- [S104] Cocke County, Tennessee, and its People, Cocke County Heritage Book Committee, (Walsworth Publishing, 1992), 52, 88.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 6 Apr 2007.
Killing freeze threatens apple crop
(c)2007 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL Danny Ray Carver stands with one of hundreds of apple trees-all in bloom-at Carver's Orchards on Cosby waiting to see what damage freezing weather will do this weekend.
By: DAVID POPIEL
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
If Danny Ray Carver is worried, his smile doesn't show it.
A light breeze rustles the spring green leaves of his apple trees-some 60 acres all in bloom and facing consecutive mornings of expected sub-freezing temperatures.
Freezing weather is deadly to apple blossoms, but it is the same nature that provides the breeze that might save some of the pink petal clusters.
"You never know," he said about the weather. After all, on Thursday morning some forecasts called for frost but none formed at Carver's Orchards off Cosby Highway.
Apples, peaches, plums-almost everything came into bloom about the same time as March's 80-degree days pushed spring fast forward but "at least a week ahead," he said.
"Everything is not as gloomy," as it seems, he said, not showing any anxiety that by Sunday there could be no apple blossoms.
Looking out across the hilltops covered with neat rows of trees, the breeze continues to come. "There is always a breeze in the mountains." The trees higher off the ground fair the best, when temperatures plummet below freezing as they did Friday morning. Cold air, like water, runs down and collects in the hollows.
The wicked test will come Easter weekend with both Saturday and Sunday mornings expected to register temperatures in the mid-20s and highs only in the 40s.
There is nothing he can do to prepare. But the Carver family is used to the whims of weather. After all, his parents, Kyle Carver and Marjorie Carver, began the orchard in the 1950s. Danny and his wife, Irene, and children continue to work it. They have always been hardworking, prayerful and that has made all the difference at apple picking time.
Irene was inside their restaurant greeting customers like Wayne and Debbie Williamson. Irene Carver knew her husband was worried. The afternoon slant of the setting sun illuminating apple blossoms outside the glass windows would be of little use until the next mid morning.
Danny Ray is heartened that a lot of the trees cultivated by his Dad and him decades ago are of a hardier variety-they seemed to have produced apples after frosts, when more modern varieties did not.
He holds a cluster of blooms-there are five groups of blossoms and each could form an apple. The center blossom "is the King blossom-the largest." It would be killed first in freezing weather. Some of the smaller blossoms could survive.
As the limb tip thins to its end, there are some pea-size globes of dark pink and purple, as yet unfurled petals. Carver said that these buds could stand temperatures several degrees colder-and might be the remnant crop this summer.
He is a master of apple growing-knows all the trees and all the varieties at his orchard. And he will know within 30 minutes after the killing frost how much damage has been done.
There was little to no frost last year to endanger the crop so it was "an exceptional crop-actually too many apples. Everybody had too many apples," he said.
It was the spring of 1984-a harbinger of the drought years to follow-that produced the last significant freezing early spring to decimate the crop.
"We will still have some fruit. It might not be as many and not as pretty," he predicted.
So perhaps it was better that he and friends were talking about horses and horseback riding-just to keep his thoughts away from the dark and the cold ahead.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 22 Oct 2010.
Hauntings and apples thrive under full moon
Danny Ray Carver has been in the orchard business raising apples most of his six decades at Cosby. He was setting out a crate of bright orange pumpkins for customers last week.
Author: David Popiel
Friday's full moon during a clear night helped illuminate both haunted hollows, apple trees, and fall leaves about our hometown thankful for a bit of rain but drier for Del Rio Days.
We left off visiting at Cocke County High School with county resource officer Randy Cutshaw, who first came to my attention when I came across his Halloween cemetery along Baltimore Road near Long Creek. Randy is from Jefferson County and graduated from the high school there in 1987. While working at factories, he said, "It was always eating at me to get into law enforcement." When his best friend, Chris Webb, was killed in a vehicle crash at Wolf Creek Bridge, Randy made the decision to enter WSCC. "I've always wanted to help people. Chris's death gave me the push." Deputy Cutshaw is a 2001 WSCC Police Academy graduate. At CCHS he is the security patrol and one time caught a sex offender hanging around school property. Randy helps students learn to resist drugs and alcohol and how to be safe. He also monitors vehicle traffic. During the summers, he goes on the county roads as a patrol officer. "I often patrol neighborhoods for free," he said.
