The Farmer’s Dreaded “H Word”

For a farmer there’s nothing worse than laying in bed late at night, listening to a storm raging outside and to suddenly hear the dreaded “ping”, “ping” of hail against the bedroom window.  The year that Dave and I were married, we had a ten minute hail storm that damaged almost every peach and apple that we owned.  Before I married a fruit farmer, the National weather service’s radio interruption were more of an inconvenience while I waited for my favorite song to resume.  Now, that sound, during the time that peaches and apples are vulnerable on the trees, causes my stomach to lurch.  Farming is just that way.  We are at God’s mercy to bring rain, sun, and a hail-less year.

Last Friday at 4:30 in the morning we were awoken by a storm that contained hail.  We are very thankful that we had virtually no damage.  Other areas had it worse.  My brother-in-law’s fruit farm had very large hail stones, though they were few.  We brought some of their fruit over to our farm and I Dave found some hail-damaged fruit for me to take pictures of.

This shows the different degrees of hail damage at my brother-in-law’s orchard. The upper left peach barely has any hail damage at all, while the lower right peach shows evidence of a large and rather forceful hailstone.

Dave continues to pick peaches this week.  Next up, Sentry and Desiree.  So far it’s been a dry year, so the peaches are scrumdiliumtious.

Birds are a pest in the orchard.  We try to keep them out with our bird alarm.  This alarm consists of four or five speakers throughout the orchard that do a loop of sounds of various birds in distress and the calls of birds of prey.  Basically we are trying to say “it may look delicious, but listen, do you really want to risk it?”  The alarm works well for a couple weeks, but the birds get somewhat immune to it.

Birds love peaches too.

Benny is a double threat in the orchard. He often carries a bat and he thinks he can just waltz in there and pick any old peach of the tree. Nope. Benny’s not ready for the big time peach picking job yet.

This week Dave and his dad are also working on thinning apples and fastening them to the trellis.

Dave has this machine called a Brownie that he procured from a going-out-of-business orchard sale.  He bought it sight unseen.  It may not look like the prettiest thing, but it works.  And it was cheap.  Win!  This Brownie has foot pedals and hand levers that allow Dave to raise and lower himself and also make the Brownie go forward or backward, all from the comfort of his bucket.  It looks a little dangerous, and honestly I think it is a little dangerous if one is not careful and overextends the bucket.

This is the clip Dave uses to fasten the tree trunk to the trellis.

Our first apple variety of the season!  Dave picked about five bushel of Early Gold today, so you should be seeing them at market very soon.

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