When I called Terhune Orchards on Friday to ask about this weekend's cherry picking, the lady who answered the phone advised me to come early. I figured that meant there weren't a ton of ripe cherries to pick (since it was the first day) and the jam-makers would get them all within a few hours.
I managed to get over to the farm by 9:15 (they opened at 9). When I pulled up to the gates, my jaw dropped at the sea of cars already parked on the lawn. This is a shot of the smaller parking area - there were many more cars behind me.
I hightailed it over to the cherry trees, following the handy signs and slipping in front of large families along the way.
This was the line to get into the cherry orchard (when I left, thank goodness - when I got there it was much shorter. I just missed the early rush and slipped in before the next wave). They charged admission for each person, which was credited toward your purchase on the way out.
The rows of cherry trees were covered with light-colored canvas, the sides of which were covered in netting. I thought, at first, this was to control human entrance to the grove, but I later realized it was to keep the birds and other pests out. Good call - the trees were laden with pristine fruit, undamaged by tiny teeth (my childhood experience with fruit trees is that they were banquet halls for squirrels - I might employ this trick if I ever grow fruit in the future).
The trees were sagging under the weight of their delicious fruit. This tree is a Ranier, sporting bright yellow cherries with a pink blush. I took picked five different varieties - Montmorency (sour cherries), Ranier, Chelan, Hartland and Schmidt. The Schmidt cherries, if I am right about the varieties, are huge, deeply red, rich fruits that remind me of the Bing cherries you can get at the grocery store. These are my current favorite (and if I'd found them first, they might have filled all my containers). I tried to be reasonable, taking only 3-4 pounds of cherries, since I don't intend to can anything today (I have too much work to do this weekend to be spending hours pitting cherries!). Instead, I plan on snacking on this juicy bounty all week long.