Sunday, July 31, 2011

Progress on New Sales Building

  We thank God that we finally got some rain this week, which will really help the apples and pears.  The 2011 blackberry crop, reduced to 10% of normal by last Feb.'s -17 F cold, was further hurt by drought for the last 9 weeks and temperatures over 100 F almost every day for the past 45 days.  So blackberry ripening is just about over now.  'Jonafree' apples should start about Aug. 18.
  We're making progress on the new sales building.  We hope to have it ready to use for apple season.  Our workers applied a red staining paint to the outside walls, and painted the posts and door trim white.  Last week they put up insulation between the studs.
Our son Michael, left, and Bill painted the sales building, as did our workers Lucas Epler, Joe Tillman and Joel Zwahlen.

   Bill has installed the wiring, fuse box and ceiling fans, and is now installing plumbing.  Fred Heistand will be putting in a septic system for us next week, then Bill can install the toilet and sink and put up the walls and paneling.
Bill's installing plumbing.  The wiring, ceiling fans and insulation are in.

  We've ordered the 8' x 10' walk-in cooler, which should be installed Aug. 22 or so.  So this year we can store harvested apples in the cooler rather than in our garage as we had to do last year.  We should have harvested apples for sale from about Aug. 18 to Feb. 20 or so.  The pick-your-own apple season runs from about Sept. 16 to Nov. 30.
We hope to open these doors of our sales building for apple season in Sept.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sandhill Plums Ripening

   Sandhill plums are ripe now until about Aug. 15 on our farm.  This plum species (Prunus angustifolia) is a Western variant of the Chickasaw plum native to the southeastern U.S.  It's native to the Sandhills of central KS and central OK.  We took several "plum hunts" with our kids back in 1997 and 1998, selected superior fruits from the wild, and planted the seeds on our farm.  So now we have five rows of bushes where people can pick their own sandhill plums.
   Sandhill plums, like all native plums, are too small and tart for fresh eating, but make wonderful jams, jellies and sauces.  I love sandhill plum sauce in Oriental stir-fry dishes and with eggrolls.  Sandhill plums have a wonderful flavor with a hint of apricot, which is superior to the three plum species native to southeast Kansas: the American plum, the Munson plum, and the wild goose plum.  Those other three plum species impart a somewhat woody taste to jam; it's still good, but sandhill plum jam is better.
Sandhill plums have started ripening.  They make wonderful jam and sauce.

   Thornless blackberries are ripening later than normal this year, since they bloomed a couple weeks late after fruiting canes were killed back by -17 F temperatures in early Feb.  We'll only have about 1/4 of our normal blackberry crop this year, and the time of heaviest ripening will be about July 16 to Aug. 6.  We continue to water the blackberry rows, and keep praying for more rain.
'Triple Crown'  thornless blackberries are just starting to ripen.  Since canes were killed back by a  -17 F freeze in early Feb., we only have 1/4 of a normal crop, and most fruit will be low on the plants.