Tuesday, July 5, 2011

1950s Fruit Farm

1950s Fruit Farm

We lived around the corner from the original farm.  Adkins were all around us (Harry, Roy, Art and Ray).  Aunt Doris, Albert's sister, married Clare Adkin whose parents lived next to us.  In the East Casco community everyone was related or connected in some way.  Our little 20 acre farm was the center of our universe.  Kalamazoo was the other side of that universe and Chicago and Detroit were like outer space.  We had several play areas on or near our farm.  Robert Stevens lived across the street.  We played Tarzan in his barn hay lofts by swinging on ropes.  We played basketball in our barn.  David and Larry Flora lived one half mile south near the junction of the Black River and Scott Creek  This was the swimming hole, camp site, and muskrat trapping area on occasion.

Summers on the farm were very busy and filled with work, family gatherings and some play.  Depending on our age we picked cherries, disked up orchards, thinned peaches, hoed around young trees, raised pickles, helped mom with the garden and canning, and drove truck loads of fruit to the Michigan Fruit Canners or the Fruit Exchange Co-Op.  As "orchard bosses" Chuck and I assigned rows, spread lugs and crates, picked up the full containers, loaded the truck, and kept track of quantities picked.  We would end the day very dirty and dusty all over our farmer tans.  Our Indian blood helped keep us from burning. 
Most of the peaches we raised were for sale to the canning companies.  Some peaches and most apples were taken to the Fruit Exchange and packed for sale as fresh fruit.  The sweet cherries were taken to the Benton Harbor Market.  We kids learned from Grandma Edna how to get the best price possible from the Chicago wholesale buyers when we got to travel with her to Benton Harbor.
Bill and Edna spent the two weeks between cherries and peaches in mid-July at Loon Lake NW of Baldwin.  Their kids and grand kids would all spend a few days with them.  Grandpa Bill was a big bass fisherman.  He loved to do night casting and we kids would row the boat for him.  What a thrill it was to hear the splash when a  bass would attack the jitterbug or glow-mouse baits.

At the Farm July 5, 2011

The 4th has come and gone and we are now officially in the dog 40 days of summer.  Sweet cherry u-pickers were in the orchards in large numbers.  Next weekend will be the last of the up-pick sweet cherries.  Pitted sour cherries will also be available starting next weekend (July 9/1 0) at the farm retail location (109th Ave and 64th St).  Peaches are still being thinned with the early varieties coming on the last week of July.

The kids are building a chicken coop on wheels to go with the petting barn.  Carpenter Leon Brush is helping them and teaching them how to build.  Resident animals include goats, ducks, geese, rabbits, chickens and kittens.  Plan a trip to the farm and Lake Michigan this summer.