Owner of Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm honored for weather service

By: Frank Waugh Email
By: Frank Waugh Email

On Wednesday, an Eau Claire man received a big honor for something small he has done, each and every day.

Herb Teichman runs the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm.

However, his award does not have anything to do with fruits or farming. It is all about the weather.

On Wednesday, Teichman was presented with an award for his daily observations on behalf of the National Weather Service.

For Teichman, this means more than just personal pride.

The weather in southwest Michigan is perfect for growing fruit, and few know more about that than Herb Teichman of Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm. He has been a grower and weather observer for just about his entire life.

Herb says, "This weather reporting is not a job, it is just sort of a routine, like milking a cow or whatever. Everyday you have to be there to do it."

For over 50 years, Herb has been taking observations for the National Weather Service at his home outside of Eau Claire, Michigan.

Mike Sabones of the National Weather Service says, "Now, across the United States, there are somewhere on the order of about 11,000 people that take cooperative observations for the National Weather Service."

For his service, Herb is receiving a big honor.

“Every year, we award 5 Thomas Jefferson Awards in Honor of Excellence in doing this. So, it's a big honor, and it's something that we don't give out lightly."

Just like growing fruit, this award also runs in the family. Herb’s father, Bill, started making observations in the mid 1920s and received the award in 1967. While much has changed over the years, the equipment has stayed the same.

Herb says, "This instrument that we work now is the same instrument that I grew up with, they are the same. The Weather Bureau has offered automatic or electronic means of getting temperatures and measuring rainfall, and I have opted for direct contact with the thermometer and the measuring of the precipitation."

That means every day, Herb walks out to his station at 6:00 p.m., reads the high, low and current temperature and checks the rain gauge, or in some cases, the snow gauge.

From the monster snow season of 1977 to 1978, to his coldest observed temperature in January of 1972, Herb has recorded it all.

"It was 21 degrees below, and that temperature, it killed trees, apricots, peaches, nectarine trees, and we had to start over, and that was a terrific blow…Whenever something happens, it is nice to have a record of what happened during that year so you can trace it back and try to avoid it. There is not much chance we are going to change the weather, but we can maybe avoid some of those things, like planting fruit crops that don't bloom during a frosty period."

This long weather record has helped more than just the Teichman family determine where and what to plant.

“Not only what we grow, but what the community grows. There are a lot of people around here now that are growing crops because of that weather station. They call and want to know, and for that reason, we are happy.”

Mike Sabones says, "Herb's just the epitome of a great cooperative weather observer. He puts service before self, recognizes the value of these observations, and I'd say herb is just providing a tremendous service to the citizens of this country."

It is a service Herb hopes to continue.

“I am hoping that some of the family might take over yet and make a hundred years of this."

Now 81 years old, Herb says he helped his father take observations before he officially took over in 1968.

Between Herb and his father, the record dates back 87 years and contains more than 31,000 observations.

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