Spring Planting

I guess maybe the bees were making me feel a bit guilty, them beeing so busy and all, so I began a couple projects this weekend. I’ve been needing to make more room for my grape vines and properly string them along the cables I have set up, so I took down the deer fence and began preparing a larger area. If your familiar with Central Oregon you will immediately understand that when I say I dug three post holes, it was quite a project. The rocky soils make it nearly impossible to get a shovel blade in the ground sometimes. However, compared to exhuming an existing post, cemented in the ground with 60 pounds of concrete, the other three holes were a breeze.

After freeing the 12 foot 4×4 post with the knot of concrete on one end, and laying it down, I remained unsure of who would win the wrestling contest. At times I was nearly pinned, other times thrown from the ring, and yet other times we simply danced for control of one another, because within the concrete were the boulders I had used to make sure that post never went anywhere and by gosh it wasn’t. Upon lifting the post from the hole I quickly came to realize that if a single feather were to drift down from the sparrows fornicating in the tree above me, it would be the straw that broke the camels back, or at least my grip on the gnarly old thing and down we would go. It quite literally was all I could lift. After digging three new holes and extracting the old post, along with its concrete mounted boulders, I declined to dig a fourth hole for one more post to complete the project. You see, there awaits me in what I call the boneyard, a place where my used lumber and scraps are kept, a choice between two other old posts, both with a mountain of concrete cemented to their bottoms. These fat bottomed girls are a far piece from where I need them to be and they wont be riding any bicycles. Consequently one more wrestling match remains before the deer fence can go back up around the newly expanded vineyard.

As if to prove my 60 year old body could take one more bout in the ring, the next day I chose to dig another new hole, this time for an apple tree. This hole was in a completely different area and I was pleased to find that when I began the contest I could actually put the spade deep into the soil. It wasnt long though before a bed of rocks was encountered and the wrestling match begun. Most of these rocks were between the size of softballs and basketballs so I considered myself lucky. But it wasn’t long before I came upon the heavy weight that was waiting in the wings just in case his lesser cousins couldn’t defeat me. This thing was about the size of the bed of a pickup! Well, maybe I exaggerate slightly, but it was easily the size of some dog houses. The chickens were all gathered round placing bets on who would win, (because the tree is going in the fenced free range area they enjoy) and they were cackling up a storm as I pryed with the crowbar and dug with the shovel. Each time I would grunt they would respond with a wave chicken calls. Fortunately for me there were no cats around – at least I was not forced to endure cat calls. At the height of the struggle there must have been quite the chorus of grunts, groans, chicken clucks and cackles for any of the neighbors that may have been enjoying the contest. In the end there was no way I was going to be able to lift the rock from the hole. In fact I dont believe two men could so. So the rock now stands like a tombstone at the back of the hole, silently watching over the new apple tree I planted. In this I consider myself the victor. The rock was moved and I planted my tree right where I wanted it. I can already picture the morning I look out the window and see the sun glinting off of a large white Deleware chicken sitting atop the tombstone rock, possibly contemplating if it could make the leap to sit in the lower branches of the tree.

Ah yes, the apple tree. The new fruit tree was really the point of writing this post in the first place. I had hoped to plant two fruit trees this weekend, but alas, the bartlet pear we wanted was sold just before we arrived at the nursury, but we did get a beautiful Lodi apple tree. Now some folks wonder about planting a tree this early in the season when the tree is dormant and without leaves. I want you to know that this is possibly the best time to plant. The tree simply wakes up, that is to say, comes out of dormancy in its new home where it can enjoy the compost and organic fertilizer I have provided it. There is no transplant shock and because it is a large tree I believe we will see it bear some apples this season, Lord willing and the frost dont come too late.

May your own weekends be filled with deep soils and barnyard friends.

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