I numbered all the fruit trees, and tagged them all with numbers I cut out of yogourt tubs and lids.
This is so that I can keep notes about health, pruning, fruit, etc, variety! when we figure out what the heck any of them are… and generally talk about them with better reference points than “that tree that used to have the hawthorn beside it but we cut it down”.
“You mean the one by the big rock?”
“No, closer to the well.”
“Oh, by the trail, where the rhubarb is.”
“No on the other side.”
This can take a while.
It turns out we have more than 60 fruit trees, so the above scenario for describing them is not very practical. Numbers are a good idea.
All are in various ages, stages, and health, but there are far fewer seedlings among the total than I expected. Half a dozen at most. Most are in “dire emergency” and need release, pruning, and more.
But some are big, majestic beauties that have been quietly living away and making apples without us here, and will go right on doing so.
Stepped outside last night and was arrested by an unusual sound. A combination of snorting and rustling, emanating from the cherry tree 40′ from my door.
Yep, a bear. He was snorting like a pig and shaking the tree like it was in a mighty wind. I was choked at a) his audacity -SO close to the house, and b) the possibility that he would severely damage the tree. Another fruit tree was almost destroyed by a bear while I was away – the trunk split, broken by the bear’s weight climbing around in it, half the tree lying on the ground.
So I got some pans to clang together and went at it, crashing them together and beating against the fence, yelling at the bear in the tree. One of those events that would be quite the spectacle if someone could have witnessed it – me hopping around in my undies, banging pots and and hollering at a tree. Intermittently taking flash pictures of the tree. Lucky it was dark.
I got my camera because it was too dark to see the bear, and I thought he might show up in the photos, but the tree hardly showed up in the pictures.
The bear may as well have been deaf and blind. He didn’t even pause in his noisy, nasal rummaging, just carried on rustling around in that tree. I could hear him chewing. Eventually I gave up. Bear, 4. Me, 1.
Now that the snow’s all melting and the world generally looks its muddiest, bedraggled worst, I’m ever so glad for all the fall cleanup I did. Still, the disappearing snow exposes all the unaddressed projects and detritus that needs attention. Today I ringed the fruit trees with Tanglefoot, (hopefully) before those little gossamer rappelling bugs wake up to climb the tree. Wow. That stuff is nasty. It looks and behaves like a cross between taffy and bearing grease, without the pleasant aroma of either. And they give you a two inch stick to apply it with? That is a cruel joke. I really hope the horse doesn’t take an interest in it, is all I can say, because that would be like getting chewing gum out of a toddler’s hair.
The last few days have seen a zillion minute delicately pale green worms rappelling on gossamer filaments from the fruit trees. Collectively, they make a shimmering curtain that leans in the breeze and catches the light from the right angle. It’s a beautiful thing. Unphotographable.
From the wrong angle, the trapeze show is totally invisible, and when you stride through it, you’re festooned by a dozen sticky threads and instantly remember you meant to skirt the tree.
Today I noticed a development. Instead of the 100s of lines almost reaching the grass with one worm on the end of each, there’s a reduction in numbers of lines, but that the ones that remained had dozens of riders. Tiny green bodies tip to tail like a beaded string on one lifeline.
I’m fascinated at the process. Do these worms spin out their lines to ride to the earth, over a few days? Then what? Do they eat the spring leaves on the tree then go to the ground to transform? Or travel back up the tree to inflict for damage come fruit time? I know nothing about these insects. As beautiful an effect they create, I’m horrified at the obvious infestation.