Given that he is a serious and professional fellow, where did he get the sense of humor and lure of having fun creating Halloween decorations? Blame daughter Lindsey and wife Kristy. They like the haunting season and extra activities together. Randy got some decoration ideas from the Internet, and about two years ago he built a small cemetery next to the highway. That's when thieves drove up and stole bones, skulls, and other items. This year the cemetery with fence made of painted PVC (I thought it was wrought iron), is closer to their home. Barney the big dog is posted nearby. Randy's next project is a giant headless horseman from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The cemetery contains the usual assortment of black cats, tombstones, and ghouls. You might be surprised when a couple of "props" seem to come alive and run after you. Randy and Lindsey dress in black costumes with glow-in-the-dark pale ghoul masks to tease the children who might stop for a look. You will find a coffin rising out of the ground, flickering red lanterns, fog, and other chilling scenery. The Cutshaws don't get much trick-or-treat traffic because of the City of Parrottsville event at Halloween for children. The whole point of the haunted cemetery is "for people to have fun." The Cutshaws also like ATV riding, fishing and outdoor activities. They live on the Sams farm in a remodeled farmhouse that Randy said is about 90 years old. Adjacent to it is a smaller empty house that is much older. An interesting story that Randy told concerns the coal we mentioned. There was still a pile around the property, and famous moonshiner Popcorn Sutton stopped because he saw it and wanted a piece. He wouldn't take it for free, so Randy charged him a buck. Popcorn said he "just liked to smell it burn."
October is the perfect month for visiting Carvers apple orchard. I tryalways to see the pink blossoms in spring heavy weighted green limbs of early Autumn. The apple crop is mostly harvested and a good one at that but Cosby orchardist Danny Ray Carver proclaimed, "This is the year of the pumpkin." Mid last week I made a couple of visits to one of my most favorite places just along Cosby Highway 321 not a mile south of Cosby High School. Indeed the trees still hang with apples-green, yellow, and red. The hot summer, a record for length of heat, usually causes apples to be small. Pumpkins, however, favor dry weather. The bright orange ones Danny was hauling on his forklift Wednesday were not grown here but he does grow hundreds of the old fashioned variety, These are paler, favored for pies, and keep exceptionally long well into spring 2011. How good was the crop? "You could walk pumpkin to pumpkin" without stepping on the ground. At 64, Carver retains his love of the orchard and there are still a few apples that he hasn't picked so he intends to work a few more years. He is a fifth generation grower and that makes his grandchildren seventh generation, he said with pride. In the distance to the east, the trees on the mountains are flashing their fall colors. An extra hot August tarnished the normal bright apple colors yet it made them sweeter. Think of Gala apples dipped in caramel.
Summer's pride and most popular award may go to the Carousel, bushels of which were stacked on the floor of the high-ceiling showroom. The day before, on an afternoon trip in search of Danny Ray, who had gone horseback riding, I bumped into Irene Carver chatting with several of her customers. The Carvers have always been more than cordial with customers, as if this friendly gene was tightly grafted into their stock. Wandering around I saw a few folks you know such as Geraldine Sutton near the Styman Winesap apples, and employees Judy Shelton and Phyllis Bryant helping bag apples whether Pippin, Gala, Carousel,and other popular varities.
