Tuesday, September 29, 2009

10 Years Ago Today

Ten years ago we welcomed our 2nd son into the world! What a thrill he has been in our little family! After a challenging pregnancy, and his several attempts to get out early (on good behavior?), our bundle of boy managed to make his debut only 3 days before his due date! He weighed in at a healthy nine pounds and 1 ounce.
Only hours new!

Yummy Ritz!

Uncle Bryan's Airforce issue BCG's!
A suprise visitor at the San Diego Zoo!
3rd Birthday! Puppy Love!
It seems that I suffer from some sort of handicap which leaves me with the inability to comprehend the ever flowing passage of time! Where it goes and how long it has been gone does not make any sense to me!! So here I sit and write, once again, a bit dumbfounded that someone so little could suddenly be so grown up, and that someone so helpless could suddenly have the ability to climb to the tops of walnut trees and just as easily climb himself down! I can only conclude that it will be all too sudden that he will be traveling to the edge of the world and back again, and I will stand in awe at my little baby boy!

Logan, UT
Trying not to smile!
Just chillin'!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Speech! Speech! Speech!

We were asked by the Rotary Club from a neighboring town to speak to them about ourselves and the orchard. So we did... And here is what they got! (Human Resources took all of the pictures except for one - not bad for a first try. And the one he took of me probably serves me right for posting the blackmail video)!!!

Dendrochronology is the scientific dating of trees by studying and counting the rings of growth in a tree. This method was developed by an astronomer, A. E. Douglas, as he was trying to find a way to determine the effects of solar flares on our climate here on Earth. Growth rings found on a horizontal cross section of a tree can tell the story of the tree's life as it was influenced by the ecology which surrounded it.

Our little family got its start in Oakland, California just a bit over 13 years ago, when Tim and I married. The years our childrren came to our family are years of significant growth in our pattern of growth rings! Our children mean the world to us. So with concern for the patterns of their own little growth rings, we began our search for a more rural 'ecology' to raise our children! It was during this search that we found the orchard. After securing financing for our new 130 year old home, we packed ourselves up and left our native California, all of our extended family, and everything that was familiar to us, in anticipation of planting our roots in the beautiful green hills of Missouri!

Our education bacground and work experience coming into this venture consist of my BS degree in Family Science and Tim's BS in Occupational Health and Safety. My work experience included office management skills and some basic experience with designing information systems in MS Access. Tim's work experience has been in the manufactured wood products industry and Insurance, where he worked exclusively with small Mom and Pop groceries throughout the state of California. Our orcharding experience is ours simply by association. Tim's Dad managed several apple and pear orchards which belonged to a family that settled the Grass Valley, California area in the 1800's. So, as you can see, the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree! It was with apples, that Tim learned to juggle!

Just after we moved here, someone approached me and asked if we planned to get rich off the orchard. His question took me by surprise, since money was never our motivation when we chose to move here. But in response, I informed him that, "Yes, I do, but not in the way that you might think!" Like anything of value, it takes time and effort to achieve the rewards. So on the outside, it may look like we are growing lots of apples, but truly, we are growing three handsome boys and one crazy little girl!

This is not to say that we aren't applying sound business practices! We are, but only in a way that it is supportive to the ecology of our family and its growth! Our unrelated degrees and business experiences have combined together and in so many ways have provided us with the ability and desire to learn all that we can about what we are doing. We also know the value of hard work and it seems that each of us has been able to contribute in our own very meaningful way to the business aspects of the orchard!

Hi! My name is Mason. My Mom likes to call me Human Resources since I have a gift of easily making friends with everyone, helping them and making them laugh.
Going into the apple business, we knew that it was going to be hard work! We have around 1700 apple trees and 12 different varieties. These trees must be pruned in the winter, so that they not only look good in the spring, but they also are able to get lots of sunlight into the middles of the trees. This helps the fruits to get their full color at harvest time and also helps cut down on fungus growth and the spread of diseases. Even though sometimes I'd rather be sledding in the snow, than pruning, it is also nice to work with my Dad. When we were pruning on the North side of the orchard last year, my Dad showed me how to prune out the 'ups' and still leave next year's apple on the tree. I have lots of sledding memories from last year, but most important are my memories of my Dad teaching me new things and getting to work with him. I will never forget making instant snow with our spit!!

Hi! My name is Callan. My Mom likes to call me the Attorney. She says I'm really good at arguing my point and negotiating what I want. She wouldn't want anyone but me to defend her in a court of law because she would only want the best!
I really like mowing the grass, picking apples, and driving the apples in to the apple shed after the've been picked. My Mom grew up in the city and even though I've been driving on the farm for a couple years now, she still thinks its really wierd!
I've been picking the Red Delicious apples this year. Dad says I'm pretty fast for a 9 year old. This year I got to see my Red Delicious apples through the whole entire process of picking, washing, grading, packaging and finally to the produce auction where they were sold. I learned some things. Red Delicious apples are pretty dirty. I knew they would look really nice after getting them all washed up. They were really shiny after they were clean. I felt pretty good that I could do something so well!!
I mow the grass really well too. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to get my Mom and Dad to let me graduate from the push mower to the tractor for mowing. I'm a good attorney, so maybe next year I might be driving the mower too!

