11 March 2007
Winter is nearly gone and on a Kona coffee farm that means the pruning better
be done soon. Pruning is a long, arduous task so even though it was
discussed last week, these posts are all about
life on our Kona coffee farm and right now life on the farm is all about
pruning several thousand Kona coffee trees.
These giant redwood trees are in Northern California, not Hawaii. I'm glad
coffee doesn't grow on redwood trees. You can't really tell but Valerie in
standing the center of the picture.
In some parts of the world, coffee is grown on giant plantations with modern,
mechanized equipment. A company that owns hundred or even thousands of
acres of coffee really has only two choices: hire an army of people or
buy some fancy machines. While the fancy machines certainly aren't cheap,
neither is finding, hiring, training and managing an army of workers.
We can't afford to hire an army of workers. We also can't afford any
fancy machines. With as much time as I've spent fixing the mower I'm not
sure I want any more fancy machinery anyways. Even the chainsaw has
proven to be too much effort compared to a good old-fashioned hand saw.
If I were logging redwood trees it might be a different story but a coffee
tree is considerably smaller than a redwood tree (coffee trees are actually shrubs
even though we call them trees). With a good hand saw I can cut through
a coffee branch in seconds. That short burst of high-energy output is
made up for by not having to drag around a noisy, smelly, temperamental chain
saw. With a handsaw you may accidentally cut your knee, with a chainsaw
you may accidentally cut your whole leg off.
Other victims of the pruning process are the Jackson's Chameleons.
They're not native to Hawaii but were introduced here, released by a pet shop
owner in 1972, and are now common in many parts of the islands. Walk
through a Kona coffee farm and you'll probably be able to find chameleons in
the trees. They're surprisingly difficult to spot because of their ability
to change their skin color, making them masters of camouflage. It's easiest
to find them when pruning because they're running for their lives. I'm sure
pruning is a chameleon's least favorite time of year but they usually survive the ordeal.