Carol Haramis's family has owned a farm for 5 generations that is now an agro-tourism farm. They raise Christmas trees, day-lilies, and pumpkins. They also produce maple syrup and hold festivals on the farm. In this 2011 interview, Haramis discusses the history of the family farm and details some of the work required to run the farm.
Haramis, Carol (interviewee)
Fish, Shiah (interviewer)
Cuyahoga Valley Project
"Carol Haramis Interview, 02 March 2011" (2011). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 518007.
Transcription sponsored by Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Carolyn Conklin [00:00:03] Today is March 2nd, 2011. Shiah, go ahead.
Shiah Fish [00:00:08] My name is Shiah Fish, and today I'm interviewing...
Carol Haramis [00:00:10] Carol Haramis.
Shiah Fish [00:00:11] And would you mind spelling that for us?
Carol Haramis [00:00:11] Yes, it's H-A-R-A-M-I-S as in Sam.
Shiah Fish [00:00:19] So tell us, well, we're going to start kind of from the beginning. Just tell us a little bit about your farm.
Carol Haramis [00:00:26] We have 115 acres. I'm the fifth generation on the farm. We raise Christmas trees, daylilies, pumpkins. We also do a harvest festival in the fall. My husband makes maple syrup. It's a agrotourism farm. You know.
Shiah Fish [00:00:47] And your family has been on for a while I guess?
Carol Haramis [00:00:52] One hundred and sixty three years we have.
Shiah Fish [00:00:55] Can you tell us where around... same area and farm?
Carol Haramis [00:00:59] Same farm. My great-great-great uncle Lawson Waterman came to this area in 1833 and was in Cleveland for a while, learning, building with sandstone and learning, working with Cleveland quarries, and then eventually came here in the early 1840s and started buying land, including the quarries that are now part of the Metropark, and he started farming.
Shiah Fish [00:01:32] What made him want to start farming?
Carol Haramis [00:01:36] I think it was a combination of that was the way most people supported themselves and he just, he liked the land. He had the quarries they farmed. He also was one of the largest canal boat builders in the area. And the farm was the way that they supported their day to day living.
Shiah Fish [00:02:02] How long have you been farming or living on the farm?
Carol Haramis [00:02:05] I grew up there. I was born here in the area and have lived my whole life on the farm.
Shiah Fish [00:02:13] What's your earliest memory of farming on your farm?
Carol Haramis [00:02:18] My earliest memory of living on the farm actually had to do with some Black Angus that my dad was raising, and he had a big bull named Prince when I was three, and I would not lay down to take my nap in the summertime. And so they would take me out and put me on the back of the bull and I would sleep straddling the bull's back and he would just very quietly wander around the pasture. And when I woke up, he would walk over to the gate for my mom or dad to take me off his back.
Shiah Fish [00:02:55] You mentioned that the farm does pumpkins, daylilies, Christmas trees, but you also just mentioned that there were other types of endeavors?
Carol Haramis [00:03:04] Every generation has done something a little different and it's always something to make the farm profitable. So Lawson Waterman, they raised your typical crops. He had sheep and cows and chickens, and they did wheat and oats and corn. And then the next generation, he was more of—that would have been my great grandfather Charles—and Charlie was more of a gentleman farmer and he leased out a lot of the land, but they still did maple syrup, and different farmers that leased the land grew different crops and they raised cattle and all that typical farming stuff. And then the next generation would have been my grandfather. And he didn't want anything to do with farming, so he rented the entire farm and he moved to Cleveland and lived in Cleveland. My dad, when he was 27 or 28, moved, married my mom. He wanted to farm, so they moved here to the farm and he took over farming, and I learned everything I know from him.
Shiah Fish [00:04:25] So every season you guys do the Christmas trees, the pumpkins, the daylilies.
Carol Haramis [00:04:30] Correct.
Shiah Fish [00:04:31] What are the advantages, well not even advantages. Can you just kind of explain your day-to-day seasonal?
Carol Haramis [00:04:38] Okay, we're coming out of our down season. You know, Christmas Eve we close the the Christmas season, and then we spend basically January, February, and the first part of March housecleaning and doing, you know, traveling and that type of thing. And then mid-March we go in to cleaning up the fields from the tree seasons, getting the fields ready to plant. We plant in mid April, and then as soon as the ground's dry enough to start mowing, we are mowing Christmas tree fields for the entire summer and fall. I open my daylily business. I have almost 300 varieties that I sell in the summer. The daylily business opens the second weekend in March, or I'm sorry in June. We're also going to be having a Wednesday farmer's market for area farmers that'll be starting the 15th of June. And the daylily sales go from June through August. Farmer's market will go until the first part of October. As soon as we close in August, we tear apart the daylily beds, replant them for sale for the next year, and immediately start setting up for our our fall harvest festival, which we call Pumpkin Pandemonium. And we sell pumpkins and mums and cornstalks and straw bales, all the harvest decoration things on the weekends. We have made a scavenger hunt, all kinds of activities for the kids. And then Saturday evenings we have haunted hayrides, and that's what we've done for fall for probably twenty years. We raised our own pumpkins up until about six years ago. And the deer population here in the Valley, because there's no... Because of the national park, there's no hunting, so the deer population the last few years we raised pumpkins decimated our pumpkin crop. So we now buy our, actually buy our pumpkins from southern Ohio farmers and do our fall harvest. And then as soon as Halloween gets here, we have a week to take all of the Pumpkin Pandemonium things down and get set up for Christmas tree sales. And we start selling Christmas trees the weekend before Thanksgiving, and we're open seven days a week all the way through until Christmas Eve.
