This photo pretty much sums up my week:
It’s the time of the year where the days are reasonably warm and good for growing, but nights are cold. Our strawberry fields are beginning to bloom and the tiniest bit of frost destroys the flowers. No flowers, no strawberries, no income.
Most strawberry patches deal with frost via irrigation. Since we’re a small, family-run operation, we don’t have the funds or water capacity for this. So we take another route: frost blankets.
The method is simple: Spread the blanket over a field, hold down the edges with boards and sandbags, pull the edges snug, and voila! Actually, it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s the kind of job where the devil is in the details. There’s countless places where, if you make a wrong move, you royally screw things up. For instance, you have to know which side of the field to roll the blanket out. If you put it on the wrong side, you have the wind working against you. You also have to make sure all the sides are tight and even as you go along putting the weights on the side–if the blanket is diagonal, it’s easier for the wind to catch it and blow it away. Also, you need to be VERY careful where you pull because those things tear easily. The whole process takes at least an hour per field.
Because of all the particulars, my dad usually does the entire job himself. Which, if you ask me, is absolutely insane. However, he threw his back out last week, so this year it was up to Sam and I to save the fields from their cold nemesis.
The most frustrating part of the job is that it feels very pointless. We spend a day and a half getting the blankets perfectly placed only to roll them back up two days later. It’s maddening! And it’s hard work! All the bending, crouching, and lifting is an incredible workout. I’ve slept like a rock the past few nights.
Other Jobs This Week:
- Fill sandbags
- Haul all the brush in the orchard
- Mow everything
- Pull plastic (I’ll explain this in a future post)
- Spread fertilizer
High: Dad bought us yogurt covered pretzels as a reward for finishing placing frost covers.
Low: The weather conditions were absolutely miserable early this week. Mornings were in the thirties and drizzly. In order to keep from freezing, layers are KEY. On Monday I wore: leggings, sweats, a t-shirt, sweatshirt, oversize flannel, jacket, thin winter gloves, work gloves, winter hat… and I was STILL cold. Also, Sam threw a big piece of brush at me, which resulted in a big cut in my chin.
Here are just a few of the strawberry fields all happily tucked in and ready to resist the frost!
Stop by next week for more orchard adventures!