What a mess!! The blackberry vines have taken over our apple orchard at the farm the last two years. It was actually hard to get to the apple trees to pick the fruit! This picture was taken last fall after Eddie had mowed off enough to allow us to walk through the orchard.
Three years ago we had a bumper crop of blackberries all over the farm. I froze more berries that year and made more juice than we had ever had. We think what we didn’t pick, reseeded or the birds and raccoons ate them and reseeded everywhere they went.
Hubby on the tractor using the bushhog to take the mess down. You can’t restore the orchard if you can’t get to the ground to plant new tree stock.
The equipment attached to the back of the tractor is the bushhog. You run over the brush and unwanted vines and it chops it all up much like a lawnmower but on a bigger scale.
The blackberry vines had come up in rows all through the orchard.
Half way through and it’s looking so much better. The blackberry vines were from four feet tall to well over 10 feet tall.
This is a different angle from half way back in the orchard looking toward the front where most of the mess was.
I think it looks 100% better now. The chickens were having a blast digging through the downed brambles!!
Can you believe it’s the last day of January?? I spent the morning do normal indoor chores like, sweeping and mopping the floors, making the bed, two loads of laundry and other minor jobs after having breakfast with the Mister! I got pork tenderloin out of the freezer for dinner and then saw that the temperature had risen to 40* and no wind. OUTSIDE I GO!!!
We’re still in for some cold weather and hopefully some snow because our pastures, yard, hayfields, just the earth in general needs a good soak before spring really appears! I knew I had some pruning to do on some fruit trees but the grapes needed it worst than the others.
A tangled mess of four vines that have been planted two years and I’m expecting big things from this year.
In order to get those beautiful grapes they need to be pruned each year. Grapes grown on new stems each year!
This end of the arbor holds grapes that we started from an old vine on the farm. They are blue, not real big but so sweet. The vines usually provide a lot of grapes!
I use some wonderful little hand pruners on all of the small vines, trees and my rose bushes. It’s very important to sterilize them and I use just plain old rubbing alcohol. It took about an hour but they’re all trimmed and now we wait! While waiting we pray for no late frosts to kill them.
Hubby thinks I scalped them but from past experience I know I’ll have more grapes and if Mother Nature cooperates they’ll be bigger grapes.
They’re thinned of their old bearing branches and the only thing left to do is tighten the arbor lines that we made from plastic covered clothes line. It tends to stretch each year but is easy to tighten.
After I finished pruning the grapes I went around the garden and trimmed suckers and water sprouts off the green gage, peach, pear and blue plums. The big job will be trimming the apple trees which seem to get less attention each year but I’m going to get what I can from the ground and hope for some help with the higher branches.
I am so ready to start growing something!!!
I just took some empty jars to the cellar and took an accounting of what is left from summer 2016 canning.
Full shelves from canning season 2016!
They were completely full in October but now supplies are dwindling!
We have a huge pile of potatoes leftover and will probably sell them in the coming months. I’ll can about 15-20 quarts but the rest will go in the garden for seed and we’ll eat some more until they start sprouting. They’re bakers and peeling size and have been so good throughout the winter.
Hubby has plowed the garden and we’re hoping we’ll get some spring rain on it before we disk it up for planting.
We use the Kubota tractor for plowing.
Our garden site has very rich soil and always produces more than we can eat and preserve.
It also seems to get bigger each year!!! This year we’ll plan the usual crops of green beans, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, broccoli, brussel sprouts, melons, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and in the fall some turnips and field greens.
Hope your planting season is grand and praying we have an abundant season this year. In the coming weeks I’ll be cleaning off the various asparagus patches we have and watching the rhubarb show its sprouts already. I had six grape vines started new last year and they all survived but one. I bought this red grape to replace it.
It’s a red seedless grape and I love them. Hope they get as large as the one’s we buy in the grocery but know it will be a couple of years before that happens.
We also went to Food Lion yesterday and bought three dwarf apple trees for the orchard at the mansion.
Dwarf red delicious – once this starts bearing fruit we’ll take cuttings from it and graft to some new root-stock or some wild apple trees we find every year on the farm that we’ll transplant to the orchard.
Dwarf yellow delicious-dwarf trees don’t last as long as standard trees but they give you fruit quicker.
This is a dwarf McIntosh which is hubby’s favorite. We have one tree in our large orchard but it’s really old and we lose an old standard about every year.
This is the mansion orchard where the dwarf trees will be planted. The pond is close by and a mountain spring runs through it to make for easy watering.
Last years grape arbor is where the new red grape will be planted and is right beside our garden.
Posted in Farming, Gardening, Orchards, Wildlife, Work to be Done
Tagged apples, cellar, grapes, Orchards, Produce, vegetables, work
Grape arbor in the backyard.