Shiah Fish [00:07:09] What kind of Christmas trees? What kind of species?
Carol Haramis [00:07:13] We raise white pine, scotch pine, blue spruce, and we also have a test field in right now of Canaan fir. The problem with the fir tree... growing the fir trees here is the deer love 'em. They love to eat 'em. So we have that area fenced and so far the fence is keeping 'em out. But it doesn't look like it's gonna be a real good crop for us because we'd have to put ten-foot fences up around all of our a Canaan fir fields. So we partner with a couple southern Ohio farms to bring in Fraser fir and Douglas fir.
Shiah Fish [00:07:48] Is there a certain type of tree that I guess sells the most?
Carol Haramis [00:07:54] For cut-your-own, scotch pine is pretty much the favorite right now, although blue spruce is not too far behind. And then in our precut trees, Fraser fir is by far the the best seller.
Shiah Fish [00:08:09] Do you have particular kind of favorite?
Carol Haramis [00:08:10] I love Fraser fir. I wish I could grow 'em on the farm.
Carolyn Conklin [00:08:14] Can you describe what makes thoses trees different?
Carol Haramis [00:08:17] They're very fragrant. They're a short needle like the blue spruce, but they're not a sharp needle so they're very easy to decorate. They're kid-friendly. They're... They look like your typical Christmas tree, you know, your traditional Christmas tree. They're very nicely shaped and they hold the ornaments really, really well, and it's just a really nice tree.
Shiah Fish [00:08:45] You said that you learned all of your techniques from your father. How from that period to I guess now, have the techniques changed or has the technology changed a lot?
Carol Haramis [00:08:57] Oh, wow. Yeah, when my dad first started planting Christmas trees, I was... Well, he put the first crop in the year before I was born. And when he first started the Christmas tree farm, it was... The whole Christmas tree business was just really getting going in Ohio. And they had to build their own tree planters. They didn't mow the fields as much as we do now. We're into precision planting. We plan our trees on six and a half foot centers so we can mow in both directions. We're constantly mowing our fields to keep grass down because I don't like to use herbicides. So we mow to keep the trees from getting choked out by the grass. They didn't spray as much for diseases back when my dad was raising trees because the varieties that we grow in Ohio hadn't grown here that long. So they hadn't attracted these diseases. And now the different varieties get different bugs and different diseases and they're all throughout the state, so we're we're having to do some insecticide spraying and some some fungicide spraying. And tractors are just, you know, they're easier to handle. They're, you know, you've got power steering on your tractors and they just run a little better. I can remember my dad all the time being in the barn repairing something. And things are made, in some senses they're made a lot better now. And in other senses, it's more of a disposable market now. So some of the... Some of the tractor parts and things are just, you know, they're made for a year or two and then they break.
Shiah Fish [00:10:46] You you said your family has been there since 1844, I believe?
Carol Haramis [00:10:51] 1833.
Shiah Fish [00:10:51] Sorry.
Carol Haramis [00:10:52] Yeah.
Shiah Fish [00:10:53] Is there any of the original houses or buildings or is that a special place to you or you know, the farm, per se?
Carol Haramis [00:11:01] The barn, the original barn is still there. And actually when the family moved here, that was the first building that was put up and it's been in continuous use since 18... Well, he actually settled in Peninsula in 1844. You're right. And that barn was finished in 1846, and the family kind of hung out there where they built the first house up on top of the hill. And the house I live in is... It's the original farmhouse, but every generation has added on to it, so it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
Shiah Fish [00:11:45] So you said that you've lived in the Cuyahoga Valley all your life. Could you just tell us how it's changed over time as well?
Carol Haramis [00:11:58] Well, first of all, with the park coming in, there's a lot more people in the Valley. I think they had over four million visitors here last year. And Peninsula gets a lot of them. So it's a real busy place now. When I was growing up, I'd get up in the morning on the weekend and saddle up my horse and I would be gone all day long. I'd tell my parents what direction I was going in and there were farms all up and down the Valley so we could ride from one end of the Valley to the other without ever going on the road. And now between, you know, farms being sold and being broken up and housing developments going in and the park land, you really can't go anywhere now without without going on the road. We don't... We actually don't even have horses anymore because it just got to the point where, you know, I didn't like riding on the road to have to get to a specific trail. Let's see, how else is it changed? There's not as much farming. You know, when I was growing up, there were a number of farm families in school and it was kind of nice because you'd come in on Monday morning, and, you know, some of your friends had been out doing fun things on the weekend. And those of us that were farmers had been baling hay or doing something over the weekend. And we kind of understood what the lifestyle was. And now there's... There just aren't farm families anymore. And a lot of people don't understand the lifestyle, especially in an urban county like Summit County.
Shiah Fish [00:13:31] Do you miss just saddle up your horse and ride?
