An Orchard is Born

Posted by Mom on May 9, 2017

This past autumn and winter saw Dad and I researching, planning and dreaming about increasing our self-sufficiency. Our ultimate goal is to decrease our consumerism and increase our ability to live off our land and enjoy the fruits of our own labours. We immersed ourselves in permaculture* literature and videos and came away inspired to try new techniques for resilient living.

As noted in our last post, we have a flock of laying hens producing over two dozen eggs every day. These hens provide us with an exceptional source of protein and we consider our eggs to be over-achievers in health department because we know the hens who lay these eggs and the conditions in which they live. The hens are free to behave the way God designed them to behave and forage all over our yards and pastures for any creep-crawly dainties they can find. The result is a deep yellow-orange yolk, not the pale variety of grocery store eggs. We also supplement their foraging with an organic feed.

Dad Harrold is keen to expand our chicken husbandry and wishes to raise some meat birds. Doing so requires a bit more preparation and infrastructure before we’re ready to take it on.

Something much smaller scale than meat chickens that we’ve already accomplished is moving our raspberry patch. We dug up the roots from an old patch that was becoming shadier and shadier each year and consequently producing less and less fruit, and added them to a new patch in a much sunnier location.

But we have made progress in another area: our orchard! The past weekend we made a trip to Wiffletree Farm to pick up our order of 36 trees and shrubs. We brought home both fruit trees (10 apple, three plum, four pear, three peach, three apricots) and nitrogen fixing trees and shrubs (six sea buckthorns, two honey locusts, two autumn olives and three Siberian peashrub). If you’ve ever planted a tree, you’ll know how much work planting 36 trees can be. Fortunately, a helpful neighbour came over with his “mighty machine” and dug the 36 holes for us in less than an hour. If only planting could have been so quick…

Dad and Mom managed to get the 36 trees and shrubs planted over two days with some assistance from the little Harrolds. Their involvement on day one was primarily finding worms, grubs, and beetles in the upturned dirt and feeding them to the chickens. They were more involved on day two, as we rewarded their efforts with hot cocoa (after a cold, drizzly morning) and popsicles (after the sun broke out and the humidity ratcheted up).  I’m writing this post a full four days after we finished planting and my body still aches from all the shovelling. But it’s not my back or legs that hurt, it’s my pectoral muscles?!?! I didn’t know that shovelling used those muscles so much.

The very day we finished planting a week of cool, wet weather set in; providential for newly planted trees.

From the fruit trees we’ve planted, we hope to expand our orchard through rootstock propagation and grafting. If it all works, we can plant the orchard in the field currently used for cash crops. A future with a permaculture apple orchard next to our home is a much rosier future than one with a field of soy/corn as a close neighbour.

Breaking ground…

Following are some photos of the progression of our new orchard.

First tree planted and the smiles are big…
Can you tell who has been doing the most work?
36 trees and shrubs in the ground all ready to grow!

*permaculture – the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.