We did it! Over 18,000 bunches cut, rubber-banded and hung in the barn. We knew it was going to be a lot of work but HOLY LAVENDER!!! We couldn't have done it without an awesome, hard-working crew. We were also fortunate to have the Angels here along with Leon Angel's parents (who where some of the hardest working of the group!) With only 2 cuts, 7 bee stings and 12 blisters, we feel like it went pretty smoothly.
Watching the 'professional crew' was like watching a machine! Leaning over each plant, the 'cutter' handed off the bunches to their 'rubber-bander' who either set them on top of or between the plants, depending on the length and straightness of the stems. The bunches are then collected and put into the cart for transport to the barn, making sure to keep the two types of bunches separate. From here they are unloaded onto tables labeled 'straight' or 'curved'. This separation helps us to determine which bunches will be turned into bud and which ones will be used for bouquets. At this point each bunch gets a paperclip attached to the rubber band. Then the bunches go to their respective areas in the barn and are hung on chains up to 20 feet in length, carefully negotiated with very tall ladders. Each chain holds from 30-40 bunches, skillfully arranged so that all the stems are exposed to the circulating air. As the 'lavender forest' fills up, fans are arranged and rearranged to ensure adequate air flow. It takes anywhere from 10 to 14 days for the lavender to dry and be ready for processing. This is where we currently are in the process, undoing what we just did… taking down the chains filled with dried bunches, removing the paperclips and rubber bands, and preparing them for making buds or bouquets.
It is sad to see the purple leave the fields, but one peek (and whiff) into the barn and we have a whole new appreciation for these plants. We know they'll be back next year with even more plants to be harvested and now we get to share these beautiful blooms with our customers!