Life as a bowl of cherries

Last Sunday, the 16th, we met with photographer Ellie Kenney, her mom, Lisa, and Lisa’s young grandson Jeravyn at Shanholtz Orchard on Jersey Mountain Road near Romney. The purpose of this meeting was to take the photos for an upcoming technical article in Antique Power magazine entitled “What Every Tractor Owner Needs to Know (But doesn’t necessarily want to).” The article is about breaking down a front tractor tire and repairing it.

I had arranged for the use of this venue for a number of reasons; the white concrete slab outside the packing shed lent clarity to the tire breaking operation so that the readers can see in greater detail what is going on; we could get under the pole building roof where the bins are kept in case the weather made good its threat of rain and after our Sunday meeting; all of the parties involved happened to be close by.

Ellie’s history in the antique truck and tractor magazine business began almost three years ago when I was searching for a diesel tractor to demonstrate the fuel system bleeding procedure for a newly assigned technical column. Ellie’s dad Tim had an International 500 dozer with a diesel engine and the hood already off. I decided to use this machine for the column. When I heard that Ellie was interested in photography I asked her to do the photos. (It’s not often that I find both the subject and the photographer all in one place.)

It soon became evident to the publisher that, unlike in the past when I did my own photography, such would be impossible with this new column since both of my hands often needed to be in the picture. The column was very well received by the readers and Antique Power/Vintage Truck agreed to hire Ellie to take the photos for the column and various other articles. She’s been doing paid freelance photography for them ever since.

This last session was particularly encouraging. Instead of waiting for cues from me, Ellie took charge, arranging the props and the background and instructing me as to how to hold the tools for the best effect and so-forth.

About the setting: In recent years, it seems that many local fruit growers have given up on growing stone fruit such as peaches and cherries due to these fruits’ sensitivity to our fickle frosts and freezes. However, arriving at Shanholtz Orchard we were pleasantly surprised to find the sweet cherry harvest in full swing. Unlike the apple harvest, which can have an almost industrial character at times, the cherry harvest is more informal and festive.

There were three generations of the Shanholtz family enjoying the activity. Jeravyn quickly found his way into a basketball game with some Shanholtzes of the same age. Ellie and I set up the props, which included tire tools and the front wheel from a Farmall Cub courtesy of Fulgrin Farm at Rockland, Va.

If you’re familiar with the Cub then you’re aware that this isn’t a large tire. I thought that I would start the readers off easy and let them learn the harder realities of do it yourself tire repair on their own.

Lisa and the old Hippie (wife Stephanie) dug into their respective purses for cash and found enough for several pounds of pick-your-own cherries. Then, in Sunday meeting clothes, these ladies took to the trees and ladders. Lots of other people had the same idea and the clientele was quite diverse. A Chinese family from Alexandria hauled in 50 pounds of cherries and, later in the week, a group of Amish tipped the scales for what might be a new record.

The following day, the Old Hippie and youngest daughter Emily Erekaife went back to the orchard for more cherries. There they found middle daughter Leah amongst the trees along with a group from Abundant Life Greenhouse. It seems that one of Leah’s co-workers watches the calendar closely for these harvest events and had tipped off the whole crew.

Well, life may not always be a bowl of cherries but, for now, there certainly is a large bowlful at our table with many more in the freezer. Peaches are next and we’ll be doing another photo shoot then. Maybe life can be “peaches and cream,” even if we’re not on the boardwalk at Atlantic City.


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