Saturday, September 26, 2009

No one has to "Baby Sit" an Apple Tree

When we own pets, and we want to go on vacation, there can be tremendous challenges in working out all of the details around who will care for the animals. Not so with apple trees. We can go, happy as a lark, off in any jolly direction knowing full well the trees will continue to prosper, even without us!
As long as the tree has a source of water, it can survive indefinitely. Since the emitters are dripping water at least three times a week, the trees know that all is well. I will be leaving for India on Monday for nine days, and frankly, I won't be giving my ladies in the field much consideration. I have put plenty of effort in securing the trees from the animals in the wild, and at this point there seems to be some sort of agreement that all is in balance and that there should not be attacks on the trees. My hope is to go off to Delhi, assuming all the while that my beautiful girls will bear yet another year. Now that is satisfaction!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

When the Apples are Ripe.....

Though it is always a little pitiful and disheartening to see another summer come to an end, one big bonus about this change in seasons is that the apples are coming on strong, and some are ready for the picking. Suddenly I am confronted with a dilemma; "What do I do with all of these darn apples?!" Luckily, I have friends..........bags and bags of the year's crop go this way and that. Yes, and as mentioned earlier, always an apple pie around. Someday, I hope to be sitting at the farmer's market with organic apples and just having some fun. The whole cycle is awesome......first pruning the trees each winter and then getting the fertilizer thing to happen. Next, setting up the water system in April and watching for the bees to pollinate and set the apples. The heat of the summer days and the warm evenings allow the fruit to develop and get to the stage you see in the attached picture. It's all a miracle!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Apple Pie!

There is hardly a better reward for growing apples than devouring a piece a freshly baked warm apple pie.....yummy! Something about knowing the source of the fruit, and remembering all the human effort that went into being a partner with mother nature in producing wonderful apples of all sorts that makes a piece of home made pie taste so much better than just about any other dessert. There are a lot of ticks to making the perfect pie.....this I am am here to tell you. We won't go into that now, only to say practice makes perfect. It is a rare thing that a visitor will turn down an offering such as this. And hey, with so many foods "bad for your health" just gobble this down and know you are doing your body a favor!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Kubota comes through again!

Before the rains begin, it is always a good time to kick some butt and get a few things done. Today it was replacing old poly pipe with PVC and spreading some rock on the drive way so that winter time is not too insane! This project was down by the cabin. However, the really big work was up by the water storage area, where Gene built a road that will be good for all year round, and will also support a mini water tank farm at the end. Water is the key to development in this back country, and with the great soil that we have, and the extremely abundant sunshine and rich pure oxygen, the only missing ingedient is H2O. So, with an extended pad to place future tanks, water storage will become so much easier. The new road really framed the landing so that it is easy to see gardens growing there in the future. It is also awesome to keep cars out of that sacred spot. A productive but exhausting day. Never have I been so glad to hit the showers and a hot bath with epson salts....

Monday, September 14, 2009

The First Rain of the Season

Simply nothing is as awesome as being in this out back land when the first drops of moisture start falling from the sky in the late afternoon. The smell is wonderous and the experience impossible to describe. All summer long we struggle to make sure all the timers are working; all the emitters are free flowing and that each and every tree is getting a drink of water at least three times a week. And then it happens.......with no forcing by my hand, the precipitation just starts falling from the sky. If there is a miracle in nature, this has to be one of he most amazing. I love the damp earthy smell, and the quiet way in which the rain just sneaks up and before you know it there are drops of water soaking instantly into the dry dusty soil. There is no run off. All is gone in an instant as the weeds and dirt absorb he charged moisture in a lusty gesture of desire. Though tomorrow may be sunny and hot again, and this a distant memory, still this is my vision today, and I want to savor every moment.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Do We Have a Pond?

After more than thirty years of owning this property, the family combined resources to to create a 500,000 gallon pond that can provide water for the summer gardens. Once the pond was built, landscaping in the form of planting trees, spreading grasses and hay, and laying rock in the spillway and drain were accomplished. Now the migrating birds and other animals frequent the pond and use it for a refueling spot. Since we don't have a well, we have to rely on springs for the only source of fresh drinking water in the dry hot summers. In the winter along with the rains, water is abundant, so storage is a great strategy to consider to quench the thirst of the numerous conifer, fruit, and deciduous trees for the long hot summer months of July, August and September. With water anything is possible. An arid southern exposure turns into a potential forrest of organics veggies plants and trees. This is no mirage. It is as real and abundant as the sky is clear and blue.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Napa Valley

Well, here I am in the world renowned and incredible grape growing region where the sun shines brightly and the chemistry for growing is magical. As I drove into the region I could see the vineyards sprawling across the hillsides, and I wondered, how amazing is this? These grapes are products of the earth just like the apples that grow on Bell Springs. The same crucial elements that support the vines also nurture the scaffolding of the trees like Gravenstein, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Pink Ladies. The same stars and moonlight bathe these plants every night and the same rain pours down on the Napa hillsides as in Laytonville and Leggett in Mendocino County. So while I am here, I will enjoy the beauty that reminds me of the land up that five mile gravel road that I so love.

