Thursday, May 16, 2013

A time to plant

Although many people seem to believe that managing an orchard begins and ends with picking the fruit, there is more to it than that.  Farming, as with all projects that are worth doing, is a job that requires planning for the future.  Some plans are short term such as weeding, watering, cleaning, and mowing.  Others are longer term such as laying out the garden (three to four months), building and preparing the animal barn for its occupants (six to eight months), and planting and caring for the trees (two to ten years).
Every day we walk the orchard and examine the trees.  Other than deer and other varmints looking for snacks, we watch for signs of disease or other issues so that they can be taken care of promptly.  Think of it this way: when do you take care of a cold?  If you take care of yourself when you only have the sniffles, you'll recover faster.  If you wait until it has turned into pneumonia, you may be in store for a much longer recovery (not to mention all the folks you've now spread the germs to). 

Crab Apple blossoms
At My Happy Acres, we offer a  wide variety of apples and cherries.  As we plant we consider when each of these varieties will be at their best when picked.  We also think about which varieties may need a little help to pollinate.  Not all fruit trees are self pollinating but need another variety to help them along in the process.  Some orchards take the extra step and plant crab apple trees to aide in pollination.  We're fortunate that we have enough flowering varieties at this time that crab apple trees are not necessary.  That said, I still feel that crab apple trees can be quite pretty.  I also have fond childhood memories of candied crab apples on the Thanksgiving table.

News from Chickenland: As the weather warms, we've been thinking about the best way to put the girls out to graze and at the same time, keep them safe from preditors.  Rat snakes are good to keep the rodent population in check, however wouldn't hesitate if a tasty chick blundered into them.  A passing hawk may be on the watch for rabbit, but a hen will do if spotted. 
The girls in the yard are safe for now, but stay tuned!  A chicken adventure is on the horizon.

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