We spent the weekend working outside to get ready for spring. Mr Professional brought out his Progeny and we continued the theme from Friday. We planted all of the trees and I finished trimming all of the trees not done Friday. I picked up all of the branches in the orchard and the Progeny picked up sticks and branches in the orchard pasture, the lavender patch and the front yard. We have now adopted two separate names when talking about the orchard area. We have the “Orchard” which is where the fruit trees are located and then there is the “Orchard Pasture” which is the surrounding pasture. The orchard has its own fence so the animals cannot get to the trees. I took a hard look at the old apple tree after cutting out a bunch of low dead branches. I think if I cut out the dead stuff out of the top of the tree the tree might regrow. The entire upper half of the tree is dead.
We found a bunch of box elder bugs in huge clusters on the sunny side of the larger trees. So I mixed up some bug spray and hosed them down. We also sprayed the machine shed and the mother-in-law’s house. I am hopeful that if we can kill large amounts now we won’t have as bad an infestation. Already we have none around our house and I am only finding about ten bugs inside the house after spraying.
We went over to grandma’s old house and found three Italian plum trees, a black walnut tree and a five gallon bucket full of Iris. We planted the plums in the orchard, two are really tiny and need some growing before we can separate them. I planted the walnut tree out in the ram pasture and we put the Iris out in the watered barn flower area. The chickens got into the area last fall and killed most of the flowers I had in there. The chickens are rough on this area. We installed some more chicken wire to block off the six feet of access they had. Unfortunately all they have to do now is just fly in over the fence. I made a new spot for the Iris and hopefully we can get them established.
On Sunday we drilled a 1/2” hole in my tractor bucket and installed the T-post driver I purchased from Bucke-Tee LLC in Texas! This turned out to be the best $200 I have spent this year. We put 200# of tractor weights in the bucket and then you insert a T post into the driver and then use the bucket to push the post into the ground. Obviously the ground has to be kind of soft. But honestly, if I had 500-600# of weight in the bucket and you add in the hydraulics on the tractor I think the ground could be a little hard. We were able to put 30 T-posts in the ground in under an hour. I think I could do the entire new fence line I want in a single day! I used to only be able to do 30-40 posts by hand. I just got worn out pounding them in. We then installed low wire around all of the new trees.
One of the things that had not happened yet was installing the guide wires for the raspberries and blackberries. So we pounded in 8 poles and strung wire and anchors so the berries can grow on a trellis.
I am able to work outside again after Covid 19. I still cannot do a lot of long distance walking but short muscular activity is way better than aerobic anything. Unfortunately I have done nothing for over 90 days so this manual labor is very hard on my body. I ache all over and flop around like a fish out of water at night. When I hurt this much I have to sleep in the spare room so I don’t keep Annmarie up. I try not to overdo it this much usually but after Covid I need to keep pushing so I can get my strength and stamina back.
On Friday I had Mr Professional out, he and I went over to the Metal fabricators and picked up my five heavy duty 12 foot welded gates. The bull will not be able to tear these up at all, no matter how much he tries. We got them all loaded up on the trailer and unloaded into the machine shed. I need to spray paint them before I hang them up. I will be doing that very soon. Annmarie and I had already talked about fruit trees as they had just come into our local feed store last week. I like to plant them about 45 days from now but by the time I am ready to plant the selections left at the store are pretty slim and I don’t get all the kinds I want. So we bit the bullet and just went into town and bought some fruit trees. The plan was to buy six trees, we ended up with eight trees, Mt Royal Plum, Honey Crisp Apple, Tilson Apricot, Royal Gala Apple, Golden Spice Pear, Summercrisp Pear, Rainier Cherry and Black Tartan Cherry. Mr Professional and I went around the orchard and dropped off all the trees where we wanted them to be planted.