Wednesday Morning; A New Day!

Today I will travel from Weaverville down to Napa for a conference. I will be at the Marriotts. The Policy Forum officially starts on Thursday morning, but I will be able to check in and attend some events later today. So this week end I hope to be able to begin the last big push of the year on getting things together on the farm. The electric fence needs to be activated to keep the bears out. Luckily, there is no sign that they have been around, but with the apples coming on, they can smell them from a long way off. Just will help me sleep better knowing there are 5000 watts of power pulsating around the orchard 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Once a few years back Olga was walking with me around the outside of the orchard and there was a decline and it was a bit slippery on the weeds and gravel. She reached out and grabbed the fence to steady herself, and kaablaam!! There was a loud scream. She landed on her butt and we all found out just what a bear might feel if it attempts to scale this particular fence. Once Olga stopped crying, she was actually fine. She doesn't seem to have the same level of passion for the orchard since that event. Hummm? So I have repairs to do to get the electricity flowing again, but, it is likely that I can accomplish this as a project in one day. Twenty five years ago I purchased some apple trees from an antique apple nursury in Sebastopol. These were trees grown from old time stock, and, funny it has taken them so long to produce. This year, they are loaded with apples, and I will be sampling to find out just which ones are ready for picking. Yes, more miracles on the horizon!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

So very tired.....

After working all day I don't feel much like writing about the apple trees. But you know what? No matter how I feel the apple trees just keep right on growing until the apples are ripe and they fall off the tree or get picked first. What possible difference could it make in my life, or yours, whether the apples at 2700 feet elevation in northern Mendocino County ripen or not? The question of the night. Go ahead. Take a stab at answering this puzzle. There is a mystery here that on these bone dry hills, lovely apples are produced in the harshest of elements, and continuously day and night these trees fevorishly support the fruit of their limbs to maturity. The cells continue to split and the juice content grows and the apples become lush. Why does this matter? There is an answer here, but you will not get it now. Goodnight!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Night

So it is back to the work grind tomorrow morning. I am staying at the Weaverville Hotel tonight. Tomorrow morning, I will be back working at the clinic here. However, in contemplating the weekend, Saturday, I did spend the afternoon up at the apple farm and here are some random thoughts. The season is certainly changing.....the light has that Autumn golden glow with the dried brown fields of weeds as a background. It even drizzled in the morning which is a rare thing in these parts. I saw a hawk flying above the orchard and had to stop everything to watch it traverse the sky above. I realize another season is coming to a close, and have I made the progress that I am after? This has been a year of focusing on the infrastructure.....gates, the retaining wall; painting and restoring the cabin and of course the relentless search for water, water, water. Nothing can grow in these rugged hills without the sustenance of H2O. Period. We have plenty of sun, earth and soil, clean fresh air, but, water is precious. Nature is generous to yield even a pint. She gives this commodity from the bowels of the earth, drop by drop. The springs flow through the Grace of the Universe. Day and night progress and the tanks fill with yummy water. The timers go off at their prescribed times, and water flows to the trees soaking the ground where the emitters are strewen. Next year it has to be about farming. Enough of this work. What is the point of having the systems in place if the farming doesn't happen and the satisfaction doesn't come from the act of watching fertility ocurr? So, that is the resolution. The coming cycle will be more abundant. Yet, I did pick two bags of Pink Lady Antique Apples. That was a miracle. I want more miracles!

Noel's Fellowship Farms

September 7, 2009
This is my first post to this fact it is the first post I have ever done. So what inspired me, a 59 year old man, to start writing down my thoughts? Well it was the movie....Julie and Julia. Olga and I went to that flick last night and it was the best production I have seen in a long violence....just human beings struggling, having fun, having sex and making the most of their lives......and the blogging! Let's not forget the basis of the story. So I thought, why not? I always have pieces to the puzzle that is my life rolling around in my brain, and why not let those pieces incubate out in cyber space somewhere? So, with that introduction I begin.