Thursday, 21 January 2010

Starting Apple Pruning

Yesterday I started pruning. I figure it takes about 100 hours to do the 300 trees. We hadn't been in the orchard since the blizzard and I was depressed to see that animals, probably rabbits, have eaten the bark all around the bottoms some of the youngest trees. They probably won't survive. It's our fault because we should have wrapped them to keep the animals from chewing on them; I found some of the white plastic strips we usually use and wrapped the trees that hadn't been completely chewed. There's always something.

I pruned about six trees yesterday, in various parts of the orchard, trying to leave branches on the ground in several places so the rabbits would chew on them instead of the tree trunks. Today I went back and completed one full row, about 12 trees. Both days it has been cold, cloudy and damp, actually pretty good pruning weather. We bought new pruning clippers last summer at the Rotary International Convention in Birmingham, England. We thought it odd that farm implements would be on sale there, but they looked good and sturdy, so we got them. They seem to be working pretty well.

Rosie and Thunder were out with me and yesterday she went nuts, as usual, chasing the prunes and shaking them as hard as she could till they broke into pieces. Afterward her sore left leg was hurting so much she couldn't go down stairs. So today I tried to keep her calm and didn't toss her many sticks. She decided it was a good day for mole hunting and was digging around the trees with great determination. I watched her catch and eat two moles. She pretty much swallows them whole, must have an incredible digestive system.

We've had a lot of moles for a couple of years and I'm used to walking on soft places around the orchard. But in the snow they apparently didn't find it necessary, or possible, to burrow. They sort of plowed tracks through the grass, so since the snow disappeared we have little muddy mazes all over the farm. Maybe it makes it easier for Rosie to find them. Here's a sample of one of their tracks in the dry grass:

Meanwhile, Thunder barked at the horse, had a wild running spree through the orchard, and helped Rosie by blocking the mole hole so it couldn't escape. Champagne ate her oats with enthusiasm.

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