This morning I woke up to the first rainy day since the beginning of the month and decided that I should provide an update before July was gone! Whew! Just made it. So much has happened since the last update that I hardly know where to begin. Did I mention the lack of rainfall this month? Not to worry, our custom irrigation system was completed by the end of June by our friends at Pro Tech Irrigation of Albany, NY. They did a super job on what turned out to be a very labor intensive project. Each plant received its own drip emitter that delivers 1 gallon per hour to the plant on an automatic schedule.Here are a couple of pictures of the crew during the installation.
All tubing and system parts were buried just below the surface. Most of this was dug by hand. Our thanks to the Pro Tech crew for a job well done.
The plants grew several inches a day throughout June and reached their seasonal height by the first of July! One rogue plant that we nicknamed Hero made it to the top wire, while most of the others settled in at about 10-12 feet.
By the middle of July our first cones emerged, and the hop yard was established! Sunshine remained abundant, water was plentiful, and the little hoppers grew up! July also brought our beautiful daughter Alli home for a visit. I quickly schooled her on the fine art of removing the pesky Japanese beetles from the plants. My method is simple, safe, and efficient: forget the traps that lure more insects than they catch, forget the chemicals that harm the environment, and use the secret soapy water tap a trap!
For those of you who need a further explanation, you just need a wide mouth jug, some water mixed with laundry detergent, and a free hand to tap the leaves harboring beetles. The insects fly straight down before flying horizontally, hit the soapy water, and drown. OK, it sounds cruel, but after all these are bugs that will eat the leaves and damage the plants. A steady removal ritual every day for about two weeks helped minimize the hop crop damage. Allison is pictured here in fine form for bug removal.
Alva is simply happy to have Allison join the fun, as am I. Great job Alli!
The final chapter of this update contains the progress report of the farm equipment that we built for harvest time. We started by purchasing a used 14 foot running gear from a local dairy farm, and next put in an order for our friend Toby to mill some rough cut lumber for a wagon. The design of the wagon is borrowed from a Morris wagon with modifications suggested and designed by our farmer friend Jim.
Jim is pictured below during the assembly process. It took the two of us two days to build the finished wagon.
The hop harvest wagon has yet to be named but is designed to catch the bines as they are cut from the bottom and the top. The platform safety railing rises 13′ 2″ off the ground, which safely allows anyone near 6 feet tall to reach the top wire for either installing or removing strings. Jim also suggested that we could rent this wagon out during the off season for an elevated view of the hilltop sunset. Of course the driver of the tractor would be required and included in the package price. There might also be a market for renting out as a deer blind, but we’ll see about that!
I will close this update with pictures of two more of our beautiful family members– our very pregnant daughter-in -law Becky and our precious little granddaughter Addie. At 20 months she is by far the youngest member of the hop crew, but we like to educate ’em young. You go, Addie girl! Pick your first hop!
Time for me to sign off, there’s work to be done. Weeds to pull, and grass to mow. Until we meet again my friend, be well, don’t worry, and be Hoppy!