Sunday, May 8, 2011

Carr and Hillcrest Elementary Schools tie for #1!

 They were our first field trip of the year.  We had a great time having them at the farm.  There were so many children, parents, and berries!  Since it had rained the entire last week, the only dry spot was our front yard - so we went redneck and parked buses and cars in the front yard!!  Farmer Jeff petted a catfish for them and the classes got extra hayrides to and from the games and beehive.  Thank you for coming!  We hope you had as much fun as we did.  Send us your pictures and we'll post them, too.

Farmer Stover driving his restored antique tractor
Red-neck parking lot - our front yard!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New activity on the farm - paddle boats!

Yes, you can pick strawberries as you paddle down the rows : )    What a week it has been!  Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we were rained out.  Thursday our wonderful workers waded in water with (don't you love that alliteration?) boots to clean the field out of good and bad berries.  We were extremely busy Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and I finally took a moment today to post.

And now, more rain!  I think Mother Nature forgot that  "April showers bring May flowers" - it's May - no more rain - only flowers, please :)

Our right hand man, Jordon, worked in the water on Friday, even though it was a sunny, beautiful day.  Here he is standing by his creation,  "Bucket Mountain".  That's over 175 buckets he washed!   ( I know, because I stacked them and put them back in the Berry Barn after they dried)  We pick strawberries in these buckets and they must be washed every day.  Farmer Jeff had even washed more buckets early that morning!  That's just one of the daily strawberry chores.  I'll post pictures of more fun work projects later :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Great Opening Day

We had quite a surprise Friday evening - during the day, the berries ripened!  We quickly drove around putting our strawberry signs up.  Our first customer, Phyllis, arrived bright and early Saturday morning at 6:40!  I meant to take her picture, but it got quite busy about the time she left.  She is a very loyal customer - Phyllis, come back soon so I can post your picture!

Strawberry pickers came and went all day - braving the weather.   Storms were all around us, but barely a drop of rain fell here - yahoo!  Thank you to old friends and new friends who came to visit the farm today :)

Our last family of the day taking a rest with Farmer Jeff on the John Deere swing after picking strawberries.   Makaylan, Grayson, and Payton (not in the picture) helped me plant flowers, played with the kitties and doggies and fed the catfish.  A wonderful end to a busy day!
We wish you all a joyous Easter! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Everything but the kitchen sink

Farmer Jeff and I scoped out the fields today and came up with a FEW berries.  We're having strawberry shortcake tonight, strawberries and whipped cream on waffles tomorrow morning, and strawberry pie in the evening.  We are testing the berries out for all of you.  We'll let you know how the taste tests turned out!

 Ladybugs are sweet, cute, and harmless bugs that help keep the bad insects off of strawberry leaves.  We love to see them in the fields.  But our daughter, Rachel, is very afraid of them and we don't know why, but she will not go near a ladybug.  When I saw this innocent ladybug, I had to snap her picture.  Thinking of you, my dear, crazy daughter!!

No, we are not burning this tree - it's an optical illusion.  We are burning a brush pile of dead tree limbs, trunks, and other cuttings from cleaning up the farm.  Can you say weenie roast and s'mores?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Game on!

That's right - we've been working hard so you can play when you come to the farm.  Straw Mountain is ready for climbing in the barn, complete with the talking pipe so you can talk to friends on the other side of the mountain.  I've been busy painting checkerboards and tic-tac-toe onto tree stumps, and Jimmy is busy making more corn hole games.  You can also stuff Sergeant Scarecrow or play strawberry toss.  There's lots to do down at the barns this year.  See you soon!  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Invest in gold

Mother nature's gold, that is! Here are a few pictures of some of the "gold" around our farm.

Nala's jumping into a field of golden flowers.  The bees love the flowers, too.

Can you see the honeybee on the strawberry blossom?

