|A rabbit's eye view of a pine tree sprout.|
We are attempting to revitalize our poor ancient orchard. When my in-laws moved here in '64 the orchard was old and unkept and it hasn't seen any real care since. About 30 years ago my brother-in-law and his friend gutted it for firewood and apple wood for smoking fish. After that nature took its course and it became a staghorn sumac breeding ground with a few other air and animal born tree and shrub seeds sprouting here and there.
Then about 10 years ago my daughter and her husband decided to clear out all of the sumac and some of the junk trees and shrubs. Then came the mowing. I can't tell you how many riding and push mower's, blades and decks were ruined in the first few years mowing those 2 acres, but it was too many. But their effort sure payed off in looks. The deer still came and grazed and bedded there, and enjoyed the bug infested scabby apples in the fall. Not many, but worth the trip anyway, on their way from the pine woods a half a mile behind us, down to the river a half a mile in front of us and back.
Three or four years ago we had a bumper crop of apples, since 1972 when I first started coming here I have never seen the like. The crop was so heavy limbs were breaking and during a severe wind storm 2 trees broke off near the base. We gathered bushels of good eating apples and bushels of others to use as stock feed and for canning. Any other year it was hard to find a good eating apple and maybe enough for a few pies.
Last spring we planted 2 apple and 4 pear trees and lost one, (two if you count the old ancient one in the yard). The year before we planted a sweet and a tart cherry tree, which the deer ruined in the fall and they died and a peach tree. The year before that I planed 1 peach and 2 mulberry trees which I am still trying to nurse into growing, they keep dying off in the winter and restart from scratch in the spring. Last year they grew the best and I hope they survive this spring. This year we have ordered 2 cherry, 2 peach, 10 sugar maples and 5 Dawn Redwoods. I am not quite sure where the last 2 items are being planted yet. And we will probably pick up a few more apple trees locally.
Well lets get back to now. Last week we decided to prune the old apple trees of all dead branches and old non-productive growth. We also had a tree that had broken a main trunk during the winter that needed removal. We had only done 4 trees when wifey decided that she wanted to trim the lower branches of some of the pine trees growing there. And that is when she discovered the pine seedlings.
Last year wifey decided not to mow the orchard because she wanted to get some milk goats and pasture them there. It didn't happen. This year wifey says come hell or high water we are getting some goats. And these seedlings must be transplanted first. So for the last few days we have been looking for pine tree seedlings, so far we have found over 90 of the tiny things.
Now we have little flags all over the orchard marking their locations. We have to hurry up and get them all marked before the weeds grow and cover them or it greens up any more than it is because they are so small and hard to see.
Some have been mowed down for years and others are just starting. Since we didn't mow the orchard last year all of the dead grass and weeds have covered up many of them making them almost as hard to find as a needle in a haystack.
Thursday we let Harley loose to come with us, but he got bored after a while, and when he headed for the neighbors and wouldn't come to our calls, we had to chain him back up and let Bear loose.
Bear came with us but made such a nuisance of himself by laying wherever we placed a flag that we had to go and put them both in the house so we could get anything done.
To make marking flags I cut metal coat hangers in half, straightened them and formed a eye at one end to tie a strip if plastic grocery bag onto. I got all of the coat hangers from my daughter Sarah who had bundles of them in her car that she left here to sell. She collected them from her laundry service that did her work uniforms when she was going to college. When it sold I had to clean out the car and wifey made me throw most of them away, but I snuck some into hiding. She says I save too much junk, but I always find a use for good strong wire. Hows that for recycling?