Friday, August 30, 2013

Special Labor Day Hours. CLOSED THIS SUNDAY!

Special Labor Day Weekend Hours

Friday 8am-8pm
Saturday 8am-8pm
Monday 8am-8pm 

Galas are ready for picking now!

 Determination even when it is raining!

Lots of yummy applesauce will be at their houses!

Other Farm Happenings:

Our corn was picked overnight last night.  A little bit more this morning and it will be all harvested.  The truck drives alongside the picker until their load is full and another truck takes their place. The truck then takes the corn to the cannery and comes back for another round!  Sometimes if it too wet, you have to pull a tote (a big bin) with a tractor instead alongside the corn picker, and then dump into the trucks.  Thankfully it was dry this year!

No better sight to a farmer than a harvested field!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gravenstein update

Gravensteins apples are official all gone.  Hope all you Gravensteins diehards picked what you needed!

But don't worry everyone else, we still have lots of sweet Gala apples and tons more varieties to come!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gala, Ripe and Ready. Bartlett Pears are gone for the year.

Figured I would entice you with more Gala pictures!

 Check the previous post for what Galas are best used for!

 My helper picking pears.  He sets them in the bucket and says "Gentle."  I think we have imprinted it in his mind.  :)

Bartlett Pears are gone for the year.  We will have more pears later in the season.  I will post when those come ripe.

Gravensteins are few and far between so if you are coming out only for this variety, then it will be a gamble for how many are left.

Don't forget to check us out on Facebook!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gala apples!

The orchard is open again! 

Starting Saturday, the Galas will be ready to pick!!! 

Galas are a medium to small sized apple with a great crunch.  They are perfect for eating out of hand, and good for both applesauce and baking.

Last year the Ruby Macs were ready before the Gala, but not this year so if you are wondering if you missed them, you haven't!  They are still about 2 weeks away from being ripe.  

We still have some Gravenstein apples left, and some Bartlett pears.   I am guessing we will have both for another week unless we get a big crowd this weekend.  Come get them this weekend if you MUST have some of either!

Other Farm Happenings:

Things have slowed to a different pace on the rest of the farm.  While we aren't harvesting anything this week, there still seems plenty to do.

Mostly we are irrigating fields that have already been harvested.  If we have grown an annual seed crop (only grows one season), we lightly work (drive a tractor with some sort of implement pulled behind) the top few inches of the field to stir up any seed that is left sitting on top of the soil, then we water it and wait a few days so the seeds will sprout.  This gets rid of lots of the seed that is left in the field so it doesn't stick around for the next year.  Even though we grew this seed to harvest this year, next year if we have a different crop in that field, that same seed would be considered a weed.  A few of those fields we plan to plant Tall Fescue grass seed and that is planted in the fall.  After the "weed" seed has sprouted, then we work it again to uproot it to kill it..  Then we either have to plow it, or disc it several times or whatever needs done to get it smooth enough to plant the next crop.  Like I said, the grass seed we plant now, but other seeds, like annual seeds, we would wait until the spring to plant.

We have one picking of our blueberries left with a machine picker, and a corn field to harvest and plus lots of apples!

Other than that there is always yard work, and maintenance things to work on.

Looking forward to seeing you all this season!

Don't forget to share any apple recipes you love to make.  I'd love to add some more to our blog to give other people ideas of what they can use all their apples for.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gravenstein ready! Opening Tues, Aug 13th, 2013.

Opening day to pick Gravenstein apples is tomorrow!  (Tues, Aug 13th!!!).
We have half a row of Gravensteins and people love them, so don't wait too long!  
There are plenty out there though.

(FYI:  Gravenstein are the ONLY apples ready right now.  Gala apples will be next but not for another few weeks.)

 Gravensteins are an oldie but goodie variety of apple.  They are excellent for baking and applesauce, probably one of the best, in many people's opinion.  Sweet-tart flavor with an excellent crunch.  

Many people I know, will let the apples sit for awhile before they use them for their pies, almost until they are getting a few days from throwing out, but not too soft that you can't use one of those apple/peeler/corer "machines."   They make a really good pie filling that breaks down some, instead of staying in stiff slices.  
My mouth is watering!!

If anyone has some good comments about Gravenstein, I'd love to hear them...why you like them so much, what you use them for, etc.

 I tried to put up plenty of signs so you can find your way to them.  The easiest/closest way is to park near the office, walk behind the shop and follow my signs out.  You can also park all the way out back like you would for picking the other varieties but you will have a farther distance to walk.  There are signs directing you to the Gravenstein out there too.

We are a little short handed this early in the season, so do the best you can!  We will have more people working to help you once Gala apple picking starts.

Looks like Bartlett Pears are ready too.  They seem so early this year but they are starting to drop so we will pick them!  We will be selling them just like last year, WE-Pick in the smaller buckets (I think they are a 2 gallon size) for $5 a bucket. A regular 5 gallon bucket of pears, will be $11/bucket. No U-Pick of pears.

