It’s Been Awhile

0bbf3c536ed968a7be8fa69315951ec7It’s been awhile.  Harvest is always a terribly busy time.  Every year I tell myself, “I got this” and every year near the end of harvest, I am trying to keep my head just above water for me to breath and the statement “I thought, I had this” always comes rushing back.  After nine years, I still feel this. I write things down every year in my own secret “diary” so to speak, of ways I think I can prepare for the next year, what I could have done different this season, and I honestly have not perfected it yet.  I don’t know if I ever will but I wasn’t raised to be a quitter. There is always hope for next year and I have eight months give or take, to make a new plan.

Inevitably everyone can apply this feeling, this sense of drowning– in their lives, careers, next chapters, finances, and relationships, etc. At some point, I believe most adults have felt this way in their lives. But it is up to each of us to decide whether we will sink or float.  Sometimes it can be an agonizingly long process because the decisions need to be weighed equally, both sides need to be looked at and mentally calculated with precision and the time comes when we have to un-tie the cement blocks around our ankles and kick like hell to get our heads above water.

And as the tip of our nose, lips, chin, eyes open and we gasp for that first breath…that is the moment our decision has been made (take the leap, shit or get off the pot, or whatever reference works for you) is where instinctively, we know which decision we are going with…of course, there will be an adjustment period but moving forward with our gut feelings is what we all should pay a little more attention too.

Once we take that first step, we may be knee deep in the dark unchartered waters pulling those cement blocks forward again but our heads are above water.  We have chosen and in that choice we all begin to create a different and new sense of comfort.

There is an infinite amount of decisions and choices we can make in our lives, they will affect the people around us and that is always something to consider but in my last days I would hope that my decisions were unselfishly chosen, my family always felt love from me, that I never intentionally tried to hurt someone, and most of all, that I was proud of the way I lived.

How I Found Oregon Agriculture

 

I grew up in a small town and the town had the long standing support of a few very prominent families who worked in forestry.  Many friends of mine had direct connections to forestry through family members. My parents were teachers and although we were raised in the country, we had no direct connection to agriculture.  We had extended family that farmed but the most significant connection we had was a distant relative was the secretary of agriculture under FDR while he was president. I have been researching this since my dad told me and I find it very interesting.  I would love to go back to that time and sit with him and ask him questions!

I was not raised in a farm family.  I grew up in a family of educators.  My father was a music teacher and although he is retired now he still shares this gift with all of those around him.  My mom had a birthday recently and he wrote her a song!!  Yes, a song!!  Who of us out there wouldn’t want their spouses to write them a song but maybe some of us giggle at this idea because we know our spouses would be awful at it…and the idea of them singing would make our ears bleed!!  But not for my dad and mom…what a beautiful moment!

My mom has loved working in education for many years, she has dealt with so much; her job has pulled her from one building to the next in Lebanon. Her job slightly changing from building to building and she is a fire cracker when the “system” isn’t working as it should.

Over the years, I have realized my parents are passionate about the children they serve, want the best for children, and somehow manage to check everything at the door when they walk into a room with all those faces looking up at them.  My parents are the definition of amazing educators.

I was asked last week why I think living on a farm is so great??  I walked away from that thinking, how am I supposed to answer such a loaded question.  There are days I love it, like it, relish in the moments I have here but I will be honestly say some days I want to escape for a few days. Do something different- head to the city or to the mountains but it doesn’t last long until I want the beauty back of the farm and the arbor of the trees cascading out my front window.

I never had spent time at farm until I moved to the hazelnut farm 11 years ago.  I had a hard time adjusting at first, it felt so isolated and lonely.  Now, I find comfort in the quiet and being able to leave my windows open all the time, and blast music and no one can hear it fore miles. The sunsets are amazing!

Over the many years, I can’t imagine any one who wouldn’t want to live on a farm.  Now the isolation is comforting, I can take a deep breath any time I want, walk anywhere I want, who wouldn’t want private access to a few different rivers, endless miles of running and walking, yes, there are always chores to be done. However, living here, family is always close, my children have endless amounts of things to do and acres to do it on, and enough shops to build anything their hearts desire.  Last week, my son built an air conditioner and resurrected a 25-year-old weed Wacker by rebuilding the carburetor…. you can ask me how; and all I can tell you is that he was in the shop for 7 hours, he walked out filthy, with the biggest smile on his face and he now has a working air conditioner and his very own working Weed-Wacker!!

The land we live on is important to our quality of life and to others.  If some fields near our fields are diseased it can travel through the wind and effect our crop.  Farming is about timing, being patient and being stewards of the land and always helping out the farm families around us.  I have learned after all these years I now can drive down any road and recognize on any hazelnut orchard which are disease and which aren’t.  I can see who takes better care of the land and crop better than others.

I often find myself rambling answers about our farm, the crop, and acres we have to anyone who asks.  Sometimes, I hear myself talking I have to smile because I in no way thought I would be this passionate and have the knowledge I do about farming and agriculture.  My sister often tells me I know all these random facts about agriculture ad farming…she often asks me; how do you know that??  I shrug and continue to answer her questions.

