It was the night before the night before Christmas and the world is waiting for it's Christmas Cherries to come flying in from New Zealand on those big 747s. Then it rains for the first time in two months. Disaster ! Rain means the Cherries will absorb moisture, swell and split. The world needs it's Christmas feast.
Before dawn I am wakened by the cough of Mr Jones helicopter starting up. Soon he is flying up and down low over his trees to shake the water off the crop. It's a big and old aircraft and very noisy with strobe lights flashing in the darkness through the pine trees.
Next thing, at the first possible light for flying, in comes another fleet of helicopters down the river gorge. Flying real low to find their way under the clouds, these big machines come from the tourist center of Queenstown 30 kilometers upriver. Dangerous stuff, but these are mountain flying experts.
It feels like Vietnam around here with the cavalry thundering in. Add to that the bird scaring machines starting up with an assorted range of thumps and bang's and the term "battle" is not excessive.
Within minutes the Stuart's cherry orchard gets a visit. Alastair will be looking out and thinking. "There goes another thousand dollars."
|Help arrives. Photo from the bedroom doorway.|
The white nets are the bird protection. You can see a rainbow in the rain. The gorge in the background has the Kawarau river which many of the helicopters have just flown down. Low beneath the clouds. Terrifying. Over the nets the pilot takes his time making sure the trees get a good shaking and the raindrops are removed.
|Helicopter, nets, rainbow and gorge.|
It's been a very good year for the cherries with minimal rain. Not that that's so good for my other plantings. It's only two hours now since all this fuss started and there are perhaps a dozen helicopters working the local area. The sun is coming out now. There is a lot of blue sky and the picker teams will be arriving.
|Blue sky coming. Cherries dried. Time to leave.|
The big 747s will be warming up and Christmas in Singapore, Taipei and Munich will not miss big ripe juicy Central Otago summer cherries.
After breakfast I think I will go out and trim and train those grapevines on the pergola. Just look like they need it.