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.
My miracle pear tree is still causing questions. As you may recall, this is the tree that was planted more than 20 years ago, had bloomed several different years but had not produced a single bit a fruit during its’ lifespan. I gave up on it more than 10 years ago and have ignored it since.
Well, this year, it bloomed and actually set on pears and I was so surprised.
I had to go and harvest the whole tree since it is planted by one of the pastures and the cows are known to wait for fruit to fall so they can get a treat.
Once in the house, I sliced open one of them and was surprised by the skin, the texture and the flesh. It does not fit the description of any pear I know of and will throw the question out to readers if they happen to know the variety.
The pears look like Bartletts when they are growing, although the skin has a slightly waxy feeling. They tend to bruise easily and are not a good ‘keeper’ variety.
They have the sweetness of the Bosc but are quite a bit smaller, with the texture of an Asian Pear but not quite as grainy
The outstanding pear crop has translated into an amazing volume of dried pears.
This is a picture of the last few batches.
The dehydrator has been running non-stop for the last two weeks. As one batch would be ready to package, the next group of pears that were ripening on the table in the garage would be peeled, sliced and trayed.
Each tray of pears took between 24 to 34 hours to dry depending on the size of the slices and the amount of moisture in the fruit. It feels good to have this harvest completed. Now I have to figure out how I’m going to disperse the pile of fruit.
On another note, I wonder what I’ll do for Christmas gifts this year?
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.
Jackson, the dog, has become predictable.
We have to tether the dogs at night to keep them from chasing deer, elk, coyotes and hundreds of other night prowlers. When we unhook Jackson from his chain, the first place he visits is the pear tree where he grabs a fallen pear in his mouth as he runs by to the pasture for his morning bathroom routine. He holds the pear gently (drooling out both sides of his mouth) as he takes care of his business, then runs and jumps into the back of the John Deere Gator to eat his delicious fruit.
The smacking noise he makes while eating makes the fruit sound absolutely heavenly. Once he is done with the pear, he is ready to start the morning chores by helping to feed the cows.
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