Carol Haramis [00:13:34] Oh, yeah, yeah, I do. It's... It was a very relaxing thing to do and... But it just got to the point where my husband and I both for a while, we're working internationally, and it was very difficult to find people that knew how to take care of the horses. And so when the when our last horse died, we just decided not to get any more. We pulled up the fence and the horse pasture became my daylily area and and we started rescuing and raising dogs. So we're doing that now. And it's a little different lifestyle.
Shiah Fish [00:14:15] You said that you... Going back to the daylilies, you said that you harvest over 300 different kinds?
Carol Haramis [00:14:20] I have 300 different varieties. Most of them are hybridized by other people. I don't do any of the hybridization. I let them... That's too much like science, and I didn't like science in school. So, I let other people hybridize them and then I pick out the prettiest ones and bring them up and cultivate them and propagate them and sell 'em as a... It's a retail business. I don't do any wholesale.
Shiah Fish [00:14:49] I guess on to the retail. So, you sell, like where do you sell your, how's business, where do you sell the daylilies, where do you sell pumpkins?
Carol Haramis [00:14:57] The daylilies, people actually come and they go through the gardens and they pick out the varieties they want. They make a list and then we actually dig them right out of the garden. They take them home, bare root, and plant them in their gardens. And daylilies are really nice because they they double and triple as the years go by. And so they just kind of keep multiplying on their own. And I try and keep about three hundred varieties. So every two or three years I'll discontinue 30 or 40 varieties and bring in 30 or 40 new ones. And that way my customers always have new selections and it turned out to be a really fun business. Daylily customers are really interesting people and they're very friendly. And it's a fun business to be in.
Shiah Fish [00:15:44] You mentioned that you... We're going to kind of go off the path here for just a second here, but you mentioned you had worked internationally. Could you describe what kind of work?
Carol Haramis [00:15:58] I did some work with an area foreign exchange program for a number of years. My husband and I have hosted twenty-three students through a couple of programs. And for a while I was working with these exchange programs, interviewing students in other countries and doing that type of thing. And then for a while I was doing a little bit of international business development in Mexico. I had been an exchange student in Mexico when I was in high school and was working with one of my host brothers down there for a number of years.
Shiah Fish [00:16:35] That's quite different from farming.
Carol Haramis [00:16:37] Yeah, it is.
Shiah Fish [00:16:38] How did you get into that besides, you know, being an exchange student, younger or younger?
Carol Haramis [00:16:44] Actually, I started doing business down in Mexico. The Ohio Christmas tree growers were looking into the possibility of exporting some Christmas trees to Mexico, and they sent me down to Mexico to a trade show to see if we could find customers and get into that market. And while I was down there, I met some Mexican businesspeople that wanted to start doing some business in Mexico or I mean, in the United States. So I just started working back and forth with all kinds of different groups.
Shiah Fish [00:17:17] Thinking back on your years in the Valley, what's the strongest memory you have related to farming?
Carol Haramis [00:17:27] I think my best memory is being able any time during the day that I wasn't doing homework or had other responsibilities around the house, being able to get on my horse, go find my dad and work with my dad. And from the time I was old enough to go to the field with him right up until he passed away in 2007, we were... We always worked together out in the fields and in the woods.
Shiah Fish [00:17:56] So your father was really integral on your being brought up on the farm?
Carol Haramis [00:18:00] Oh, absolutely.
Shiah Fish [00:18:02] How was it working next to hi? What did you learn from him?
Carol Haramis [00:18:05] Well, he taught me everything I know about raising Christmas trees and taught me a lot about good forestry management. We have probably 60 acres of woods that we're managing and occasionally we'll do some select cuts for lumbering and just taking care of the land. It's in some senses, it's a big responsibility being in charge of this wonderful piece of property that has come down to me and in other senses, it's just a delight to be able to be outside on great sunny days when a lot of my friends are sitting in offices somewhere, you know, and being able to also work for myself and set my own schedule. You know, if I know something's coming up that I want to do or there's a trip I want to take or a conference I want to go to, I know I can set my own schedule and work out things most of the time so that I can take the time off that I want to take off without really having to answer to anybody else. Although there are times on the farm that you just don't go, you know, if a particular insect is active and it has to be sprayed on the Christmas trees, you can't do it on Saturday because you have time. If they're active on Tuesday, you're out there on Tuesday and forget whatever plans you had. So it's... Probably the best thing about farming is, you know, being able to to be outside all the time and enjoy all the nature.
Shiah Fish [00:19:48] So your dad was intergral to you, but you said that your grandfather wanted nothing to do with the farm or wanted nothing to do with farming?
Carol Haramis [00:19:55] He was not a farmer. He was an accountant. And when he was old enough, he married a local girl here and they moved to Cleveland and he worked for a couple of companies in Cleveland. And they would spend summers out here and sometimes they would come out from Cleveland for the weekends. But he just wasn't a... He wasn't a country boy. He really liked the life in Cleveland and that's where he wanted to be.
Shiah Fish [00:20:25] So then, how did your father learn to be a farmer?
Carol Haramis [00:20:30] Because he grew up here Summers.
Shiah Fish [00:20:31] Oh.
Carol Haramis [00:20:31] He spent summers here and he actually went there were a couple of years that they actually lived out here for the entire year, but growing up summers and being on the farm and he really got to love the land and decided that that's what he wanted to do.
Shiah Fish [00:20:48] And do you have any other relatives that are faring with you, or is this your...
