or residue accumulated on them over the growing season.
Once Mrs. Jean had washed them, stacked them in another dishpan, Peg, Mr. Ed and I dove into the job, slicing them forever, it seemed, into quarters, peeling them for hours, (which made for stings here and there, and eventually "prune-y" fingers). I manned our wooden fruit press, struggling to turn the crank, squeezing and squeezing, then finally after a very long day, we were all exhausted, never wanting to look another miserable lemon in the face again, we got it bottled.
It was all worth it, though. This year's haul was 6 gallon jugs and 20 water bottles full of 16 oz. of pure, raw lemon juice. That's about 9 gallons all together. A pretty good year for our beloved Lemon Monster.
Below, find the weary lemon crew at the end of a long day. (Pegody, being the photographer and editor; the behind-the-scene's all around gopher and helper, did as much as any of us, but, since she wasn't in any of the pictures, she can claim she was 'whooped', too.) (Oh yes I was! Peggy smiling here)
Now, as those of you who follow our Blog, here and also cappyandpegody's channel on youtube, you are painfully aware, when me and Mr. Ed get together, there is often a video of our shenanigans, and this lemon picking event is no different, so sit back and enjoy two friends 'cut up' and get 'cut up' having a ball wrestling the dreaded, but much loved Lemon Monster, for "his" prized possessions. To "him" we say, "Lemon tree...when life hands you lemons...Hand 'em over!!!!"
The second video, below, shows our next step in the process of juicing our lemons. We have to admit that our setup looks like a bit of a Rube Goldberg kind of deal, but we did what we had to do to get the juice into the jugs. We always plan to rig up a better way to do it each year, but then in the heat of battle, we forget and just 'gitter done'.
click on this photo to start the video.
We Thank God for such a bountiful harvest and for the friends who gave up so much to come join us in tackling this time-consuming job and we also pray for the strength and spunk to be able to take on our scrappy Lemon Monster again next year, should he challenge us afresh, once more leading us up the garden path with his lemony wiles. But alas, in the end, it's always a 'win-win' situation for all.