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Front Page » September 24, 2009 » Carbon County News » Harvest time
Published 1,800 days ago

Harvest time


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Whether one picks tomatoes from the garden or hauls in that last cut of alfalfa, fall is a special time of year. It is a time to reap the benefits of hard work in gardens, on farms and in other enterprises, depending on the weather.

"I harvest honey twice during the season," said Darrel Russon, of Wellington, who has a number of beehives in the area. "Once in the late summer and once in the fall."

All over the county, people are reaping the benefits of their gardens. Glen and Susan Jackson, of Carbonville, grow a large garden every year and spend time going to the Farmers' Market in Price each Saturday morning with his gourds, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins and other vegetables.

"I like raising good stuff to eat, but we really don't make that much on it," he said. "It does give us enough money to grub stake us for the next year."

Most gardners plant gardens for the love of it and the Jackson's garden shows that love.

They also advertise their produce in the Sun Advocate, which he finds brings people from all over the area to purchase the goods.

For Daisy Fraughton, of Spring Glen, it is a time when fruits on her plum, apple and pear trees mature. She not only eats and cans the fruits, but also sends a lot of them to some four-legged friends of hers in back of the orchard.

"If I let the goats out to eat what has fallen off the ground, they eat everything else too, so I just pick up the fallen fruit and pass it along to them all through August and up through October," she said, as she bent over to pick up another apple on the ground. "I think it's their favorite time of year, too."

For many who have the agricultural urge, however, the growing year starts much earlier than one would expect. For farmers, it begins in winter, with repairing and preparing equipment for a busy spring season. Some gardeners begin to raise plants in small greenhouses long before the snow is even off the ground.

But in the late days of February, when the slowly warming sun comes around, the agricultural urge starts to make the days of Christmas fruit cake and New Year's cheer seem like they were the focus eons earlier. As the ground starts to dry out, people become anxious and start to take stock of their growing future. Garden and field preparations begin. Irrigation systems, while short on water for at least a couple of months, come under scrutiny and plans start to be made.

Then April planting begins with hearty crops. Then, as wet April days and cold nights fade, and May gets into full swing, more vulnerable plants go into the ground, free of the fear of frost.

For farmers, April includes putting seeds in and waiting for the first little green shoots to appear. A farmer has to have faith; he can't plant a little and see how it turns out before planting more. He put seeds into the ground, and prays for the right weather, a combination of moisture and warm temperatures. He watches as his crops take off during the summer. He spends time scouting for weeds, insects and disease. Fertilizer is applied properly at the right time. As May moves along, irrigation begins. It is an age-old ritual in the West, where natural summer rain generally falls in torrents that run off quickly. Many an outsider sees sprinkling systems running in a field during a thunderstorm that is pouring rain down and asks why. The farmer knows why. It's because tomorrow it will be 95 in the shade. There will be no sign that water ever fell from the sky in the last month.

As August comes, things start to ripen and pop. Now, into a second cutting, alfalfa is green and good. Tomatoes are coming on and cantaloupes are getting big. Those bees that come from hives like Russon's are putting away as much honey as they can for the coming winter.

Finally, it all comes together. The produce--grain, hay, and other growing things--are mature; ready for picking, eating and harvesting, to be put up and stored away for a time of cold and bleaker days, not far in the future.

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September 24, 2009
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