Weekend Coffee Share: Best Apple Orchard in Minnesota

If we were having coffee, I would, right away, ask if you’ve heard the news.  Well… actually, if you’ve seen the news.  Because, oh boy, is it exciting!  One of my state’s top news networks does a “Best in Minnesota” feature and their most recent focus was Best Apple Orchard.  My family owns an apple orchard!  We found out about the contest a couple of weeks ago and, right away, launched a social media campaign to get everyone we know voting.  I kept the news off WordPress, but was fairly obnoxious with my Facebook posts.

Anyways, we WON the competition and can now say that Pleasant Valley Orchard is the best in Minnesota!

My family's apple orchard, taken at sunset last Saturday.
Panorama of our orchard, taken last weekend at sunset.

On Tuesday, a reporter and videographer from WCCO came out and shot footage for a story on our farm.  I took a class on visual journalism last year and watching them work was fascinating.  They clearly came with a vision for the story and, right as they popped out of their vehicle, got to work filming.  My entire family was there and we showed them all around our farm, telling them the history, and sharing stories.  We were all interviewed, which was fun.

If you’re interested in seeing the story, hop along to the WCCO website!  When it aired, we watched it three times in a row. It really is a lovely story–it captures the essence of who my family is, what we do, and where I come from.  My interview didn’t make the cut, but no tears were shed over that.  I’ll leave the spotlight to my parents and brothers.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that being the Best Apple Orchard in Minnesota also has negative consequences.  As soon as the story aired, we had a significant increase in traffic.  Friday had crowds like a slow Saturday and I worked for ten hours straight assembling bakery products, packing apples, and mowing as much as I could before the sun set.  Yesterday (Saturday), I worked in the store all day and now understand what it feels like to work retail on Black Friday.  It was the busiest day we have EVER had in the 23 years we have been open.  Working the cash register, I did nothing but smile and crunch numbers for eight hours straight.  We were short-staffed and, as a result, didn’t get lunch breaks.  Our bakery products were gone by three and we sold all of the 700 caramel apples that had been made for the weekend.  (Our baker had to work extra to make more.)

Before we opened, I prayed to Jesus and asked Him to make me an extrovert for the day.  It didn’t work.  My brain was total mush by 2 PM and my stomach growled most of the day.  At one point mid-afternoon, I turned to my coworker and declared, “I want to die.”

Nevertheless, I’m still alive and so are my parents.  It took a couple of hours to get all the post-closing chores done, but when they were, we went out for fancy steak dinner.  Because we deserved it.

If we were having coffee, I’d let you know that, even though exhausted, I was awake from 2:30-5 AM simply because my body was so wired from the day’s work.  Instead of rolling around for hours, I climbed out of bed, made a cup of hot cocoa, climbed back into bed, and watched Netflix.  I would have preferred sleeping, but Netflix is good too.

It’s now my day off.  THANK GOODNESS.  If I have my way, I’m spending the entire day in my pajamas, indulging in more Netflix, cleaning my room, and catching up on blogging goals.  The sad thing is, I’ll probably end up having to work.

Enough of my complaints.  I’m turning things over to you.  How has your week been?  What would you share over coffee?

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share link up at Part Time Monster.

Orchard Moments: The Open Sign is Out!

After two solid weeks of wiping, washing, digging, painting, picking, sorting, stacking, pricing, arranging, mowing, and so on, my family’s apple orchard is open for the season!

Now that we have customers everywhere and staff behind counters, my summer hermit ways are a thing of the past.  I enjoyed the solitude of working alone (minus those six hours deep cleaning the kitchen), but have missed seeing people.

We’ve got a wonderful crew of people on staff this year, from the retired men who pick apples to the high schoolers who wash them and the kind-hearted ladies who staff our store.  One of my old church friends bakes for us four days a week, which is an absolute treat.  It’s a pleasure to laugh and make jokes with someone that isn’t my parent or sibling!

Stop by this time next week for more about what it’s like to live on an apple orchard.

Closed for the Season

Well, friends.  Strawberry season has come and gone.  Thank goodness.

IMG_5118-0I’m not going to lie, I’m happy to see it go.  Although it was our shortest season yet (clocking in at two and a half weeks of picking), it felt like my family’s pick-your-own patch was open forever.  For two weeks, I was in the fields every day without break.  Although things slowed down significantly after the 4th of July passed, I got really sick of making small talk and trying to find pleasant ways to explain why the berries at the end of the season were smaller than those at the beginning.

Now that we’ve closed, it’s back to full-time fieldwork.  We’ve been hard at work during the non-open hours  over the past few weeks fighting what I affectionately call the Battle of the Weeds.  Now that we don’t have customers consuming all our time, a few days of solid hoeing should help us finally gain ground in our newer strawberry fields.

Now that we’ve closed, I get an extra half hour of sleep every night.

Now that we’ve closed, I hope to spend less evenings crashed on the couch and more on my bike.

Now that we’ve closed, I ACTUALLY need to figure out what I’m doing with my life.  (But more on that later.)

Here’s to the end of a short, but good season!  If you need me, I’ll either be sleeping or pulling weeds.