Osage Oranges & Book New Year’s Eve

Sometimes when you look back it is interesting how things like osage oranges & book, new year’s even can combine to make an interesting story.

When I had a landscaping business from 1999 to 2013, I visited many homes. From new builds to century homes, the houses were always an integral part of designing the landscape.

One of the most delightful projects was an old frame house that the owner was refurbishing.

It had been a stage coach stop in the early settlement days and the owner wanted to create a kitchen garden between the L-shape of the old house and the new addition.

I was familiar with the house. As I opened the century old wooden door, I could step ahead in the modern addition or twist left into the old frame house.

This particular day, the owner kept calling me to come in.

“Be careful” she warned. “There’s Osage all over the floor.”

As I stepped into the dank, dark dining room, the worn wooden floor was covered with lumpy green balls. A narrow pathway wound towards the front door and the stairs to the bedrooms.

Like a meandering river, branches led off to a chair at the table, to the kitchen and to the desk by the back window.

Creating the “land” in between the streams were hundreds, probably thousands, of Osage oranges. These bumpy green fruits, the size of a very big orange, were from her tree in the front yard.

An ancient specimen, it offered a harvest like only one other I have seen. That was a tree on the grounds of the Agricultural College in Ridgetown. When I attended there, the horticulturalists loved the tree, but I imagine the maintenance crew were less enamoured with it. Its fruit, when falling, could dent a car or smash on the pavement creating a white pulpy mass.
these osage oranges are part of the story: Osage Oranges & Book, New Year's

Osage Orange, Maclura pomifera, was native to a section of east Texas. With settlement it travelled throughout the contiguous United States and southern Canada.

Indigenous peoples, especially the Osage Nation, used the wood for making bows. It is strong, flexible and resilient.

Settlers planted the trees close together and pruned them hard to create a thick thorny hedge that would protect their gardens and corral their animals.

Back in the house, the Osage oranges created a logistical maze in the daytime, but a hazard at night, I thought.

The owner of the home was an older single woman. I worried that she would trip on one in the night. She was adamant that this was a necessity.

Every year, she and her friend collected the fruits from below the tree. “You have to be careful not to be hit on the head.”

Harvesting had to be done in a timely manner, too. While the Osage oranges are not appealing to many animals, women looking for craft items were adept competitors.

“They stop along the road and walk right up into the yard.”

Luckily that year, she shared some with me.

I put them in my Christmas Décor, sometimes setting them in a bed of greenery and other times skewering them and placing them like floating orbs.

Nowadays, Osage oranges have become part of my guerrilla tree planting program although they serve little purpose in our ecosystem. They are fun and easy to throw as far as possible into our gully. If one grows, it grows.


P.S. Who knew that Osage oranges and book and New Year’s Eve would have so much in common.

Featured Barn Quilt Pattern


This past few weeks, I have been developing some new barn quilt patterns and drawing some traditional designs. Today, I’m sharing a traditional design – Arrowhead. This is in the colouring stage and I hope to transfer it to a barn quilt block soon. It is an 8 row grid pattern.

Watch for our upcoming Barn Quilt events.

What I enjoyed Reading …

Killers of the Flower Moon

Before this book, I knew only a bit about Osage Oranges & the Book.

It’s difficult to know where to start with this book recommendation, other than everyone should read it.

This book in shocking, heart-breaking and oh so predictable.

Over more than a century ago, members of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma became some of the richest people in America from oil royalties on their “Underground Reservation”.

Of course this led to people, mostly white men, taking advantage, manipulating and murdering them.

The investigation into the murders of one family formalized the creation of the FBI and modern investigation techniques.

But the surprise comes at the end as the author and community members continue the search into century old cases that were never investigated.

This book has recently been made into a movie.

As always, please purchase this book from an independent book shop or borrow from your local library.  This is a great way to support authors and small businesses. 

Crazy 8 Barn & Garden Recipe of the Week

My Dad, Bob Spence and my niece Shelby Spence at Crazy 8 Barn new year’s eve dinner.

Winter is the time of year when root vegetables shine. They are flavourful and need little preparation time. It is the cooking time that sways me from serving them on a regular basis. This recipe is one we used at our New Years’ Celebrations at the Crazy 8 Barn & Garden. It can be cooked earlier in the day and then reheated before enjoying. It is also a large recipe, so you can reduce amounts or cook as described and use the left-overs for a tasty vegetable soup.

Maple Glazed Roasted Root Vegetables Recipe

Equal amounts (1 1/4 lb. Each) of parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes and beets. Peel and slice one inch thick.

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup maple syrup or honey

1/4 tsp thyme or 6 thyme sprigs

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425F. In a large bowl, toss the root vegetables with the oil, maple syrup, thyme, salt and pepper. Divide between 2 large, sturdy rimmed baking sheets. Cover with foil and roast for 40 minutes, rotating the pans once, until vegetables are tender. Remove foil and roast for another 10 minutes longer until glazed. Return to the bowl and mix with lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Make ahead: Earlier in day, bake vegetables, leave on baking sheets at room temperature and rewarm at 425F for about 10 minutes (may need more time). Once done add lemon juice as above. Serve.