We removed the top half of the cages around the old trees and I started to trim all of the fruit trees from the ground. Mr Professional took the tractor and changed out the box blade for the post hole auger. We drilled out 9 holes as Annmarie wanted me to go to her grandmother’s old house and try and salvage a Italian plum tree. Once the holes were drilled we used the tractor as a more efficient ladder so that I could trim the upper branches on the trees. This is far easier than dragging a ladder around. I had not really shaped the trees in the last three years and spent a lot of time choosing branches and thinning the middle out of the trees. I am going to have to start spraying for bugs next year to keep the fruit bug free. The hardest part about this is you have to spray every two weeks during the summer.
Annmarie told me this year I was not to fence. I had a lot to do and after spending most of last year doing nothing but fencing I needed to focus on other things this year. Now I do not disagree with this but we really did need some more fencing…
Barb Morehead took this terrific photo of our little beautiful calf, and kindly shared it us. He is named Valentine for the heart he wears on his forehead. We were really hoping he would be a she. He will still be good eating.
We have been slowly working on getting our berry/lavender grow area ready. Unfortunately, this necessitated building a fence around the space to keep the herbivores away from our food. The pine trees got cut down several years ago and I sprayed the area with Roundup a week ago. This plant attack has done nothing but point out where all the thistles are located. I have been slowly killing the thistles with a shovel. I cannot use any other kind of herbicide or I will kill anything I plant in the ground. I also tried to order ground cloth so we can plant our lavender through it but could not get any online that was not horribly expensive. I still spent almost $400 on cloth and thought I had gotten a good deal. I had to drive to the Tricities to pickup our bathroom vanity so I bought all the ground cloth that Home Depot had available. The only reason they still had it was it was in a box high above and no one had bothered to check there yet.
A Pallet of stained brown tire chips was delivered on Thursday in one single great big bag weighing 1100#. I need to finish killing the thistles then weed eat everything down to the ground then put the ground cloth down. I have had a couple of boys working on the fence. Since they were going to do most of the work I decided that we needed to fence in the orchard also. Our orchard area is fenced in already but I wanted to just put up an interior fence around the fruit trees so that we can take all the skirts around the tree down. I want to keep a 2’ tall cow panel ring around the trees only. This will keep any animals from rubbing on the tree or eating the bark at the base of the tree. This will also double the number of rings I have available for more trees. There are seven young fruit trees so we can plant seven more trees. I picked up two at Home Depot Thursday, Hardy Kiwi trees. The fruit only gets to the size of a Kumquat but it is supposed to taste like a kiwi and it looks like a kiwi. I bought two as they are small! The plants are about 2 inches tall and its a single stick. We will see in 3-4 weeks if they were alive or not. We also bought some coconut fiber mats to go around the trees to keep the weeds down.
While we were working on the fence today the alpaca kept trying to sneak in through the gate. I had to exit the gate to get wooden fence stays and they tried to bum rush the open gate. They are very curious animals and will seek out new experiences. One of them stood by the fence and made super weird noises today. A noise even I had not heard before. They won’t move if they are laying in the road either. They will win a game of chicken every time, even into death. The delivery guys are scared they are going to cream one, I am kinda surprised they have not hit one yet.
Today we got the orchard fence completed. It looks good and even our border collies cannot get out of it. I can move the border collies to the orchard and let the sheep into our yard to mow now! If you try and keep the collies inside the house all day so the sheep can eat the front yard they make you crazy. Zeke keeps ring the bell hanging from the front door. You have to remove the bell or he will just keep randomly ringing it and laying in front of the door waiting for you to let him out. Mouse will come lick your hand repeatedly until you let him outside. It is a tossup as to which Border Collie is more annoying in their attempt to get what they want.
I also found out that we have a red fox living on the property. It has been spotted twice this week and I am sure I am down at least two more chickens. I thought it was a raccoon and tonight when I was putting the sheep into the ram pasture I found a dead chicken head on the hillside. I am told it has a den over by the fencing supplies storage area. I will have to take a look for myself this weekend.