Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More Things We've Learned

When you live on a farm and deal with so many living creatures...
both plant and animal...
you learn through experience, mostly.
Oh sure, there are always great guide books out there,
but the best lessons seem to come from trial and error.


I can tell you I have learned a whole lot living here in the country...
I've learned a lot about the creatures to whom I am responsible,
and I have learned a whole lot about myself, too.
My hope is that each day teaches me something new about this big, beautiful world.


Writing this blog gives me a chance to share some of what I learn...
but I don't ever expect you to take what I say as gospel...
it's just how I see my world and what has worked for me.
As for you.... well, you will have your own trials and errors...
and I hope you share them with me, too!


If you have noticed that today's pictures have nothing to do with what I am saying,
you are right!
But, I know how you like cute animal pictures,
and I hate to disappoint!


Now for the point of this blog post....

We have tried for 5 years in succession to start a second orchard.
We have one apple orchard with quite mature (old) trees.
What we wanted was a second orchard with a variety of trees.


We began this new orchard in the middle of the field behind our goat pens.
Up until 5 years ago, this field had been "leased" to our neighboring dairy farmer as an alfalfa field.

We have had a hard time getting trees to survive for more than two years.


So, after reading about soil composition and how nutrients are taken from the soil by plant roots,
we came to the conclusion that farming had removed 
the natural nutrients, fungi, and microorganisms from the soil.
It is these microorganisms that facilitate the roots' absorption of nutrients.


So, in a last ditch attempt to grow fruit trees in this location,
we removed a large amount of the "dead" soil...
(gotta love that heavy equipment!)


Then we took the backhoe to the woods and dug up soil from the forest floor...
very rich in nutrients and microorganisms.


We replaced the dead soil with supercharged virgin soil,
and planted our new fruit trees in that nutrient rich, loamy earth.


We will spend the summer faithfully watering and nurturing these little trees along
in the hopes that some day in the near future
we will be able to enjoy the "fruits" of our labor...
peaches, apricots, pears, plums, sour and Bing cherries.
I'll keep you posted!

PS...
I cancelled our order for new bees this Spring
They were to be delivered May 16th.
With the early Spring we are experiencing,
I fear there will not be enough of a nectar flow available for these new bees
by that time which would seriously affect the robustness of the hives...
making overwintering difficult.


New bees will have to wait for next year.
The good news is, though, we will soon be harvesting our remaining hive,
as it is overflowing with honey!

And after the honey harvest...
candle making!

16 comments:

Karen said...

I learn something new every time I come here... you keep a lovely blog, as well as a farm :-)

Country Gal said...

Awesome post and photos ! I think growing up on a farm teaches you a lot about life , it did me ! Hope your fruit trees do well , sometimes the best way to learn is by trial and error you learn more that way always have said hands on is the best ! Have a wonderful day !

RiverBend Farm said...

I love reading your posts! We live in the smack-dab middle of farmland and, I know, it's all about the dirt. Keep on, keep on...
Berte

Denise at Autumn Sky said...

I hope your new orchard thrives. What a great thing, having a rich forest nearby (and a backhoe). We have a few young fruit trees and so look forward to their bounty.

Diane Cayton-Hakey said...

Candles? *ears perked up* Can't wait to see that next year!

Junebug said...

I can read a thousand books but until I try there is no better teacher. Love the photos of the donkeys this morning. Hopefully that new soil will give you healthy and fast growing threes! Here's to a great day!

Anonymous said...

If you haven't already done so, I recommend doing a soil test for your proposed orchard field.

Alfalfa is a great crop in that it fixes nitrogen into the soil, but it also seriously depletes the potassium or potash. My guess is that the alfalfa's growing demands have created an imbalance that is unhospitable to your young trees.

Don't you just love the science behind the farming? I wish someone offered broad based farm knowledge classes on this sort of thing.

Part of our hayfield was an alfalfa field at one time. That section of field just never grew well until we figured out the issue. Luckily my husband has a degree in Ag Science/soils so that helped solve the mystery.
Good Luck!
Heather in PA

Karen Bates said...

It really is amazing to learn that other crops can strip the land so hard. I have found growing new trees here has been almost impossible...maybe there are some nutrients needed here too.
We actually are getting Spring...it was lovely yesterday and we will be getting some more of that wonderful sunshine again today! YAY!

P S I loved seeing your girls.

Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

Good Morning Bev!
I know what you mean about living on a farm being a learning experience. I suppose when a person is born and raised on a farm by the time they leave...or die they've seen about everything. However for people like us who move to a farm for the first time the whole adventure is a learning experience. We thought the dirt where there had been a garden many years ago would be good soil but it sure wasn't. Many years of neglect and weeds and grass took it's toll so that sandy loam was about dead. That's a shame about your fruit trees only making it a couple of years but now you know what the problem was. Good luck with the new plan of action! Enjoy your day.
Maura :)

edenhills said...

Farming really is a constant learning experience! I love your candles!

Anonymous said...

Love the candles, are you selling any? would love to buy one from you

Annie v.

Linda in New Mexico said...

I so envy your farm life. I just have to settle for living through you lovely blogs pictures and discussions. I adore your donkeys and love all the photos you share. Thanks, Oma Linda

missy max said...

The alfalfa probably depleted one more of the nutrients necessary to grow your trees..Have you had your soil analyzed?? (probably?)
The analysis would tell you what your soil is lacking and you could add it..I think that's why farmers usually rotate their crops from year to year..But then, you probably know all that...Good luck

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

Every year I find something that I screwed up on and have to figure out a better way to do it. Which is probably why all of us love farming and animals so much - exercise for the brain!

Just yesterday I screwed up a batch of soap and had to throw it out. So I did it again, and it still didn't work. Experimentation gives us as much heartbreak as celebration!!

And I love the photos of animals. They are so fun to watch through your blog.

Lisa said...

I need your advice on donkeys! I just got a mom and her daughter so I need all the advice you can give me. Especially getting them to do something they don't want.

BumbleVee said...

Love the cue donkey pics..... I love donkeys!

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