We’ve had some exciting times here as the season winds down. On Tuesday, July 22nd, we had the crew’s favorite night of the year when we worked until 10:30pm…Working under the lights -- for some reason I can’t determine, they always find it magical. I could hear their chatter and enthusiasm all the way back at the house.
And I’m good with that. Yay! Go crew! I can’t tell you how happy I am that you set the record for the longest day ever worked at Randy Honcoop Farms…and therefore, we could, without worry, let the next 2 days be lost to rain. On Friday, they returned to work, and we found minimal mold problems because of that long day of picking as many acres as we could.
Those kids rock…all of them!
This past Monday, everyone was prepared to do it again…not because of imminent rain, but because we were going to have to bunch up picking to have enough fruit to run the plant. At 9am, we sent them out into the field, all hyped that this day might also end under the lights…
A half hour later, we were consulting with our processing partners (my sister Erin, and her husband Larry) about halting all processing efforts as production had dropped off dramatically. We didn’t have much to pick to complete our last order, and feared we wouldn’t be able to pick enough to fill another truck…At least not without weeping and regret and gnashing of teeth…which is caused by running the plant many days with small amounts of fruit.
So one short hour into the day, we called the machines back to the house and broke the news that there would be no picking under the lights; and, as we were switching to picking into barrels, half the crew would have to go home.
I don’t like doing that.
But they were all very game about it. All the boys stayed to set up the pickers for barrels and get the new set up going. The girls headed home, and I suppose that after a little bit of relaxation they weren’t feeling so bad about not picking under the lights.
Since then, we’ve been rotating crew members in and out as we need only 2 people per machine instead of four. Picking into barrels is easy…and can be boring…And messy. Dried leaves, and little dried up berries, and crunchy stems stick to the machine with the juice of the old, soft withering fruit that is left. At the end of the day, there are big piles of leaves and this kind of detritus where the crews clean up the machines before they are washed.
I always look at these piles and, seeing all the dry little berries, wonder how much more we would have put in the freezer were it a perfect world, and all these littles could become big, red & juicy.
But I think these thoughts out of curiosity this year, not regret, because it has been a great season, with lovely large fruit, wonderfully manageable weather, and a reliable, hard-working crew. We have been blessed.
Yes, we are tired…but a good kind of tired…the satisfied kind.
The Farmer is already moving on to the next farming tasks, and there will be more time to enjoy some summer activities before Fall moves in.
June 30 start, August 1 finish…a fine season, just fine!