Carol Haramis [00:20:52] No, it's... My husband and I run it, and there's some local kids that help us on the farm. But it's just the two of us. My brother didn't want any any part of it. He lives out in Oklahoma and has no desire to have anything to do with it. And I've got some cousins that are... One lives in New York and one lives in Vermont. And they're very attached to the farm but their life is where they are now. And they come out as often as they can, and when they're here, they help. But the day-to-day running of the farm is my responsibility.
Shiah Fish [00:21:29] Do you have any other worries about the farm life or anything in the Valley or anything that really has like embodied your experiences here? I don't know, did you miss anything?
Carol Haramis [00:21:40] No, I don't think so. I think, you know, we kind of... We're I'm trying to think if there's any other stories that are real... Well, I guess one of the reasons that I really like being in farming, especially in an urban county, the first year that we started selling pumpkins, we had a big patch and we put our patch in the front yard. So it was real visible. We had about two acres of pumpkins. And I think that year we had something like 800 or 900 pumpkins in the front yard. And a mother came in with her three kids and had them pick what they went out into the patch and picked their own pumpkins. And she said the reason that she brought her children to our place was because they had been walking down the aisle in the grocery store and the pumpkins were all sitting in the grocery store. And she mentioned that she had seen an ad in the newspaper for a place where they could go pick their pumpkins out of the patch. And her son looked at her and said, oh, Mommy, pumpkins come from the grocery store. And so, you know, for us, it was really a great experience to show these kids where these things really come from.
Shiah Fish [00:22:56] What's the largest pumpkin you guys have sold?
Carol Haramis [00:22:59] Oh, I think our biggest one was only like about 50 pounds. You know, we don't do the super huge ones.
Shiah Fish [00:23:05] We just walk in the.
Carolyn Conklin [00:23:10] So let's let's go back to growing up on your parents' farm.
Carol Haramis [00:23:16] Okay.
Carolyn Conklin [00:23:18] Can you just tell us, so what did it feel like to be there? What did the farm look like?
Carol Haramis [00:23:21] Well, the farm was bigger because in 1979 we were forced to sell 140 acres to the national park. But when... So when I was growing up, it was a 250-acre farm. And my dad had Christmas trees on most of the farm. So we would... You never knew what part of the farm he'd be working in. And it was it was really kind of fun. We had a huge maple tree that was right outside our kitchen door, and I would climb up the maple tree, probably three-quarters of the way up, and from that spot, you could see the entire farm. And so if Mom needed to get a message to Dad, because of course there were no cell phones then, I'd climb up the tree, find out where Dad was, come back down, saddle up my horse and I'd ride out to get him. And, you know, that was always kind of fun because that meant I got to use my horse, you know, at different times. And the fun thing about growing up on the farm was, I mean, it was a different era. You didn't have to worry about your kids being out by themselves. And we'd get up on a Saturday morning and pack our peanut butter and jelly sandwich and go hiking in the woods or get on the horses and go wherever. And and the rule was you were home, washed, in your seat at six o'clock for dinner. And if you'd been out on the horses, you were back in time that the horses were groomed and they were cooled down and they were fed before you were in your seat. And... But, you know, we knew six o'clock, boy, you're, you're at dinner. That was the big thing. The other thing on Saturday, Sunday mornings in summertime, horses had to be fed by eight o'clock. By the time I was a teenager, it was like, we don't care how late you sleep in, but you will be up and out and those horses fed by eight o'clock. So I'd drag myself out of bed at seven o'clock on a Saturday morning, go down and do all the chores and then come back and just kind of slide right back into bed and sleep till ten or eleven o'clock like most teenagers do.
Carolyn Conklin [00:25:39] Oh, I have... Go ahead.
Shiah Fish [00:25:49] I had another question but I wasn't sure if...
Carolyn Conklin [00:25:52] Can you describe the horses?
Carol Haramis [00:25:56] We started out, I always wanted horses, and Dad would not let me get my own horse until I was big enough to take care of it. So when we were 10, we boarded horses for the winter from a local day camp. And the only one of... There were four of us kids. The only one that took care of the horses was me. So I was the only one that was allowed to get a horse when I was 12. And my first horse was a big bay gelding. I bought it from one of the neighbors. He cost me a hundred and twenty-five dollars at 12 years old. My dad loaned me the money and I had to pay him back. And so I think I'm trying to remember, I think I paid him five dollars a month. And the day I got him, Dad drove me down to the neighbors' and we saddled him up and I rode him home. And I had him until I went away to college. And at the time then I had to sell him and I wound up giving him to a neighbor because I wanted him to stay in the area, and then—I was only gone for college for a year—I came back and moved back home and went to Akron U. and Kent State, and so as soon as I got back, I got another horse and I had a buckskin named Cloud. And we had him... I got him when he was 11 or 12 and he lived to be 32. And then when I met my husband, he grew up riding, and so I would borrow a neighbor's horse so that he and I could go riding, and then when we got married, his grandfather gave us a horse as a wedding present, which I'm not sure whether that was really a good present or not, but it was a fun horse. And we had those two horses right up until, I'm trying to think when it was that Cloud died, it was probably mid-'80s. And at that point we were working internationally and just decided that we weren't going to we weren't going to do the horse thing anymore because there wasn't anybody around to help us at that point.
