Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's Harvest Time...

Big, beautiful berries...
The rows are loaded...


The machines are working the fields...

The crew is working hard this sunny day...



...to make these beautiful looking flats of berries.



The next day their attire is a little different! Where did the sun go?



End of the day clean-up...



Randy unloading the fruit...


Last load of the day (a little one) heads off to the processing plant!
Two weeks into harvest and nary a word or post from me about it...our biggest effort of the year deserves some note, I think...It’s just finding the time to do it!

Harvest has started well, with beautiful big fruit, really clean picking and good yield thus far. We’ve had to deal with some rain already, and after our second weekend of it, we will be fighting the mold. The pattern has been warm to hot days, interspersed with a few cool and showery ones. Our crews have been wearing shorts one day, and stocking hats the next! Right now we are on the upswing into the warm part of the cycle. This should help us pick any mold off the bushes and get them "cleaned up". We expect that this week we will be in the peak of our Meeker crop, so as soon as it warms up things will be very busy around here. The Willamettes, our earlier variety, may already be past peak. However, it’s hard to tell when the temperature is so cold...the ripe fruit doesn’t want to let go of the bush when the temp is in the upper 50's!
We have a great crew again this year...SO thankful for that. Besides working hard, they have fun together, which makes the day so much better! :D

Daisie thinks this is the "most wonderful time of the year" (not Christmas!) because there is "company" every day! New best friends to hang around and mooch from...She’s a happy, happy dog!

Randy is feeling more relaxed – no, "relaxed" is NOT a word that goes with any part of harvest – I guess I should say, Randy is feeling less stress now that we are into the routine of harvest. He is still very, very busy – but we are no longer anticipating and wondering if we will be ready, we are getting it done! We’ve had a couple of minor issues with one of the machines – not a big problem, but one of those that is not easy to diagnose. You adjust one thing and it runs great for a day... You think you’ve got it licked, and the next day it does it again! After a few fixes and adjustments, Randy finally eliminated that problem and it hasn’t cropped up again. If that’s all we have for troubles, we are doing well! The plant is running well too...Erin, Larry & crew have got it down to a science of efficiency that we greatly appreciate!

So – we keep on picking! Probably a couple of weeks plus a little more to go...There’s lots more fruit on the bush...we are pleased about that...and looking forward to getting as much as we can into the freezer...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Cowboy Breakfast...

Several years ago, my dad came up with the idea of celebrating the 4th of July with a Cowboy Breakfast -- everything cooked over a fire. It's been a much-loved tradition since. We start every Independence Day with a wonderfully eclectic group of friends and family around a fire, cup of coffee or juice in hand, watching the experts manage the cooking. Some dress for the occasion; others are just dressed. :D The decor is decidedly patriotic!


My mom's sister, Marcia and her husband, Joey, kids Joey & Jada, every year make the trek from Portland to be here. Joey is assistant cook, and he and Dad turn out pounds of sausage & bacon, pancake after pancake, as well as eggs. Mom & Marcia run from house to fire with batter and butter, syrup, and fill the roaster on the table with skillet potatoes flavored with peppers and onions.















This year the event took place in the new Northwood Pavilion, a shelter constructed by Dad using materials salvaged from the barn, as well as other favorite old buildings and construction sites...a perfect venue! It was so comfortable with the sun outside, and a pleasant breeze flowing through it. People waited in line for their pancakes, enjoying the conversation.
















Cooking in cast iron over an open fire requires copious amounts of...uh...grease...Such tastiness! Buttery, salty with bacon grease pancakes and syrup, crusty sausages & crispy bacon, peppered potatoes...It's so good that, we must admit, a fair bit of gluttony occurs. :D But it's only once a year, and in honor of a Great Celebration, so we feel no guilt...though, a little discomfort...

Sister Megan says that everyone should get to come to a Cowboy Breakfast at least once in their lives...I tend to agree. Sorry, Mom -- we're increasing the guest list! :D








Larry & Erin's dog, Roxy, was supposed to stay home -- but we think she smelled the bacon and followed her nose...She's trying to act contrite, but can't stop smiling!











Dad's new flagpole...


The littlest cowgirl! Great-niece Madelyn was an angel for her first Cowboy Breakfast...a new generation of patriots comes!





About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life (leslieisverbose.blogspot.com) and one where I can vent. (leslievents.blogspot.com)