Every spring I try to add 2-4 new fruit trees to our dwindling orchards. The past few years have been apples and peaches. My daughter got me two new cherry trees for our anniversary and they’ve been planted in the back of the apple orchard and fenced to keep the deer from eating them up. Last year I planted four new grape vines along with some English walnut trees . All of the grapes have survived but I lost one walnut tree.
This year I ordered two Green Gage Plum trees and two Black Tartarian Cherry trees from Aaron’s Farm (http://www.aaronsfarm.com/) . The plum trees are three years old and about four feet tall and the cherry trees are three years old and 5-6 feet tall. The were shipped bare root and pre-pruned. We set them out yesterday evening and watered them well which I will continue to do daily until we get some rain and there after as needed daily or weekly depending on the moisture in the ground.
The Green Gage plum tree is an ancient European plum descendant that has been extensively grown and propagated in England and France since the 1700’s. My grandparents had these plums on their farm in Paint Bank, VA for years when I was a young child and we would eat them until they ran out our ears. I’ve not seen any for years and have been looking for them for about five years and lucked out with Aaron’s Farms this spring. I can’t wait to have some “green gages” in a couple of years. Green Gage plums are green-skinned when completely ripe with a pink overlay at the base of the fruit when tree ripened. The flavor is deliciously sweet with a slight sour taste to the skin.
The black cherries are my husbands favorite and most of the cherry trees on our farm have died or only produce pea size cherries. I’m hoping these will bring back some good memories especially when I make him some cherry pies in a couple of years.
The Black Tartarian Cherry tree is a sweet cherry with a black skin and bright red pulp. They are cold hardy which is one of the reasons I chose this type.
I can’t remember the name of the cherry trees my daughter got for me but think they are a red cherry.
Now we have blue plum, wild red plums, pears, rhubarb, peaches, apples of all kinds, grapes, gojiberries, blackberries, and raspberries on the farm. Plenty of fruit to add to our meals and snacks.
Newest grape arbor
Posted in CROPS, Farming, Orchards
Tagged apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, fruit, Orchards, pears, plums, raspberries, rhubarb, trees
Hubby has been working on fences again in the last week and he tore out the east end fence around our garden because it was about to fall down.
tractor tires used for garlic, strawberries and rhubarb
fencing between yard and garden
He decided that the fence didn’t keep out the deer so he would not replace it. We have now moved the large tire planters to the south garden fence and will plant fruit trees along the yard where the fence used to be. We currently have three pear trees along this line, two grape vines and a blue plum. On the North end of the garden we’ve planted three peach trees and cut down an old plum tree that died. I want to put in two more peach trees on that North end, two more plum trees out the fence line and plant two or three cherry trees in the yard close to the pond. All of the apple trees that used to be there except one have died and been taken out. These trees we replace will all be of the semi-dwarf size except maybe the cherry because of the space and closeness to the garden. We don’t want the shade from the trees to shade the garden from the morning sun. Hopefully hubby and I will be around when they start bearing fruit.
The apple tree rootstock we planted last year have all survived the winter, rabbits and deer and it’s now time to graft them. We think moving our hound dogs to the apple orchard have saved our new trees from the ravages of the wildlife. We just hope the wildlife doesn’t realize the dogs can’t reach them as long as they are chained.
Space between yard and garden cleared of fencing
Freshly plowed garden lot
Tire planters moved to new area
Strawberries starting to green up.
Garlic coming up. Love that stuff!!
Rhubarb coming in but frost burnt the leaves badly. I’ll clip the leaves and start fresh after this weeks frost pass.
Quince tree in south west corner of garden.
Pear trees sprouting.
We try very hard to replace our fruit trees as the old one’s die which hasn’t been done for many years. We want the future family members to have plenty of these crops on hand for their use well after we are gone! If we don’t take care of the future generations, who will??
Posted in Fencing, Gardening, Orchards
Tagged changes, garden, garlic, grapes, peach, pear, plum, quince, rhubarb, seasons, spring, strawberries, tire planters, weather
Apple bloom full
Pawpaw trees blooming
Leaves coming out on the pecan trees
Everything was either coming out with bloom or full of bloom and we had two nights of frost around the 15th of May. The English walnut and pecan were burnt bad. Some of the apples, peach, cherries and pears were blooming really full and got the frost but we may still have a little fruit. Last night we had frost but not heavy and it didn’t hurt the tomatoes but hubby expects it again tonight.
Posted in Farming, Harvest, NATURE, Orchards
Tagged apples, berrie, blueberries, freeze, frost, pawpaw, pecans, walnuts
We’ve been so busy the last few weeks and it seems like months since I last blogged and I’m trying to make up for lost time tonight. Bear with me and I promise you’ll understand before this weekend is over.
We have three apple orchards on our farm and all used to be full of old timey apples. Time, neglect and the weather have really been hard on the trees. Each fall we try to have a Sunday Cider Fest and decided if we didn’t do something about replenishing the trees that have died or been uprooted by the wind that we would have to start buying apples to continue the tradition.
