I have been remiss in the timeliness of my updates. My appologies. Here we are at the beginning of November already. The pears have all been harvested, stored and packing is ongoing. The Bartlett have all been packed, shipped, and enjoyed by many of you who have taken the time to send us your kind words of appreciation for our products. Most of the Bosc and Red D’Anjou have been packed and shipped and upwards of a third of the Green D’Anjou. The harvest, while not the largest ever, was a very full crop with unsurpassed quality this season. The sugar content and maturity, (read excellent ripening capability), is exceptional this year. I must say that we were blessed with the volume and quality of all the crops we grew on the farm this year. Three crops of hay in the barn rain free, 700 pound calves off the range, ready to be weaned and sent to market, vegetables all harvested and eaten by our local customers, our own larders full and ready for winter.
We are just finishing up readying the farm for winter. Irrigation equipment picked up and stored, pipes all blown and winterized, final mowing to reduce rodent habitat for the winter, winter feeding grounds for the cows readied, harvest equipment cleaned, repaired and stored until next season. The leaves should finish dropping soon, which signals the start of the dormant pruning, probably the most time consuming job on the farm. The importance of a quality pruning job, however, cannot be over emphasized. Tree vigor, crop load and harvested quality all starts with how well the pruning is done.
I guess it is time for me to give you an update on our farming activities over the last six weeks or so from my last update. Where did that time go? It is the 18th of August already. Our on-farm market has been very busy and we have probably sold two thirds of our market garden crop in the last 4 weeks to some very happy, corn crazy customers. Of course, they seem to like melons, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, peaches, and all the other vegies and fruit we sell. Looks like we will sell everything by mid September , just in time to complete our pear harvest by the end of September and divert attention to gathering the cattle from the open range . Pear harvest is once again upon us and we will start picking our Bartletts in a couple days. Time has really flown by and although it has been a very busy season so far, I am excited to start picking and consequently packing the pears as that is the most definite signal that the fall is rapidly approaching. I look forward to starting to pack and market our pears from our packing house, but must admit by end of April I am quite happy to see the last cases shipped We have about 12,000 bales of rain free hay in the barn from the first two crops, and the third crop is beginning to flower. We will definitely be taking 4 crops from some fields this year. I can only hope that we get some good weather for the fall. As I mentioned earlier, we will be gathering the cow herd from the range in October in time to wean the calves. They will be fed on a natural hormone-free diet to supply an ever increasing demand for a more natural product. The calves will almost definitely average in the high six hundred pound range at weaning as the grass at elevation has been exceptional this year, despite the hot conditions. A few very timely rainfalls have saved the season in that regard. Well, I must go now. I look forward to updating you after I put the farm to sleep if not before.
It’s been a very busy season so far. We managed to complete the pruning this spring prior to the start of the spring growth. I don’t really know how as packing of the huge 2013 crop wasn’t complete until April. We narrowly missed some late frost damage from bud swell, through flowering into the calyx and fruitlet stage of the young pears. The 2014 crop set, while not quite as heavy as the 2013 crop, looks very good and the pears are clean, meaning very little marking due to frost or insects. Irrigation has been under way for some time now, and the use of micro jet technology placing a more accurate amount of water just where it is needed has made it somewhat easier as less water is needed to be drawn from our local water supply. I think the environment appreciates our efforts to stay at the front of the curve in many aspects of our farming operation. Our Integrated Pest Management program, initiated by my father in the 1960s before IPM was a common term, is going well. Through pheromone lured traps and pheromone emitters for mating disruption to confuse insect pest males, extensive use of beneficial or predatory insects, and constant monitoring, we have almost reached our goal of eliminating chemical pesticides.
Elsewhere on the farm the 1st crop of alfalfa is baled and in the barn, rain free. The 2nd crop is already two feet high. Two more weeks and I will be haying again by the middle of July. DARN! The vegetables, especially the sweet corn, are right on track with our July 19 opening of our on-farm fruit and vegetable stand. The cows are happy on the open range enjoying a very good grass year so far as the mountains in the area have had some nice timely rainfalls. The calves are growing like crazy.
All in all, it looks like another very good crop year if we can keep up with the work and the weather continues to cooperate.