January Happenings on the Farm

Several of you reached out to us last week and let us know that you enjoyed learning more about what goes on at the farm during the winter months.  So we continue…

Life Long and On-the-Job Learning

In this business we are in, we are constantly learning.  The fundamentals of farming and marketing that we learned growing up in this family business are constantly being challenged.  In 2020, we had to alter many things on the market – as many of you know from standing patiently in our socially distanced lines.  Our father’s books from his horticulture degrees still grace our office and are often pulled out as we try to solve a problem in the orchard.  But in this generation, we face new pests and diseases.  For example, in our father’s 1951 book, “Destructive and Useful Insects,” there is no mention of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug that likes to puncture holes in our apples and has become so predominant that even you will find them lining up on your walls and doors on a warm fall day hoping to come in for the winter!

Yes, this is what a stink bug looks like if you haven’t seen one!

This is what apples look like when the stink bugs damage them.
Dad’s “antique” book collection–but still so relevant.
During the winter we take advantage of conferences and seminars to strengthen our knowledge and learn about new products and practices in the industry.  These sessions have been virtual so far and while we love the convenience, we miss being able to get away from the farm for a “vacation”: and really miss networking with our peers who we learn so much from.

We attend sessions on: agriculture, agritourism, hard cider production, marketing, baking, farm markets, communications, food safety, and technical topics like “What apples to grow for hard cider, how to build an online store, what new vegetable varieties have disease resistance, and even sessions specifically on the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug!

Record Keeping – the Dreaded “Paperwork” Part of the Farm

During the production and harvest months when our farm is open, you see us operating often at a frenetic pace trying to keep on top of everything that needs to happen daily.  Keeping up with bookkeeping and records gets pushed into a “bushel basket” for later.  “Later” has arrived and now we are busy filing, reviewing, cleaning drawers and in-baskets, and more.

The record keeping on our farm is extensive.  Everything we grow, harvest, sell and process gets recorded as the season goes on, then must be compiled into reports for many constituents but most important, ourselves!  This is a key part of our learning process.  Analyzing this data helps us figure out what we did not grow enough of or too much of, which produce our customers loved, and what we should not grow again.  Having just finished up the apple production data for 2020, we learned we produced just under 8,000 bushels of apples, a record for us only surpassed in two previous years.  No wonder we were all so tired during apple season!

Below Beth is busy sifting through data.

We also have 10-plus licenses and certifications which must be maintained for our farm.  Some require a test or on-going educational credits, some just need application forms and fees processed, but ALL of them require follow up to make sure they are completed for the year!

Cold Weather Work

So, on most days you will find us and our core crew hard at work on various tasks.  But we do enjoy having a little down time to catch up on our rest, read a good book, clean closets, work on taxes, and have more time for ourselves and our families.  Enjoy these few days of sun that we are blessed with.  Despite the sun being out, it is so cold that the crew is working in the greenhouse today, getting it ready for planting!  Below they are tearing down last year’s cucumber plants.

Stay tuned for next week when we will tell you more about what happens behind the scenes here in the winter!
From everyone at Corey Lake Orchards