Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Seeing Pink

This collage will bring you up to date on the status of the orchard. Things are moving quickly and we very well could have blossoms popping open this afternoon.

Saturday night we experienced a 31 degree freeze. The Apple Farmer started some fires throughout, hoping to alleviate some of the adverse effects. Last year's week long freeze has left us all a bit unsettled. A freeze at 28 degrees will kill about 10% of the crop. This year, however, 10% thinning would be a big help. The trees are loaded and it will be a huge challenge to thin them sufficiently.

Last night we experienced a 27 degree freeze. Once again, the Apple Farmer went out and lit fires. He took "Puff the Magic Dragon" with him. Puff is a propane torch that the Apple Farmer's father made for him. With Puff, the Apple Farmer was able to light small piles of prunings throughout the orchard until 4:00 am.

After preliminary blossom testing, the blossoms that show some frost damage are still green after cutting them open. It also appears that the strawberry patch and tart cherries have surrvived last night's freeze.


The Apple Farmer bought boots for the work crew on Saturday. The President, the Attorney, and Human Resources spent the rest of the afternoon conducting quality control studies throughout the orchard.

What have we here?

This is the Apple Farmer's best friend. Her name is Taffy. She is a Heeler Beagle mix. She has managed to get all wet.

Taffy was adopted in town from the make shift animal shelter. When we were filling out the paper work for adoption, the receptionist filled in her breed as a Beagle Heeler Mix.

BEAGLE! My heart sunk. Before moving here, the Apple Farmer said we would NEVER have a Beagle due to a very noisy Beagle that belonged to his niece, who at that time we lived right next door to.

I told the receptionist that I might have a problem adopting the dog. After explaining the reason, the receptionist smiled and informed me that maybe she was wrong and that perhaps dog was more accurately a Heeler Mix. What a relief! Maybe the Apple Farmer would never notice her Beagle traits...

So we brought our dog home and the Apple Farmer met her for the first time. He wasn't very happy.

It has taken Taffy a few years to get over some of her quirks (she was likely abused prior to being taken in at the animal shelter). Taffy has become a very well adjusted happy dog, and a constant companion to the Apple Farmer.

Taffy hasn't gotten comfy with thunderstorms though. Prior to the Apple Farmer's Dad enclosing the covered front porch and turning into an entry way, Taffy would huddle up next to the front door and shake until the storm was finished. In fact, one Sunday, we loaded up the family to go to church during one of our thunderstorms and after the Apple Farmer hopped into the van and started it up, Taffy crawled underneath it. We had no clue that she had done that and so you can imagine everyone's horror when Tim started backing up and we heard her cry. Fortunately, she survived that. She had a broken front paw, and within a few days she was chasing rabbits on 3 legs.

This picture was taken after a thunderstorm Saturday morning. Taffy huddled up at the front door during this storm. The front door has no protecting covering anymore. I suppose, if I would have known that she was hanging out at the front door in the rain, I could have pulled out a bottle of shampoo and she would have at least have the benefit of smelling pretty after the thunderstorm passed.

Green Tip

We've been so busy since the weather has been warming up! so today's posts will be an attempt to update you on the orchard's progress.

Since we have had many extremely wet thunderstorms come through, every last minute of a dry day is spent trying to catch up on pruning, mowing and prepping the orchard for pollination.

This picture was taken on April 10. This is what is called green tip. The next stage in bud development is 1/4 inch green followed by 1/2 inch green. Once the bud has reached this point, tight clusters begin to emerge.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Sliver Tip!

Here is a picture of a fruit bud at sliver tip. The majority of the orchard is in sliver tip right now. We are starting to see the crab apples breaking out into green tip. The crab apples are our first to bloom, followed quickly by the Granny Smith apples. This bud is either Red Delicious or Jonathan. The apple farmer wasn't sure what tree I photographed this bud from.

Who Let the Ducks Out?!

Meet one of the Ducks. This is Daisy. Daisy has a name, so Daisy won't become dinner in the future. There are four ducks. The other ducks are named Quackers, Jelly Bean, and Waddles. We plan to put the ducks on one of the ponds to see if they can keep up with the green scum that likes to grow in abundance.

Saturday's Pea Planting Party

Saturday we planted some sweet peas and some shelling peas. Peas like the colder weather and colder weather is what they will get! We froze last night. Skipper decided to walk all over Human Resources while he planted peas! This silly cat will do almost anything for a good scratch behind the ears!!

In the back ground you can see our chicken house. The fence around the chicken yard is in progress right now. Back further is a smaller section of orchard. It is difficult to see since there isn't any green in the trees yet. The trees you can see along the horizon are part of a wind break that the boys have named "The L Shaped Forest."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Meet Peep Peep

This is the President's little chicken. He has named her Peep Peep. This is Peep Peep after her bath and hair do. Peep Peep and her peers were sharing a box and brooding lamp with some lively baby ducks. The ducks got a little crazy with the water on Monday and little Peep Peep got knocked over and sat on by a duck. When we found Peep Peep she was barely alive. We cleaned her up in the bathroom sink and the warm water seemed to bring her around a bit more. After showing greater signs of life, I decided to try drying her on the low setting with the hair dryer. She dried nicely and within a couple of hours of rest and hand feeding, she was able to stand on her own. Long story short, Peep Peep is a happy little chick today and the President couldn't be happier!

The Work Crew

What a sweet picture to wake up to!
This is the work crew. From left to right, we have The Attorney, The President, Human Resources and Her Royal Highness. It looks like this mornings crew meeting is well under way.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Apple Farmer

Meet Hunk-of-Burnin'-Love. Since it is getting very close to our first spray of the 2008 apple season, I was inspired to go dig up this picture of the Apple Farmer himself, all dressed up in his farmer garb and ready to spray! There is nothing like a man in uniform!

The Apple Farmer also went on a quest for bees today. He has been doing a fair amount of checking around for hives to rent and not coming up with much availability. Today he drove out to some of the neighbors and turns out, between several neighbors, we may come up with 8 or so hives. Still not what we really need, but better than nothing! 17 hives is closer to realistic.