Saturday, March 13, 2010

Those suckers gotta go

This week we spent the majority of our time in the apple orchard, pruning the trees. These apple trees, while not very productive and when are they are productive, bare scabby, worm ridden fruit, have been around since 1922. We basically keep them around because they are pretty to look at. So, up the tree we went. Armed with pruners and saws we hacked away at the "hair" like projections sticking straight up out of the branches. I decided to climb into one of the trees without my rubber boots on, to get a better grip on the tree branches. All was fine until it was time for me to get down. I wasn't going to jump into two feet of snow in my socks, so I asked Dana to get the ladder for me. She put the ladder next to the tree and I stepped on to it only for it to fall completely over to the side. I landed in the snow with the saw still in my hand. Fortunately, I had all my fingers still and only wet socks to contend with.

For the really tall branches, we needed the long and awkward orchard ladders. I spent five minutes maneuvering the ladder and one minute cutting suckers. The worst part was moving the ladder from one tree to the next. I was sinking in the snow up to my knees and the ladder was incredibly top heavy. I tried moving with it over my head and failed miserably. I threw out an F-bomb as I sunk and the ladder crashed to the ground. My new technique was dragging it in the snow.

On Wednesday I helped split the wood we collected from all the downed trees we had during the snow storm. I was determined to use the maul to split wood. It was really heavy, probably around 20lbs, and the first few swings, barely made a dent in the wood. I later tried a lighter maul and successfully split the wood. We didn't actually split all the logs by hand because that would have taken forever. And besides, we had a hydraulic wood splitter which was way cooler. There is something soothing about the process of splitting wood. I put this heavy log onto the splitter and operate the handle which pushes the log towards the blade in slow motion and splits it like a knife slicing through butter. At one point, our wood splitting was interrupted when Cale showed up in the truck and told us the goats were running wild in the barn. We drove to the barn and found the goats were indeed running around freely in the aisle. The gate had been left open. Surprisingly, the garbage bins filled with corn were not knocked over and raided. We herded them back into the pen in a matter of minutes. Piece of cake. As we walked to the truck I sang "Who you gonna call? Goat Busters!" The guys shook their heads and were clearly not as impressed with my bastardization of the iconic Ghost Busters song.

By Thursday, we were finished cutting the suckers. But we discovered a lot of the trees had dead branches. Cale came in with the chain saw and cut them down. This prime apple wood would be saved in case a smoke house gets built. Mmmmm, apple wood smoked bacon.

We made a pile with all the clipped suckers to make it easier to collect them later on. As I was picking up twigs I noticed all the deer and sheep droppings on the ground around the trees. Another reason to be thankful I never fell off the ladder again!

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