All Aboard Harvest | Laura: A blue kind of harvest
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Laura: A blue kind of harvest

Laura: A blue kind of harvest

East Texas—I have good news and bad news. I’ll let you guess which is which. The crew made it south safely, is in place and ready to cut in north Texas. To celebrate, Mother Nature welcomed High Plains Harvesting to the state with another major rainstorm which added moisture to already saturated fields. Consequently, harvest is delayed yet again.

Since we can’t talk wheat now, maybe you would enjoy talking blueberries. The children and I recently visited Blueberry Hill Farms, which is a “pick-your-own” farm, on our summer bucket list. Even though we are directly involved in production agriculture, this crop is completely out of our wheelhouse. Since I’m a firm believer in our children learning and experiencing where their food comes from, this outing was a must do.

A unique thing about this operation is that the family wasn’t always in farming, but purchased the property to have a change of pace from city life. The owners, Chuck and Sherri, were kind enough to talk shop with me between helping customers.

As you can imagine, managing orchards and a country store is labor intensive and time consuming. I was told they start prepping for their season in the winter and work 7 days a week to prepare for opening day. The season doesn’t end when the picking is over. Pruning, orchard maintenance and other responsibilities take many more months thereafter to complete.

Like those of us in the grain business, weather can be one of the biggest factors of concern for orchards, too. Blueberry Hill Farms hasn’t been immune from the extreme weather that has affected much of the central U.S. this spring. Most recently, the farm avoided area tornadoes but the rain has been unusually plentiful like many parts of the country. Blueberries need moisture, but they aren’t a crop that enjoys having their “feet” excessively wet, so on heavier soils this abundance can become a problem. Despite the recent rain, they were irrigating the day of our visit, because this particular field sits on a patch of sandier soil. They irrigate 12 rows at a time. They typically do this for an hour before moving to the next set of rows. During the extreme heat of July, they increase the watering from one to four hours a day per section and it takes them 16 hours to complete their cycles across all the rows.

To compliment the picking experience, the family also operates an onsite country store. It boasts products such as jellies, honey, baked goods and donuts made in house. We had a great time picking berries and enjoying some of the delicious baked products the store offered. My only regret from our outing is that we didn’t pick an even bigger bag of berries!

High Plains Harvesting 2019
Welcome to Blueberry Hill Farms! (Photo by Laura Haffner)

High Plains Harvesting 2019 - Photo by Laura
The country store. (Photo by Laura Haffner)

High Plains Harvesting 2019 - Photo by Laura
What fun it is to harvest you own food! Doesn’t get any fresher than this! (Photo by Laura Haffner)

High Plains Harvesting 2019 - Photo by Laura
While only a small view of the actual orchard, this is what the rows of blueberry plants look like. The irrigation tubes run down the center and drips on the plants. (Photo by Laura Haffner)

High Plains Harvesting 2019 - Photo by Laura
A close-up of the drip irrigation system. Much different than the central pivot circles we harvest! (Photo by Laura Haffner)

High Plains Harvesting 2019 - Photo by Laura
A few of their other products. (Photo by Laura Haffner)

High Plains Harvesting 2019 - Photo by Laura
The owners generously offered us a sample of their famous “Blueberries and Cream” pie. The recipe is a secret and no, they didn’t offer it for the blog though they have other recipes here. Y’all, I’m not normally a fan of any type of fruit pie, but I tried this and it was amazing! No wonder they don’t share the recipe! (Photo by Laura Haffner)

High Plains Harvesting 2019
As if blueberries aren’t enough, the farm also makes fresh donuts! (Photo by Laura Haffner)

High Plains Harvesting 2019
Little Man holding his donut. The sugar coated were my favorite and had been fried to perfection! (Photo by Laura Haffner)

All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Laura Haffner can be reached at laura@allaboardharvest.com.

6 Comments
  • Martha McClelland
    Posted at 10:51h, 11 June

    Very interesting article, summer fun for the family. Hope the rain soon subsides and the harvest can begin. Enjoy your articles and following the harvest!

    • Laura Haffner
      Posted at 10:10h, 12 June

      Thanks, Marcy! We’ve had several good days of running before another storm this morning!

  • jim scott
    Posted at 07:10h, 12 June

    i love blueberrys i actually have some wild blue berrys growing around the many springs on our farm in south carolina. they are hard to find when the berrys are gone . the berrys are smaller but taste very good, but it thakes a while to get enough for a pie…

    • Laura Haffner
      Posted at 10:11h, 12 June

      Very cool! So different than our part of the world in western KS! Thanks for sharing your insight about wild berries!

  • Tom Stegmeier
    Posted at 20:14h, 17 June

    Isn’t so nice to pick such fresh berries , The majority of the blueberries grown in western Canada come from the Fraser valley in B.C, As a child many years ago we picked wild Saskatoons on the head lands of the fields in August. ,there would be Mom ,my two aunts plus myself I was picked to go with them over my cousins because they would eat more then they picked . Aunt Rose would set a quota of how many gallons needed to be picked for jams , frozen to make pies & many other treats .Growing up in a Ukrainian family & community was my childhood .

    • Laura Haffner
      Posted at 18:07h, 18 June

      I love this story, Tom! I wish there was more of an emphasis on community today! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.