Our Goal for this Blog

Over the years we have received and continue to receive numerous phone calls and emails asking many different farm related questions. Our thought is that we would try out a blog to keep people up to date on what we are doing here on Puterbaugh Farms and at Hops Direct.

We will just jump right into where we are at in the growing season with a very brief look at what it took to get the hops to the stage they are in now. If interest is actually shown and people are looking for more information we will continue through the winter and pick up the beginning next spring, which will allow everyone to get a feel for what a full crop year looks like from a hop grower's perspective and all of the many challenges involved. We hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hanging Hops

Here on our farm we still do most of our picking the old fashion way, hanging the vines, instead of running a hop combine other folks in our area do. The trucks pull into place below a set of hooks on tracks. The driver of the truck and one other person, normally called a "hanger", will begin to place the hops onto the hooks. This is a job that can be very tiresome... I'll explain hanger rotation later.

As I noted earlier the part of the vine nearest the ground is located by the cab of the truck and the top of the vine is toward the back. This is important because the hanger will grab the vine (bottom end) and place it onto the hook, pulling the hook into position so that a chain with teeth spaced about every three feet can come by to grab the took pulling the whole vine upward out of the truck. When the hanger moves the hook into position it triggers the release of the next hook in line to move into position to receive another vine. Usually the driver and the hanger will hang vines back and forth, that is the hanger will hang one while the driver is picking one up... then the driver hangs his while the hanger is grabbing his next vine... and so one until the truck is empty and all the vines are moving through the machine. (I read this over once and believe it makes sense to me, but I see this stuff everyday, so I apologize if this is just a confusing mess of words. Please do enjoy the photos though.)

View of truck inside below one below each set of tracks. As you can see the vines on the hooks are being taken upward on the tracks. Rough estimate of the height would be around 22-25 feet at the top of the tracks. There are three more trucks waiting to enter, but we always keep them off the cement until the truck in from has cleared out, that way the floors can be swept.

Here the three trucks are lined up right below the hooks. The driver in lane one is my cousin (red hat), he and the hanger are waiting for hooks to return from the top. This means that either they are really good hangers or the machine broke down... I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he is a good hanger, which is the truth.

One of our longtime employee's nicknamed "Cowboy" lifting a vine to the hooks.

View of truck from above in the machine at night, this photo was take near the top of the tracks. Note the small hole in the floor between the first and second truck from the bottom, we will cover its purpose next.

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