The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Melons, Melons, Pearson Melons

 

September 18, 2019

After a summer of planting, irrigating, weeding, and cultivating, we are now enjoying the fruits of our labor. Yesterday we picked melons for three Farmer's Markets in our area. We spend many hours picking, cutting, taste testing, sorting, and analyzing the tastiest, juiciest, melons for our customers. We have become melon snobs, and only the best will do.

We are always amazed at how many other species, besides people, love cantaloupe. We notice the damage as we are picking and we sort them as we go. One pile for cow melons too damaged to market but still enough left to load in the tractor. Empty shells we throw into the drive row to keep the field clean. Then the best ones go to the pick-up to deliver to our customers. Small melons go to the market to give to children who are always fascinated by the smallest, cutest ones.

The cow melons have been munched on by deer, coyotes, rabbits, hornets, and grasshoppers. Grasshoppers chewed the outer shells, then hornets come in and breakthrough to feast on the sweet orange flesh making deep holes and scars, but the cows don't mind. We sometimes have a test variety of melon we simply don't like, those go to the cows as well, since they aren't real selective! When the tractor heads to the pasture it is a genuine stampede, it's candy to a cow! The empty shells are from raccoons that make a hole big enough for their paw to fit into the melon to scoop out all the juicy goodness until the outer shell is all that's left. A family of raccoons can eat a bunch of melons!

The melons we find drug out of the field with deep teeth marks are generally a coyote or two. As we ride and check cows, we see many melon seed piles of orange-colored manure from the eaten melons. Every Spring, we find a melon plant growing where the coyotes have spread the seed. We believe the deer have to test at least 50 melons before they find the one they might eat. They are the most destructive animal to our melon patch, sometimes just pawing a melon to pieces for no apparent reason.

We generally pick melons every other day and usually get a nice pick-up load of beautiful melons, which are then washed before we head out to distant markets and stores. Today's trip to the Chokecherry Festival in Lewistown required four-wheel drive as we had a beautiful soaking rain overnight. We arrived at the market at 8:00 a.m., back into place, and already had customers waiting in line despite the rain. Seeing the customers, we have known for years because of the cantaloupe is always a treat. We enjoy our markets like a social event, making new friends every year and enjoying catching up with those we have known for so long. People tell us they are so happy we are back, they are excited to visit about the year and get some of our tasty, delicious melons. We are generally greeted with a hug, a huge smile, or a handshake of appreciation and many thank-yous. They often say, "your melons are worth the trip at any price".

When we are finished here, we will head back home to the melon field to pick and sort melons for tomorrow for the "What the Hay" bale trail. At the end of the day we are thankful we have done a good job, shared some melons with all the local creatures, and had enough melons to market throughout our area. There are always highs and lows in growing produce as in life, but on the banks of the Mighty Missouri, our family is enjoying eating melons

 
 

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