Shiah Fish [00:28:05] Is there a specific legacy that you want to leave the Valley or farming or your future?
Carol Haramis [00:28:20] I like the idea that the Valley's gonna remain the Valley, you know. When the when the park was first proposed, there were a lot of people in the Valley that were very skeptical about the idea that it would be a solid city from Cleveland to Akron. And, you know, I'll admit, we were angry and devastated when we lost half the farm. And... But seeing what's happened over the years, you know, they were right. It would have been. It would have been one solid city from Cleveland to Akron. And it's nice to know that the Valley is going to be protected. And, you know, I plan to farm as long as I can, and we're kind of working with some of the local kids in the area. And we're not real sure exactly yet what the next generation of the farm is going to look like and what the makeup, how the farm is going to continue to be a farm, but as far as I'm concerned, we're going to make sure that it stays a working farm for as long as we possibly can, hopefully, you know, generations to come.
Shiah Fish [00:29:39] Is there a particular new endeavor that you were getting into?
Carol Haramis [00:29:46] My dad always wanted to see the farm be used for educational purposes. And so we're starting to develop some programs for home schoolers. I put together a couple of programs that I haven't had a chance to do yet for creative writing. So we'll be doing some workshops and starting to to do a little more of an educational twist to what we're doing. But farming, you know, they'll still we'll still be grown crops and in harvesting lumber and, you know, doing what we're doing and and just start teaching. Some of the kids know how it's done.
Carolyn Conklin [00:30:30] What do you some of the most important things to teach the children?
Carol Haramis [00:30:38] I think more than anything else, it's caring for the land and in realizing that more houses aren't necessarily progress and that it's not a resource that will just automatically renew itself, it needs to be taken care of. And also the... Just the basic idea that it's hard work to farm and it's hard work to grow the things that we need in this country. It's one of the reasons why we started doing a farmers market. We wanted to give the local farmers a location to sell what they're growing and also to give the the people in the area the opportunity to really find out where their food's coming from. And a lot of people just don't understand, you know, and you know, they'll look at a farm. The perception is just from the fact that a farmer has a lot of land that they're wealthy, and they don't understand the costs and the hard work and everything that goes into it. And what I tell... What I've told some people in the past is that, you know, I can't eat dirt. You know, that it's a lot of hard work. And a lot of times I work weeks at a time and I don't make a penny. So it's... You've got to love what you're doing in order to do it. And also understand that, you know, if you had breakfast, lunch or dinner today, you need to thank a farmer because that's where your food came from.
Carolyn Conklin [00:32:29] Can you tell us the process of selling your products at a farmers market?
Carol Haramis [00:32:36] What we do more than anything else, I mean, I sell my daylilies during the time that we do the farmer's market and but we also provide the location for other farmers to come in. We have an area right down by the road that we've cleared and graveled. And we put out solicitations for local farmers and they apply to us and we pick the ones that we feel will be the high-quality farmers that we would like to have represented. And then they're... They'll pay a membership fee. They come in and they have a ten by ten spot that they can set up a booth to sell what they grow. And it you know, it's really nice. For four, five years, we partnered with the Countryside Conservancy and we had the farmer's market and then it outgrew our location and they went ahead and moved their Saturday market four miles down the road to Howe Meadow. And after two years of not having a market, we decided we wanted to do a Wednesday market on a little smaller scale than what we had done with Countryside. And so this year will be our first Wednesday market. We already have a large number of requests for vendor space. So it looks like it's going to be a nice-sized market and it gives the the farmers a chance to come in and show what they grow and sell, what they grow. And for the customers to get a chance to talk to the people that are growing their food. And it's a great opportunity to run from 3:30 to 7 on Wednesday nights. And it'll you know, it's just going to be a really, really fun get together and a chance for people to get to know the people that are growing their food.
Carolyn Conklin [00:34:33] What products do you expect to have to sell there?
Carol Haramis [00:34:35] Fruit, vegetables. There are some... We will have a baker who'll be doing breads and pies. Bedding, plants, perennials. I'm not sure whether we have anybody coming in to sell honey. We're still getting our vendors right now. We have somebody that'll be doing soy soaps, soy-based soaps and lotions. Some prepared food, we have a woman who does pierogies who's going to be there. It's a whole mix, but a lot of fruit and fruits and vegetables, you know, locally grown fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, that type of thing.
Carolyn Conklin [00:35:30] Now, on your farm, what do families do when they get there to choose a Christmas tree. Does someone lead them out there, or...
Carol Haramis [00:35:39] Actually, they'll come in and park and we have some of the area high school kids there giving them directions. The trees that are available for sale on our farm, we put a red Heritage Farms tag on the top and then a white price tag with the height in the price of the tree right on it. So when we send people out to the fields, there are designated fields that are designated by big blue flags. So they know that if there's a flag and there's a red tag and a price tag, that tree's available for cutting. If it's not tagged, it's not available. And usually if a tree looks like it should be sold and it doesn't have a tag, it's probably the next year's tree because we have a limited amount of acreage. We can't just let people come in and cut anything. So we clear cut sections. And that helps me in one sense know... Give me an idea of what my income from tree sales are going to be for that year, which will help budget on what I'll be able to do with the farm throughout the whole season.
Carolyn Conklin [00:36:49] Part of our project is to learn more about the past of the Cuyahoga Valley, so I' going to bring you back to the horses too because it's really interesting.
