Our facility is located on a working farm, and many of us at the winery also participate in farm operations...
Apple Harvest is a very big and exciting time for us! There are about 21 acres of trellised apple trees on the farm, all of them laden with the most beautiful red fruit come fall.
Michael joined the picking crew this year, and he found it incredibly fun. To be sure, it was two weeks of hard physical work out in the sun, but he also found it rewarding. Being new to the crew, he had to figure out how to pick the apples fast enough to keep up with the other crew members - but without damaging the apples! Each picker was given a bag with shoulder straps, so it could be hung it in front of him and he could have both hands free to pick fruit. He would pluck each apple off its branch, quickly roll it over to inspect it for bruises, insects, or other such things, drop the good ones in his bag, and move on until the bag was full.
There were several large apple bins in each row of trees, so when a picker's bag was full, he could empty it into the bin and fill it up again. The bags are cleverly designed, too! Instead of having to unclasp the harness from the back, take it off, and tip the whole bag upside down to dump out the apples, there is a flap on the bottom of the bag which can be detached with two strings, so that all the fruit can be gently slid out the bottom of the bag without having to unstrap it at all. Then the strings are re-hooked to close up the bottom, and the bag can be filled up again and again.
When the bins were full of fruit, or the workers moved too far away from them, John would come along in the tractor and move them. The tractor had two long forks attached to the back, which would slide under the bin, tip up, and carry the bins as the tractor drove around. Since there were quite a few workers moving at a good clip, John was kept busy every moment moving bins!
The full bins got stacked up in the loading area and loaded onto semis with a little forklift. Multiple semi-loads carried our apples to the packing houses before harvest was over.
Any harvest season on a farm is incredibly busy and lots of work, but under that bright blue sky and in such deliciously cool weather as we had this year, it was a fall treat to experience. Looking forward to another good year's harvest!
One of our YouTube videos has clips of apple harvest - check it out here!