Grandpa’s Orchard: Oregon History

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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

My morning in Nature…

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I needed to get outside early this morning. Take a drive. Feel the breeze on my skin and flow through my hair.  Soil under foot and let my mind go…

“Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.”

                                                                          -Dr. R. Anthony

MacDonald Forest

Angel by S. McLachlan

 

The trees change color around me

leaves fall and I feel that each

floats like a feather to the moist ground

gracefully carrying us to the new year

yellow, orange, and deep red

surround me in this foreign patch of

grass-tall fir trees tower above

they creak as the wind blows them

this and that way…

pacific northwest winds swoop in

the cool breeze brushes my bare arms

my grandfather’s military green sweater

oversized, itchy wool, a bit musty

wraps me in memories

barefoot I stand,

soil cold and wet

pine needles cover the path

McDonald Forest is my place

of solitude this morning

I look up to the sky

guarded by tree branches

eyes closed I can picture

beyond the pine needles

comforted by the silence

I walk for about an hour

and then back again

wind picking up and the chill

makes me quiver and shake

my worries swirl around me

stolen by the air

time comes to mind

I try to push it out

forcefully, I fail

the hustle and bustle not forgotten

I was unaware for hours

In the breeze, in nature

nothing seems to matter

where I can just be me

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.

The World Can Wait…

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There were times when we had trouble together.

I lived one way and you the other but

We lived under the same roof

Shared chores, the same dining room table

 

Taking you to school seemed such a burden

Trying to keep track of you

I felt so much pressure around you

I was afraid to take a step this way or that

Our personalities so different

 

Today, you are grown

With a family of your own

 

I see photos of you with your son,

Your wife to be, and your step-daughter

 

Where did this softness come from…?

I always knew you loved our family

But the love for your own…

Takes my breath away

 

I always wished you would have this

A special gift waiting around the next corner of life

But you waited and it came to you…

 

I keep hearing in my head

“the world will wait, my son”

And my eyes are wide open

My heart full…

 

Life will not always be perfect

Marriage and being a parent is hard work

But I am thrilled you have found your

Family…to complete you.

You always said you would protect us

Now, them…

 

Your life is full, my brother

“and the world can wait”

for you to relish in today

Book Review!!

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Darcy, we loved reading your book! Grace says, “you made the best book that I like.” We loved learning all about the hazelnut orchard.  So, proud of you!

 

For the Love of Farming

 

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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.

Life Is Short

Flame by Foreigner

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I have been reminded lately that life is so short.  Things can change in the blink of an eye and some people don’t see it coming at all.  It feels like running full speed ahead into a brick wall and I won’t break threw it, I bounce back on my butt as if I was a rubber ball hitting that wall.

In the last week, I have found out that one of my family’s dearest friends has cancer. He has just started chemo but his hands are full with work, his other children, and fiancé’. It is the most wonderful person and has been in our lives for the past 13 years.  He has a wonderful sense of humor which I believe will take him far in this journey.  I saw him before his treatment and I love this guy so much and we have gone through so much in our sudo-family that I couldn’t hold back some tears.  I think I hugged him like four times and at the end he was reassuring me that everything would be fine.

Last night I got a call while I was watching a movie that someone I love with my whole heart, had fallen and was taken by ambulance to the hospital with a concussion and doctors were taking x-rays of her entire body.  Again, I was again reminded- life is so short.  Thankfully, she will only be bruised and sore but she was taken home last night.  My children saw the entire fall happen and were great helpers but I could see the worry in their eyes.

I didn’t sleep well last night.  My mind filled with love and prayer for these two people and their families.  Life changes quickly.  My friends and family were lucky at least for yesterday, they are lucky, because things could have been much worse! I have this strong desire to seize the day, carpe diem, or whatever mantra you believe in.

Care for the people who care for you and care of the people who just need to be cared for whether you know them or not.  Show the world you are kind and do something for someone else this weekend without expecting anything in return.  Pray for more kindness and always have faith.

Light

 

Burning Christmas candles
Seasonal background with an array of burning Christmas candles with festive twinkling flames on a black background with shallow dof

But what kind of Light?

Light that squeezes tightly through an old fashion key hole

Light that drips up over the edge of a mountain and fills a valley

Light that breaks through the heavily wooded Douglas fir trees down to the moist soil

Sticks crack and break under my feet

Light paints the sky and slowly fills the Grand Canyon glowing in pinks, oranges, and yellows

Light sparkles from a diamond when the sun hits it just right

Light I invite into my home as I pull the blinds every morning filling the house room by room

Light means something different to everyone.  It can be used in many sentences in many different ways. But for today.  Light is how my soul feels.

I love book reviews!!

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Just read the book Grandpa’s Orchard. It is a children’s book based on a true story of an Oregon family hazelnut farm! Oh and the author is my friend Darcy Kirk. It is the cutest story and very informational on how hazelnuts are grown! I learned things about hazelnuts that I never knew before! So proud of Darcy for believing in herself enough to dream big and to follow through on her dreams! It is a great book and anxious to give copies to my grandkids! Congratulations Darcy, be proud of yourself and write more books!!

Thank you, Barb!! It means so much that you like the book!  You will always be like a second mom to me!! Thank you for all your support of the many years of my life!!