We’ve replaced about 10 trees in the last two years and I’ve been trying my hand at grafting with not much success. I think the problem was trying to graft to trees that were not in the ground and established. Two years ago I started taking classes offered by the county extension office to learn how to graft. At each class I’ve obtained 10-15 apple root stocks for semi-dwarf trees.
Since I haven’t had much luck with the grafting, Hubby and I decided I need to make sure the root stock was going to live. When I got the root stock it was bare root and it was too much stress on the grafts competing with the trees trying to get established. We put all of the stock in large pots with fertilized soil and made sure they got plenty of water throughout the summer. We did this for two summers and during the winter took the trees (30 trees) into the mansion basement to keep the winter wind from beating them out of the pots.
Potted apple root stock in the sun but the board fence protected them from the summer winds.
Last month we started bringing them out for some daily sun and acclimating them to the cooler weather. Last weekend we planted the first 15 in the orchard at the west barn.
Hubby used the post hole digger on the tractor to drill the holes and then we had some heavy rains which was great for getting the water to settle the holes and get the water down where the roots would need them.
We set out thirteen more yesterday afternoon and now we wait. Our biggest challenge will be the deer!! The trees that we set out last weekend have already felt the damage of deer. Each one of the trees lower limbs had been eaten off. To keep them from completing the damage we will have to make woven wire cages to go about two feet around and out from each tree. We tried the plastic pipe around them last year and the mice did the damage then. Apparently they thought the pipe was a good place to set up housekeeping and chewed the bark off at the base of the tree and killed them. So MICE and DEER are on my hit list at the moment!!
Posted in Animals, Farming, Hard work, Harvest, Orchards, Wildlife
Tagged animals, apples, deer, mice, mother nature, ROOTSTOCK, weather
Storm aftermath June 29th, 2012
June duratio takes down several apple trees.
In June of this past summer, we had lots of tree and fence damage from the “duratio” that hit our farm. I’ve never seen such wind and we were very lucky that we had no more damage than we did. We did loose several apple trees and hubby has been working hard since that wind storm to get things back in order.
Hubby started the clean up in the orchard today and got all but one of the downed trees cut up and hauled off. It looks kind of bare now but hopefully we’ll fix that. Here’s a picture of the cleaned up orchard as of this afternoon.
Fallen apple trees removed and sun shining on the remaining.
Lots of replacing to do for the orchard at the house.
We won’t be able to replace those trees with the same type because they were trees grafted by the family years ago. Luckily there are several of the same type in the orchard and I have 30+ apple stock in the cellar that are two years old and ready for grafting. I need to get out soon and cut scion from the trees we have left and when spring truly breaks I’ll get that new stock in the ground, grafted and wrapped and shielded from all the wildlife that love tender buds.
I’m looking forward to another try at grafting myself. Hubby is a real pro at it! I’ve taken the classes but think maybe I try to hard. We’ll see how they fair toward the end of summer and look for new sprouts on the grafts. I LOVE FARMING!!!
Posted in Farming, NATURE, Orchards, Seasons, WEATHER, Work to be Done
Tagged apple trees, apples, chainsaw, cleanup, downed trees, firewood, hard work, mother nature, wind, winter
January -Ice and snow
February-Making maple syrup
January-February – grafting fruit trees
February – March – Seedlings started
March – Baby calves arrive
March-April – Spring turkey hunting for two of my favorite people.
April – fire wood for winter 2012
April – New equipment for working the cattle
April – More new fencing
May – Gardening begins
May – Honeybees cleaning house and we prepare for fresh honey
May – Bee swarming begins
May – Fruit trees bloom and we worry about late frosts.
June 2012 – 1st ever “duratio” in our neck of the woods. Lots of cleanup and keeping hubby busy!
June – Duratio takes down lots of our fruit and nut crop and wreaks havoc on our fencing.
June – Hay time
June – Hay lot is full!
July – Spring cleaning almost done!
July – Harvesting & canning for winter in full swing!
July – A little crafting along the way makes life fun!
July – First barn quilt in Craig County on the barn!! More fun!
August-September – Mammoth pumpkin from the garden. He almost didn’t fit the wheel barrow!
July – August – Fresh vegies from the garden.
September – Potatoes harvested and in the cellar.
September – Plowing to sow the winter crops (turnips & parsnips).
September – Spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce from the last of the tomatoes.
And, here it is the end of September. Deer season and turkey season is soon to be here. Baby calves are coming and yearlings are headed to the market. Two nights of cold temps and frost in the mornings means firing up the wood stoves. The cycle starts again.