Hi! My name is Avery. My Mom says that I am the President and CEO of the Orchard! That's because I really know my stuff and I like to make sure that people are doing their jobs right.
Just after we moved here I was barely two years old. Mom has told me that I always told people I wasn't two, but that I was Ninety-Two!
What sealed the deal of me becoming the President was my ability to know the difference between each apple at the age of two before anyone else in my family! Mom says that when we would drive through the orchard I would name off the variety of each tree as we drove along. She says that I was always right. Mom says that I would also sit on a big stool in front of the conveyor belt at the apple washer and as the apples passed by I would grade the apples as 'Pretty Apple' or 'Ugly Apple.'
Its been fun to grow up in the Orchard. It is fun to eat apples and to pick them too. I like eating Gala and Honeycrisp apples the most!

Two years ago, as Tim and I drove away from the orchard together, we were certain that when we would return home a couple days later, our orchard would be in full bloom! Grandma and Grandpa and the Apple Crew were full of anxiety as we said our good-byes. They knew that we would be returning with a little pink bundle of joy! And that is exactly what we did! However, when we came home with our Gracie Anne, our orchard was not in full bloom! Our trees were full of blooms that were brown and lifeless. We had lost 80% of our apple crop to several nights of hard freeze, a smsll loss in comparison to the 95-100% loss experienced by the other apple growers in the state of Missouri. It was devastating, and yet we held in our arms a little miracle full of life and potential. It will be interesting to look at the growth rings of our trees in our orchard several years from now! My guess is that the year of 2007 will show a ring of significant growth as the trees would have had the excess energy to expend in expanding themselves! Likewise, my guess is that our family growth ring for the year 2007 would mirror that same significant growth as our apple trees!
Operating a business is very challenging! We have certainly had many difficult years in the business. As we balance family with the business, we find that we are always walking a tight rope. We have two choices. We can look straight ahead - to our ultimate goal of a strong family culture. Or, we can look down - to all that could potentially destroy us and paralyze us in our attempts to move straight ahead to our goal. Many challenges that have been ours since buying the orchard should have destroyed us! Yet here we are, in our 5th season, harvesting apples! There are no logical scientific laws that can explain miracles, I just know that if you keep your foucus straight ahead on what is most valuable, then you will find riches beyond your ability to imagine!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why the Apple Farmer Won't Fire Me!

10. He likes my website design.

9. He likes my newspaper ad design.

8. He likes how I sell apples.

7. He likes how I manage to end up with homemade goodies from our employees.

6. Even though my math skills stink, he can read my writing in the reciept books better than his own.

5. He likes that people still recognize my voice from our radio ads from a couple of years ago and strike up conversations about the orchard.

4. He can't figure out how to work the apple orders data base and use the queries to print out reciepts for commercial orders.

3. He is color blind and can't tell if an apple is green or red and I can.

2. I have an innate ability of bossing people around.

1. He can't fire me because I already fired him a couple of weeks ago.

First Newspaper Ads of the Season

Its time to get serious about selling apples! So this morning I'm working on my ads for the paper. I have a 12:00 deadline and I've just submitted my ad for review!

To rally up the apple crew was not exactly an easy task. First, I told them what they had to wear. Of course there was much negotiating on the part of the Attorney on why a plain white T-shirt just won't work. However, I took courage and told him it was the way it was going to have to be! He may start faxing out his resume to other corporations, however, I think it won't take long for him to realize that no other employer will offer a sweet benefit package like ours! Free living expenses, Free meals, Free education, and an abundance of Free time! Second, they were required to smile on demand, as if they were truly happy. I'm sure that the crew will file a complaint with their union reps for having to complete tasks that aren't listed in their job descriptions. I can deal with that, since I think I got what I wanted, and I got it with in a realistic amount of time!

After getting the crew ready for the photo shoot I realized that I was short of fall harvest paraphernalia. After a quick jaunt to the neighbors in the golf cart, not only did I manage to come back home with some fabulous ears of indian corn, but I made it just in time to go home with a handful of half-moon pies. Zook's have Sunday Church at their home on Sunday, which means that they have been cleaning every last little corner and window pane of their home. It also means cooking for a congregation. A big soup is on the menu, along with other homemade yummies like cookies, and half-moon pies. Fannie and her daughters Anna, Susan, Verna and daughter in law Ada, will all be baking today over their wood burning stove. The married daughters have brought a long their little broods and so Grandma and Grandpa's home will be full of the sound of sweet children!

The Apple Farmer sees the half-moon pies!

Photo shoot snipets!

Now, as I wait for a phone call from the paper, I need to clean up half-moon pie crumbs and try to figure out a way to get the Apple Farmer to fire me from the orchard so I can do whatever I want this weekend!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Black Mail Material!! ^^insert evil laugh^^

No insecurity issues here...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Night Football

Tonight we decided to step out of the box and do something different. We left the apples to themselves and took ourselves to watch the local high school's first home game of the season. This was the boy's first time at a football game. It was quite exciting to watch and even better that we knew several of the youth playing/participating in the evening's events!

Apple Farmer is trying to predict the next play, Human Resources is trying to predict the next cheerleading move, and the attorney thinks that the cheerleaders are annoying and ruin the game.

Yay Bulldogs!

Her Highness danced herself with her sucker all of the way back to the truck and was asleep before we even got home!