Well, we were a bit busy and December slipped by us before a December update was created. So this will be a December/January blog, but there is much to tell. December is always a busy time of year for this family. There is the decorating for Christmas at our own houses and at St. Paul’s Church. We were able to attend the annual “Breakfast with Santa”, a Cheat Lake Sailors 4-H fund raiser that Kim is a big part of, and of course we spent time shopping for everyone.
We always get a chance to fellowship with our friends at Christmas gatherings and the annual church dinner. On Christmas Eve, we gather for candlelight services in our beautiful family church, St. Paul’s Lutheran where we celebrate the true reason for the season.
In the midst of all of this- WE BUILT A HIGH TUNNEL! We fought weather and wind, but the frame is up, the plastic is on, and we have run the water line to it. Still lots of work to do before it’s complete, but we are well on our way to season extension. This will allow us to do so many things that Aurora weather isn’t favorable for. It’s nothing unusual to see very late Spring frost, snow on Easter, or an early snow in October. We are very excited but a little nervous, too. We just got a routine down and now we have some learning to do all over again. We have some great people we can call on for advice and we plan to do exactly that when we need to.
We have very high hopes for the future of agriculture in the State of West Virginia. Commissioner Helmick has made great strides in the Farm to School program along with other agricultural opportunities. We hope this progress continues year after year. Providing fresh food in our schools and our communities is crucial to improving the health and the economic future of West Virginia. We are very proud to be a part of this amazing movement.
We are already busy planning our 2015 season. We will be adding a few crops that we didn’t have in 2014. Turnips and parsnips will be on our list and our asparagus will finally be available. Some things will not be back. We just weren’t able to move them. Some items will be reduced while others that we had high demand for and sold well will be increased, such as our spinach and lettuces.
The one thing that we have been told over and over again is that we need to grow STRAWBERRIES! Debbie and Darla both grew up growing them. The one thing that the four of us have agreed on is that we can’t pick all those strawberries by ourselves. So, how do we overcome that obstacle? The answer is to offer a “You Pick” operation. We will grow them and we’re counting on you to come pick them. That is exactly what David and Delores did back when they were growing them. People came from miles around. We will still have obstacles we will need to overcome like frost and disease control, but you have asked and we are going to try and deliver. Ask us how to get on the list to be notified when they are ready.
In 2014 we were learning as we were going, but we couldn’t help but laugh every time we thought back to how our forefathers did it and the equipment they had to use to do it. We get so many of our answers and ideas from the internet, but back then, it was much trial and error. Talking with their neighbors, and relying on the WVU extension office for advice. Extension celebrated 100 years of existence and we are grateful they are still around. We did have a bit of sadness connected with Extension as one of our great allies and go to gals, Jennifer Poling, left Tucker County extension to pursue other endeavors. We will miss you Jennifer and wish you much success (but don’t think we won’t call you- we know where you live.) Just kidding. She was instrumental in getting the Vested Heirs girls into Annie’s Project 1 and 2, where we made great contacts and learned much about keeping track of our expenses.
There were several times this year when we went digging through barns to find pieces of our past to help with our present. We used the Allis Chalmers G to cultivate our corn when it was small. This amazing little tractor was only made between the years 1949 and 1955, but is an extremely sought after machine for small farms. It had several implements including cultivators, plows, cutter bar, belly mower, rear tiller and a few others. Some we have and some we wish we had, but we are grateful it is still around. Darla and Debbie’s dad restored it before he passed and now it is back in operation at Vested Heirs.
We used the hydraulic post driver in the creation of our electric fence, without which we would have been doing nothing more than feeding deer. The no till drill helped us reseed one of our fields so that we could bring a former corn field back into hay production, much better than just broadcasting the seed and hoping it took. We used the disk, the corn planter, the plows, a stainless steel sink from the dairy days and so many other things from the farming days of past generations.
When it came time to dig and sort our new red potatoes we used the strawberry graders from the mid 1960s to weed out the tiny ones and help knock off some of the dirt for storage. The graders were in operation when David and Delores started growing strawberries and the girls were small. Luckily, we sold the potatoes and we didn’t have to store them long. We hope to increase the production on that crop this year.
We used the hay wagons to harvest and cure our winter squash and pumpkins. We added some pallets to give us a second layer, but they came in handy for our bountiful harvest.
At the end of the season, we needed a way to take up our drip line. We got to thinking that a piece of equipment that the girls’ grandfather, Fred, used during his days of the original Aurora Phone Company would work. The cable wheel they used to wind up phone line and later high tensile fencing came in really handy because you could wind up the drip tape, split the wheel and take off the drip tape. Old technology with a new purpose.
Our history is rich and we are grateful that their legacy lives on in this and the next generations.
So with great gratitude we look back over 2014 and all that we accomplished and with great anticipation we look forward to 2015 and all that it holds. Our wee farmers will be back to help us and their antics will keep us laughing as we tend the crops. With the good Lords help, we will enjoy another bountiful harvest. May you and your family have a healthy and happy New Year. We will be back providing you with fresh produce before you know it.