Thursday, May 31, 2012

Huge Success Of Volunteer's Work

Top Gun Volunteer Crew, Lee, Tony, and John
It is often hard to believe how much work it takes to run a farm, especially when the only field hands I have on the farm are my right and left hands.  Today, other than my steady good friend Tony, who has logged more hours on my farm than Andy Griffith Show repeats, I was astonished to get two enthusiastic worker from Columbia South Carolina.

Lee Snelgrove and John Codega are avid home brewers and potential commercial brewers who responded to a facebook invite to any home brewer that wanted to come out to the farm and learn all there is to growing hops while getting their hands dirty.  They did just that and are scheduled to come out tomorrow as well, depending on their ability to iron out some muscles and avoid some potential rain. 

How a row of hops looked before pruning
The above photo is how one of my 8 rows of hops looked before the never ending pruning and weeding that must be done every week if you have the time.  I obviously don't. (Could it be that there is a dozen other never ending jobs?)

  And this "after" shot, shows what every hop yard ought to look like!  How can I thank these guys for getting half of my rows done today. 

A documentary film crew is scheduled to arrive at the farm Saturday and hops are the focus.   Thanks Tony, Lee, and John for all the help to make things look right.
Field boss with volunteer crew

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Video Featuring The Hop'n Blueberry Farm

Susanne Hackett and video producer Chris Gallaway came out to the farm to film my farm in a portion of the new promotional video for the Buncombe County Greenways.  This is an excellent short video and I am very proud just to be part of it. 

This week there is more filming news here on the farm.  I will post up some information on this in the following days.  A documentary film crew has been filming here in the Asheville area and will be highlighting my farm.  Hint it is big and it is about beer!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tours Have Begun At The Farm.

Tours have officially begun at the Hop'n Blueberry Farm today.  We have a limited number of Monarchs right now because of the April freeze that also severely damaged our blueberries and Monarch caterpillars.  Good news is that they are reproducing and more are on the way.  We do have 5 other native species of butterflies in the flight house now as well.

Flowers are coming in and many new species of wild flowers have been added to the farm this year.  We are also moving into our development and education to for the establishment of habitats for native pollinators.  Many other exciting things are happening on the farm as well.

We have hops that are blooming and baby cones forming, we have ample milkweed, we have a limited number of blueberries (also due to the freeze) and of course we have plenty of exciting tours awaiting those that want to learn about everything from native pollinators to alternative energy. 

Come visit at our regular tour times on Saturdays at 12 noon and 2 pm or schedule a different time.  We can accommodate groups, including schools, day camps, reunions, group picnics and lots more.  Don't forget that we also sponsor Special hop tours and workshops as well as on hand experience in the hop yard. These events can be scheduled during the season.

Get in contact with us.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Heavy Working Volunteers Invade The Farm Today

If there is one thing I can say about how hard it is to farm by yourself, especially in the ripe ages of 60, it is that when you can beg enough to gain a sympathetic ear and people respond, YOU LISTEN!  Which is exactly what happened today. 

Matt McComish, a young aspiring professional Vermont Brewer, and Tony Mackley, ole buddy from the 70's who's eager help here on the farm and homestead has been steadfast and brilliant without reward, came out today for a marathon of old fashion hard manual labor! 

It was Matt's second visit and Tony's untold work days here at the farm, and I put them to the limit of some of the most back-breaking work that I needed here at the Hop'n Blueberry Farm--  The physical transport of thousands of pounds of mulch onto several traveled miles of  hand transported wheelbarrowed and shoveled material.

In the above photo, the boys are standing in the remains of a 5 foot tall mound of pine mulch.  Me, I was barely able to hold my camera up to take the picture.  (Notice in the background, there is another bigger pile of mulch!)  Wow, how much labor, how much time!

Matt, who came to me from a post on facebook by Susanne Hackett,  the owner of Pollinate Collaborations who is now doing a fantastic job marketing for the Buncombe County Greenways.  She also  works at The Wedge Brewery. When Matt saw this post posted on the Wedge Brewing, his one minute response got him out here two days later!  Wow, I am a believer!

Before I leave this post, I would like to say something more about Matt.  This guy has come out to work at the farm now twice.  Both times he RODE HIS BICYCLE OUT HERE FROM ASHEVILLE!  What about that?? 

And one last plug for my ole friend Tony, or "Mack" as I call him.  This guy is as young as me, but still begs for as much physical labor as I can dish out, or at least as we think before tomorrow!~

This is the last pic of what needs to be done for my hops, it is called pruning, pruning, and more pruning.  Look at me smug face after Matt and I spent 40 minutes pruning one 60 foot row of hops!  The left side is done, the right side beckons only after two weeks of the last visit.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Carolina Butterfly Society Tours the Farm

Saturday, members of the Carolina Butterfly Society paid the farm a visit as part of their mountain tour.  It was a brief visit, and they were busy looking for butterflies the whole time.  Unfortunately, there were very few to see. 

Dennis Burnette, first on the left, it comes to be, is a fourth cousin of mine.  I think he felt the pull of the family as he wandered on the farm which is located just 1.3 miles from where our ancestors first settled these mountain in 1797.

Most agreed that a summer time visit during the height of butterfly and flowering season would be a great thing to do.  I suggested July, the peak time for butterflies at the farm.

Notice the milk(weed) maiden in the photo

Meanwhile, I am nurturing six, I repeat only six, monarch cats from a very weak showing of monarchs returning from Mexico to lay eggs on my milkweed patch this year.  I only counted two females laying eggs around April 4.  It is widely thought that the monarchs outran the emerging milkweed due to prevailing winds and warm temperatures.

I was lucky to find those six 1/8 inch long caterpillars.  The hard freeze that wiped out my blueberries and damaged my hops was also responsible for killing the early hatched caterpillars.  Hopefully, these six will be the start of many more to come this summer.