Carol Haramis [00:36:57] Go back to the 1800s again?
Carolyn Conklin [00:37:00] [Laughs] Can you tell us more about what it takes to raise a horse or care for a horse? What chores did you have to do when you were growing up?
Carol Haramis [00:37:05] Oh, gee, basically everything. You get up in the morning and and feed and water and in the winter, that meant going down to the creek and breaking the ice and making sure that the horses had water. Our horses were allowed to go in and out as they wanted to. So they got their water out of the creek. And then I go to school. As soon as I got home from school, I had to change my clothes and go down to clean stalls. Stalls were cleaned every day and then the horses were fed. We were expected, weather permitting, we were expected to exercise the horses at least an hour a day. So that was a real hardship. You know, I'd saddle up and head off to some trail and got to the point where I had three or four places out on our farm and on the neighbor's farm. It was not unusual for somebody while walking through the trails or riding their horses on the same trails I was on to find me twenty-five feet up in a tree doing my homework. And when I was 13, my parents bought me a really nice set of leather saddlebags that were big enough for my schoolbooks because, you know, as soon as I had the stalls cleaned, I'd saddle up and I'd head somewhere and part of it was, you know, going to find someplace nice and quiet and fun to do my homework. And I think I would have been a really bad student if I had to sit in the house and do my homework all the time as I wound up getting pretty good grades because I had really great places to study. You know, my father made me read livestock manuals, both because we had pigs and chickens and for a little while cows and and but also for taking care of the horses. So it was you know, it was my responsibility with Dad looking over my shoulder to be aware of what the health was of my horses. And, you know, it was my decision when the blacksmiths would come in to trim their feet and put on their shoes. And, you know, but I had I had my dad behind me making sure that I didn't miss anything. And he, you know, he spent summers with the plow horses, riding the plow horses. And, you know, he worked with animals all his life. So I had a good teacher and I had, you know, somebody good keeping an eye on what I was doing. But because I wanted the horses, they were my responsibility.
Carolyn Conklin [00:39:37] Did you have any other chores you were responsible for?
Carol Haramis [00:39:40] Oh, yeah, at planning time, we helped Dad plant. We had to help weed the garden. They had a huge garden. Half our front yard was a vegetable garden and wasn't my real favorite, going out and helping to weed, but we had to do it. And we had an old sweetwater well, and we didn't drink the water from the tap. We drank water that was brought in from the well. So it was my responsibility to make sure that the bucket in the kitchen was always full and oh, what else did we have to do? Take care of the dogs and and just, you know, the younger kids had, you know, a few chores. Mom was kind of hoping that my sister and I would take to the housework and the boys would be out with my dad. And turns out my sister like doing the girl things. I was the tomboy in the family, and I wanted nothing more than to be out with my dad. So I, if he was baling hay, I was out baling hay. If he was planting trees, I was out riding on the tractor with him. So, you know, I was definitely Daddy's girl and anything Dad was doing, I was right there with him.
Carolyn Conklin [00:41:05] Can you describe the buildings that were on your parents' farm?
Carol Haramis [00:41:10] When I was when I was young, when I was probably up until kindergarten, we had... The old smokehouse was still up. We had a a spring house that was probably 100 feet or no, probably 50 yards down the lane. And that was where they that was where they kept food cold. The granary was still up and the remains of the old cow barn was still up. We had a cow that kicked over a heat lamp or something in the cow barn, burned down when I was probably a year old. And then the main barn was up. By the time I was in kindergarten, the granary had I mean, the granary, we were never allowed in the granary because it was in such bad shape. And by the time I was in kindergarten, the granary had come down. The spring house had come down. The pump... There was a pump house up the hill from the main barn. And I turned that into my... That was my clubhouse from like fourth grade until we finally tore that down probably my senior year in high school. It, you know, it got to the point where you weren't using the barns and any of the buildings on the farm, if the roof wasn't kept good, the building wasn't gonna last. And, you know, so some of the being the typical for farming, I mean, you can only do what you can do moneywise. And so it got to the point where the goal was to keep the main barn. And then when I was in fifth or sixth grade, fifth grade, we added the new barn that's up by the house. It's actually sort of a garage addition on the house. And that's where we sell all the Christmas trees. My dad put that on as an indoor display space for for hanging trees and and displaying Christmas tree so that people could come after work in the dark and come in and have a precut tree they could buy instead of trying to go out in the field in the dark.
Carolyn Conklin [00:43:37] What did the house look like?
Carol Haramis [00:43:38] When I was growing up, we had one bathroom for six people. Every generation has added onto the house, every generation to change the house while, when... [recording stops abruptly]
Carolyn Conklin [00:43:56] Okay. Back to the house.
