Thanks to a compressed workweek my weekend begins on Wednesdays and extends through either Saturday or Sunday afternoon (I go in every other Saturday). Yes, I have three and four day weekends (HAHA!) HOWEVER my days are 12 hours long and getting anything done during my workweek is futile. This week was my long weekend and boy have I been busy!
To start, I picked up an incredible kettle-bell set from a friend Wednesday evening. The set came with 14 kettlebells, the rack to go with it, a Bosu ball, yoga mat, and so much more. Instead of geeking out on you about my second passion in life (fitness/nutrition, though you wouldn’t tell these days) I have already posted about all the fun gear on Fighting The Fat Kid Within. Check out that blog as well so you can read more about the great collection of fitness toys we brought home…or you know, peruse the other articles on that site too. It’s dedicated to that voice inside that tells you to eat that ice cream even through you’re trying to stay healthy.
On the horse-enthusiast farm loving side of life I spent the rest of the weekend proving that, to live at this house, you really don’t need a gym at all. Life on a farm (or even just a big property) keeps you busy enough as it is!
Beginning Friday (Thursday was centered around doing barn chores at two different farms) I made it my goal to begin pruning my apple trees. We have 10-15 of them scattered throughout the property and I’m fairly certain they have been here since the house was built in the 1800s. It appears that most still produce but they have become so overburdened that the fruit looks small and unappetizing. It’s my mission to bring at lease one tree back to life and bearing delicious apples. This will be a long-term project considering how much pruning needs to be done, and you can’t do it all at once without doing harm.
Below is the tree I selected to begin with. It is super tall and heavily crowded. It had tons of tiny apples on it last fall (and they aren’t crabapples). The tree sits in the middle and center of our property and is one of three that stands out. The rest of the “orchard” are scattered and tucked away, less visible from the house and road.
I’ve never pruned a tree before. I have a friend who owns a popular family run orchard and I have done some online preliminary research. I know that I’m supposed to trim the dead branches, the crossing branches, and the vertical “water spouts.” I know not to take too much off at once so I don’t stress the tree out too much. Dealing with a tree this overgrown will certainly be challenging for even an experienced person so I knew this was going to be “iffy.”
I turned into a sailor.
This tree was out to get me.
After hacking through the overgrowth around the tree I was able to begin cutting the tree itself. Thing is to get under the tree I had to wrangle the low limbs, and they tore at my clothes, pulled my hair, and stuck me.
I climbed up one of the trunks to snip some higher limbs and banged my finger. Not on the loppers….just on the tree. I look down a few minutes later to see blood everywhere and a flap of skin hanging from the end of my right ring finger. I have no recollection of HOW it actually did that. After cleaning up I went back out. More hair pulling, poking, and a LOT of cussing. Today my hands and legs are all cut up and I have scabs on my scalp from this dang tree.
It’s difficult to see much progress, but the weeds on the ground are cleared and some of the lower branches have been trimmed. No ladder means I had to stay low but I was still able to remove quite a bit.
Did I mention that I don’t have electricity out there? My pole saw requires electricity and I wasn’t about to wheel out hundreds of feet of extension cord. Instead I have loppers, a hacksaw, and a hatchet. Lovely, right?
It just gets better!
As if the one abusive tree wasn’t enough I decided to tackle the other two next to it!
The middle tree was my next target. It has three trunks and sadly is pretty close to death (if not already there). As a sacrifice, I opted to lop off one of the trunks. My thoughts? If it dies for good from the removal it was already knocking on deaths door. There are other more healthy trees that will come back to life. If you’re an apple enthusiast please understand my above comments…I have never done this before. I have to learn somewhere. If I made the wrong decision I will learn and grow from it. Plus, after the first tree I was ready to call a tree removal service and have them leveled!
But I’m giving it an honest shot.
…and I told you what tools I was using?
I was so tired Friday I got to the point that I could no longer pickup the axe. I took the rest of the night off and recruited Zac to help me Saturday.
We got it!
She finally came down, opening the rest of the tree up to more sun and hopefully reducing it’s burden by a lot. We hacked the downed trunk to smaller more manageable branches to dry out and burn later. I’m hoping it will use the energy “savings” to repair and recover from the damage in the other parts of the tree. The remaining limbs of this tree are still heavily overburdened but after reducing it by a third I wasn’t about to shock it further.
So we moved to the last tree in the row. It’s a smaller tree that was not in the worst shape. There was a TON of growth around the base of the tree. Other plants and trees have grown up and into the tree, suffocating it and stunting it’s growth. By removing those plants we found it wasn’t in terrible condition. I only needed to trim the dead branches (that I could reach).
The finished project. Three overgrown but less burdened apple trees. Let’s see what buds in the spring!
After this 3 hour project we were still having a lot of fun working around the property. The former owners left an abandoned flatbed trailer. It’s so old the bottom has rusted out, the hitch was under dirt, trees were growing through it, and the tires are half buried. We wanted to inspect it more so we began lopping the bushes away from it. The wooden sides have turned to paper, breaking off in our hands.
Once we got in there Zac dug out the hitch and we were able to lift it up. We have yet to dig out the tires and try to actually move it. Aside from one or two areas it seems to have a decent metal frame…usable and salvageable for on the farm use only. At least that’s what we’re hoping for.
After THAT project it began getting dark, but we were STILL having a blast getting things done. It’s January 27th in upstate New York, 54 degrees and sunny. We were thrilled to be outside doing things and making progress.
We have a backyard stream that cuts through the property. We have a culvert to cross it. On one side of the culvert is bushes and weeds. They are raspberry bushes and we plan to keep them. The other side of the culvert is barren and has become shallow. The stream has nowhere to go and floods the lower end of the property. In time my goal is to install a nice pond, and widen/deepen the stream. I want it to be a beautiful attraction, not some watery mucky swamp mess.
For kicks Zac and I used a metal bow rake to dredge the stream. It was unbelievable what a difference it made! By simply removing some of the loose leaves and grass that had collected the water began to flow.
As you can see it has gotten quite dark so we were limited by what we could do. We might just go get some waders and pick this project back up as soon as we have another nice warm weekend!
I want to see what your weekends looked like. Please comment and share with me!
Thanks again and always for stopping by!