Sunday, July 24, 2011

Then the sun came out...

...and everything looked so beautiful.

The crew worked hard, and we picked a lot of berries.

We weren't cold anymore.

We smiled a lot...


...and we picked happily ever after.

(Wouldn't that be nice?)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Yep -- it rained...


It rained overnight on Wednesday -- just like they said. What they didn't say was how much -- and it turned out to be .58", which is a lot for one short night.

The good news was that sunshine showed up early in the day, and better yet, a breeze! Great drying conditions...This allowed us to delay our start 3 hours, but still get in a full day of picking. The fruit was soft, and more mold showed up, but since we were able to get in the field right away, we will be in good shape once we pick out this rotation.

So -- no drama materialized...no one had to pick in the rain (Hurrah!) And the forecast is positive for the next few days...What will we do with ourselves if the sky is clear and the sunshines???

We'll have a day to ease into that new reality, because, you see, it rained this morning at 6 am for a while...

So we are on delay again...but the clouds are starting to part, and the breeze is picking up...

Been there, done that...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Progress...

...We've been making it.

And that takes a lot of pressure off the not-so-great weather situation. We have been able to pick full days for the last 3 days, and have cleaned off the "old" fruit. We've even gained a little time on our picking rotation, so we are "ahead" in case it does rain tomorrow as they predict.

And, by the way, I incorrectly stated our picking schedule. Each row is picked every 3rd day -- not every other day, as I stated in my last post. Sorry...I've only been doing this for 25 years. I get mixed up once in a while...Or maybe it's that 50 thing.

Anyway, the weather is still not prime, but it's not crappy either. We are thankful for afternoon breezes that have helped clear out the morning humidity...Even humidity is a boon to the mold, so we don't like to see hazy skies, or fog during harvest.

I know, we are VERY picky...no pun intended.

And while we're on the subject of mold, I thought I would show you one of those mold "bombs" I was telling you about. As you can see, the bomb is snugged up against some pure and innocently ripening sister berries...That's how it happens -- the infection goes on. Of course, after taking this picture, I defused this bomb and threw it too the ground, but the sisters had to go with it. It was already too late for them...Begone!!

You didn't know raspberry farming was so dramatic, did you?

Fortunately, our strategy to get over the field as quickly as possible seems to be working. Yesterday, we started our second time over the field, and already there is less mold to sort out. {insert happy face}And it never got too bad to begin with {insert even happier face}

Sadly, the forecast calls for more rain tomorrow, and some lingering showers into the next day...So we may have to do it all over again.

Will the rain come before we start tomorrow? Will the pickers get into the field? Will mold bombs multiply? Will the heavens open, or just shower us enough to make a sticky mess? Will the crew refuse to endure the misery that is picking in the rain?

Oh, the mystery and drama that bad weather brings to farming!!

Stay tuned...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harvest: Days 2 & 3

Our second day of harvest began with rain, steady rain...and so -- Day 2 never got started. We cancelled picking for the day.

Ironically, this gave me time to visit the Raspberry Festival in town. I think I have been to this event before, but only for a brief stop -- probably because I had to go to town for something else. We are usually too busy having our own sort of Raspberry Festival to participate in the fancy one in town. I didn't take advantage of the $1 raspberry sundaes they were dishing out...Uh, why? I have that stuff every day. I opted for the poffertjes instead...that's a rare treat!

We had high hopes for picking today...Okay, maybe not HIGH hopes, but hopes anyway...Things started off well, with no rain, though it was very muggy, and everything was still wet from overnight showers...and we made it to lunch break (which is 2pm or so in our workday) but then the rains began again. The sky was getting lighter, but everything was drenched. The cost/benefit analysis was getting out of balance the wrong direction, so we sent the kids home...

I have to say that this season is not starting out in a good way. Looks like the next 2 days will be picking weather, but another downturn is coming Wednesday and Thursday. There we go again...

The challenge right now is that there is "old" fruit on the bushes. These are blossoms that matured ahead of the curve; the early blossoms that show up become ripe red berries that are ready before there are enough to make the machine pick worthwhile. They are getting soft now, and with the rain they can get mushy and {ominous music} moldy...

Even though it's raining, fruit continues to ripen, and these old soft berries are like little bombs of biological weapons in the midst of the rest of the crop. Our best defense is to get them off before they are too soft or moldy, and get our picking rotation going so the ripest fruit is getting cleaned off every other day (or so), making less fodder for the mold monster.

Pretty hard to do when it is raining...

Same difficulty with our other defense against mold: fungicide. It's hard to spray protection on the bushes when the rain immediately washes it off.

The wrong weather can sure take the fun out of farming...

But that's farming -- I think retirement for us will mean not caring what the weather does on any given day...Not sure I can imagine that.

In the meantime, our challenge is to make the best decisions about when to be out in the field picking to capitalize on the good weather moments. We have to balance getting the fruit off with not picking too many green berries as we do it; and especially in these wet times, avoid having so much wet debris -- leaves, too soft fruit, more leaves! -- that we are throwing out more than we are keeping. If we had our druthers, we'd always wait to pick until the bushes were completely dry...Can't do that with our current forecast. We've got to keep picking because in the long run, it will be better...but it can be a wet and mushy mess in the short term.

