Busy times at the orchard

I know I am terrible at updating our web site. I have the best intentions, so my road is well-paved.

We are so excited about the sunflowers. It is our first attempt at this and I can see now some changes we will have to make for next year. The first year is always a learning experience and this is no exception. The sunflowers are so tall and so pretty. We are working this week to make them accessible and have plenty of pretty spots for photos. We have even added a small play area that includes a large hill of dirt that we have named Sunflower Hill. The first time Farmer Tom had a hill of dirt, caused by a construction project, we were so amused that the grandchildren spent hours playing on that hill of dirt. So, we have incorporated one in the play area, again, the remnants of a project – graveling the parking area.

Apple season is just around the corner. The early apples are just about ripe. We continue to fight bitter rot that causes black spots on the apples, but there are plenty of pretty, unblemished apples out there. Galas are the first to be ready and it may be sooner than our planned opening date of August 31.

We are very thankful for the rain we had over the past 2 days. It was much needed as the grass was beginning to crunch when you walked across the yard. That should be the touch needed to get the rest of the sunflowers to go ahead and open up. They are gorgeous.

Come see us.

It’s Wednesday, so it must be raining

Boy, have we had the rain this year! Our peach crop was minimal at best and too much rain didn’t help any. It’s hard to get any mowing done, hay cut or anything outside when it is raining, which seems to be most of the time.

On the bright side, apples are looking good. We are keeping our fingers crossed that they stay that way. We will open Labor Day weekend for apple picking, but there is an outside chance that we will open earlier if the apples are ready.

Berries have been great and there are still berries to pick, both blueberries and blackberries. They continue to ripen and we should have berries until the end of July.

We have graveled the parking area which defines the parking area and eliminates getting stuck in the mud, which might be a problem if this rain continues. It was long overdue and we think it will make parking so much better.

We have done something new this year. We have planted a 1/4 acre of sunflowers. They are growing and should start blooming in another month. If all goes well, we will offer pick your own sunflowers, including a take home container, for $15. Bring the container back to get more and receive a $2 discount. We are watching and waiting to be sure we will have blooms, but they are looking good.

Hopefully, the rain will hold off some this weekend so we can get more berries picked. Optimism. My new middle name.

11th Season

It is hard to believe that this is our 11th season to be open. So much has happened over the years. We built the store in 2009 and added the cider production room in the back in 2010. One daughter married here at the orchard and, thanks to our five children and children in law, we grew from 2 grandchildren to 11 as of this year.

We are so lucky to live on a beautiful farm and we so enjoy sharing the farm with our customers and friends. It is so rewarding when a customer tells us that coming to pick apples at Shade Tree has become a family tradition.

We start this season with a pancake breakfast on July 6. We will be serving pancakes with or without our blueberries picked from our berry patch. We will also have some blackberries to munch as well. Farmer Tom and I are hoping the pancake breakfast will become another family tradition. It is our version of farm to table and that makes us happy.

Here’s to another 11 years!

Crazy Weather

The weather continues to be a factor at the orchard.  The peach trees are blooming and we are just crossing our fingers and hoping that we will still have peaches after all of the warm then cold then warm weather we have been having.  Farmer Tom has been busy pruning when weather permits.

The blueberry bushes are beginning to bud and that makes me happy.  I think blueberries just picked are about the best thing I’ve ever put in my whole mouth.  There is nothing like it.

Our festival is a couple of weeks away and we are looking forward to kicking off the season with that.  We will have activities for all ages and Kids Zone on Saturday with a bounce house and other fun things for the kids.

It’s still hard to believe that this is our 10th season to be open.  We are so thankful and do not take it for granted.

Come see us!

Spring Happenings

I don’t know whether to be excited or worried that some of the trees are beginning to bud.  Farmer Tom is in the process of pruning and we are just keeping our fingers crossed that we will have fruit this year.  It is always a gamble, no matter what the weather.  That is the life of a farmer every year.

Our spring festival is scheduled for Friday and Sunday, April 6 and 7.  We are looking for vendors, craft or food, as well as quilts to sell and/or display.  We have been lucky the last 2 years to have some heirloom quilts over 100 years old.  To look at the quality of work that was all done by hand makes you feel like a wimp for using a sewing machine.  My grandmother and my great grandmother made quilts together, often using flour sacks for the fabric.  I am so luck to have several of the quilts they made together.  My grandmother did not meet and marry my grandmother until she was in her 30s and she was 39 when Mother was born in 1928, so many quilts were already made by then.  She died before I was born, so her quilts are how I know her.  I know many family have stories about quilts that were made by family members that are worth sharing.

If you would like to be a vendor or have a quilt to display and/or sell, call Sarah at 615-417-8628.

A New Season

It is hard to believe that we are gearing up for another season.  Farmer Tom has started pruning trees and we are making plans for our first big event, our spring festival and quilt show on April 6 and 7.  We will have a lot of activities and are looking for vendors.  If you are interested, please call Sarah at 615-417-8628.  We are looking for crafts, demonstrations, classes, surprise me.

This is our 10th season to be open and we will have several special events throughout the season.  To top things off, our super dog, Huck is celebrating his 10th birthday.  Most of our customers know Huck as he tries to greet everyone who visits the orchard.  He was abandoned on the side of a road and we took him in 9 years ago.  He is our child and his favorite thing in the whole world is riding with “Daddy” in the truck.  Riding with “Mama” is okay, but his first choice is to be in the truck.  He is not real happy when Mama goes along since that means he has to settle for the back seat.

We are making plans to make this our biggest season ever and we hope you will find time to come out and visit during berry season, peach season and/or apple season.  Huck will be looking for you.


Winding down the season

The cooler weather is finally here!  It seems like it has taken forever for fall to get here, weather wise.  We are getting to the end of the season which means the arrival of 2 of our favorite apples: Pink Lady and Arkansas Black.  Talk about opposites!  The Pink Lady is just a beautiful apple, it really is pink and it is crunchy, juicy and sweet tart.  The Arkansas Black is a red apple that is so dark, it looks black.  It is an heirloom apple, been around for nearly 200 years.  It is a great storage apple – we keep them all winter.  We still have other varieties – Granny Smith, Cameo, Dixie Red, Red Delicious and Wine Sap.  We will stay open as long as we have apples, usually through the 2nd weekend of November.

Shade Tree was featured on the program, Live Green Tennessee which airs on the Cookeville, TN public station, WCTE.  It has aired several times over the past week.   We really appreciate the opportunity to promote our little orchard.

Thanks to everyone who came out this season.  We are so grateful and we are already plotting and planning to make next season even better.