Saturday, March 10, 2012

land spreadin’ out so far and wide...

If you want to know in which area of life Ed and I have the most trouble acquiescing  to the peculiarities of the other, let me tell you, it's this: the matter of pruning trees. We both feel strongly about it and in a completely opposite way.

I want to prune, trim, cut – quickly, effectively and, I'll admit it -- sometimes not very wisely. Most of my mistakes nature will forgive.

Ed doesn’t want to prune at all. He lives by the motto that a tree knows best how to grow and expand and we’re just tampering with what nature intended.

Reading up on tree pruning has changed his mind only slightly. He now acknowledges that it probably is a good idea to saw off broken or dead branches. The rest – it pains him to cut into something that has sap running through it.

On this beautiful March day, we nonetheless take on tree trimming. My strategy is to acquiesce, back off and then proceed with a quick cut when he’s preoccupied with something else (like taking on the broken branches on the front maples).

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It's not easy to figure out how to prune anything at the farmette. What I call the “orchard” is actually a clump of hugely overgrown, very old mixed fruit trees. None of these dwarf varieties that are so common in a modern orchard. We have monster trees. You couldn’t get to the fruits near the top unless you picked from the seat of a helicopter. It's not clear how to pare down the inside. We can't even reach the inside.  I snip randomly, Ed winces, we move on.


And now we come to the Carpathian walnut. Ed claims it is his favorite tree. Fine. I like it too, but it grows close to the door we use as the entrance and the leaves are big and the branches are getting a tad too invasive.

Give me a few minutes to think about it, he says, putting down the saw.
If you wont do it, I will.
No, no, I’ll get to it.
In a little bit.
I’m taking the saw from you!

And so we banter and dance around it until I threaten to take the whole tremendous limb down and sensing defeat, he exhales deeply, loudly, winces for effect and starts sawing.

In mid-afternoon, we pause for peanut butter on whole wheat.

And now the shadows are getting long. Still, we have the grand project of clearing the prairie out back. It has quite a lot of invasive honeysuckle. So you'd think Ed and I would struggle to reach a compromise with each mighty shrub. Hell no! 

Where honeysuckle’s concerned, Ed takes out the chain saw with a vengeance!


We chop, saw, haul, seal stumps and stubs until the sun sinks to the ground.

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A day of good work.

In the evening, Isis comes over. He’d been stubbornly sticking to the sheep shed, but tonight he's here, wanting to share the farmhouse couch. We settle in for an evening of leftover vegetable soup and library movies.

Not for long.

There is a thump in the kitchen. We’ve been having an occasional visitors (random mice) and Ed has already sent two this past month to the fields west of us, but in recent days, we've been dealing with one who is a handful. She comes to the trap for the peanut butter, but she always manages to trigger it and close it shut before entering inside. We think she’s too fat for it.

Tonight, she cannot resist the whiff of the best peanut butter this side of Georgia. Despite the loud TV just to the side of the kitchen, despite lights gleaming, despite two robust people on the couch, with Isis purring between them, she comes, she pushes herself toward the peanut butter and she gets herself trapped.

Take her away! I beg. I’ve become more used to the need to occasionally catch mice, but I’ve become less happy with handling them once they’re trapped.

Ed rides his motorbike to the fields, I clean the floor, to rid the place of any trace of mouse.

You couldn't ask for a finer March day here, at the farmette.