Thursday, May 16, 2013

trees and vines

Breakfast on the porch? 
Maybe we should finish working with the tomatoes first. Such a beautiful morning... Ed opens the front door. What's this? On the brick pathway, someone made an early morning delivery: the last batch of orchard trees. And a set of grape vines.

So it'll be another planting day. Good timing! I'm between grading two sets of exams. We have wood chips stacked high under the willow (we use them for weed and moisute control). The weather is brilliant. A confluence of good factors.

And yet, we're slow in getting started. We spend a lot of time looking at the magnificent burst of flowers on the old trees lining the sheep shed path. We look carefully to see if there are bees working the fruit blossoms.

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I need to look for newly flowering perennials.

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Then, Ed is distracted by tractor photos on the Internet (he's looking for a zero turn for mowing). And I see that the daffodils need deadheading.

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So now he's ready but I'm not. And then I'm ready but he's not. By the time we set out with our fruit trees, vines and shovels, the sun is more than just a pleasant caress of warm air. It is a hot slap on the back. You want summer? Happy to oblige! By early afternoon it'll be in the mid eighties, but when you're digging clay soil, it feels like it's in the nineties from the get go.

Not that we are yet digging. Walking to the new orchard, I point out how many limbs of our second giant willow are brittle. They will eventually fall to the ground, but in the meantime, they are not pretty and you could argue that they pose some hazard to anyone passing through (does anyone actually pass through here?). Ed takes out the pole with the saw and we go at it. Trimming off one branch turns into trimming off all the ones within reach. Aided now by a power saw...

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 ...and then again by the pole saw.

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The willow looks better, but now we need a break and that's before even one new fruit tree has been planted in the ground.

For the rest of the hot hours of the day though, we do work on the planting of our orchard. We have five new trees to put in and -- this is a new one for us -- eight grapes. No, no. Not for wine! Leave that effort to people who know what they're doing. These are going to yield munching grapes. But I do have images of a beautiful row of vines, pruned and trained, climbing artistically along a trellis...

For now, it's grueling work. The grapes, which we save 'til the end, are even worse than the baby trees because the vine roots are larger, longer, requiring bigger holes and spaces of cultivated soil. We dig, break up clumps of soil, pull out quack grass...

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...and in the end, we cannot finish the job.

It's getting late and we still have pressing errands to run and our local market to visit. Ah well,  the last three grapes will have to wait.

(At the local farmers' market,  for us, it's all about the cheese curds and the asparagus...)

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Alright, day is almost done. The last hours are devoted to the terribly unphotogenic run to Farm and Fleet for work gloves, hose pieces, and a broom. And Menards for more hose pieces (Ed will be running a water source toward the orchard and veggie patch -- a great relief, as right now, we have to lug buckets of water to tide things over when the rains don't come). Both of these stores are places where Ed feels at home. At Farm and Fleet he remembers that he needs a new belt and oil for his motorcycle (I can't think of another store where you can pick up at once hose parts, car oil, and a new belt for your pants). At Menrads, we spend a great deal of time staring at PVC fittings.

And so we get home rather on the late side. Past any decent hour to cook a good meal. Oh, but wait -- we have the curds, the asparagus and a baguette from the market. And chives from the garden. An easy and perfect supper. After a hard and yet perfect as well day.

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