Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

This is Where the Crying Starts

Remember the wind storm we had the other day? Well. This is the shattered remains of our apple pie dreams...

Gone. Apples, apple pie, apple crisp, applesauce.. all gone.

I literally felt sick when I found this toppled over little apple tree. It was so bad I had to turn around and walk back out of the garden, gather some courage, then walk back up to see if it was real. It was real and we were just heartsick.

What's the big whoop over one little tree? Well. We got that little tree, a heritage apple called Grimes Golden, the first spring we were at this property. Which means it's about five years old and this was the first season that it fruited. It was perfect. A perfect little tree with perfect little fruit - and it perfectly blocked out the stupid neighbors house. And there it lay in a perfect heap with absolutely zero chance of being saved. Completely broken off at the base.

The first year it fruited and now....we have to start all over again.

I tell you the truth, the Scriptures are correct when they say that there is nothing new under the sun and that the curse is still in effect. Everything you seek to control will rebel against you and your work will be hard. Nothing makes this more clear than farming.

In my former life I didn't fail at anything. I was always above average and could point to my markers of success. Here. For heavens sakes, here my character has been so strengthened by failure that I am now a shining example of humility.

I'm so used to failure that we have a little cheer out in the barnyard for it. I dress Nibbles up in a little pleated skirt and a sweater with "OFG" on the front, hand her some pompoms, and she leads us in this rally:

Nibbles: What are we gonna get today?
Nibbles: What do we control?

Then Nibbles awkwardly does the splits and the rest of us all trudge of to work knowing that our success is measured in who didn't die that day and that we absolutely do not control anything we do. It's very humbling.

It's very hard to explain to your city friends why losing one little apple tree actually made you put your face in your hands and cry. What's the big deal? Just get another one - right? Or worse, they ask, why don't you just go and buy apples from the store?

That's kind of not the point.

It's the time, the energy, the hope of seeing that little tree flower every spring and think, 'Is this the first year I'm going to get a harvest?' It's the joy of finally having a little orchard that you created with your own hands. Not to mention that little tree was finally blocking that stupid house next door.

Nibs benefited from my crushed dreams.

It took me three days to walk up there with my tools and start to cut up that little tree. But, as farming goes, the perfect little circle of life kept spinning. I took the branches down to Nibbles and the rest of the goats. They loved the leaves and the bark from those little branches. Later we'll get the trunk cut up, let the wood age, and then the next time I smoke bacon it will be applewood flavored. So nothing is truly lost to the farm - it just keeps the cycle going.

Daisy got in on the action too.

When I moved the trunk from its final resting place you can imagine my surprise when.... I found a single little offshoot. It was about as tall as me and snapped bolt upright when it was freed from being pinned. It may not have been much - and I don't know if it was rootstock or a true Gimes Golden treelet... but it gave me hope. And at least I don't have to start at the absolute beginning.  At worst we'll have a nice little shade tree and that is just fine too.

Look what sprung up!

Maybe that new little tree will gain some strength and grow..... and next spring it could be full of hopeful blossoms. Then we'll wonder, "Is this the first year I'm going to get a harvest?"

Until then we'll remember that this is nothing new under the sun, all work is hard, and we control absolutely nothing.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Is there anything new under your sun, is your work hard, and are you in control of anything?


CB said...

It's a sad day when a fruit tree dies. However, I just attended a class on grafting fruit and nut trees, and there's an online seminar in about a week as well and it's one of the coolest things I think we'll do on the farm. Anyway, you now have an awesome opportunity to try grafting. According to the pecan tree specialist, bud grafting, or budding is the easiest to do with the best results. There are many college publications on how to do it. You can even bud 3-4 different kinds of apples onto 1 tree. How cool is that?

I may be a little too excited about this, but we're going to plant, hopefully, another 120 pecan trees from seed and graft them next year.

Once you've finished the greiving process, research grafting techniques and you'll see that it's something to get excited about.


Anton said...

Well said! I'm sorry for the loss of your tree. I had a very similar thing happen to a tree I transplanted from my 'city' house to my farm, a 'Kingston Black' apple tree. The voles girdled it over the winter. But this spring it sent out shoots well above the graft union and I thought "It's saved!" And then the rabbits ate the shoots. I do hope it comes back again in the spring and maybe the third time will be the charm. Protect that little offshoot of yours this winter! Good luck.

edh said...

Oh, this almost made me cry in sympathy. Two years ago an early wet snow with high winds snapped off our tiny plum tree, right at ground level. It had only borne two years, and I was madly in love with it. The replacement didn't take, so we'll try again next year, but oh how it hurts to lose a tree! So very sorry.

Ann from KY said...

About 17 years ago, a friend and I had a food booth at a rural festival. We sold "apple fritters" which was a ring of apple, dipped in batter and deep fried with powdered sugar on it. We sold a ton of them! We were using locally grown Yellow Delicious apples. I can't tell you how many older people watched me peel apples or ate the fritters and asked "is that a Grimes Golden?" It happened over and over that weekend. Everyone just raved about the taste of the Grimes Golden apple. So I really feel your pain!! Sounds like it was a bad loss for sure!

The Paisley Butterfly said...

I am sorry for your loss. I would be heartbroken too. Keep the faith, God will provide. And I really liked what you said about failure and character. May God bless you, your family, and your farm.

David said...

So sorry for your loss... I think sometimes it's good remember we may influence but we never control/ You needn't dry that wood too much before you can use it!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

CB, I cant tell you how much I love all your encouragement THANK YOU. And super idea about grafting - would never have thought of that! Really - another 120? wowza!

Hey Anton, yep I totally get it. Most of my relocated roses died the first winter here. Ugh. But you poor little tree! Curse those bunnies - get the dog. ;-)

See, EDH? I was totally in love with that little apple tree too. I think we all just love living thing.

Ann, those fritters sound fantastic! And yep, the older folks know this kind of apple. It's really extraordinary. Thank you for your kind words.

PaisleyB, thank you so much for your prayers. I know the Hand of Provision is on us. *gives hugs*

Dave, people like us need to remember that we dont control much of what happens. It's a good lesson and I kind of wish I had learned it earlier. I think I'm gonna become a tree snuggler and just love that little sapling to give it a fighting chance. :-)

Mike Ohlhausen said...

It is kinda hard to make lemonade out of apple wood, hmm - the grafting sounds like the best option, graft a bud (or 2 or 3) to the little shoot, and just maybe... Love your blog, I have followed it for at least year or so, and it gives me hope hearing everyone else has escapades, disappointments, and sheer joy all in the same day. It really is good out on the farm. Cheers!

Unknown said...

I have had some start sprouting from the base, so it may still be k, unless you dug up the base? I'd put some protection around it and see what spring brings....

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