Posted by: SoccerGirl | May 27, 2009

We have an Orchard!

So I know it has been a really, really long time since I’ve written any updates (aside from the brief one below, which I also wrote today), but life has been busy and hectic and I haven’t had a chance to get back up to the property until now.  My parents have made many trips, however, it seems that they are again relying on my presence to write any updates.

We made the trip up over the Memorial Day Weekend, arriving on Saturday (to avoid all the traffic of a holiday Friday) and departing on Monday.  We decided to try out a new set of accommodations, Mountain View Lodge, based on their proximity to our property (only a few minutes away), since we still don’t have a house in our meadow-which will hopefully be changing in the near future.  More about that later though.

The main purpose of our trip was to plant our apple orchard.  A month or so ago my parents made a trip up to the property and visited the Ashe County Farmer’s Market in downtown West Jefferson.  They met a couple from Phoenix Mountain Farm selling apples and apple trees.  My mom decided we should plant some on the property since as you have seen from previous picture we have quite a lot of open meadow space.  Originally they were going to purchase 12 trees and a grapevine too, but after thinking about it decided on 8 trees and a grapevine.  Now when I first heard about these trees I was thinking they would be pretty good size and quite a chore to plant, but as you can see in the picture below they are quite small.  Of the 8 trees I have only heard of 2 species, Golden Delicious and Stamen Winesap, the rest are mysterious but hopefully tasty!

Our apple trees before planting

Our apple trees before planting

We arrived on Saturday to a nice, mostly sunny warm afternoon, great for planting.  While my dad used the push string trimmer to cut the grass in the orchard area, mom and I took the opportunity to relax under some shady pine trees, and take a little nap.  Soon he was done though and it was off to work.  We decided on the layout of the trees, then set about digging holes for each.  Now, this was the challenging part, because the soil here is mostly red clay, not the easiest to dig out by hand, so it really took a group effort by all 3 of us to dig each hole and get it ready.  The second challenge of course would be where to get water to put in the holes before planting and after.  There is no water service on the property, and while we do have 2 creeks they are fairly small and shallow.  Dad thought ahead though and brought a 6.5 gallon water jug filled at home, but obviously that wouldn’t be enough for all the trees.  So he took a few trips to the creek, but wasn’t able to get very much water.  We worked for awhile, then decided to go check in to our cabin, rest for a little bit, get some more water, and headed back to finish our work.  When we returned to the property it had gotten cloudy and a bit cooler, but we finished digging the holes, and planted all but 3 of the trees.

Dad cutting the grass to prepare for planting

Dad cutting the grass to prepare for planting

We stopped for the night and returned to our cabin to clean up and then headed into town for dinner.  We decided to try Black Jack’s Pub & Grill, which was very good (they even have pickle chips!) and also gave us a chance to watch the 1st period of the Hurricanes/Penguins game.

Saturday night it started to rain, and continued to rain off and on until we left on Monday.  We got up on Sunday and headed back in to town to go to church at St Francis, the church where my dad actually won a riding lawn mower (thanks to mom for writing down his name) in a raffle a few weeks ago.  After church we headed to Lowe’s to get some soil and other supplies to protect the new trees from rabbits and deer.  We returned to our cabin for brunch and to change clothes and go back to work.  It didn’t really seem to be raining much so we headed back to the property to finish up.  Of course as soon as we got there it started raining more, but we had work to do so we pressed on.  We got the last trees planted, put top soil down to fill in the holes completely, and protected the trees (hopefully) from the deer and rabbits.

Digging the first hole

Digging the first hole

We used advice from the couple who sold us the apple trees to protect our trees.  To protect from the rabbits my dad cut black plastic tubing (the kind you see leading from downspouts) into about 18″ segments which we slipped over the trees.  To protect from deer we created “cages” out of wire fencing and anchored them to the ground.  We also used hung bars of Irish Spring soap from the cages to hopefully repel the deer.

Finally our work was done, we were wet and tired and ready to go back to the cabin.  We had thought about taking a hike at Mt. Jefferson, but since it kept raining off and on we decided to just hang around the cabin, reading and napping, although Dad decided to go out and explore on his own for awhile.  Sunday night we headed out for dinner again, this time we stayed closer and ventured to Mountain Aire Seafood and Steaks where we have eaten before.  We also needed some entertainment that night so we headed into West Jefferson to see a movie at the Parkway Theatre.  They show new movies, and you can’t beat the price, $5 gets you in the door and you have 2 movies to choose from.

Finally Monday morning came, rainy and gray again.  Dad went back to the property to pack up the tools we had brought and some that were left out.  Mom and I hung out around the cabin, and then we packed up and headed back home.

We hope all the rain gives our orchard a great start, hopefully the animals will leave them alone, and in just a few years we will have apples!  Oh, we didn’t get a chance to plant the grapevine yet, we need to research a little more to make sure we plant it correctly.

Some of the trees after planting

Some of the trees after planting

Two more of the trees & our neighbors

Two more of the trees & our neighbors

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