Carol Haramis [00:43:57] Okay. Anyway, when I was growing up, there was there was one bathroom. It was drafty and... But it was really a cool place. I mean, I can remember as a little kid, it was a great place for playing hide and seek in the wintertime and, you know, running out the door and letting the screen door slam in the summer. And I mean, I was just a typical big old farmhouse. We used the front porch all the time. And then my dad added on that... He added on what was supposed to be his office in the family room, and we wound up turning it into a mother-in-law's suite when my husband and I got married, and then he and I added on, we enlarged the kitchen. And it's kind of funny because when I was growing up, there was one bathroom. By the time I was a senior in high school, we added the second bathroom and then my husband and I, by that time it was just the two of us in the house. We added the third bathroom so that the least number of people had the most bathrooms. And it was just kind of... We just kind of laugh about, you know, okay, well, you know, when are we adding the next bathroom? So it's, you know, it's a neat old house. It's got eighteen rooms. And we're actually looking at it now with the possibility of turning it into a bed and breakfast. You know, it's, you were asking about, you know, new ideas for the farm. And that may be... I don't know. I haven't stayed very many bed and breakfasts. So one of the things I'm going to be doing this fall or the spring in May and then in September is I'm going to be doing some traveling up in Vermont and throughout Ohio. And I'm planning on staying in bed and breakfasts to get a little bit of a taste of it, to see whether it's something that I really want to do. When my husband and I got engaged, my dad offered us the house and mom wanted a new house where everything worked and everything was all on one floor. So they built a ranch house on another part of the farm. And so we're kind of, you know, we're thinking that maybe, you know, when we get a little bit older, we're going to want to be in that one house with everything all in one floor. And then what are we going to do with this house? And it may become a bed and breakfast or it might become a conference center. Or it might... My cousins at that point, one of them might want to come live here. And I've got nieces and nephews that are younger and, you know, we're talking with them and somebody may decide they want to come live here.
Carolyn Conklin [00:46:43] Growing up on the farm, what did you do for fun?
Carol Haramis [00:46:47] For fun? Oooh. Depended on the time of year. If it was... If it was the time that we were making that we were baling hay and straw, we would build forts with the bales up in the loft. We had secret hideouts and forts all over the farm, a couple of tree houses. We'd go fishing in the neighbor's pond. We'd swim at the local swimming area, which was the same old sandstone quarry that my family owns. And we lease to a nonprofit here in town and they run it as a swimming area with lifeguards and in a snack shack. And yeah, it's a really fun place to have grown up and learned to swim. During the winter, we had the best sledding hill in town in our front yard, and half the kids would show up at our house and the bottom of the yard's flat so we were the place for baseball games. And outside all the time. You know, it was my choice to be outside with Dad rather than being, you know, Mom liked to sew and knit and do all the craft stuff. And I let my sister have that. She would keep my mom company and I would be gone tagging after Dad or hanging out with friends.
Carolyn Conklin [00:48:14] What was school like?
Carol Haramis [00:48:14] School. Elementary and junior high, the school was right in our backyard, so we walked to school every day and, you know, it was all local kids. And, you know, you get done with school and go hang out with your friends or invite one of my friends to go horseback riding. I had... I hung out with four other girls that had horses. So we were always all over town doing something with the horses, spending the night, and when we would spend the night, it was... We would go and our horse would go. So it was, you know, like getting home from school on Friday and packing up your saddlebags and headtoing Heidi's house or heading to Bev's house and, you know, spending the night and making sure your horse had a place to be. And the parents just got... It was like, okay, who and what horse are showing up today, you know. it was a lot of fun.
Carolyn Conklin [00:49:11] Do you have any other memories you'd like to share from growing up?
Carol Haramis [00:49:14] Oh, gee. Yeah, there's hundreds of them. [laughs] I don't know. Baling hay with my dad was a lot of fun and for a long time, you know, I just got to ride on the tractor with him while he was driving the tractor and the baler and Mom would drive the truck and then whoever was helping would throw the bales into the truck. And then as I got older, they taught me how to drive the truck before I had my driver's license I at least, you know, would drive the truck on the farm following the the baler and then I got stuck in the loft because I'm left handed and the way they set the bale elevator up, it was just perfect to have somebody who was left handed hauling the bales off the elevator and handing them back to whoever was stacking in the back of the barn. So, you know, for a number of years, I got stuck up in the hot loft and it was always the hottest day of the summer when you would bale. It didn't matter. You could have 70-degree days and you're baling day would come up and the thermometer would shoot up to 90. But you'd finish baling at the end of the day and the pickup truck would come down the hill and all of us kids would jump in the pickup truck and they'd drive over to the quarry and you'd get out of the truck and you'd run down and everybody'd jump in the water and, you know, you'd get rid of all the chaff and get all cooled off. It was a lot of fun. Hard work, but a lot of fun.
Carolyn Conklin [00:50:47] One of my last questions is just can you—jumping to the present now... [laughs]
Carol Haramis [00:50:49] Okay.
Carolyn Conklin [00:50:52] Can you take us through a day of your life working on your current farm?
Carol Haramis [00:50:57] Now?
Carolyn Conklin [00:50:59] Yes.