Posted in Animals, Cooking, Crafting, Family, Farming, FOOD, Fun on the Farm, Future work to be done, Gardening, HAPPINESS, Hard work, Harvest, Hunting, NATURE, Orchards, Planning, Seasons, WEATHER, Wildlife, Winter
Tagged 2012, animals, fall, farming, food, fun, harvest, seasons, spring, summer, winter, work
Fall is definitely here. We have picked our first apples of the season and not because they were necessarily ready but because the sand hornets (huge ugly yellow bee) had started eating them. We don’t have a lot of apples this year and may not even have enough to do our annual cider press but there were about 30 good apples left on the tree so we decided to get them.
Huge apples in August
We peeled and sliced them pretty quickly and they’re a very dry apple which I thought would make good apple pies and fried pies.
Peeling the apples
- Sliced apples
I cooked them up and they’re beautiful. I didn’t have to press them through a sieve. I put them in airtight freezer containers and froze them for winter goodies. I kept out three cups for breakfast and my applesauce cake which I plan to make now. I’ll share the recipe soon!
You know that summer is coming to an end when the kids start back to school but the real clues are when the garden is being cleaned off for the fall crops, the woodshed is full and the cellar shelves are stocked. I was riding home yesterday and saw a hint of gold and orange in the tops of maple trees on our road. Last night we saw a herd of deer near the house and three of the larger bucks had lost the velvet from their horns. The apples are starting to drop and the wildlife is scarfing it up almost before it hits the ground. The hummingbird population has dropped from 30 to 10 or 12. The chickens molt has come to an end and the new feathers are shining. The cats and dogs on the farm have almost quit shedding. The katydids are screaming way before dark and the evening porch sitting is so much cooler. Best of all, the screech owls are calling!! Fall is near!!
Posted in Farming, FOOD, Future work to be done, Harvest, Hunting, Orchards, Planning, Seasons, Uncategorized
Tagged cool weather, deer antlers, fall, farm animals, food storage, garden, gardening, katydids, molting, Orchards, owls, school, summer
Posted in Farming, HAPPINESS, Harvest, Hunting, Orchards, Seasons, Uncategorized, WEATHER, Wildlife
Tagged apples, Autumn, cider, color, cool weather, fall, gold, leaves, orange, pumpkins, red, seasons
I can’t believe it’s the end of July! This year has flown by!! It’s time to start aggressively storing food for the winter, gathering wood, and winterizing all the animal sheds and the house. I’ll save the house for last since the next two months will probably turn out to be our hottest months. The farm equipment should be finished for the year except for a couple tractors. Hubby always cleans them up and checks everything out for worn parts and replacement parts. I clean up the garden and yard equipment but still a little early for that. The major thing now is the garden. I will have more green beans to can this coming week and weekend, more squash to freeze, onions to store and more cabbage to do something with. The tomatoes and peppers are near ready yet and the summer “duratio” did away with most of the fruit. Luckily I stored lots last year.
Hubby worked on filling the wood house again today and the split stack is out of the rain. We still have a large load to split and more down from the storm to cut & split for the following winter.
All of the hay is stacked and ready for winter and hubby is in the process of cleaning up the hay equipment. The roofs have been taken care of and I have to put new interior tar paper in the chicken house. All of the major fence repairs have been made and the pastures are being sheared now.
Posted in Animals, Family, Farming, FOOD, Future work to be done, Gardening, Hard work, Hunting, Orchards, Plans, Seasons, TIPS, To-Do List, WEATHER
Tagged animal care, cold, food, heat, power outage, snow, winter
We only have four cherry trees on the farm at present. Three of the four produce pretty decent cherries usually in late May or early June depending on the weather. My hubby really looks forward to them ripening and he loves cherry pies. This year only two of the trees outwitted the late frost and produced for us. Hubby kept checking them and was anxiously awaiting their ripening. He wasn’t aware that someone else was watching and waiting right along with him.
Guess what?? The critters beat him to them and one of the trees got a very bad pruning. The smaller of the two was robbed of their fruit by birds and raccoons. The largest and sweetest cherry producer was invaded by three black bears. On one given day it was visited at the same time by three. There were two that were probably three years old gageing by their size and then there was the “big boy”. The last time I got to see them, the two smaller (125-150 pounds) were taking turns up and down the tree and having the times of their lives UNTIL the big guy showed up. They were pretty quick to leave the area with him around. The “big boy” stayed for a good while and that’s the last I saw them but hubby watched him tearing that tree to pieces, stripping it clean of all cherries for about two weeks.
After they were all gone and hubby was so disappointed, I went to WalMart and bought him some for the pies and the ice cream. I froze the last basket to have for out next batch of homemade ice cream because they just won’t keep very well once we get them home. We were happy to see the bears but not so much when they took all the cherries. Maybe next spring will be a different story!!
Posted in Farming, Future work to be done, Hard work, Orchards, Seasons, WEATHER
Tagged cleanup, fences, hail, roofs, storms, trees, wind