Plug pulled on sweet orchard
Hawley reflected on that and other memories Friday while watching an over-sized front end loader pluck sweet cherry trees from the ground as though they were dandelions. The loader’s work took the last of life from an orchard that had outlived its usefulness.
Hawley said the mature sweet cherry trees were becoming less productive every year. He is also planning to take out an orchard of old sour cherry trees damaged by the late winter snowstorm. The sours are located just east of his home on Smith Road; the sweets being taken down were south of his home.
“We’ve had sour cherries here, and open ground here,” said Hawley while looking over orchard land rising up from the blue waters of Suttons Bay. “And Vernon Bardenhagen and I raised potatoes there. We had 10,000 bushels, and we had them for two years.”
Farm hand Kirk Eckerle rented the loader from Elmers. He yanked out the stately trees and placed them on burn piles — their final resting places — that blew smoke across a growing, barren field. He pushed the fingers of the bucket around a tree, then had the loader give a mighty pull. Sometimes a tree resisted, finally popping from the ground like a pimple before heading to cremation.
Rick Deering, whose family owns orchard land in Leelanau Township, separated limbs from trunks with a chain saw.
Hawley shed no tears. He was unsure when, or if, the orchards would be replanted with trees.
“I’m doing the best I can to keep Stoney Point Orchards going. This has to come out because they’re too old,” Hawley said.
— by Alan Campbell