About a year ago I resigned from the best job I have ever had, I learned, students I taught learned, and the people I worked with were amazing.  Most of them grew up on farms.  I will always be grateful to Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation and their board of directors and staff.  I was taught so much and was able to share it in a way that was so much a part of me and the way I was raised.  I love teaching and seeing children have that “ahh, ha” moment!! I miss teaching Oregon students about agriculture in their communities and our state! It is detrimental for our students in Oregon to learn about the value of agriculture, what it means to take care of the land, and why students need to know where their food comes from.

When we look back at the decisions we have made in the past, it always seems that people claim their vision is 20/20 now, this isn’t always so for me. Working at Oregon AITC was more than a job.  It became my passion, my expertise, it gave me the access to teach students all over Oregon. Every day was inspiring in a classroom because I was inspiring students. I cannot put into words what it felt like when students had the “wow” and “ahh, ha” moments when I was teaching about agriculture.  If I had the opportunity to be involved with teaching students about Oregon Agriculture in the way I did for seven years, I would jump at the chance.

Grandpa’s Orchard: Oregon History

hazelnutharvest10_forweb

One hundred years ago, George Dorris, a lawyer turned farmer, knelt in the soil between the soils of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers and planted five acres of hazelnut trees. Dorris’s trees were the first commercial hazelnut orchard in Oregon.

With that orchard, Dorris planted the state’s hazelnut industry. Over the years, he planted a dozen more orchards and established a hazelnut nursery that operated for 40 years and produced about 70,000 trees per year.

Today, about 650 Oregon families grow hazelnuts commercially on 28,000 acres throughout the Willamette Valley. It’s estimated that more than half of those trees came from Dorris nursery stock.

“There’s been a lot of progress in the industry, but what was done with hazelnuts at the Dorris Ranch formed the starting point for where we are today.”

And today, Oregon accounts for 99 percent of the hazelnuts grown in the United States and is the third largest producer of hazelnuts in the world, behind Turkey and Italy.

The state’s harvest of hazelnuts, which are also called filberts, averages more than $30 million in farm sales. Hazelnuts have found their way into a distinctively Oregon cuisine. Dipped in rich chocolate, crumbled over a fillet of wild Oregon salmon, or munched whole and washed down with an Oregon microbrew, hazelnuts add flavor, crunch and a nutritional boost to snacks and recipes.

Hazelnuts are easy to love, but they are not always easy to grow. In the 1970s hazelnut growers in southwestern Washington discovered a fungal disease had swept through their orchards like termites, forming cankers that were slowly taking over the branches, it was eastern filbert blight. Spores carrying the blight travel easily in the wind and quickly contaminated entire orchards. By 1986, the blight struck the north end of the Willamette Valley.

In order to get more Oregon hazelnuts on the world market, growers must first get trees into the ground, and propagating adequate numbers of trees in a short time can be a challenge. To date, Oregon raises 99% of the United State crop.  Many of our hazelnuts get sent out of the U.S. to places like China.

It takes about 5-7 years for the new trees to begin dropping hazelnuts.  It is a waiting game for awhile.  But we think it is well worth the waiting game. To our surprise on our farm; three generations now working on the farm we take care of our families as if they are family members.

 

Sited:  OSU Extension Services, By Amiee Brown

Grandpa’s Orchard: What I’ve learned about family and farming

 

 

hazelnut-harvest-collage

There are days on the farm that our home feels like it has a swinging door.  We run in and out for lunch, to run parts for equipment on the farm, or business supplies. All the while, our twins who are 12 keep the door swinging whether its for play or working on the farm.

Day in and day out each one of us contributes to the needs of our farm.  My husband spends countless hours under the arbors of our hazelnut orchard or in the shop, the children are just starting to show interest about the farm and they want to be involved.  My sons pick up sticks on the orchard floor, drive the tractors, spot spray on four-wheelers and in the next hour I am running kids off to football practice.  They keep busy but they are learning that as a family, we are one unit and we have to learn to work hard together to keep the farm running, no matter what season we are in.

Our hazelnut farm needs continuous care depending on what season we are in but it takes a family to get through it all. My husband works along side his dad.  My mother-in-law and my self do the bookkeeping for our farm.  Believe it or not to run this farm we have about four different sets of bookkeeping.

I have struggle with this since we moved to the farm 12 years ago. I am not an accountant, bookkeeper, record-keeper, or someone who is good with numbers.  However, I have learned to adapt and find resources that will help me. My mother-in-law was a great help in the beginning but as our bookkeeping got more complicated I learned I needed even more help.  I took a few bookkeeping classes and spent a lot of time and money with our accountant.  I will continue to lean on this system for me because it works.  Why mess with a good thing when it’s working?

