Of course the best looking fruit were found near the top of the tree. These peaches were exposed to the greatest light and hence had the greatest amount of blush on their skins.
Standing underneath the tree and looking up at all of the ripe peaches, you can't help but feel like a kid again. It's a magical sight really, and one that I hope my son will remember when he's older.
Over the course of two and a half weeks, we picked several large bucketfuls - more peaches than I could count - and ate our fill of fresh peaches each day. The rest, I peeled and froze for use this winter or made into a firm fruit spread (to be eaten with cheese), which I canned.
Of course, when you have an old tree, it can be quite a challenge to reach the fruit at the very top. Having a ladder helped somewhat, but we ultimately bought a handheld fruit picker, which attaches to any long pole. We happened to use the pole that came with our roof rake. It worked great, though next year, I'll probably line the bottom of the basket with some bubble wrap to protect the extra ripe ones from bruising.
Of course we had quite a few windfalls as well. Hundreds I would imagine. We were able to salvage a few of them, but since I was traveling for much of this month, most of these started to rot on the ground and ended up on the compost pile. I hated to see so many go to waste, but when you have hundreds of peaches hanging from a tree like manna from heaven, the loss became much more bearable.