Once upon a time…. we bought a piece of land.
Actually, we bought a house which came with a piece of land, telling ourselves that the reason we bought the house was because we wanted to live closer (i.e. right next door) to Lionel’s mother. But really, all we wanted was the land. It was adjacent to land his mother owned, and right across the street from his mother’s house, and we were concerned that someone might put a house there. At least that’s what we told ourselves at the time. This was in 2001.
Forward to 2003, and we’re now living in Lionel’s mother’s house, which he inherited, along with the land, and the parcel that we bought, which we’d split off from the other house before we sold it. It turned out that we could barely see Mount Monadnock, way off into the distance, if we stood in a certain corner of our lawn. Lionel wanted to see it from the house, but I was against clear cutting the land for no reason. And so it began:
After a while, we had cleared the entire area, but it was a mess of rocks, stumps and burn piles. We burned the burn piles, but that still left the stumps and the rocks. Hobblebush and blackberry briars took over. I walked through the mess one summer, trying to get to a burn pile, stopped, looked around, and thought with despair, there is no f-ing way this will ever be an orchard. At least the blackberries were plentiful.
We contemplated how to deal with this situation for a few years, and then we finally did something about it:
A couple weeks of that were fun, but we realized we were only half done, so we hired a real operator, who finished off the job for us and turned it into the field of our dreams:
We limed it, we seeded it, we watched it, we walked it. The next year, we got going again:
Oh yeah. And we had a kid.
We cut down more trees, sawed them out, put up a fence, had another kid, blew some rocks up and got ready for the apple trees.
Earth Day, 2011 ironically saw us planting trees. 137 dwarf apple trees, to be precise, several different varieties, to be grown in the intensive method. Predictably, while Earth Day was a gorgeous, dry spring day, the next day was cold and snowy, just to remind us that farming is never easy and the work doesn’t stop just because the weather has made it almost impossible for you to do your job. We broke out the wheelbarrow and kept slugging topsoil through the mushy mess, planted trees in soupy mud and had faith they would dry out before long, and generally slogged along even though we were both coming down or in the midst of full-fledged head colds, courtesy of the Bundle o’ Joy I’s preschool. On Sunday, having done 1 row a day since Friday, we were despondently eyeing the last three rows and assuming that once again we had under-estimated the job and we’d still be planting late into the next week–somehow– but Monday rolled along, another dry, gorgeous day, and with the help of some friends we finally got the last of the trees in the ground, and even wrapped it up early–if you consider 6pm early.
So here it is, nearly a decade in the making, our fruit orchard finally planted with apples and blueberries. The blueberries come on line this year, the apples, if all goes well, two years from now.
Yeah, they don’t look like much, do they? Even so, we here at LLARCS see past the small, lifeless sticks to many years down the road, fruit-laden trees supported by wires and posts and a whole lot of work. After all, ten years ago it was just poplars and white pine, reclaimed pasture with a potential for a view. Now look what we’ve done. And the best part is, we’ve only just got started.