The apples are superabundant this year. Far more than last year.
“They say” that a good apple year means a hard winter. We shall see. It seemed true in 2014.Tree #5 has huge fruits on it that would rival any store bought Honeycrisp. So would the taste. Delicious.
These trees, while some have been released or had a little pruning, are for the most part still as wild as when we got here. Overgrown, diseased, crowded. Poor things. There’s too many. They don’t get plenty of attention. This tree, #47, is glorious! Huge, I can’t even get it all in a picture. The trunk has a mean lean and it looks like it’s nearly dead, but every year, it’s a wonder. Despite a 45˚ list it’s still tall, and crazy heavy with apples. It also has large fruit. I like this little tree. Not so little, but it has little pink-yellow fruit and in the two summers since it got released it has been rejuvenating itself. New low branches, and the fruit is coming in thicker and larger. I also don’t know what any of these heritage apples are. I get conflicting IDs.
The pigs are the chief beneficiaries of these riches. They get a bucket of windfalls every day. And the birds, and chickens, and squirrels, and chipmunks, and wasps. I have too much applesauce left over, so I’m not canning it this year, but hopefully, there will be cider:)
Two things from Lee Valley Tools have made all the difference to orchard interaction this year. VERY worthwhile orcharding tools.
The pole pruner. It has interchangeable heads – a saw and a snip pruner, and a telescoping pole. HW used that in the spring to prune some of our five dozen apple trees.
2. The apple picker bag. Here it is shown being used in combination with the telescoping pole of the pruner, although they are not designed to work together. The bag unclips from the two part frame.
You scoop an apple and twist and push or pull, and the apple detaches into the bag. The bag will hold about 5 apples, but that gets heavy to swing around in the air.
I won’t go so far as to say it is enjoyable to pick apples with a basket on a pole – one gets a headache and a squint from looking up so long and manipulating a tool on the end of a long stick – but if you have old, tall trees, and the apples grow high, this makes it possible to pick them.
2016 was a terrible apple year. No trees distinguished themselves as heavy bearers, and the apples that made it were high on the trees and held tight on their stems.
With the picker, I was able to get about 5 buckets full of apples for cider. Without the picker, I’d have about 5 apples.
There are a couple clips unhooked in these pictures
Like I said, this pruner pole and the basket aren’t made to work together, and sometimes they don’t. After cooperating like a charm for several days, one evening they suddenly refused to work together and the basket parts came sproinging apart and getting hung up high in the trees. Fun!
The apples are coming! One of the big, old, stately ancient apple trees (when we come up with the perfect name for these wizened empresses of apple trees, it will become the name of our farm) by the old farmhouse is loaded with fruit, weighing the branches down to the ground. I picked up about 5 gallons of apples just off the ground, lobbing many of them directly into the pig compound. Oink, oink. Happy pigs.