Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why do you PYO at Butternut Farm?

Butternut Farm's strawberry queen Betty!  Apparently she found some good picking on this trip to the strawberry patch.  Maybe she needed another container? 
 Today's date is February 18th 2014, the snow is falling heavy this afternoon in New Hampshire which makes it a great day to post a blog!  Typically this time of year I'm busy pruning apple trees, blueberry bushes, and repainting signs (This farm has a lot of them).
Farmer Giff busy pruning apple trees.  Not a lot of conversation to be had this time of year on the farm so my mind wonders
While doing these winter time tasks my brain often wonders to things like what makes our small pick your own fruit farm successful.  From what I can see people come for the fruit, time spent with a friend or loved one, time spent by themselves, the adventure of roaming the orchard to find the perfect apple, and yes some come just to pick the farmer's brain for fruit growing tips.
Good day for picking sweet cherries

apparently Mohammed picks just the best peaches
If your reason is one of these or another I think people just enjoy being here...  they may not be quite sure why but It just feels right!  I think its because while you are here there is grass under your feet and your busy gathering food.  Both of which scratch a very primal itch that is hard to reach in our modern lives. 
Probably around July 4th.  A great day for picking at Butternut.  Both Strawberries (foreground) and Raspberries (background) are available for picking at the same time.    

A solid weekend day during the fall harvest!  I wonder how many found their perfect apple?
Whatever your reason be sure visit Butternut Farm for some pick your own fruit this coming season.  Make some memories and enjoy the outdoors.  Hopefully you will come away with some snapshots that will be fun for you to look at during next winter's snow days, like these photos are for me! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


She is pretty handy with that saw. 
The lady wielding the Husqvarna saw in the picture is Dianne.  I should do a whole blog post just on her because most of the time it seems as if she is the one doing all the real "Farm" work at Butternut Farm.  Some of the tasks you might find her doing include mowing, plowing, chopping brush, seeding fields, occasionally some R+R (rocks and roots), and in the case of today's topic - orchard removal.
      Renewal I believe is the root of sound Horticulture.  Pruning a fruit tree is all about removing the older branch to allow a younger more fruitful branch to take its place.   Orchard removal is kinda like pruning the farm.  As you can see here in this picture Dianne is busy removing and older portion of our orchard to make room for a new planting of strawberries or maybe a more efficient orchard with current varieties of favor.  Now from this tree's perspective it may not make a lot of sense because this was a healthy productive tree that Dianne is cutting down.  However, from the whole farm management perspective removing this older portion of the orchard to make way for other crops makes a lot of sense.

Neatly done Dianne!  A row of Plums just cut down.

    I always like this kind of work because we get to roll up our sleeves, get a bit sweaty,  and by the end of the day we can see where we have been.  Typically there is some equipment involved which always makes it more entertaining.  In this case the before mentioned chain saw is used to cut the trees up.  Then we like to rent a chipper.  A big chipper to deal with all that brush.  I hate it when a piece of equipment slows down the pace of work so we are sure to get the hungry type of chipper that two people can't seem to feed fast enough.  Traditionally farmers have always just burned the brush that is created from orchard removal.  However after getting on the wrong side of the local Fire Dept a about 5 years ago I decided that the better way to handle the mess was to use a chipper.  And in hindsight chipping is the more sustainable approach because chips are simply spread over the field after the stumps are removed.  These chips will slowly decompose and supply valuable organic matter to feed the micro-organisms in our healthy soils here at Butternut Farm.
We feed it limbs and branches up to 8 inches in diameter.  This chipper turns an ugly field of brush into an easy to manage pile of chips.

    For those of you whom are regulars for the various pick your own seasons here at Butternut Farm you have grown accustomed to seeing changes in the farm every year.  This coming season of 2014 will be no different.  The 60 peach, 20 plum, and 170 apple trees which were removed this past November of 2013 should be noticeable in the farms landscape.  Hopefully however if I have done my job properly you will not notice it in the farm's supply of fresh ready to pick fruit because other trees have already be planted to replace this production.