During harvest, about September through November life gets turned upside down.  I will be honest and say it is a struggle for myself and our children.  My husband works an easy 16-18 hours a day and if I don’t make him lunch and dinner, he wouldn’t eat.  He gets so focused on working that he won’t stop to eat.  He has an office that I stock up with food, snacks, and meals when I bring them to him. However, every year he easily drops about 15 pounds from the stress.

Harvest time is hard on our children.  They miss Dad so much. It is hard for some people to understand that dad is around for about eight months and the rest of the year they don’t really see him except for when they walk to the bus every morning.  For a few brief seconds, they get to see his smiling face and give him a big hug.  Sometimes he leaves them post-it notes on the mirror in the bathroom to surprise them just to let them know he is thinking of them.

For me, this time of year gets very lonely.  Some days I feel depressed and down.  But I know I need to keep my chin up because I don’t want my kids to see me struggle.  Everything this time of year in on my shoulders when it comes to running the house, paying the bills for the farm, and running the kids too and fro for all their school and social plans.  It gets to be overwhelming sometimes but I remind myself that this is not year-around and it is short lived. My personal life falls away during harvest time; I should learn to lean on it a little more but it is hard to juggle everything.

I have learned so much about myself, my family, and living on a farm.  I know that we have to keep things moving to making farming possible.  We have learned to adapt during certain times of the year and other times of the year we are able to lean on each as a family of four…and for a few short months it’s just me and my boys taking care of dad while he takes care of our year’s crop.  Through all of this, and the lifestyle we have, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Why Not Farm??

If Everyone Could Be So Lucky!!  

I grew up in a small town and the town had the long standing support of a few very prominent families who worked in forestry.  Many friends of mine had direct connections to forestry through family members. My parents were teachers and although we were raised in the country, we had no direct connection to agriculture.  We had extended family that farmed but the most significant connection we had was a distant relative was the director of agriculture under FDR while he was president. I have been researching this since my dad told me and I find it very interesting.  I would love to go back to that time and sit with him and ask him questions!

I was not raised in a farm family.  I grew up in a family of educators.  My father was a music teacher and although he is retired now he still shares his gift to all of those around him.  My mom had a birthday recently and he wrote her a song!!  Yes, a song!!  Who of us out there wouldn’t want their spouses to write them a song but maybe some of us giggle at this idea because we know our spouses would be awful at it…and the idea of them singing would make our ears bleed!!

My mom has loved working in education for many years, she has dealt with so much; her job has pulled her from one building to the next in Lebanon. Her job slightly changing from building to building and she is a fire cracker when the “system” isn’t working as it should.

Over the years, I have realized my parents are passionate about the children they serve, want the best for children, and somehow manage to check everything at the door when they walk into a room with all those faces looking up at them.  My parents are the definition of amazing educators.

I was asked last week why I think living on a farm is so great??  I walked away from that thinking, how am I supposed to answer such a loaded question.  There are days I love it, like it, relish in the moments I have here but I will be honestly say some days I want to escape for 24 hours or so. Do something different- head to the city or to the mountains but it doesn’t last long until I want the beauty back of the farm and the arbor of the trees cascading out my front window.

I never had spent time at farm until I moved to the hazelnut farm 11 years ago.  I had a hard time adjusting at first, it felt so isolated and lonely.  Now, I find comfort in the quiet and being able to leave my windows open all the time, and blast music and no one can hear it fore miles. The sunsets are amazing!

Over the many years, I can’t imagine any one who wouldn’t want to live on a farm.  Now the isolation is comforting, I can take a deep breath any time I want, walk anywhere I want, who wouldn’t want private access to a few different rivers, endless miles of running and walking, yes, there are always chores to be done. However, living here family is always close, my children have endless amounts of things to do and acres to do it on, and enough shops to build anything their hearts desire.  Last week, my son build an air conditioner and resurrected a 30-year-old weed Wacker by rebuilding the carburetor…. you can ask me how and I all I can tell you is that he was in the shop for 7 hours, he walked out filthy, with the biggest smile on his face and it works now!!

The land we live on is important to our quality of life and to others.  If some fields near our fields are diseased it can travel through the wind and effect our crop also.  Farming is about timing, being patient and being stewards of the land and always helping out the farm families around us.  I have learned after all these years I now can drive down any road and recognize on any hazelnut orchard which are disease and which aren’t.  I can see who takes better care of the land and crop better than others.

I often find myself rambling answers about our farm, the crop, and acres we have to my sister (last week) and as I heard myself talking I started to laugh because I am sure she thought I was crazy.  She often tells me I know all these random facts about agriculture ad farming…she often asks me; how do you know that??  I shrug and continue to answer her questions.

About a year ago I resigned from the best job I have ever had, I learned, students learned and the people I worked with were amazing.  Most of them grew up on farms.  I will always be grateful to Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation and their board of directors and staff.  I was taught so much and was able to share it in a way that was so much a part of me and the way I was raised.  I love teaching and seeing children have that ahh ha moment!! I miss teaching Oregon students about agriculture in their communities and our state! It is detrimental for our students in Oregon to learn about the value of agriculture, what it means to take care of the land, and why students need to get involved now.