Irene and I talked about the tourist traffic, and she was glad to report more customers and lots of new faces. One of our company's publications, Best Read Guide, serves Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge tourism industry. Its manager Mike Smith told me the Smokies has benefited by a large number of tourists who used to visit the Gulf beaches but because of the oil leak came here. And more drivers are finding the backdoor route, said Irene, taking them through Cosby. And that's fine. These folks seemed to favor the crunchy and juicy Carousels. "We can't keep them on the floor." Most of the discussion Danny Ray and I had was about agriculture, the reality that not all seasons are good ones, and the problem of too much government regulation. Like his parents, the late Kyle and Marjorie (Fancher) Carver, he knows and reads the Bible. He mentionrd a verse he had heard and read many times but didn't come to understand until recent years, when the Bible referred to starving to death in a land of plenty. At first it seems like a contradiction, he said, until you understand how government regulations can cause this. As for me, I pondered what happened to the famous fried apple pies that Danielle and others made in batches but had disappeared in the afternoon. Irene measures the daily output in pounds of flour-usually about 65 pounds. "Where are the apple pies?" I asked. "You're too late. Better come in the morning." Fortunately for me, Stacey's candy shop was packed to the ceiling with every variety of chocolate goodie that R&L Candy could make. I recommend something new, pumpkin fudge. Getting back to the heart of the business, apples, Danny Ray noted the August blistering heat caused lots of apples to fall off the trees. "It was still a decent crop. We were blessed with showers and the coolness of the mountains." Other orchards in flatter areas didn't fair as well. Last year's heavy rains had also deeply penetrated the red clay and provided extra moisture for the deep-rooted older trees. Carver's orchard is about 80 acres in trees where 150 varieties flourish so Danny Ray can proclaim no other orchard he knows of has so many, and old varieties too. Just a few years back he planted the Nuttering variety and is selling it this year. There was no need to ask if he has considered retirement. Like his father, who died too young from a rare form of rheumatoid arthritis, Danny Ray will probably take his final rest in a row of shady trees and let the grandchildren and their children pick the grove. He has not tired from apple pickin' time. Just give him some worn tennis shoes in the summer and boots for the winter. Yes, they work year-round. The harvest may be over but the restaurant remains busy. Plenty of fresh apple cider, fresh apples, apple butter, fried pies, and fritters await the hungry customers who never stop arriving. Irene's Williamson family works with other employees to make it a success. You will like the prices too for apples. They never seem to go too high, at $16-18 per bushel. "If you're going to help the community and children, hold prices down." That's Danny Ray's agr. marketing philosophy. I know the thousands of customers visiting and leaving must feel richer loaded down with bags, bushels or apples and assorted produce. The Carvers also provide employment with up to 30 working during prime picking time. The Carvers Orchards is a jewel and in my estimation a treasure both to be cherished and shared as it has been and will be for decades.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 18 Nov 2011.
Carver's apple crop easily handles hungry travelers
(c)2011 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL
Dipping into bushels of tasty apples are Kiersten, at left, and her sister, Kylen, at their grandparents', Danny Ray and Irene Carver, apple house on Cosby.
Author: David Popiel
The past days have presented us with a variety of weather from fog, wind, rain a dusting of snow in higher elevations about our hometown where citizens are stocking their pantries for the Thanksgiving holiday.
If it is something strange people will bring it into the office for our opinion and perhaps a photo. I got a chance to see a few things like this in November. One was a green fruit? The other you will read about soon that connected Tammy Southerland to the Plain Talk of 1967. Billy Dyer of River Rest Apartments came in carrying what looked like a large green apple. He found it growing on a bent tree off Smith Street and wondered what it was. It looked familiar with its warty skin. After asking folks about it, the answer was an Osage orange. There are many more of these trees in Kentucky and not many left in our county.
You know that our citizens are great about lending helping hands, and Edsel Hall of Del Rio shared such an incident in a post card he sent last week. A large beech tree fell across Highway 107 between Jones Chapel and the grocery store. A logger stopped and sawed the tree and limbs. Others who drove up stopped and pitched in to move the debris, raked the small pieces, and finally blew the sawdust away. As Edsel said, "Cancel 911. Job done. Heroes all, but especially the log truck driver. Mrs. Roseann Hall tells me that our friend Edsel celebrated his 81st birthday on November 15.
If you head south on Highway 321, you will see there are still a few leaves clinging to the apple trees set in row after row on rolling hills at Carver's orchard off Cosby Highway, and one of the most familiar country-side attractions in Cocke County to my mind. I began getting acquainted with the orchard founders Kyle and Marjorie (Fancher) Carver in the early 1970s. At the time, Kyle was not an old man but he was almost an invalid because of severe rheumatoid arthritis. After his death, Marjorie continued operating the family orchard with the help of sons Elbert and Danny Ray. Eventually, Danny Ray and his wife, Irene, made the orchard business their lifestyle and they have no regrets. If I have missed a year going to the apple house to chat with the Carvers, sample apples, and do stories ands photos, I can't recall when it might have been. During October, the tourist traffic was heavy, as usual, so another visit or two took place to give Danny Ray time to finish chores and talk about the growing season and trends.
