Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Another one in the books...


…as well as one FOR the books! Though we didn’t set a record for earliest start this year, we did set one for earliest finish. We were all done on July 21…three days earlier than our previous record of July 24, 1992.

When Weatherman Rufus said this year would be like 1992, he was right on!

It’s always a relief to be done with harvest, and this year, especially so. We were so thankful for the easing of the heat wave, and the cooler days that helped the crew maintain their strength. And also, for the reduction of stress on the raspberry bushes.

Still, we ended up with a lot of this:

We weren’t able to fill all of our orders this year. I suspect that there are others who had the same problem. This leaves the market open to be filled by other countries and suppliers, especially those whose summer is opposite of ours. (Chile) We don’t like to lose our market share because next year, in our perennially optimistic view, we will need it all back.

Anyway, we did the best we could, and picked and packed until we knew we would be risking an incomplete order if we did any more. We ship in truckload lots, each of which is 39,000+ pounds. Ten thousand pounds doesn’t do you much good as it creates a shipping problem, and extra cost for the buyer. So my sister Erin, who runs the processing plant, is on top of the numbers and is careful to avoid starting something we can’t finish.

Our last day of packing was Thursday. Then we picked into barrels for juice product for 4 more days, enjoying a day off on Sunday. The kids had to persevere through one more hot, hot day on Saturday. Then it was downhill Monday and Tuesday to the finish.


Though it was a tough season with poor yield and difficult conditions, and a little bit of drama in the personnel department, we are still thankful for many things.

n  A crew who came back every day ;) and worked hard in difficult conditions.

n  God provided subs when we needed them.

n  Despite the heat, we had great quality every day of harvest time. The flats were full of pretty fruit.

n  The price, instead of being down as expected, was up from last year, and very good. This mitigates the cost of the lost production, and we are thankful.

n  Only a couple of minor repairs were needed during harvest.

n  Though the weather was hot, it was predictable, and we could get into a routine. No day by day decisions about when, how, what to pick. Steady as she goes…

n  Someone invented Otter Pops, and they are cheap and plentiful!
The Not Hot Tub didn't hurt either.
Indeed, I could list many more things…but I will add just this: We’ve made it through another one, and now we can take some deep breaths, settle into a less frenetic pace, and still have a bunch of summer ahead of us to enjoy.

This is a rarity! And I intend to make the most of it…though I know The Farmer is looking at it in terms of all the extra farming he can get done.

It always takes him about 3 weeks to feel okay about not working sun-up to sundown…This year, even if I allow for adjustment time, it will still be summer when he is free before dark!

I’m excited about that, and I’m going to make some plans…but first, I’m going to sleep in for a while, and not hurry in any way.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hot and Tired, and Tired of Hot...

I don’t recall having a heat wave during any harvest that has lasted as long as this one has. I can’t tell you how thrilled we are to have the temperature only reach the 80’s yesterday and again today.

And we can’t tell you because we are all too tired to rejoice in any way that requires exertion.

The heat has been rough on everyone…and what I feared would happen to our crop is happening at this very moment. The berries are drying up instead of ripening.

Not to mention that quite a bunch were picked by the NE wind on Sunday, and are now lying on the ground.

I think we can safely say that this year will be categorically BAD.

Hopefully it is not so for all raspberry growers. Farms that are using the Wakefield variety did not have the same kind of winter damage. Also, Wakefields ripen later than our Meekers do, so they will not have as many heat wave days during their harvest time. I hope they do well.

For our part, I am thankful for a great crew who has maintained their productivity under the most difficult conditions…and even retained a sense of humor most days!

As Randy told them on the 96 degree day with the hot NE wind: “You have earned my admiration and respect.”

At this point, we know we will be picking this week, but we don’t know what next week will bring. Next week will be the 4th week of our 5 week harvest season…If the cooler weather refreshes the raspberry bushes, there may be enough to make it worthwhile to pick and process.

But it’s been a long and very hot season so far, and we are doubtful that much recovery will be made. I hope that we are operating as normal – but doubtless there will be some tricky decisions to make about how, what and when to pick.

I have to admit that some days I’ve added why? to those questions. My bad.

This will be one for the books: lots of damage after a mild winter; many days near 90 degrees, and some over 90; hot NE wind and 80 degrees at 7am; smoke cover that starts to ease the heat wave...

These are not the kind of records that we like to set…

But as we say, “There’s always next year…”

About Me

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