A Hoppy Day
Alva and I are truly blessed to have such wonderful friends and family willing to lend a hand at a moment’s notice. Without their help, we never would have completed this planting in one day. Thank you to all!
Here’s how it happened:
I spent two days with CTO Papa preparing for the planting event. Day 1 sent us up to Dutchess Hops at Easternview farms. My Chevy Colorado was just large enough to hold the 4×4 palate in the back that housed our 1000 hop plants. We wrapped everything in tarps to prevent wind burn and took the scenic way home. Once we unloaded the plants we were ready for the next step.
Day two found us loading manure from Jim’s farm and getting my dump truck stuck in the mud. No worries, My 86 Chevy one-ton (Sally) was not lying down on this job. Toby provided some New Holland loader power to help me spin my way out. Three loads and some soupy ground later we decided we had enough and it was time to prepare the field with the final step before planting.
Papa drove the tractor after I loaded the utility trailer with “Jim’s Secret Mixture” black dirt. Then the fun really began. I started making hills for planting. The idea was to provide a fertile hill for each plant that would keep the roots above the mud and at the same time provide a shot of “super grow” to each plant. It took 2 or three shovels of the good stuff to create each hill. We finished 8 rows before I tired.
Day three turned out to be the most amazing! We actually had 2 different crews show up to help, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Everyone pitched in to make light work of it all.
The morning crew featured the Clan Valleau- Jim, Billy, Shane, and Nicole along with Alva, Papa, and me. Jim ran the roto tiller between the poles, Billy and I continued to shovel the hills, and Papa drove the tractor. Shane and Nicole started the plants while Alva prepared the food, took pictures, and made sure everyone was outfitted with the proper implements for the job. One of these implements is a spacing tool that I used to make sure each plant was 48 inches apart. Two bamboo sticks and some duck tape did the trick!
The other tool that made its way around is called a Hop Bar. Uncle Jimbo is pictured here using it to make the perfect hole! I stumbled onto the Hop Bar by accident. A friend of mine and fellow teacher happened to mention to me that he purchased the Hop Bar while antiquing in the Cooperstown area. Thanks to Glenn for letting me scientifically try the Hop Bar to see if it is worth its weight. The answer is yes! The hop plants fit perfectly into the holes made by the Hop Bar. A simple tool, but very valuable for planting hops.
Before we knew it the late morning was upon us and the afternoon crews took over for our morning crew. Farmer Jim helped out with the shovel (his self-proclaimed specialty), and our family members stopped by to lend a hand.
Tom, Tommy and Terry from Alva’s side, and Jacie and Steven from my side.
Later on we also had help from Ray and Uncle Coochie.
The weather couldn’t have been better, the company was great, and Alva and I couldn’t have been more thankful. Here Alva is demonstrating the proper shovel technique for Uncle Coochie’s benefit. One of my favorite photos happens to be below. My Dear and my Deere. I think this is where they came up with the slogan, “Nothing runs like a Dear”. In the end, it was more about a great day with family and friends. The memories will last a long time. Let’s hope the hops last as long!
1000 beautiful hop plants found a new home–Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook–now we’re sitting back and watching them grow.
Until next time, many thanks, take it slow, and watch the little hoppers grow.