Busy bees on our farm
Jeff's sister, Valerie, next to hundreds of beehives on their farm.  Her husband, Kent, is  a Master Beekeeper.
And, finally - golden honey from our farm, thanks to Kent, the Bee Man.  He's president of the association.  If you'd like to learn more about bees, you can attend one of their meetings.They're held the 1st Monday of each month in Mayfield at the County Extension Office.  A potluck dinner starts the 6:30 p.m. meeting!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I just can't help myself!

Q:  Why didn't the melons get married?
A:  Because they cantaloupe!

Like an amusement park ride - up, down, swing around!

The machine pokes holes, Josh and Jimmy plant seeds

All the crops are finally planted.  When you come to the farm, the corn should be poking through the plastic, and maybe tiny cantaloupe leaves will be visible.  We planted Athena cantaloupe - a favorite variety.  They should be ready mid-June.  We sell these to stores,  roadside vendors, and donate some to the area foodbanks.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This is really corny

How is an ear of corn like the Army?  It has a lot of kernels. (You're supposed to laugh here.)  Farmer Jeff retired from the Army as a kernel - a Lieutenant Colonel, that is, so it's appropriate that one of the other crops he's raising is corn.

It is a peaches and cream variety of sweet corn - yum, yum.  Thanks, too, to Josh and Jimmy who are riding the setter.  The rains delayed planting by almost a week, and it's still pretty muddy going,  but they got about 1/2 of the planting done today. They'll finish planting tomorrow.  That's a lot of corn!  But don't hold your breath for another corn joke...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Better safe than sorry

Jeff tracks the weather relentlessly during spring when Mother Nature is very fickle.  Here he is repairing the overhead irrigation system.  Along with row covers, these 2 systems can provide much needed warmth and protection if we have frosts or freezes in March and April when the blossoms are abundant.

Yesterday was a prime example.  We'd had warm days, then rain, and a prediction of frost this morning.  We couldn't pull the row covers back on (wet covers dragged over delicate plants = damage), so Jeff started checking for frost at 4 a.m., and subsequently about every half hour.  Thank goodness, temperatures weren't as low as predicted, but needless to say, he will be going to bed early tonight!  This diligence can save a crop.  In April of 2007 we had a freeze Easter morning.  The only thing that saved our berries were our row covers, and overhead sprinkling starting about 10 p.m. with us monitoring it until about 8 a.m.  Yes, we were cold, wet, and exhausted, but we had berries in May.

We heard from one grower in South Carolina yesterday where it was 86 during the day and freeze predicted that night.  They put their row covers on shirtless because it was so hot :)  Strawberry growers do not gamble - the stakes are too high!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I'm over it!

I just didn't have the heart to post during the cold, wet weather last week.  But the sun's out, it's warming up, covers are off the plants again, and all is well with the world.  The plants have grown!  They're almost 12 inches across now and are filling out.  Look back at March 20th - they were about 7 inches in diameter.

And, if you look very carefully at the plant on the right, you'll see in the far lower left corner that the blossoms have fallen off and been replaced by a tiny green berry!!!  There's 2-3 more further to the right that are also baby berries.  Red berries here we come!

Friday, March 25, 2011

On again, off again - please make up your mind!

Old Mr. Weather is at it again!  Right now it's snowing and sleeting outside.  It's definitely spring - you can tell by the temperatures - 70's one day and this morning it was 31 degrees and there was frost on the ground.  Damage to the blooms can occur with frost or temperatures around 30 degrees, so we knew we needed to cover the plants and give them some extra warmth for a few days.  It's hard work pulling the row covers on and off and you have to be careful not to break off any plants, but it gives them a few extra degrees of heat under the covers. 

 If the weather gets extremely cold and there is a freeze warning, we also turn on the overhead sprinklers to form a thin layer of ice, which actually produces heat underneath!  Hard to believe, but it saved our crop in 2007 from total failure.  We don't like to use water unless absolutely necessary, because too much water can cause diseases.  Brr - it was cold taking this picture!  But Jeff, Jimmy, and Kyle did the hard work :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Still cleaning!

