Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Rhubarb Patch

What a story.  In the late 1800's when the gold rush began here in southwest Montana at Bannack on Grasshopper Creek, "gold diggers" spread out through this area looking to make their fortune.  Several of them ended up here in our Grasshopper Valley.  One of them staked a claim high up on the side of the valley, but was not particularly successful at his gold and silver mining.  Not too sure exactly what inspired him, but he decided that perhaps he could make his fortune out of rhubarb - that is rhubarb wine to make and sell to other miners in the area.  He planted a huge rhubarb patch that continues to flourish to this day.  All the locals know where the "patch" is located and make regular forays up Wellman Creek draw to harvest beautiful, excellent rhubarb.

 This is one part of the patch.  I took this picture today and it is at the end of the season, so the stalks are beginning to lean over, but for the most part the rhubarb is still usable.
 The patch at one time and for many years was maintained and watered by Roger Cox and his son, Stan, but for several years now they have not been able to continue to care for it.  There's now a lot of weeds growing in the patch and I think it is getting smaller, but what is there - in spite of the weeds - is still wonderful.
 Many years ago soon after we finished our house I started bringing down plants from the patch and planted them next to our house.  I now have about 15 plants that are flourishing and I am able to havest stalks throughout the two months or so of the season without making the 9 mile trip up the mountain.
 This is one of my recent harvests.
 Ready to be chopped
 and bagged to freeze or to share with neighbors for all kinds of rhubarb treats - not just pies.
 Today we took Helen and David up to the patch as Helen does the baking for the Grasshopper Inn and loves to make rhubarb pies.  They had heard frequently about the patch, but had no clue where it was.
 She also dug a couple plants to take down to her house to start her own patch.
 We stopped on our way down for a photo op - a spot overlooking the valley below.  Beautiful.
The road up there is not the greatest, so we normally go up on our 4-wheelers, which in itself is a fun outing.  Today was perfect for a ride and a harvest.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

VERY cool! Your harvest makes me drool! :)