I worked for a dozen years in a large apple orchard outside of Baraboo, WI. This was not even thirty years ago--I was just finishing high school and looking for a job. It started with part-time work after school and Saturdays in the Fall. It is a strange adventure to walk into an orchard operation in full swing, with the crazy variety of apples, the smells and the specialized machinery. And the farmers. There is no mistaking a farmer-type, and Arthur Bassett, the elderly man I went to work for, was prototypical. He had to have been born in Oshgosh B'Gosh coveralls; I never saw him wear anything else. He walked with a peculiar swagger, I called it a "sailor-in-port" walk--he had never gotten his land legs.
Arthur was gruff; called me "Boy" rather than my real name for the better part of two years. A farmer can't afford to get too personal with the help, especially the young help. You never know when off they'll go, and all of that personal politeness and consideration would have been for naught. No. The way to handle a young pup is to put him at the end of the line, and occasionally yell at him. If the pup keeps a civil tongue in his head--that is to say, if he remains silent and follows orders to the letter--then eventually he'll be brought into the discussion. Believe me, it took years.
The orchard was called Ski Hi Fruit Farm; it was pronounced "sky high". Many a footloose visitor to the Baraboo hills and Devil's Lake State Park in the Fall of the year have stopped in to take in the view, visit with the friendly sales ladies--including Olga and Betty, the wife and daughter of the old orchardist-- have a slice of fresh apple pie, and buy some of the many varieties of apples for sale there.
I try to drop in for a visit at Ski Hi every year. I'll hunt squirrel in the several-hundred-acres wood above the orchard, and stop in at the sorting house afterward. Art is long gone, and Olga may be too, but Betty still runs the place. I'll make Betty stop and visit for a spell, along with her long-time sidekick Shoemaker, now relegated to a wheel chair. Shoe always tells people when I visit that I hold the record for the most apples picked in a day, something like 162 bushels. It is true, actually. I have no idea how I did that. My daily average was actually around 130 bushels, I think. This is not that hard to do if you are focused, systematic, and...and much younger!