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Since Kona coffee is such an important product to Hawaii, the University of Hawaii has a local extension office that is pretty much dedicated to helping out coffee farmers.  That's great because without them a city slicker like myself would be totally lost.  After agreeing to purchase the place but before actually moving here, I had a couple months to read all the literature I could about coffee farming.  That's how I knew that my first major task once I got here would be to prune all the coffee trees.

As soon as I got here, it was obvious that I couldn't possibly prune all the trees myself.  I was lucky to find a crew that knew what they were doing.  I had been considering one method of pruning (Beaumont-Fukunaga) but after talking to the pruner boss and a few other farmers in the area, I was convinced that I should go with the more tradition selective pruning method.  For all you non-farmers, what that meant is that every tree, nearly two thousand of them, needed to be heavily trimmed in a very precise manner in order to get it back in shape.

It took a crew of three pruners nearly six days to prune the two largest fields.  I tried to help whenever I could.  I'm in decent physical condition but there's no way I could keep up with the pruners.  I'd work for a couple hours then I'd be ready to collapse.  The pruners would go all day long with only a half hour or so break for lunch.  One day it started raining in the middle of the afternoon.  I retreated to the closest shelter, expecting the pruners to join me shortly.  After a couple minutes of standing there alone, wondering when the chainsaw would stop, I realized that they were going to keep working right through the rain.  Not wanting to look like the frail city-boy I am, I quietly went back to work and acted like the rain was no big deal.  We worked until dark.  After dinner I went to take a shower before going straight to bed.  Valerie found me asleep on the bathroom floor, halfway undressed and still unshowered.

Raynoldo, Espirosa and Juan Cancino (husband, wife and cousin) were the pruning crew.  I'm certainly grateful for their help and they earned every penny of their pay.  Even their two year old daughter Darlene tried to help out wherever she could.  Next time I have a large farm chore I need help with, they'll be the first ones I call.


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