Monday, June 27, 2011

Hops Poles Must Be Planted - Now..

Mid June is already here and the poles are ready to be planted. Here they lie next to their designated holes.

  Our help has arrived.

Our good friends Diana and Jerry came willing and smiling.  Hope they are still smiling tomorrow...

Additional help showed up...Howie and Amber helped to plant more of the mighty posts. 
 The clay from 3 ft. below the surface was soooo difficult to tamp down around the poles once they were set in the holes

Gina, the dog proved to be our most valuable helper of all.

Day 2 and everyone is still smiling.  Guess it wasn't too bad after all.

On the following weekend we did not have any helpers scheduled.  With 30 poles left to plant just 2 of us to do the work, we encountered a little problem.  I don't like to drive heavy equipment, but I  am way too small to maneuver a 250 lb. pole into a hole.  Howard gave me one choice:

I reluctantly took the controls of the trac hoe and made an attempt at moving it.
Hmmm....this isn't so bad.  Actually kind of fun.
We finished setting one acre of poles....finally.
Whew...glad this task is finally done.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dry weather, no irrigation system in place!

Hot dry weather came without any apologies the first week of June.

This prompted us to take action.  Our ATV pulls a trailer which holds a couple of batteries, which power a pump.  The pump forces the water out of an old water storage tank which Howard salvaged out of our old camping travel trailer which "bit the dust" several years ago.  It is going to be several weeks  before we can install an official irrigation system.  It take us over two hours to water the hops this way.  Some days it seems like we are operating this whole project by a thin piece of string....

But we will do whatever it takes to keep the hops happy and growing.  Our second year bines are quickly growing towards the tops of their strings!

Oh and just for everyone's entertainment, the half mile two track path out to our hops yard has become a "baby animal highway" in the past week.

This cute little "bambi" has obviously never seen a human before.  Mommy came back to retrieve her baby a little while later.

These little siblings are on a mission . Do they smell fresh hops shoots?  They are heading in the right direction. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Planting Day

560 potted rhizomes are ready to go to the hop yard.

Laura and Parick are lending a hand with the planting operations.

Patrick and Laura even entertained us with song and chant throughout the day!

Our measuring and marking crew(Howie, Jeff and Amber) lent some hands also.
Julia and Stephanie served up some good grub to keep our crew well fed that day.

Planting is done.  Thank you everyone.

Poles are Here!

After several months of shopping far and wide for the perfect poles, Howard finally located the perfect supplier:  Carter Lumber Company, located 7 miles from our farm.  They even offered with free delivery out to our hops yard!  "Shopping Locally"  is the way to go.

Time to bring out the auger.  Our son, Howie and his wife to be, Amber were quite a team in drilling all 88 four foot deep holes in our new hops yard.  Our good friend, Jeff was there supervising. They had it done in no time.

Now the moment everyone has been waiting for, time to bring out the big toy to set one of these poles up.

Howard acquired this new toy last fall while we were on a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  It is a trac hoe that was looking for a new owner.  Howard convinced me that it would be easier to set hops poles with this. In my mind, that was good enough reason to invest in this little "monster".

Here we go,  the pole is dragged into place by Jeff and his ATV.

Up it goes! (While Jeff pulls some last minute loose dirt out of the hole)




It is set in the hole.

Wait a minute, how do we check to see that it is straight up and down?  Did anybody think to bring a level?

No, but not a problem, our engineer son, can quickly download a level "app" to his I-phone.  Kids and their technology...way to go Howie!

One pole up, 87 more to go....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Opening the Ground, Planting More Rhizomes

Cold wet weather plagued our plans for expanding our hops yard in April.  Finally, the first weekend of May, the ground was dry enough for the Deutz tractor to plow the land.

Meanwhile, the 2nd year hops are sending out lots of healthy looking shoots.

Our order for rhizomes never arrived.  When we called the company we ordered from, they apologized for losing our order.  Their stock had already been shipped.  They scrambled to get us rhizomes from other suppliers.  To compensate us for the late shipment, they doubled the amount of rhizomes they shipped to us at no extra charge. 

Well, I guess we are doubling our hop yard size.  Wow...didn't plan on that.  More poles, more hardware, more pots, more planting....

How exciting! 560 hops planted.  Oh my aching back....