Unlike several years ago when a hard April freeze destroyed the potential big crop, this year was "a decent season" thanks to rain at the right time and drying weather at season's end. "How it all worked out, I don't know," said Danny Ray, resting after helping two employees fix bearings on an apple conveyor where apples are washed before being sold. Summer had 47 days when the temperature was at least 90 degrees, by Danny's count. "That's tough on crops." Yet, heavy rains last fall and through the winter reached several feet into the soil and this deep moisture affected the current crop's apple size and taste. There are about 5,000 trees absorbing all that ground water. If a large hemlock can consume 2,500 gallons of water during a season, 5,000 apple trees must need millions of gallons. One thing you notice driving by the rows of trees is the different colors and sizes of apples. Danny Ray said that Carver Orchards with 140 varieties has more apple varieties than most any orchard in the US. Unlike many orchards that grow for super markets or processing plants where limited types are needed, the Cosby orchard feeds thousands of people all with individual tastes. Danny Ray observed that mountain folks today rarely can, dry or freeze apples. They want more fresh market ones. "Everybody is in such a rush. We change varieties when attitudes of people change." Daddy Kyle developed many unique types, some continue to exist in the orchard. "He used to sell a ton of mellow apples. People want crunchy ones you can knock a window out with."
He also observes that Kyle was right noting that during weak economic times, apple sales improve. "When money tightens, people will go back to the farm for a good buy." Even younger people are considering learning to can and put up fruits and vegetables. "You have a better and lot tastier product." When I picked up some of Danielle's famous fried apple pies, a woman from the Sarasota, Florida, area was packing bags full of them. A group of Red Hat Ladies had just left the restaurant but went into the apple house for more freshness. The demand for apple cider is so strong that the Carvers put in a new cider operation. In the past it took a day to process and pasteurize 600 gallons of cider. It is done in two hours today. If Danny Ray has a gripe about the business it is too much government regulation. As he said, "They tell you, 'you can't use this; you can't use that.'"
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 2 Nov 2012.
Author: David Popiel
Just as quickly as the far-off storm winds brought rain and wind to our hometown, by Halloween the skies cleared and November's start seems mellow.
Yet, the colder weather, rain and wind with some snow didn't keep buyers away from Carver's apple house and restaurant during the last days of October. We began our visit last week with Danny Ray and Irene Carver at the Cosby orchard and I'll polish off a final apple for now. By June 10, Carver's workers had began picking the early apples and picking continued into fall. During my mid-October visit I talked with Buddy Jolley and Lib Scruggs from Columbus, North Carolina. He pulled out his pocketknife and pealed a nuttering apple to taste it. Danny Ray has no problem with tasters; what better way to discover a variety you may like. There are more than a hundred. Galas seem to be among the best sellers for taste, size, and quantity. Red delicious are big and popular, too. You will find prices competitive at Carver's considering the "short crop" and huge demand. He prices most for $24/26 per bushel, and I have seen apples for $44 per bushel in nearby markets.
"This seems to be the worst apple and peach and fruit, all fruit, crops that anyone has ever seen," he said. Now, Danny Ray does remember his father talking about the killing freeze of 1954 that destroyed all fruit crops that year. "You couldn't' find enough apples to make a pie," Kyle would often say.
Despite the economy, gasoline at $3.25 to $4 per gallon, tourists are traveling and coming to Cocke County. They can afford to buy apples and pies. Travelers find beauty in these mountains and unique places to stop like Carver's orchard or the Hicks family maze and pumpkin farm not far north of the orchard off the same highway, 321, that links I-40 at the 440 interchange to Gatlinburg. On an earlier sunny weekend, I saw the parking area at the Hicks farm packed with vehicles of parents so they could lose their children in the corn maze. These natural, pleasant stopping places along with the weekend festivals, such as On Cosby, now, made me glad to live here and help greet our visitors.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 14 Dec 2012.
CARVERíS ORCHARD ARE STILL WASHING AND SORTING APPLES
Danny Ray Carver and employees at Carverís Orchard are still washing and sorting apples because of the strong late fall demand. He said the workers focus on production of apple cider and apple butter and use the smaller delicious apples, which have been plentiful at the Cosby orchard. The apple/produce warehouse, candy store, and Apple House Restaurant are open every day through the holidays. With milder weather and lower gasoline prices, tourist traf? c through Cocke County has remained brisk this season.