Nathan’s Plums

When someone comes to visit or work on the farm they bring a new perspective; they notice things we don’t see, and occasionally they find treasures. Friends and workers have presented us with a variety of their discoveries: antique glass chicken eggs, native artifacts, enormous horseshoes from draft animals, chunks of coal from a blacksmith’s forge, and most recently an heirloom fruit tree.

Nathan Kice has been reading the blog, and last week he and his wife Michelle visited the farm with a group of other out of town relatives and guests. Everyone was in The Dalles to attend a family wedding. Nathan had a lot of questions about our projects, and so he was eager to get out of the house and explore our land.

Nathan, in red, and others just before the donkey-walk.
Nathan, in red, and others just before the donkey-walk.
Ziggy, the miniature donkey, surrounded by family and one very intense little girl.  Larkin who is not sure what to make of the wet donkey.
Ziggy, the miniature donkey, surrounded by family and one very intense little girl. Larkin who is not sure what to make of the wet donkey.

Eight of us took a short hike with the donkeys to see the lowers fields and ponds. Whirling with inquisitiveness, Nathan was commenting on the character of the land, the soil, plants, trees, shrubs, birds, fencing, bird feeding stations, and the ponds.

When we reached the lower ponds Nathan turned left while everyone else turned right to go and look at the pond and the massive blackberry patch. The donkeys followed the crowd, and I heard Nathan say, “Oh, you have plums.” I said, “What do you mean?”

He pointed to a small Italian plum tree, which sat shrouded by towering black walnut trees, a pile of rocks, underbrush, and downed branches. A dozen or so rosy-aubergine orbs hung down from several slender branches. Backlit by the afternoon sun, the plums glowed like living jewels. How had I missed this?

Nathan said, “Hey is there any poison oak back there?”

“No, the poison oak is all across the creek,” I said.

Nathan was already striding through the brush and picking his way around the rock pile to pick one of the plums. He bit into it. “Not quite ready,” he said, and trudging back, he handed the other half to me. The plum’s flesh below the rich rose-blue skin was deep yellow and tasted piquant though not fully sour. Tangy now, in a few days the plums would be ripe.

And, so, with this in mind, and an enormously grateful heart for Nathan’s find, I went back several mornings later to the little tree and picked enough plums to make a clafouti for our twenty-first wedding anniversary. We celebrated the event by staying home and we made dinner together (which is a rarity since I mainly do all the cooking). I enjoyed this anniversary so much, because we created something together instead of leaving the farm to have someone else give us their meal. On our night we enjoyed filet mignon, grilled lobster tail, green beans, salad, and a magnificent and delicious French custard tart made with Nathan’s plums.

Nathan's plums.
Nathan’s plums.
Our clatoufi -- a rich custard tart traditionally baked with cherries but also excellent with plums.
Our clafouti– a rich custard tart traditionally baked with cherries but also excellent with plums.

12 thoughts on “Nathan’s Plums

  1. Wow! You continue to make discoveries! And this one is a treasure! How old must it be? Who planted it? Why in that particular spot? And your anniversary dessert looked yummy. We just finished off the plums on our new little tree–must check the old, dying tree to see if there are any there. And then look for a clafouti recipe….

    1. Wow! You continue to make discoveries! And this one is a treasure! How old must it be? Who planted it? Why in that particular spot? And your anniversary dessert looked yummy. We just finished off the plums on our new little tree–must check the old, dying tree to see if there are any there. And then look for a clafouti recipe….

      Hi Mary: It is hard to tell, but the last time someone lived here was in the 60s and we know the land was settled by the Morgan family in the mid 1900s, so it could have been planted in the 60s I guess or it could have been accident–maybe planted by a passing bird. But, I am still amazed that I missed it and Nathan saw the tree immediately!

  2. Brings back memories of our plum trees we had on our ranch on the upper Clearwater. Most likely from the early 1900 as ours were, plums were a popular and easy to grow fruit.
    Love your posts, eager to hear how Gypsy grows.

    1. Brings back memories of our plum trees we had on our ranch on the upper Clearwater. Most likely from the early 1900 as ours were, plums were a popular and easy to grow fruit.
      Love your posts, eager to hear how Gypsy grows.
      Hi Pat — good to hear from you. It’s hard for me to believe that dang tree is over 100, but I suppose it is possible. I am glad the post brought back memories. I wonder what will pop up next. 🙂

  3. happy anniversary! 21 years! wowyzowy. the tart looks exquisite. did you stick in your thumbs and pull out a plum and exclaim ‘what a good pear are we’! ? cheers!

    1. happy anniversary! 21 years! wowyzowy. the tart looks exquisite. did you stick in your thumbs and pull out a plum and exclaim ‘what a good pear are we’! ? cheers!

      Thankyou Gigi! You are so clever. I love it.

  4. Ah… to live on a beautiful piece of land, large enough for years of discoveries! Will you post your recipe? I love these plums best of all- cooked up in sauce a brilliant red, or dried to last through fall.

    1. Ah… to live on a beautiful piece of land, large enough for years of discoveries! Will you post your recipe? I love these plums best of all- cooked up in sauce a brilliant red, or dried to last through fall. Hi Valerie- here is one of the recipes I use. Just search clafouti, and you will get quite a few recipes. They are all pretty much the same, except they are mostly made with cherries. I use plums most of the time. p.s. I dried several pounds too.
      http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Cherry-Clafoutis

  5. Happy Anniversary to my good friends! I had an Italian plum tree on my property when I bought it 25 years ago. It produced a few plums each year for 3 years and then no more. It more than likely drowned…

    1. Happy Anniversary to my good friends! I had an Italian plum tree on my property when I bought it 25 years ago. It produced a few plums each year for 3 years and then no more. It more than likely drowned… Thank you Terry! Good to hear from you. Well it was in Ketchikan, so we must expect it to be water logged. 🙂 We’ll have to get you here next summer to enjoy fruit! And farm grown tomatoes. 🙂

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