Grandma Arlene

Dear grandma,
First off I miss you already. Feels like when we buried grandpa just a few months ago (3 months in fact) and in my head I had dreams of years still with you; but that wasn’t to be.

My grandma Arlene was one amazing woman. She was a farmer’s wife and one could easily argue a farmer herself. She was a hard worker, a traveler, loved her family, and selfless in all that she did. Her life was about helping others and loving everyone along the way. She had the best laugh and would always clap when she got excited; I loved that about her. She gave me some of the best life advice I’ve ever gotten. I actually got to interview her to prepare for my cousin’s wedding that I was officiating. She told me that marriage is 50/50, but sometimes it gets all 60/40 on you, be patient, work hard, love hard, it will right itself.

On a chilly Tuesday morning we laid her to rest next to the love of her life of 77 years, my grandpa Marlin. She went home on February 12th to her love just before Valentine’s Day and his birthday. I said I was a little jealous of the party when my grandpa passed away and made it to heaven, you have no idea how jealous I am to miss this time around. My heart is happy to know that they are home again with one another.

At 97 years my grandma had a great life. She would be the first to tell you that too. Never a complainer she took life in a stride that made things look easy from the outside looking in. She was a poet and writer. I’ve always felt a kindred spirit in her as I (you’re probably not shocked to know) love to write as well. One of my favorite poems that she wrote and I think of often is entitled, “Again?” It’s about all the meals she has cooked in her lifetime, let’s just say it feels very relatable.

When my grandpa Marlin was really sick a few years ago I remember my grandma was holding my hand while I cried thinking of losing grandpa. Grandma Arlene told me, “Brenda it’s ok to be sad. But you have to remember, all you see when you think of us dying is all that we will miss; but all we see is all that we got to stay here and be a part of; and how lucky we are!” And she was right, she had the 60 more years of life experience to back all that up; so I’ll give credit where credit is due. If we could all be so lucky to live a life as full and as fulfilling as my Grandma Arlene.

She was ready, that is one thing that is for sure and I love the grace that dying in that way provided for her and our family. But it’s still hard and I think I’m still going to be sad (because she did say I could be) for a while. Her love still hasn’t gone anywhere and I know it never will, in my measly 38 years I am positive of that.

We had a book put together of all her writings over the years. The ending of the book was read at her burial and I’d like to share it here as well….

A Closing Message from Arlene

Written in 2014 to her children, grandchildren, greats and so on…

This I memorized in high school and has always been a favorite:
“So live, so that when my summons comes to join The innumerable caravan which moves to that mysterious realm where each shall take His chamber in the silent halls of death, Thou go not, like the quarry slave at night, scourged by his dungeon ; but sustain’d and soothed by an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave like the one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

-William Cullen Bryant, Thanatopsis; To a Waterfowl; A Midsummer Sonnet – Pamphlet

At my age I realize I’ve already said everything I ever wanted to say so from now I’ll just be repeating myself.

This wrinkled face comes from a lifelong love affair with God’s beautiful outdoors, more than my share of laughs along the way and a healthy concern for those I love – not from simply rotting away. The secret to enjoying life on earth is understanding that it ends.  Take this knowledge my dears and live simply, love often and love deeply.  Enjoy the journey.
Some days we feel like our 90 year warranty expired before we did!!!

I love you and miss you Grandma.  Until we meet again…
Love, Brenny

Spring Orchard Preparation

We have had some beautiful weather here lately. And while if I was in charge of the weather, we would have had a few more rainy days the past two weeks, I’m not, so here we are.

This variety is just starting to push leaves out.

But as they say, make hay while the sun shines. So we have been out doing all we can while it’s dry. Which for filbert (hazelnut) farmers that means a lot of orchard preparation.

While we don’t harvest these nuts until the fall, this is a great time of year to prepare the soil to be nice and flat, clean of debris, and ready to pick up nuts off the ground once they fall at maturity.

So what does that mean? It means grabbing those last few branches off the ground, flailing up the leaf material and grass, that’s been left for erosion control through the winter rains. Then scraping the ground to level it out from any tracks or erosion that may have occurred.

While harvest is only a small portion of the year, for many of our crops the maintenance of the crop and the soil underneath is a year round project. We want to keep the worms happy so we allow the leaves to remain for food and nutrients for them. We also allow grass to grow to protect the soil. But all of that has to be reset at some point to allow for those nuts to be picked up off the ground for harvest.

Next up for the orchards is getting fertilizer applied, possibly some irrigation and some foliar applications to keep the tree healthy and happy during the growing season. Then eventually harvest this fall.

We don’t always get this large dry window to get the orchards ready this early, but we will take advantage where we can and control what we can control. Because like I said, the weather is one place where I definitely don’t call the shots!

Ice Storm 2021 Update

Last time I checked in we were in the middle of probably one of the worst storms Oregon has seen since the Columbus Day Story in 1962. I wasn’t around to experience that one, but after chatting with some folks who were, the thoughts are similar; 2021 has been worse. And when talking to lineman storm crews they say the same, “This has been some of the worst damage we have ever seen.”

That being said, we are all grateful to so many who turned on our power, who offered to help when we needed it, and also grateful to see the storm become a part of the past to talk about. But now the real work begins; time to clean up.

We finally got out and assessed the damage around our farm. We have a lot of clean up on the borders of our fields where trees and branches lay on top of our crops. That will take some time. Our first priority however was to get into our orchards and see how they fared. We didn’t get hit as hard as other farmers. Some have talked about tree losses upwards of 20% even as high as 50%. This is devastating to hear. We are not that bad in our orchards thank goodness.

In assessing the damage we have found that just about each tree has to be treated differently. Some we have cut down to the trunk and will loose some years of production, but will keep the tree in the ground.

Others we just had to trim up some branches. A few we cut the branch that split the tree and if it didn’t cut into the main truck too badly we kept for a year’s worth of production before we decide if we are going to take it out later.

And some just didn’t make it and got cut right then and there. Many of those we will replant this spring to get them up and going.

Driving around to each broken and ice pruned tree was a pretty depressing job. These are trees that we have taken care of for years. Some just started to produce a crop for us, and now we had to cut them down and set them back another 4 years. The cost of this event will be felt for a long time in the form of a huge labor bill to do clean up, lost production, and now caring for newly planted trees among our established orchards.

Many of these orchards had been gone through already this winter and been pruned, so the double amount of work to go back in prune, stack and push brush for the second time will take a lot of time and money. We try to be very efficient on our farm, and Mother Nature basically made sure that this year would not look like that on our orchard budgets.

Right now I’m just happy that we have power, the sun has been out for a few days, and we are moving along with clean up. The orchards are looking less tattered by the day, and it will be a good day when the “Ice Storm of 2021” is in our hindsight completely. Hope everyone is staying safe out there, and hopefully not far from getting their power turned back on soon!

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