Ramble On

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The 2015 Hops Harvest @hawksbillhops - Part 4

Thanks to our 15 or so volunteers who came out to pick for us -
and many of them in their t-short "uniform"!
Along with all the preparation we had been doing for the upcoming harvest, we were starting to see a few queries about the possibility of having a harvest event for the hops.  We'd had a wonderful time at spring planting (here) so it definitely sounded like a good idea - so we began to plan for fitting it in on the Saturday of our harvest week.

We did a few fun things to organize this, including a Facebook event page - we named it "Harvest Daze", for example - and I started looking for a nice swag opportunity for the volunteers that might show up.  Eventually, we settled on the ubiquitous pint - or shaker - glass that is often used to serve draft beers.  There's a photo below.

No good volunteer deed at Hawksbill Hop Yards
goes unswagged!
We had great weather that day, and we had 15 or so volunteers join us for the fun.  Picking is one of the harder tasks on the farm, since the hops cones are so small and there are so many of them. This is one of the reasons we see a lot of folks going after the big European harvesters...I'm not sure we're in the market for that yet, although eventually we'll probably add some kind of machine to the mix.

By now, as you can see in the photo of the volunteers, we'd figured out how to house the activities under the pole barn, so everyone worked in the shade.  David, Grayson, and I had gone out to the field earlier to cut down a full row of Cascades for everyone to work on - the one featured in this post.

Back when I was reading up on what it would take to build a hops farm, there were notes that on average it takes 45 minutes to pick a bine clean...someday I'll do the math to see what our average was, but I don't think we saw that in our first year, for sure.  Even so, the cheerful volunteers working with us made it through the 60 bines in less than three hours.  It was a good time.

We really have enjoyed the community support we received this year - including all the volunteer hands we benefited from in our two events.

In my next post, the second-to-last in this harvest series, we'll take a look at the packaging operation we put together for the crop.

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