Chronicles of the Long Shot Farm

Beautiful Cumberland Valley

We “spent a summer day” at University Park, to check out various majors at Penn State.  On the way back from State Cellege, we stopped at the Hawk Watch, on top of North Mountain – right “behind” our farm, and looked down into the beautiful Cumberland Valley:

Blackberry Season

We are in the middle of a drought – at least on our farm.  There have been downpours just a few miles away, several times, but our grass is brown and our garden is in a sad stage.  We’ve been irrigating the blackberries as much as possible, since harvest time is starting.

Nonetheless, there are berries.  In the last week, we picked over 850 lbs and about 1/3 of them are beautiful.  The others were cleaned and frozen and will be used/sold for making jams, shrubs, or wine. We will still be picking for a while – and hoping for rain!

We do have fun picking them, even in the heat…and they are delicious.

Rachel is picking in the summer heat
Elena loves her berries
Delicious

We’ll still be picking for a while – and hoping for rain!

Jam Label Design

Berry season has been “in” for a while now, with strawberries starting the cycle, followed by blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries and currants – and soon our major berry crop: blackberries.

We’ve been using the berries for jam as they ripened and this year we splurged on the glossy round labels that “Avery” makes.  Their online design software is completely flexible and lets you design your own label from scratch, or you can modify existing templates.

We also had a lot of fun looking for fancy label ideas on Pinterest and added a new “Glammy Jam” album.

Wooden Trellis Innovation

To date, most of our vineyard is trellised with wooden posts – which has a major disadvantage when compared to metal posts:  metal posts have “build-in” brackets that make it very easy to move the catch wires to a higher level as the grape vines grow and get longer.

Jeff decided to make his own system to allow us to move the catch wires:  he cut metal strapping (the lighter weight, about 28 gauge) into short section, containing 3 holes.  He then bent this short section into a U shape.  He made a lot of them – coffee cans full of them.

To each U shape, he inserted a weather proof drywall screw and we screwed them onto the fence posts, about 6″ above the fruiting wire for the first one, and the second one about 12″ higher.  Two on each side of every post.   We used long, galvanized nails to closed the “bracket”, to hold the catch wire in place.

It worked like a charm –  we already moved the catch wires to the second level on nearly every variety.

Another Bottling Day

We took advantage of a long weekend to do another bottling run – with just three of us we bottled our 2014 Chambourcin and 2014 Rosè.  Not counting set-up and cleaning before and after, it only took us about 4 hours to bottle. Everything together took about a day with extra helpers.  Fortunately, we had no equipment breakdown and only broke two bottles during corking (go Lars!)