2017 Farm Update

Here at Big Horse Creek Farm, the year 2017 will be remembered as perhaps the most difficult, most challenging and, ultimately, the most unsuccessful season since our farm was created 31 years ago. Farming is an occupation which has always been and will always be a high-stakes gamble, a game in which a single unlucky roll of the dice or a poor hand drawn from the deck can determine the outcome of an entire year.

Many factors can contribute to a poor season on the farm: foul weather (droughts, floods, freezes, hail), loss or failure of major equipment, unavailability of hired hands, rampant diseases and uncontrolled pests (bears are a huge problem for us this year!). Beyond any doubt, though, the most significant problem we’ve faced this year has been an issue of personal health.

In late March of this year, Ron began to experience symptoms of major heart failure. Subsequent visits with different doctors and cardiac specialists, along with an extensive battery of tests confirmed our worst fears. Ron had a defective mitral valve requiring open heart surgery which was scheduled for early May. In the approximate two-month interval before surgery, Ron was under strict orders to avoid all physical activities to prevent excessive strain on his heart. This is the worst thing anyone can tell a farmer! So, from the diagnosis in March to surgery in May and then through a long, three-month recovery, Ron was unable to do any work on the farm, leaving all the day-to-day responsibilities to fall upon Suzanne’s strong shoulders.

Adding to our frustrations was an almost complete crop failure in our EMLA.111 grafted rootstocks this spring. Our grafting success rate was very high, as usual, but within 6-8 weeks after the grafting work was completed, we watched in despair as healthy, successful grafts began to die inexplicably by the dozens. The die-off was confined almost exclusively to the EMLA.111 semi-dwarf rootstocks with very minimal losses in the EMLA.7 grafts and essentially no losses in our EMLA.106 grafted trees. Unfortunately, the majority of our annual grafting work is done with EMLA.111 rootstocks!

The result is some of our customers will not receive their full order of grafted trees this fall. In a few cases, some customer orders will be unfulfilled. Due to these setbacks and lost time, there will be a delay in the posting of our annual “List of Fall Trees”. We hope to have this list online by the end of September.

Needless to say, we are very disappointed and frustrated with this situation and humbly apologize in advance to all our loyal customers. We take great pride in our craft and our work and promise to work harder than ever with our customers as we close out this horrific year.

Thank you so much for your patience an understanding.

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