How the U-Pick Process Works
First, you have to Find Us! We try to make this step as easy as possible, with signs to help guide you down to the Ranch.
Please bring boxes if possible. Plastic bags do not work. The fruit will sweat and crush too easily. Flat boxes, like beer or soft drink flats work great. You want shallow boxes because the cherries can not be poured too deep. The weight will crush the cherries on the bottom, especially as they get riper. It is better to have several small, flat boxes than one big one.
When you come in, we will get you situated in a parking spot. Parking is a little tight and we just ask for people’s patience as you come in. We will ask you how many pounds you want. This is to give us an idea of where in the orchard to put you. If you just want a few to eat, we will try to find you a tree with a small amount easy to get to and pick quickly. If you are looking for a lot, then we may dedicate a complete tree or a group of trees to you and your party.
We will then take you to the Packing Shed to sign the waiver. The waiver is a document that tells you the challenges with being in an orchard, like being on ladders, and verifies your consent. Everyone going into the orchard must sign, even if they do not plan on picking. Children, under 18, must have an adult sign for them.
After signing the waiver, we will take you into the orchard. We provide ladders and buckets. You will be given instructions on how to use both. If you have any questions or run into any problems, just let one of us know. We will always help you.
When you are finished picking, you will return to the Packing Shed. We will weigh your cherries, you pay for what you pick and that’s all there is to it.
Things to keep in mind:
- We do NOT take credit cards. Cash or local check only, or WIC vouchers are all that we accept. The nearest ATM machines are in Lakeside at either Glacier Bank, First Interstate Bank, Blacktail Grocery, or any of the gas stations.
- You will need to climb a ladder to reach the cherries. (We provide them). We ask that you stay in the tree we place you and not wander, not all the trees around you may be ripe. Please pick everything you can reach from your ladder placement. This means if you are picking with small children, you will need to go up their ladder and pick what they can not reach before we move your ladders again. This ensures the tree will be picked completely at each ladder setting. We understand your child may be excited to pick, and can’t reach much, and while we want the best experience for everyone, it sometimes just doesn’t work out. It is kind of like the amusement park rides, and needing to be a certain height to ride. Some stuff is just going to be out of reach.
- The terrain is rocky and uneven. Please wear appropriate shoes. Thongs and sandals do not work well.
- There can be up to an hour wait to get into the orchard, during the peak of the day (9:30 – 2:30)., especially on weekends. We get you in as soon as possible, but we can only have so many people in the orchard at one time. We will put your name on the list and send you down to the beach. We will come get you as soon as your name comes up. Though long wait times are unlikely, we do want people to know that when we are at capacity, it can take longer to get you into the orchard.
- Don’t wear good clothing. Cherry juice is a bugger to get out of clothing.
- Some years, bees are an issue. If you are allergic, please bring appropriate medication. Be aware we have no control over the flora and fauna, this is an outdoor environment and it is possible to be stung. Please exercise caution when reaching for fruit.
- We have limited parking. Please carpool whenever possible, if you are coming in a large group. Park large vehicles in the overflow lot. Campers are too big to bring down, sorry!
- It is usually sunny and hot during cherry season (at least that is what we hope for!). Be sure to bring sunscreen and water. We do have a water spigot, but most people prefer bottled water, as we are on a well. It is better to come in the morning, or late afternoon, when it isn’t as hot.
- This is Montana! That means the weather can change any minute. If it looks like rain, or there are thunderstorms, please be prepared. In the event of a downpour or if there is lightening, we may request that you leave the orchard. Lightening and aluminum ladders do not mix!
- We have deer. Not just one or two, but a LOT. They may or may not be in the orchard. They have spent their entire lives with us and they have very little fear. Please do not encourage them, they take enough liberties as it is. Watch your buckets and boxes, they may decide to help themselves to your hard work. Most of the time, they keep their distance, but sometimes they get a little bold. Please don’t forget they are wild animals.
- Please do not bring your dog(s). We have pets and we don’t want to have to worry about their safety, or the safety of your animals. We understand that if you are traveling, you may have a dog with you. We ask that you keep them on a leash. In the event of a warm day, we would prefer they go with you to your tree, and not stay in a hot car, but please keep them closely monitored and on their leash at all times.
- We have limited cell phone reception. Your cell phone may or may not work.
- Bring a camera! This is a fun, family outing. It will be something to remember.
- If you have small children, you might want to bring a spare change of clothing. They generally leave the orchard in all shades of purple 😉
- Have fun! Enjoy the view and feel free to bring a lunch and have some family time.