We’re getting down to the wire, but it now looks like we’ll get the orchard into the ground before the ideal tree planting season is past. We’d originally planned on planting 28 trees of several different types, but a few weeks ago a surprise donation upped that to 42. That’s a lot of trees! It takes about 15 minutes to dig the hole and another 15 or so to prepare the soil, plant the tree, stake it out, and mulch it. That adds up to about 20 hours of work.
But we’re always discovering that there’s a lot more to farming, in terms of time and money, than is readily apparent. Take, for instance, the fence. It’s a requirement out here, where the deer come out at night to mow down anything green and tasty. To keep them out of the orchard, I need a six-foot-high fence that is about 500 feet long. And posts. And tensioning monofilament. And gates. Oh, and it has to be strong enough to withstand gentle abuse by the 1000-pound elk who share the property with the deer. I say gentle, because when the elk are playing rough, NO fence is going to stop them.
So, for about 800 dollars (ugh) and many days of work, we can also have a new fence to go around our orchard so that our tree investment isn’t in vain. Luckily, Belkar was on spring break last week and Uncle Leon (the farmer next door) was bored, so they helped me put in fences. It’s nice having an old farmer to show us the easy way to do things; here’s how he sets an 8-foot-long, 6″ diamater fence post in about 20 seconds using mechanical muscle. Of course, what you don’t see is that we spent a few hours beforehand with the hood up on the bobcat trying to get it running. But I found the faulty connections in the hydraulic control system and cleaned them out, which made Leon happy. It seems like the more we help each other, the more we all get done. Shouldn’t all of life be like that?
The last few days, however, have been me working alone. I like that a lot too, in a different way. It’s quiet, with cars rarely passing on the road through the valley. I take breaks sometimes to just stare at the stream and mountainside below me, and listen to the constant babble of the brook that runs just along the north edge of the orchard, punctuated by occasional chirping birds. It’s so picturesque, it reminds me of the forest scenes in the old Kings Quest video games. Yesterday, I even heard a bird of prey screeching.
As of today, I have 12 trees planted and 8 more holes dug. I hope to have all the trees in by this weekend.