Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Stroke Survivor Travel: An agricultural adventure

Husband Walter, left, my personal pea picker

Mid-June I was able to check off an item on my local travel wish list—going to a you-pick-it farm.
Welcome to Charlie’s. (Photo: Walter Skupien)

I really hadn’t given the excursion much thought about what planning and adapting might be necessary for a stroke survivor to participate. That is not unusual for me. Until I actually experience something post-stroke that I used to do without a problem, I tend to forget that my capabilities are a whole lot different now.

At this stage in my recovery, I am always at risk for falls, but I soon realized that the challenges of keeping my balance in the you-pick environment left me feeling more at risk than usual.

This trip to Charlie’s U-Pik turned out to be “Y’all pick while I sit on a cooler.”

I accomplished some shots from a standing or stooping-over position, but most were from my perch on our trusty Coleman cooler.

I spent my time taking photos (Photo: Walter Skupien) of . . .

Field pea blossom . . .

Okra bloom . . .

The center of an okra blossom close up . . .

Tomatoes and friends.

Randy and Lila were our partners in grime. Randy had done the footwork about the Charlie’s U-Pik opportunity.

All four of us have ventured into backyard vegetable gardening the last few years, and we were in awe of the acres of lush plants and all the veggies. There were even rows of sunflowers.

You could fill as many 5-gallon buckets as you had brought with you at a cost of $10 per filled bucket. And you could fill them with whatever you chose to pick.

As we headed home our amazement at the 100-acres of summer vegetables turned to speculation about whether commercial fertilizers and pesticides figured prominently in the farm’s operations. 

My goal for our own backyard garden plot is not to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Husband Walter has cooperated by composting plant material from kitchen and yard. But he is also applying Miracle-Gro. No complaints here, though. He is doing most of the work since my stroke.
Pea-picking results

My dear husband had filled one bucket nearly to the top with purple hull peas then threw in some okra and zucchini. He also shelled the peas, cut up the okra and put it in the freezer.

Two days after our excursion we feasted on some of those purple hull peas accompanied by fresh cherry tomatoes from our tiny garden. That was the first time I have enjoyed those fresh-from-the-garden country peas in several years.

Thank you, Hubby! 

He posted his Charlie’s U-Pik account and photos here.


  1. You were very wise to sit and not pick! When I went to the strawberry field, the ground was way too bumpy and I could not even walk on it, I sat in the car and took pictures. I have never seen an okra flower, did not even know there were any! Can you pick the okra when it is flowering like that?

  2. Ginny, the flower comes first and then the okra seed pod. If you don't harvest the pods while they are young and tender, they get really tough. They are related to hibiscus.

  3. There is nothing better than fresh picked vegetables. Enjoy them. Your photos of the flowers are beautiful.

  4. That is on my to do list also. Personally, I wouldn't mind having a personal pea picker along. Picking can be rough on the back.
    Those blossoms are just beautiful.

  5. when i picked and shelled those peas, mama threw a hand full of okra in the pot with them. i love peas and okra and for the life of me i don't remember either having blooms... i did not have a camera growing up and hated being MADE to do all that picking and canning, but i had no idea either one had flowers... glad you had a sturdy and safe place to sit and yum on the eating there of

  6. A splendid haul and all the better for having sat on a bucket and supervised operations!

    I expect the fresh produce tastes as good for the idle watcher as the busy picker. I am sure your picking days are just around the corner again.

  7. Linda,
    I'm so excited that you went on an agricultural adventure! I felt right at home looking at your photos :)

    Isn't okra an interesting plant? We planted our first okra, this year, and I've been totally intrigued by it!

    I know what you mean about commercial composts and fertilizers. We use some of them, but would like to eventually get away from it.

    Have a Happy Fourth!

  8. Bless your Hubby's Little Pea-Pickin Heart!

    You have a real keeper there.
    I don't think I have ever had those purple hulled peas before.

    I think anything homegrown always tastes 1000% better.

  9. P.S.
    I didn't know that Okra was in the hibiscus family either or that it had such a lovely flower.

  10. It's hard work but fresh home grown is so good. In the U pick dept I do mostly strawberrys....:)

  11. I sometimes miss the days when I grew my own in a two acre plot, but I am sure the kids are happy their pea-picking days are over. At least my sons are, my daughter loves to go to the "pick-your-own" places around here. Dianne

    PS love the pea flower.

  12. Your dear hubby is really stepping up to do a lot of needed tasks, especially with all the gorgeous veggies from the u pick field. We have a veggie garden too and don't use anything toxic on it.