Friday, August 10, 2012

Gravenstein Update:

Gravensteins are getting close to coming to an end.  There are still some on the trees though.  If you must have, I would come very soon!  There is also a random tree on the south end of the orchard in the old, bigger trees.  You will recognize it by finding many apples on the ground underneath!

The Gala and Honeycrisp are next, but still not ripe yet.  I am excited about the Honeycrisp this year.  They are looking beautiful and are a really nice size.

We have added a picnic area this year so we hope you all take advantage of that!  
We have also changed the parking area a bit.  Hopefully it is more straight forward and also safer for all those kiddos running around!  

In other farm happenings, we are picking our third picking of Bluecrop blueberries!  Once we hit the 3rd picking, we have to pick with a blueberry harvester rather than hand harvesting.  Bluecrop, while they are our favorite kind of eating blueberry, become soft too quickly to be shipped and sold at grocery stores once we get to the 3rd picking.  So instead they are marketed for other purposes, like frozen or put into blueberry muffin mixes, etc.

 When we pick with a machine, they are put into much bigger crates than when we hand harvest.  When we hand harvest, we do not want the berries squished at all.  Machine harvest does not matter so much.  Each of these individual crates hold about 32 lbs of blueberries!  That is a lot!

This is one of our blueberry fields covered with a net.  Makes it a bit more difficult to run a blueberry picker through but it works.  We put up the net when the berries are still green and "roll up" the net after the berries are finished being harvested.  It takes us about two weeks to put it up and one week to roll it up.  We use one of those platform lifts which is much faster than using a ladder.  We are so thankful for that net once it gets later in the season because we see TONS of birds just sitting on top of the net looking longingly down at the berries they can't get to.  HAHAHAHA!!!!  :)  We still have a few fields that are not covered by net and they definitely can get hammered by the birds.  Today when I was leaving the field, I saw flocks of hundreds....sometimes you just have to look away and not think about it when there is just nothing you can do about them.

This field of Coreopsis is just now in its prime blooming!   We raise the flowers for seed.  It is funny how many people stop to take pictures of the fields in full bloom.  I don't really blame them.  I was out there myself!  Now we just wait until the blooms all die down and dry up, and we swath it (cut it and lay it into rows) and combine it (separate the seed from the stock).  This usually happens in September.  I wasn't around for the end last year since I just had a baby so I am looking forward to it this year.

This is our field of Mixed Poppies.  It is just under peak bloom.  It is sad to see the field starting to fade away a bit but also a relief because it just means it will be closer to harvesting!  Flowers can be very labor intensive.  We drive a cultivator through the field a few times to stir up the weeds between the rows, then if there are still certain weeds in the flower row, we have to pull all those by hand.  This field had quite a bit of pigweed but we conquered it and it is all gone!  (If the weed seed is the same size as the flower seed, then they cannot be separated in the seed cleaning process and the flower seed can be contaminated with weed seed. No one likes weeds!!)

More blueberry harvest pictures.  Working hard picking out the green ones!

 These white tines rotate slowly and shake rapidly to knock the blueberries off the bush into the catchers below.  It somehow does it without ruining the blueberry bush too.  Pretty impressive. 
Then the catchers bring the blueberries up above onto a belt.  The belt dumps the berries into a crate.  You still can lose a lot of berries on the ground which is painful to see, but it is still more economical to use a machine picker on this 3rd picking than do it by hand.

Well I feel like I have written a novel, so thanks for reading this far if you are still with me! 

Getting excited for apple harvest.  Can't wait to see all your faces. 

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