Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
This is the third year my family has run a blueberry farm a few miles west of our home. I am responsible for the farm operation, while my sisters, the “Blueberry Girls,” vend the berries at the Farmers’ Market in downtown Midland on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. In the morning and evening, Monday through Saturday, I serve you-pick customers, oversee pickers harvesting berries for us, and pick quarts of berries myself.
The blueberry bushes were planted over twenty-five years ago, by a man who envisioned “The Berry Patch,” a fruit farm with forty acres of blueberries and five acres of raspberries. His vision failed to become reality, but he did plant five acres of blueberries and two long rows of grapes. The berry bushes are nearly as tall as a man and grow in long rows across the field. As the sun ripens the berries, they turn from white to green to red to blue.
In May 2005, a man in a pick-up truck stopped by our house to see if our family would be interested in harvesting blueberries. Dan Nagel, the current owner of the farm, was the son-in-law of the man who planted the bushes. Mr. Nagel tended the bushes, fertilizing and trimming them, but didn’t have the time to pick them or open the farm for you-pickers. Our family agreed to try the blueberry business, and it has been a blessing to us.
The season lasts through July and to the end of August. This year the berries were a week and a half late, and we expect to have berries into September. Of our two varieties of berries, I prefer the earlier berries because they are full of flavor, but many of our customers enjoy picking the later, larger berries.
Throughout the week, one or two of my siblings accompany me to the blueberry farm where we pick berries, sort out stems, leaves and bad berries, and package the berries in quart containers. On market mornings Julie and Brian or Betsy and Libby load the back of the pick-up truck with carriers full of quarts of blueberries, a blue tarp, a table, and the cashbox. At the market, Bob the market-master assigns them a stall. Most days they sell all the berries—usually over a hundred quarts. Meanwhile at the farm, I welcome customers and continue picking berries to fill more quarts.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Grandma bought Joel a baby doll when he was about two-years-old. That doll with the plastic head and soft pink body was supposed to help sibling relations, since I did not appreciate when Joel tried to steal my baby Jean. Joel soon outgrew that nameless doll.
Joel has his own real baby now—Kaelyn Joy. She sleeps, she eats, she makes dirty diapers and she enthralls her Daddy for hours. He talks to her, walks her, sings to her, photographs her, and watches her grow.
We’ve improved at sharing since Joel was two and I was four. I spent much of my two-day visit to Whitmore Lake holding my niece (Joel didn’t have much choice on Monday, since he was at work.).
When I wasn't holding her, I photographed her. Judith and I agreed to train her to be a photogenic little girl. So far, she hasn’t needed much tutoring!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
After picking cherries Julie, Christie and I drove forty-five minutes to Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio (the town famous in our family for Yoder and Frey Auction—a place of wonderful memories of tractors, auctioneers and waterlogged boots). Sauder Village was established by Erie Sauder who envisioned a village where visitors could observe the olden days. Guides, dressed in period clothing, explained the significance of each component of the village—from the schoolhouse to depot to the church to the cooper’s shop.
My two favorite stops were the W.O. Taylor Printing Office and the Broom Shop (motto: A house without a broom is like a bride without a groom). In the print shop our guide, a bent old man who shuffled with a three-wheeled walker, pointed out a printing press similar to the one Benjamin Franklin used. Our guide worked at various jobs at the Toledo Blade for twenty-some years before retiring. Upon my inquiry, he explained how photo negatives were turned into etchings and smeared with ink to make illustrations in the newspaper. He also showed us a machine similar to what he used when he worked at the Blade. It converted the coded tape (which looked like fly paper with dots) into the metal type used to print national news stories.
The pungency of the herb shop caused my nose to run. I shot self-portraits on the porch while Christie and Julie selected Peach Ambrosia Roobos Tea for Aunt Sandy.
We didn’t make it through the whole village before closing time at five o’clock. We walked across the parking lot to the Barn Restaurant. There the rooms were named “Manger,” “Feedlot,” “Loft,” and “Granary,” and the chandeliers were made of wagon wheels. I eyed the packets of butter and half-and-half while we waited for our meals. After we warded off starvation, we posed for a group portrait (left to right: Amy, Christie, Julie). Tip: If you don’t have a tri-pod, improvise with your aunt’s three-gallon stockpot.