Poor crew! It's not gonna be a fun week...but they are troopers, and stick it out, all the while doing a good job in sometimes ugly conditions. We are so thankful for them!

And tomorrow should be a better day...

..Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The First Day...

The day after our downpours, we were able to get in the field and get Harvest started. It was a decent weather day, a bit muggy, but no rain...


Everyone fell into the routine quite easily, and the fruit was nice -- big berries, and not too soft from the rain yesterday.


We are not "behind" with picking -- just right on time, which we gauge by how much fruit is coming off...enough to make it pay, but not so much that we have probably lost some on the ground already.

We kept the kids going a little later than usual because the forecast was not good for Saturday. Sure enough, just as we finished, the sprinkles began...

It looks like Day 2 will bring us a dilemma...


Thursday, July 14, 2011

And so Harvest begins...

After our endless Winter, and almost non-existent Spring, we are poised to set a new record for The Latest Start to Harvest Ever. Our previous record was July 13th...Today we were going to smash that record, and begin.

Okay, I know it is only one day -- but when you are accustomed to starting Harvest in late June or early July, this seems like a long time coming.

So today, July 14th, is the day...Or it was supposed to be...because it looks like this outside:



Even The Little Opportunist was stopped in her tracks when the door opened to the outside...



...just not worth it for her -- so you know it's pretty bad!

It's 9:45am and our weather station says that we have had .95 inches of rain since midnight -- and because it was barely showering when we got up at 7am, most of it has come in the last 2 hours...
Nope, we will not be picking today...

I think The Farmer has found the only sensible action for this kind of Harvest day...


Apparently The Latest Harvest Start Ever Record will be broken tomorrow.

We hope...

Update: By the end of the day, the rain total was 1.91"!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Seeing red...

...but in a good way.


Yep -- we're finally getting some ripe fruit out there. It's taking a long time...Our previous Late Start Record was July 13. We may set a new one this year. The Farmer is predicting that we start on the 14th or the 15th. He's also predicting that the season will be short...probably on the fast and furious order.

Rufus, our favorite weather forecaster (ovs.com, click on Weather Cafe) didn't have such good news for us on the long-term forecast. It looks like Summer's high pressure ridge is setting up just a little too far west. That will allow weather systems to slip right over the top of it, and slide down the east side trough and give us cool, cloudy -- sometimes showery weather.

We're mentally preparing ourselves.

We've had our crew wearing shorts and tank tops, and cooking out there...A couple days later, they're breaking out the stocking caps and sweatshirts...The best weather requires a wardrobe somewhere between these 2 extremes. We'll keep hoping that ridge will shift east...

Other things are growing too...The last couple of years I've planted a wee garden...just enough to take care of during busy season, and we enjoy eating the beets, bean, radishes, carrots, and zucchini. Well, we enjoy the zucchini for a while, and then we begin to feel guilty that they are growing as big as a man's leg, and we don't want to eat them anymore.

Anyway, I took a picture for you to see my little patch...


And then I thought: "I can't let them see it looking like that -- surrounded by weeds in mossy hard ground!! How embarrassing!!! How faithless to my Dutch heritage!! It may look like that a lot of the time, but you certainly don't let people see it that way!!"

So I fixed it.

And there is my lovely wee garden...


Now, please excuse me. I need to go sit in the jacuzzi because my back and a plethora of other under-used muscles are very sore...

At least my ego was saved from being bruised.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Holiday Aftermath...


I need a visual reminder today...

...because it just doesn't seem like Tuesday.

Holidays do that to me; and it was a good holiday.
We enjoyed our annual Cowboy Breakfast at Likkel's Northwood Pavilion.



My dad built a new firepit, which made for Cowboy Cooking Perfection.

The cooks get some credit too! Dad, Dillon, Tiffany and Erin made it happen, while Mom kept up the supplies from the refridgerator...Glad we don't have to do without the fridge like the Cowboys...

Lots of good visiting going on...


The menfolk discussed the world's problems...


The Little Opportunist found the rawhide in Cait's back pocket, but fortunately never escaped the confines of the leash.


Still, she managed to fall in here...

Competitive games of badminton ensued...
Amazing after the greasy and deliciously filling breakfast fare.

A new feature in the pavilion decor this year was the directional mileage signs to family members various residences...The only sign pointing east is Alicia's, who was lonely for the Cowboy Breakfast in Spokane...We missed you too!

Later in the evening --

the amateur pyrotechnicians treated us to a show.

There's something about explosives and fire that thrill the menfolk.
Me -- not so much. I tend to watch the show with 9 -- 1 already dialed, just waiting to complete the call for help. In my estimation, the adult males involved with the pyromania just tend to join in, rather than control it. I was so pleased when my boys got to the stage in their lives when it was not so attractive to blow up their money...

I have to say that though the show had some really impressive bangs and bursts,
this is still my favorite kind of night sky. 


It was a good celebration of Independence Day!

And now it is TUESDAY---- TUUUUUUESDAAAAAY...
Gotta remember that.


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)