Making the Best of It

We have decided to take a philosophical approach to the 2020 season. We know we aren’t going to have peaches. Okay. We are watching the blueberries, and so far, so good. We are turning the ground today to get ready to plant sunflowers. We learned a lot last year and we are using that knowledge to make a bigger and better sunflower patch.

The apples are looking pretty good, but there are trees with no apples on them, but we are going to be cautiously optimistic and hope for the best.

Yes, we are going to have to be a bit more creative this year, not only because of the weather, but because of the social distancing and the new way of life that will, apparently, be around for a while. We are determined to have a good season and look forward to seeing all of our customers again. It will be different, but we are fortunate that so much of our business is outdoors, so there will be a few modifications, but we are up to the challenge.

Hopefully, we will have blueberries the first week of July and that is just about my favorite time of year. It is definitely something to look forward to!

The Year That Was

Where do you start? This has been a year that we will never forget and not in a good way. The ripple effect of the virus is just mind boggling and it is affecting all of us, especially those of us with small businesses. We had planned to have a few activities during April and we also had several field trips booked and, of course, all of that went away. We are trying to stay optimistic about the rest of the year. That has been made even harder with the loss of the entire peach crop due to the late freeze a few weeks ago. The trees were loaded with peaches and we were even concerned about how we were going to harvest all of them. Well, we don’t have to worry about that any more. It has been heartbreaking to walk through the orchard and see the peachless trees.

So, onward and upward. We are now planning to open July 4th weekend for blueberry picking. It looks like the latest cold snap didn’t do any damage to the berries, so we are keeping our fingers crossed. The blackberries should be right behind them and be ready by the middle of July. We are planning to have the blueberry pancake breakfast on Saturday, July 11. As with everything, that is tentative until we get closer and see how things are going.

In spite of all the craziness, we are looking forward to a great 2020 season and whatever it turns out to be, we will be fine.

Rain, rain and then more rain

Here we are less than 2 months before our first event and we are unable to get much done as we sit and watch it rain. And rain. I thought this was one of the wettest Februarys on record, but turns out, it doesn’t even crack the top 20. I shudder at the thought.

We are hoping to make some additions to the orchard layout by moving an unused grain bin to over by the sunflower patch. We are planning to make it a multi purpose building with electricity that will enhance the look and activities at the orchard. If it ever stops raining, we will pour the concrete pad and get it moved.

The warm weather has the trees confused and they are trying to bud. Hopefully, they will hold off for a few more weeks. It seems we always have something to contend with regarding Mother Nature all of the time. Oh yeah, we’re farmers.

We have a new dog at the orchard and he has wormed his way into our hearts, big time. Tuff is a border collie with lots of energy and curiosity. After having laid back Huck for 10 years, having a puppy has certainly changed the dynamics of our lives. We have had him for almost 2 months now and things are beginning to level out. He is very affectionate and has to be near one of us at all times. I think we will keep him.

We are going to be optimistic and look forward to our first event the weekend of April 18 and 19. We are counting on the trees being in full bloom and the weather to be spectacular. It will be a perfect weekend to enjoy one of the several events going on: painting party in the orchard, lunch and learn with local historians, learning the craft of stamping and bird watching/photography. It’s going to be a great way to enjoy the orchard in full bloom.

2020!

It just sounds so futuristic! As I sit here in our office, I am watching it continue to rain. Everything is so soggy and with the temps predicted to drop over the next 24 hours, it will not be fun.

We are beginning to plot and plan for our 12th season. We hope it will be our best season ever. We will be adding a few new things, nothing massive, but just trying to keep it interesting.

One of the biggest changes is Farmer Tom took out about 40 trees in the orchard, including most of the original trees planted over 20 years ago. We are hopeful that getting rid of the older trees that had gotten to big to prune and harder to pick, will improve the health of the rest of the trees. Time will tell. Of course, he will be planting more trees in the next few months as he does every year, but it has changed the look of the orchard for sure. We are optimistic that improvements have been made.

The next couple of months will be planning time and we will be attending the 2020 Pick TN conference in Franklin TN in February. We always get new ideas and get inspired there.

We hope 2020 will be the best year for you and we look forward to you visiting the orchard later this year.

Another Great Weekend

To say the past weekend was a huge success is really an understatement. We are so grateful to the Robertson County Chamber for having the second annual Experience Robertson County and letting us be a part of it for the second year. So many people who live in Robertson County have never been to the orchard and this event brings those folks out who can see what we have to offer. We probably had close to 1000 people visit us on Saturday.

Then, expecting a quiet Sunday, we were busy with apple pickers and even had a Girl Scout troop visit. They picked apples and earned a badge. It was a fun day and it went by so quickly.

There are still apples to pick! It was interesting to have folks go out and some came back saying they could not find any good apples and others came back with baskets full of beautiful apples. One woman, with 3 baskets full, told me you just had to be dedicated. I was impressed with her dedication, especially in the miserable heat. It really doesn’t feel like apple picking weather, but we have had so many brave the heat and we are most appreciative.

I will be posting on Facebook late Wednesday after I have gone out in the orchard to see where there are still apples to pick. Folks always want to know what kinds are out there to pick an I hope I can figure out what is what and let everyone know what is available.

We are forever grateful that people continue to find us and come visit as we continue our 11th season. What a ride.

Apple picking is almost done!

We are so appreciative of all of the people who have come out to pick apples at Shade Tree this year. Most people think of apple picking in October, wearing sweaters and drinking hot cider, but in Tennessee, we do start earlier. This year, it was even earlier.

It was another great weekend at the orchard and I so enjoy seeing the full baskets of big, beautiful apples coming into the store.

This weekend will be another big weekend as we are a stop for Robertson County Chamber’s Experience Robertson County. We are one of 11 stops for this eventful day. What a great way to get out and see all that Robertson County has to offer and to see what a beautiful county we have to call home. We will still be picking apples this weekend, but this will probably be the last weekend to find lots of apples. There will always be apples in the store and we will continue to let folks pick for another few weeks.

Every year, we grow and every year we have new customers, which we love. We also have customers who have made a trip to Shade Tree an annual tradition and that really warms our hearts.

Thank you!

o

Great holiday weekend.

We are recovering from a wonderful weekend at the orchard! We had so many people come out to pick apples and visit the store. It is always fun to see the little ones pick their first apple. One little one was just beginning to talk and added the word “apple” to her vocabulary. So sweet.

We are already nearing the end of pick your own. Because the apples were ready early, this was our 3rd weekend for picking. There are still some apples to be picked and we will continue pick your own for the next 2 weeks. We will always have apples in the store and we have some fun events coming up that we’re looking forward to at the orchard.

On Saturday, September 14, it’s the 2nd annual Experience Robertson County. There will be events and activities in all 11 towns in the county. We are one of the 2 stops in Adams and we had such a big day last year and anticipate an even bigger day this year. So many folks that live close by, that had never been to our orchard, came by and got to see what we do at Shade Tree. The only down thing to the day is that we can’t get out and visit the other 10 communities. Each one is different and offer something unique.

We are excited about our second pancake breakfast happening on October 5. The first one in July was so successful, so we thought we would do it again More details on that later.

Thanks to everyone who came out and made our weekend so successful! We have the best customers!!