So let me begin with an apology for the lack of posts in the last few weeks! We’ve not only been very busy but we also have to steal our friend’s wi-fi to upload pictures in a timely manner…so with the rate at which things have been progressing, we haven’t been able to keep up! So, my apologies! Here is what we’ve been up to!
There have been quite a few things in my life that I’m proud of, and I’m sure Jake would say the same. Building this hop yard is on a new level for me though. It’s really pretty amazing that three months ago, our hop yard was just a patch of grass and a plan. When we arrived in Knoxville, we had a general idea and a rough outline of how to go about building a hop yard. The fact that in less than two months we located all of the necessary supplies and constructed this trellis is just so cool to me. In the grand scheme of things, we had very few issues! The rain delayed us a bit and made things interesting and Jake had to engineer us out of a few hiccups. Overall, it went better than I had hoped it would.
Which brings me to the wonderful news that we did it! All of the ground anchors and cables are installed! Jake is alive, the platform worked marvelously, and we are thrilled with how it turned out! We did have some trouble with ground anchor installation. Jake built an adapter for the auger to install them which worked perfectly for the first 8 anchors. When we started to install the final 8, we snapped the tops off of the first two and twisted a third. So Jake ended up cutting and welding several ground anchors to make them shorter and we finally got them installed. Running and tensioning the top wires after that was relatively easy, or at least unevenful…
We now have water at the hop yard! Very exciting news that takes another load off of our shoulders.
Now for the really big news: Hops are in the ground!! Our rhizomes arrived Friday afternoon(3/30) and we refrigerated them Saturday night. Sunday we got to planting! All in all it took about 8 hours of Jake digging down about 6″, and me putting the rhizomes in with as many buds as possible facing up. We then gently stepped on the dirt to remove excess air from the hole. And repeat, and repeat….. 479 times. The whole yard has a capacity for 480 holes, and we left one space in between varieties! While we only ordered 900 rhizomes (only, HA!), they sent extra so we had enough to fill the whole yard instead of only 450 holes.
Over Easter weekend we also soaked our bundles of coir (coconut husk twine) to make them more workable. We then started stringing the yard. Unfortunately we had some really wicked wind and had to stop a little early on the first day. We finished in two days total. To string the hop yard you tie the coir in a lanyard hitch on the high wire strung between the poles. Jake made a 3′ spacer to hang on the wire to keep consistency. I went up in the platform to complete this part! Then Jake used a tool that he made (you’re shocked, I know) to push two strands of coir and a w-clip into the ground. So once our little hops reach a foot or two, we’ll begin training them up these strings!
Next up was irrigation! We placed our order for irrigation on April 4th, so we had a couple days to wait and work on smaller things. Jake built a really awesome gate for our deck so that dogs can spend time outside without us worrying about them. Namely, Indy because Maverick just paces and whines if we’re not out there with them…. For those of you who have had the pleasure of meeting Mav, you know what I’m talking about. But Indy LOVES sunbathing, so he mostly built it for her. Jake cleaned out the garage to make it a more useable space for him to work and finished preventative maintenance on the polaris ranger. I wood burned some cedar signs for the hop yard, to number the rows and specify which variety is where.
We installed irrigation in two days as well. Jake built the head assembly (filter, backflow preventer, pump, etc) while I laid out the drip line down the rows. I don’t know how to express to you how hellacious that task was. If you looked at the drip line wrong, it kinked. And then, when you went to fix that kink, it caused two more kinks. I’m getting irritated just thinking about it. Whew. Very VERY glad that is over. I also got some seriously sunburnt legs because I forgot that happens, apparently. The second day we spet digging trenches for the mainline at the head of the hop yard, which attaches to the rest of the drip line. The last step for that entire process is running electric to the hop yard from the barn, to operate the pump.
Since it’s been so long since I’ve posted, we not only have hops in the ground, they’re now growing!! We started off with only one, but everyday more and more keep popping up! I realize that this is how it’s supposed to work, but everytime I see I new shoot I feel like it’s a little miracle! Jake laughs at how attached I am to the little guys…
The last week and a half or so was a little bit slower and we were able to get some home projects done. jake burried drain pipe from the gutter downspouts away from the house. We bought a rain barrel for our garden at the house and we’ve started building an enclosed garden in front of the deck. I planted strawberries, and hope to plant the rest of my fruits and veggies this week. The garden structure is about 85% done, we just have some chicken wire left to install. Jake bought a chain hoist to pick up our neighbors broken zero turn mower to get it on our trailer. He also built himself a step box/jump box for his training room, and we bought not one, but TWO new tool boxes.
In non-hop related topics, we are in the planning and research stages for cattle (and sheep). The first step for cattle is fencing, and we are having some trees removed and some brush cleared in order to put up fencing efficiently. We will also probably fence in the hop yard, and fence part of our personal yard as well. We hope to introduce some babydoll sheep onto the farm this year. They would help a lot with weed management in the hop yard, plus they’re ridiculously cute…
We packed a lot of things into the month of April, I still can’t quite believe that it’s nearly May!