Tuesday, September 14, 2010







Based on the morning activities of yesterday and today, we think every day will begin with us pulling up the fence stakes we put into the ground the previous day, rolling up the fence string and moving it to form a new pasture for the cows to graze. By relocating them regularly, the cows are happier because they get to eat fresh greens every day and the soil improves thanks to their fertilizer. All the plants in the field have days to grow and replenish themselves after visits by the cows; if the cows were never moved, the plants would never have time to recover and would instead die.

Orchards, like cows, require lots of maintenance. Pruning, fertilizing, weeding, and harvesting barely scratches the surface. Today we spent hours ducking under the branches of many rows of trees gathering fallen apples. With 11 varieties of apples in one orchard, different trees ripen at different times. Right now, several varieties are ripe and ready to be harvested while other varieties need a few more weeks. Ripe or not, apple trees drop apples and these fallen apples require attention. Leaving apples to rot on the ground under the tree attracts bugs. These bugs procreate at incredible speeds and offspring can quickly overtake the entire orchard. A few insects eating a rotten apple can multiply into a million bugs eating all the apples on all the trees too quickly for comfort. Therefore, maintaining orchard hygiene is paramount.

There are three things you can do with fallen apples, depending on their condition: 1) compost them, 2) press them into cider, 3) sell them. The ones that are completely rotted and infested with bugs must be composted; even the pigs won't eat them. The apples with a few bruises or the ones without bruises that have fallen before they ripen get pressed into cider. You can't sell an under ripe apple, but you can process the apple into sauce or cider and still make money. Some apples fall off trees when they are fully ripe and they taste and look perfect. Just like most other fruit, when one is totally ripe a soft breeze can make it fall. There's clearly no reason these apples shouldn't be consumed, as they taste delicious and oftentimes have been on the ground for less than an hour. In fact, as we were gathering apples off the ground, others fell right in front of our eyes. One even hit Aaron in the head, and he felt like Sir Isaac Newton for a moment.

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