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!!!
Starting new willow trees from cuttings
These cutting remind me so much of forsythia but they are in fact willow tree branches from a very old tree at my husband’s grandfather’s farm across the road from us.
Our daughter loves weeping willows and has bought several and planted at her new home on our family farm but they have all died.
Hubby and I decided to get some cuttings from Granddaddy Harry’s farm and see if I could get them started in a bucket of water. We cut about 50 branches of new starts, old branches and broken branches. I put them in a five-gallon bucket and filled it with water and placed the bucket under the roof overhang of the east facing side of our house/ They set there for about two months and the roots that came out on those branches were quite plentiful and very healthy.
Strong roots on practically every stem.
Willow branches rooted and potted.
In April, I set about 20 of the healthiest starts out in buckets of very fertile soil and the majority of them have lived.
New leaf growth and decision time!
Now all she has to do is decide how many she wants and where she will plant them. If they don’t make it there will be no money lost and my time was worth the wait to watch them become little trees. I love growing things!
Our biggest sap producer in the back yard of the mansion.
It’s getting close to time to make maple syrup again and Mother Nature split our best sap producer in half back in late summer. The tree is over 200 years old and we have pictures of my husband’s family having a picture made at it when his great, great grandparents had passed away. All of the children were standing/sitting in front of the tree when the picture was taken and the tree was only about 10-12 inches around.
This is a picture of my husbands great aunts and uncles taken at the mansion and the young maple can be seen in the background.
Now, three to four people holding hands around it can still barely reach around the base of what’s left of it. I’m hoping it may sprout new growth this spring and only time will tell. We got several truckloads of firewood from it and the rotted was carried to the woods to go back into the earth. This loss will make a big difference in our sap production but we do have several of the same size on the farm that we have not tapped before and will during our next production season. We probably won’t have a maple syrup weekend this year due to the crazy season we’re having this winter/spring. Here’s some pictures of the downed tree and the damage it did to fence and gates but thankfully fell to the north instead of on the mansion (family home of our ancestors).
That storm in July broke another of our heritage apple trees which seems to happen with every storm. We had another storm last night but thankfully no damage was found but for one huge pine tree in our back fields. Cattle and fences were spared this time.
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
Beavers are beautiful, hard-working creatures but so destructive. My husband has tore out their dams seven or eight times since July and the varmints are back. I don’t think they ever left to tell the truth but just waiting. I want to share some pictures of the water they hold back and the trees they destroy to make their home.
The hutch is the mound behind and to the right of the fence.
Old trees they’ve taken down that Eddie pulled out of the dam.
Tree they started bringing down during the night.
Water backed up above the dam and on the pasture is over three feet deep and getting deeper each night.
Another tree taken down during the night.
Pasture covered with water above the dam.
What used to be a narrow stream is now a river running through the pasture.
Eddie pulling the dam apart. He hopes if he tears it up every week they’ll leave. I have my doubts.
The dam break a little larger and the sound of the water rushing through sounds like a major waterway.
It’s hard work pulling out the engineering of the beavers.
The dam is probably 30-45 feet across.
Eddie tries to put several gaps in the dam.
He pulls out all of the limbs and when the beavers rebuild they never re-use the old limbs.
At this point the water is not quite as loud or rushing.
Downstream the river is becoming wider.
Up close look at the gap in the dam.
The water is up about 3 ft on the fence posts.
Pile of brush and tree limbs pulled from the dam.
Hubby and daughter spent another day working on fences and replacing gaps between pasture and hayfields. It’s a never-ending job on a farm as big as ours. We are constantly patrolling the fences to keep good neighbors and the cattle where they’re supposed to be. The deer and wind downed trees are our biggest problems. Wild cherry trees are a particular hazard now because if the cattle eat the wilted leaves of a down wild cherry it’s almost instant death to the cattle/calves. Here’s some of the last board fence replaced and it looks so good.
Treated 7 foot posts and lumber sawed from the farm. Very nice!
The pastures and hayfields are surrounded mainly by electric fencing. The woods are surrounded by barbed wire, woven and rail fencing. The fencing along the highway, which isn’t a lot is woven wire. Gates are placed in all the major entries to fields, pasture and woodland. And yes, none of it is inexpensive!!
The fences surround our hayfields, property lines, woodlands, house property, orchards, gardens and anywhere else you can think of.
Corner posts are cemented into the ground for extra sturdiness.
Beautiful when replaced and probably the oldest that has been replaced.
More driveway fence to but only needs a couple of posts replace.
Treated posts in the ground.
We take the old fence to the recycling plant if it’s to rusty to use for tree protection. The tree protection is when we wrap a 4-5 foot piece in a circle and put it around the fruit trees to keep the deer from horning the trees which kills them. The old post are cut up and used for some mighty fine firewood.
