Finally, the last of the fruit trees in the garden have been pruned, and not a moment too soon. Some of the trees have buds that are starting to swell.
A few weeks of warm weather will force the buds to spring out of hibernation (dormancy) and begin flowering.
It is common to see a few blooms around Easter time, but this year may be delayed a week or more since the ground has not warmed up yet.
It is a waiting game for us to see when the first blooms will appear. In the meantime, I will be snacking on dried apples, prunes and pears while I dream about the abundance of fresh tree fruit that is only a few months away.
Fall is the winding down season. Cooler weather means anything left in the garden and orchard slow and decay. The copious amounts of rain have helped with the melting process.
Picking an apple or pear off the tree before heading out to do chores has become a habit.
Today I picked the last Asian pear off the young tree. This is only the second year of producing for this newly acquired variety and I was very pleased with the crisp, sweet taste of this planting as well as the quantity.
The Golden Delicious apple tree is not far behind and I will be picking the last of those sometime later this week.
It has been a good year for tree fruits this year as well as the filberts. I have a freezer full of dried nuts, apple and pear bread, along with apple and pear chunks (for making pies).
The dehydrator had been busy most of the summer.
A couple of the kittens insist on helping while I cut up the apples for the feedings in the barn.
Today it happened to be Tobias inside the garden cart while Asher was outside poking at him.
Most of the time I have to shoo the cats away so I can sit and cut the apples, then I have to shoo them out of the bucket that I want to cut the apples into, and again, I have to shoo them out of the way so I can pick up the bucket to feed the apples to the cows.
The good news is that the kittens have been busy learning how to hunt. They started with bugs and are now actively hunting shrews. One kitten even caught a mouse a other day. It is worth all the distraction of having them into everything if they keep up the good work at hunting.
Buckets and buckets full of windfall fruit are doled out in small doses to the critters in the show barn and in the bull pen.
The cows love the fruit and every one of them stop eating the food in front of them when they see me set down to begin cutting the apples and pears in half. They try to wait patiently for the sweet treat, but are unsuccessful and they stand there drooling, mooing and tossing their heads while they are sliced. The damaged fruit is beyond being edible for humans but the cattle enjoy every bite and would even fight over it if they have the chance.
If given the opportunity to gorge on the fruit, they will be uncomfortable and could go off their feed completely. Keeping the fruit picked up helps to keep the hornet population under control.
After the animals are comfortable with the process of putting on and taking off the rope halters, they are released from the head gates.
This is a scary time for them. They do not understand why this thing is on their head, and why it tightens around their nose when they pull back. The learning curve is different for every animal, some take to it quickly, while others struggle, jump and tangle themselves in the rope, and can even flop themselves over. Constant supervision is needed during this phase of training to make sure the animals are safe.
These three yearling bulls calmed down after about an hour of testing the process. Once they were standing with the rope slack, they got comfortable and starting chewing their cud. They were also treated to a few sliced apples for their good behavior before taking off the halters for the day.
We will do this step for 3 days before moving to the next lesson which is moving the animals from the stanchions with the halters on.
The young calves in the show barn are getting daily rations of chopped apples to add nutrition and natural energy to their hay and grass screening pellets.
These two calves have already been weaned from mothers milk and the apples are a great way to keep them interested in feeding schedules and eating.
We have only been doing this the last two weeks and already these calves stand in their feeding spots and watch as the apples are cut and distributed before diving into their dinner.
They are becoming more vocal about how much time it takes to get the apples to them, or beg for just a few more after the portion is gone.
Growing up, we called the purple stone-fruit, prunes, it didn’t matter if they were plump and juicy, or small and tart, or even if they had already been dried. They were called prunes.
My sister-in-law reminds me that plums and prunes are practically the same thing. She demonstrates the notion when she says the trees look nicely plummed this year. Well that really doesn’t prove her point, does it? So I will continue to call them prunes. Continue reading