Carol Haramis [00:51:00] Okay. I think our busiest season would be Christmas tree season. So a typical day for me because Christmas tree season, we're open seven days a week. So I'm up. We're usually open at nine. So, you know, I get up between five and six and do whatever I need to do around the house, exercise the dogs, because when we're open to the public, I don't let my dogs out. All of my dogs are rescue dogs and they've been abused. And so I just don't make them go around people that aren't used to being around them. So I get them taken care of and then we open at nine and I'm in my Carhartts, in my work clothes, and I don't like to go in and out during the day because then I get cold. So I walk out the door at nine o'clock and I'm outside until we close at 7:00 and we have a big fireplace out in the sales barn made from sandstone that we brought in off the farm. And we hang out and if we have customers, I'm selling trees and shaking them and baling them and tying them down on people's cars. And if we don't have customers, one of my favorite pastimes is splitting wood. So I'll make sure that the guys have cut logs for me. And while I'm waiting, while I'm waiting for customers come up the driveway, I'm splitting wood. We usually have one or two employees that are there helping us. I can't really lift a ten-foot tree anymore, so and we sell up to fifteen-foot trees. So nowadays I make sure I have at least one of the college kids that are hanging out, helping me sell trees. And then on the weekends, we have thirty-five employees that are helping on Saturdays and Sundays. And so I'm running that whole thing, you know, making sure they're where they're supposed to be and everybody has what they need and customers are being taken care of. I'm the behind-the-scenes person and it keeps me really busy. And you get to Christmas Eve and then you just collapse. And all of the pictures of us on Christmas Day for the last twenty years, we're the ones that are sound asleep in the back of the family pictures.
Carolyn Conklin [00:53:14] You talked about this a little already, but can you tell us a little more about how the farm looks different now?
Carol Haramis [00:53:24] It's a lot more open. When my husband and I took the farm over, we cleared a lot of pastureland that my dad had let grow up. You know, he had picked the best fields for raising Christmas trees and the rest of the areas he had kind of just let grow up. Well when we lost that 140 acres to the national park, we had to go in and clear new field areas for the Christmas trees because we wanted to continue the business. So there used to be a woods behind the house. We timbered that and that's all Christmas tree fields. And then down the hill from the house was all blackberry bushes and multiflora rose and all kinds of stuff. And we cleaned it all out. And that's now the area where we put our maze at pumpkin time. And the area where the farmer's market is now used to be an overgrown cow pasture. And we cleaned that all out. So it's a lot more open. And I like to have the place looking... I call it golf coursed. And so we, you know, I'm always on the guys to make sure that everything's all nicely mowed. And I discovered a few years ago that I really like to build gardens. So we're always finding sandstone around the farm because we owned all the... Used to own all the quarries in the village, and so any time we'd come up on, you know, a piece of sandstone, it gets brought down to the barn so that I can use it in a, you know, garden somewhere. And I like getting my hands dirty. And during the summer, I'm not happy unless I'm just covered with dirt from head to toe.
Carolyn Conklin [00:55:16] Could you describe the different species of daylilies, what they look like?
Carol Haramis [00:55:19] Oh wow. I've got 300... About 300 varieties and you can get just about every color or color combination there is except blue. There's no such thing as a blue daylily. And they grow. They bloom any time between... I've got varieties that bloom in late May and I have varieties to bloom all the way through October. And what we encourage our customers to do when they're buying their daylilies is, you know, look for early middle, late bloomer so that you have got color in your garden all year long. And it's really pretty. At peak bloom, which is basically the month of July, I'll go down to the daylily gardens at six o'clock in the morning just to watch the flowers open. And you'll get down there and you'll have, you know, two or three in a garden that are open. And you can see the buds that are getting ready to pop and by 7:30, they've all opened. And it's like walking through a rainbow down there. And I'll have during peak bloom of the 300 varieties, I'll have probably 220 in bloom at one time and you know, there'll be 30 or 40 blooms of each variety open each day. So it's literally like walking through a rainbow. And we're starting to do some weddings on our gazebo now. And I'm getting a lot of requests for weddings during peak bloom. And it's kind of fun. And it's going to be very interesting to see how people decorate the gazebo and have all that color right up to the gazebo.
Carolyn Conklin [00:57:04] Do you have a favorite daylily?
Carol Haramis [00:57:06] Yes, I do. My favorite daylily is called Thumbprint, and it's a yellow daylily that looks like somebody took purple paint and put their thumbprint on all six petals. It's just absolutely gorgeous. It's about six inches in diameter and blooms in July and then it comes back and blooms again in August.
Carolyn Conklin [00:57:31] Can you tell us more about how your past growing up in the Valley influenced your current work and why you wanted to stay and farm?
Carol Haramis [00:57:40] Why I'm staying? I tried to leave a couple of times. Tried, tried living in Mexico. Right after my husband got married, he got transferred to Mexico City for three years. So we went down there and I wasn't... I couldn't get a work visa. So I got to come home summers and help Dad with the Christmas trees. And we were just starting our Christmas tree fields. And so I would come home and work summers and then go back down and spend the rest of the year down in Mexico. And we, you know, we thought about doing some other international expat assignments. And actually my husband's done some work in China and Australia, and I've gone to visit but I always just keep coming back home, you know, and it's... Living on the farm. It's you know, it's not that I come back. I want to come back to Peninsula. I want to come back and be on the farm. And it's... There's something about, you know, Peninsula's a beautiful place to live and the people are nice. And it's still one of those communities where everybody pretty much knows everybody else. And if somebody gets hurt or somebody is sick or somebody dies, you've got your neighbors there helping out. And if you're out of town and they see something going on at your house, they call the police, and it's a really nice, closeknit community. And... Add to that living on a farm, having this open area to live in and enjoy and to share with other people and it... There's no other place to live. You know, I can go away for a few months, but ultimately I just keep needing to come back here.
Carolyn Conklin [00:59:38] Any other questions? Alright.
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