More tree cages
Here’s some more of the fencing completed this spring.
Since hay season is upon us the fencing that is never done will continue in the fall and before hunting season!! 😉
Every spring our yard is full and I mean full of two-inch maple tree seedlings and you’ve never seen anything grow as fast as they do.
Maple tree starts
I pulled these up in about five minutes on Tuesday evening and put them in a cup of warm water. There’s 50 in that 12 oz drink cup. I plan to set them out in individual quart pots this weekend. You may ask why in the world would you do that. Well, hubby and I priced these little jewels in a nursery a couple of weeks ago and I’ve checked the prices in where they’re sold in local groceries along with fruit trees, shrubs and potting plants and they all run about $20 – $25 each and they’re about six feet tall.
Sugar maple trees grow really fast and we have them all around our yard. I have a young one that came up on the outside of the yard fence two years ago. It is now a little over 10 feet tall and I did nothing to make it grow except leave it alone. When they reach maturity they will shade the house in the summer and provide maple syrup in the spring. They’re beautiful trees. If we can sell these trees in two years or even three years we can make $1000. My only expense will be my time in pulling them out of the ground as seedlings (5 minutes), potting them using salvaged pots and dirt from anywhere on the farm (maybe one hour) and watering them weekly if there’s no rain for about three months (10 minutes a week for 3 months=120 minutes). I think I can do this!! Maybe not $1000 for 50 trees but pretty darn close and if we do it for several years. Sorry folks, I’m getting ahead of myself in a big way!! We can always dream a little dream. That’s my warm and fuzzy or do I mean funny for the day!! 🙂
Hubby seems to always be repairing something on the farm. Recently he’s been working on fences, hauling more limbs out of the fields from the winter winds and last years durachio. We have lots of repairs to buildings to be completed due to time and lack of repairs before we inherited the farm. Some buildings were beyond repair and have been torn down and cleaned up. This week he started on the corn crib at the mansion.
Repairs made to back of corn crib.
The winds wreaked havoc on the roof of this building and some of that will be replaced in the coming weeks and some will be pulled down and screwed down to prevent further wind damage. The front of the crib is in fairly good shape but this end needs new support at the bottom which you can tell has sunk.
West side of the mansion corn crib and work to be done.
This side of the crib has an addition on it for storing equipment and is in really bad shape. First we have to get the old bulldozer out of it and take it to the scrap yard and then we’ll begin the work of repairing the side of the building. We’ll us it for storing the lawnmowers, tiller, and other small equipment in the winter months. The other side of the building holds the backhoe and is in good shape. It doesn’t suffer the west winds and rain like the side you see above.
Here’s some of the fencing that has been completed by Hubby and our daughter in the last few weeks since it’s warmed up.
There’s always something to do on the farm and never any time to be bored!!
Hubby was cleaning up apple trees brought down by the duratio last summer and he brought me these treasures!! I’m so excited!!
Hollow apple tree stumps
Three hollow tree logs for crafting.
Fuzzy thinks this one would be good for squirrels!
I think the first two will be new birdhouses as I like to use natural things to make the birds feel more at home. All I’ll have to do is screw on some barnwood to the bottom and top and drill a small hole for the bluebirds to enter. Drill holes in the bottom board for drainage. I like to use screws so I can take the top off in the winter and clean them out for arrivals in the spring. I like to put a little overhang on the top to keep the weather out and a place for the bird parents to perch between food breaks. I also put a short perch in the front right below the entry for them to perch while feeding the fledglings.
The third one though will make a perfect nest for the next orphan squirrel we save. We tend to find them in the woods fallen from their nests. If their bodies are still warm we let Mom come back to get them and carry them back to the nests. If their bodies are cold, I snatch them up in my pocket and get them home quick as possible and feed them some warm milk with a little honey to warm them up and boost the energy.
Baby squirrels are so easy to care for and they usally bond with only one person after being orphaned and thats usually whoever feeds and bathes them.
Hubby is always looking out for things in the woods that he knows I’ll put to good use. We’ve been looking for a hollow tree about five to six feet long to make into a flower box for the yard or the gazebo. I’ve also been looking for just the right knarly stump to put in one of my flower beds for the natural look. You will see it when I find it 😉 .
Posted in Animals, Crafting, Creativity, Fun on the Farm
Tagged birdhouses, birds, cleanup, crafting, homes, nests, orchard, squirrels, stumps, trees
Posted in Farming, Future work to be done, Hard work, Orchards, Seasons, WEATHER
Tagged cleanup, fences, hail, roofs, storms, trees, wind