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Grandpa and Grandma are people just like you.

DETA-71

The original “Grandpa” over 40 years ago. The current Grandpa discovered this picture hanging in City Hall and just knew it was his father because of the two-tone pickup and the bib overalls. But what cinched it was the hole in the truck grill. Grandpa wasn’t too great about backing up!

Looking back on 2014, Grandpa has had a chance to compare this past year with previous ones. A memorable part was the “big freeze” that many people might have already forgotten about, but the trees still remember it.

At Grandpa’s nursery in southwestern Michigan, the 2014 season really started in the fall of 2013. It was unusually mild up through the week before Thanksgiving. The growing weather for trees the previous summer wasn’t that bad, but typical fall weather just didn’t seem to progress like normal. We hardly had any of the normal frosts and light freezes in October that we are typically used to. This strange weather continued into November when we were preparing to dig trees. So, it seemed to me that the trees didn’t get a chance to acclimate to the coming fall and winter, as they normally would have. We had great digging weather, but winter came in with a roar!  We had to hurry to finish digging up the trees and get them into storage quickly. The day after we finished up digging and the old fields were worked up for cover crop, it began to sleet freezing rain. Then the next day, I nearly froze to death driving the tractor over frozen ground and seeding rye on top of soil that was actually more like “concrete”. I never thought the rye would germinate that winter, but it eventually did.  Surprisingly, it survived the harsh cold winter weather and grew like normal in the spring.

Many of you might have had extremely cold weather too, it was a real test of hardiness for most fruit trees and people. Unfortunately, some of the fall planted trees just didn’t do well.  Our customers were reporting the bad news to us as well as news that many trees established the prior year were suffering too. We tried to help out as many of our customers as possible, even though Mother Nature “dealt us dirty”. Grandpa replaced more trees than usual, even though it may have been Mother Nature’s fault. If you were wondering why Grandpa’s Orchard didn’t ship to as many areas this fall compared to the prior year; the main reason is, we just weren’t sure if we would be suffering another winter like the last.

So far, the growing nursery growing season in 2014 turned out pretty good. However, some of our suppliers who normally would have all their trees harvested got caught with another early winter season. Some of them may not finish digging until the weather breaks in late February. As for us and our trees, there is no need to worry. We got everything out in good shape and are just about finished grading in the storage.

Finally, Grandpa and Grandma are people just like you. Our family likely has many of the same travails and victories that your families have. In June 2014, we were blessed with the wedding of our youngest daughter. Just before Christmas our second daughter gave birth to our newest Grandson in Sitka Alaska, where her and her husband run fish hatcheries. Unfortunately, some of our other children have had several financial difficulties and associated problems. As parents, we all feel duty bound to help our children out as much as possible, often jeopardizing our own well being. So it is with us too. Life goes on and we are making the best of things. Grandpa and Grandma are choosing to dwell on the positive things in life and looking forward to a busy and better spring.

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