Every day we (mostly Jeff) do a bit more to spruce up the farm.  He's being very daring high up on that ladder taking down some old tree swings that have rotted.  He put them up for our daughter, Rachel, and she loved swinging on them.  

Another just finished project was the right side shed on the old barn.  This barn is about 100 years old.  Kyle and his dad did a great job on both side sheds.  Now Jeff can protect some of his farm equipment from the elements.  Thanks, mom! 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring has sprung!

Jeff was driving home from church today and saw this breathtaking sight - blooming Bradford Pear trees lining the main street in Fulton.  The real thing is even prettier than the pictures he took.  

Our strawberries have some blooms, too!  Here is a picture of them after spring cleaning. Keep track of the plant's size - it's about 7 inches in diameter right now and just one little bloom that will be a strawberry in 30 days.   Soon the fields will be full of little white blooms in a sea of green.

What a beautiful world God has created for us to enjoy!  We have so much to be grateful for, don't we?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring cleaning

Some jobs Jeff can take care of and for others we need extra help.   Jeff is spraying the grass in the middle of the rows.  During the fall and winter, the grass helps with erosion  and weed control.  The spray doesn't hurt the strawberries, thank goodness.  The dead grass makes a nice walking surface for picking berries, too.

Our helpers are going to need backrubs after hand weeding the fields today!  The weeds aren't bad this year, but we check every plant to make sure the old leaves from winter and weeds are cleaned away.  It usually takes 2 days to finish this project.  All the strawberries need now is sun, sun, sun!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Catering to the strawberries

Now that the strawberries are uncovered and growing more, they are hungry!  Jeff is priming the pump.  Water goes through the big round filters, and he feeds the plants through the underground irrigation system.  This is their first food of the spring season.  It's precise and every week they need different nutrients.  You can see their food on the truck bed.  The tiniest bottle is the most expensive - $95.00.  Strawberries have expensive taste buds!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day of rest

No work on the farm today.  Just going to church and relaxing.  Here are a few of our wonderful friends.  Pumpkin just appeared one day about a month ago. He was a mess!  But I gave him a bath and brushed him and he was soon soft and fluffy.  He obviously had a home somewhere else, because he made himself right at home immediately. He'd love to be a house cat, but our 2 inside cats weren't too happy when he tried to move in,'ll see Pumpkin roaming the farm now. He has a tiny meow and a big purr.

Until about a month ago, we had 3 dogs.  Chaos (named after a Sonic the Hedgehog character) just vanished.  We don't know what happened to him.  We rescued him as a puppy, so it was sad to lose him.  He was the big protector of our 2 smaller dogs.  You see, they are both handicapped.  Juliet is blind in one eye, and Nala was hit by a car and can't use one of her back legs very well.  All of our girl dogs are named after "princesses" of one sort or another.  I'm having my daughter, Rachel, make up a genealogy chart of all the pets we've had on the farm.  We have a couple of pet cemeteries to remember them, because they were all loved.  Here's a picture of Juliet on the left and Nala on the right napping.  It was a scary, stormy night and as a special treat we let them come in the family room.  They loved it!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sunny day

It's the first warm, sunny day in a loong time.  Jeff's finished cleaning up the fence row.  It grows up so quickly and he likes to have everything ship shape around the farm.  We're going to have one big bonfire from the looks of the brushpile!  You can see the beehives next to the fence row.  We stayed far away from them today.  They are very busy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Uncovering the sleeping beauties - I mean berries

Our berries have been protected through the winter with row covers held down by sandbags.  This provided a warmer temperature for them through the cold winter months.  Jordon and Kyle are carefully pulling the row covers off the berries, but leaving them in the field just in case we have more very cold weather before the berries ripen.  You can see the rye grass between the rows for erosion control and weed control.  It will be gone before berry picking time.