Tuesday, February 8, 2011
This is our orchard in deep winter snow:
It breaks my heart, this orchard. It's beautiful and needy and slightly rundown. We can't take care of it the way we should. Blame a lack of equipment, know-how, and will. Yet it hasn't quit on us. Every year, the apples are a little less lovely, but they come.
It used to be that we had a bargain with a large, local orchard. They'd care for the trees and take all the apples we didn't use. But their methods were highly conventional. We here at Maggie's farm are flexible, pragmatic even, but we could not abide by herbicide. Or, frequent drenchings of pesticides. We grit our teeth and allowed the fungicide in the spring and that seemed a fair trade off.
But as our flock of Icelandic Sheep grew, we began to use the orchard as pasture. The sheep nibbled the lower branches. But they kept the grass low without herbicides. We were fine with that, but the fencing made it hard for the orchard folks to work and they got sick of all the limitations and just stopped coming.
That was two years ago. Our noble little orchard continues on, apples scabby and small, but still good.
This year, though, feels like a last gasp. How long before the trees give out altogether?
We've tried to find someone to care for the orchard. But we are just a little too remote, and the care is just a little too intensive, I guess.
Spring is coming (Hard to believe in a snowy month like this one).
Any ideas? What would you do?
Posted by Perri at 12:48 PM