Other Farm Happenings:

 In one of our blueberry varieties, we pick the fruit by machine on the 3rd and 4th picking.  We have a really old machine that we do the best we can with.  The picture below is of the fingers that shake back and forth and knock the berries off the bush.  They are collected below in a conveyor belt and brought to the top of the machine to be put into a crate.  When we first used the machine, we had to take out every other level of fingers because it was picking more green fruit than blue!  This picking there weren't many greens left on the bush, so we had to put back in the fingers so it would knock off ALL the blue!  A bit of a tedious job but you have to do it.

Farm Vehicle Adventures:
You never know what kind of adventure you are going to have when you are driving a farm truck off the property especially loaded with 9000 lbs of blueberries! After I had left the farm to head to the blueberry receiving station, my mind started thinking, what would I do if I broke down with all these berries?? But since my mind usually goes to worse case scenario, I told myself not to worry about it until it happens. 
Five minutes later, I am at the 4 way stop intersection by EZ Orchards, I pull up to the stop sign and my truck dies. Keep trying to get the engine to turn over but then I notice two different cars waving their arms and yelling fire! I hop out to see what is going fire that I see but obviously there must have been something. I try to call two people that could help me on the farm, my dad and Noe but they are both doing things where they can't hear their phones. All this traffic is trying to get around me, backing everything up. Within 10 minutes, 2 people I know come to help. One offers to tow me out of the way but I only have a pathetic rope and he doesn't have one at all. Then a farmer friend comes with a truck and a chain! Just what we needed! So emergency over, I am able to get out of the way. My mom is able to finally track my dad down and long story short, we end up being able to get the truck to the place to deliver the berries. So no big deal, we survived.  Always a fun day at work!  Sorry if you were the one of the ones stuck behind me :)

Checking things out...where did that fire come from...??

We conquered and arrived with berries safely delivered!!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Indian Mustard and Global Gap certification

We got our Indian Mustard seed harvested last week.  Another crop down!  
Vegetable seed crops are grown in smaller acres because a little goes a long ways.  We had 7 acres this year of this seed.

We have to lift the bin up centered under the auger so the seed actually gets into the bin and doesn't blow away.  If fills quickly so you want to make sure not to overfill it!

I explained on our Facebook page, that the Indian Mustard seed will get packaged into small seed packets, like we buy for our own gardens here.  They will be sent to Japan though.  I guess the Japanese plant the seeds and grow the mustard until it is a very young plant.  They then pick off the leaves and eat them for breakfast.  I am not sure what they make exactly but how interesting!  Definitely different than my cereal and toast for breakfast!

 This notebook was part of our big project we accomplished over the winter/spring!  I measured it and the binder is 4 inches thick!  And all because we grow blueberries!

We have been certified for the past several years for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), but this year it was required of all the fresh market blueberry growers to become Global Gap certified.  Similar but way more involved than GAP.  Honestly it was very intimidating when we first heard about it.  It requires us to comply with 100 pages of "control points."  It covers things like, Field sanitation, Workers Health, Safety and Welfare, Integrated Pest Management, Past Land Use history, Water management, Plant Protection Products, Traceability, etc.  
And while we were already in compliance with much of it, it required having documentation of all of the above, thus the reason for the huge notebook.  In July, we had our official audit, where an inspector comes out.  They go through our entire notebook and ask questions about it, then they do a field walk through on a day of harvest and make sure we have enough restrooms, hand washing stations, good field and worker sanitation, etc. 
We passed with flying colors!!!!!  

I think the Global Gap requirements are a helpful thing to the blueberry industry.  It really in the end protects us blueberry growers.  All of us growers want to avoid a recall of our fruit at all costs.  First of all because we want to have clean fruit leave our farm, but also because we rely on these crops for our income.   The practices of Global Gap help put all growers on the same playing field with sanitation, etc.

To learn more, you can check out this website: 

I just wanted to show another side of farming because it isn't only working out in the fields.  We have so much paperwork we have to do, not even counting the Global Gap stuff.  Sometimes it gets old because you feel like you are doing things that don't matter, but I am sure all industries have to deal with this.
I can't even count the hours I spent getting ready for Global Gap.  It was endless but now that we have the first year behind us, the following I know will be much easier.  

This picture below, is of us and our blueberry buyer/packager trying to decide when we should harvest our second picking of the blueberries.  Sometimes it is a tricky judgment call depending on weather, availability of pickers and how long the fruit can hang without diminishing the quality.  It is nice to have a second opinion, especially from the company that is buying your berries.

We ended up picking this field sooner than we were thinking because this variety of berry doesn't handle heat well so we needed to get them picked soon so they don't get soft and wrinkled.  Some berries, you can let hang after they are blue and they handle the heat better.  You think blueberries are blueberries, but each variety has pros and cons to the grower!


And the farming adventures continue!

And don't forget to check out of Facebook page:  Beilke Family Farm.