Last week there were two Rogue Farm Corps classes! Integrated pest management and Apple Outlaw orchards. It was a very exciting week for visiting farms and learning new things!
The first was on Thursday and it was about integrated pests management. We learned about different pests and then we went out to some gardens and practiced identifying them. We spent a lot of time on aphids and parasitic wasps. Parasitic wasps are pretty amazing when it comes to killing aphids. The females lay their egg inside the aphid and the wasp grows inside the aphid, essentially turning the aphid into a mummy when the wasp is ready to leave its host and enter the world. The signs for Aphids are sticky stuff on your fruit trees and they are typically under damaged leaves with spots on them. We used some really cool bug catchers, they worked like a suction! It felt kind of like ghost busters, but for bugs instead of ghosts.
The second class, on Sunday, was at an apple orchard. The name of the farm is called Apple Outlaw. It’s on Thompson Creek in Applegate, OR. The farm started out selling organic apples, but they struggled because there delicious organic apples didn’t always look so great, so people didn’t want to buy them. So, they started pressing them and making juice. But, recently they have expanded to making hard cider. They are trying to grow lots of varieties of apples now and continue to expand their cider business. The cider business, like a lot of businesses, has a lot of competition. So, you have to make cider that not only stands out, but also tastes good, and then you need to be able to market it! It’s a family business, and everyone seems to play their role pretty well. They seem to be doing a really good job business wise. We learned a little bit about grafting trees, and got to check out a lot of his grafts. Before Apple Outlaw bought the land there was a lot of red delicious trees, which nobody really likes and it doesn’t really make great cider, so they’ve been grafting off of a lot of those trees. We also learned about pruning, which seems like it’s something that the more I hear about it the more I feel that I need to actually do the pruning to understand what’s happening with the tree. Overall was a good experience.
Speaking of fruit tress, this week has been the week of thinning (not pruning) at White Oak. Thinning is when you remove some of the fruit from the tree so that you A) leave room for the other fruit to grow B) Limit bruises and places for pests to go crazy C) Save your branches from breaking by removing some of the weight from the tree. That’s been the main focus of the week, other than harvesting and preschool. This week was animal themes for preschool. We focused on the life cycle of animals and how each animal was given something to help them survive here on earth. We also made masks and spent hours harvesting raspberries for snack 🙂 Little kids are exhausting. Especially 14 kids around 3-6 years old.
Friday I technically had the day off, but I chose to put in some extra hours. I helped Taylor and his friend Josh cut down some trees and strip the bark of them to make posts. The posts are for a building that the farm is currently writing a grant for. It was very hard work and I’m very sore today. I was expecting it to be a little easier. It was in the shade, which is a nice bonus when you’ve been in the 90 degree sun all week. Although I was so covered in mosquito bites and poison oak by the end of it that I think I would have chosen the sun.
Saturday was a day of blueberry picking and swimming! The farm crew went and picked blueberries. There were 5 of us and we each picked over 10 lbs! We are going to make cheesecake, jams, pancakes, and freeze a bunch too; but for now I just made some muffins with cinnamon sugar on top 🙂 YUMMM! I ate so many blueberries, it was blueberry heaven. Then we went down to the Applegate river and went swimming. There were a lot of people there; drinking beer, floating of rafts, barbecuing. It was a really strange scene coming from the farm. It’s always funny to get a taste of America after being on the farm for a long period of time.
The 4th of July will not be very exciting here! We are not allowed to have fireworks, because we are officially in extreme fire danger season. This means no running a weed whacker during the day, no fireworks, absolutely no fires. When I get home the first rain we have I’m just going to go run around in it. It’s only been 3 weeks since the last rain and I already miss it so much. I won’t see rain again until I get home. The second thing I’m going to do is have fire. I miss fire. There is a parade in Williams on the 4th, but I will be harvesting and working the market booth.
P.S. Happy early 4th of July to all of you out there! I hope those of you on the east coast get to see some nice fireworks! Enjoy them for me 🙂