You have to start somewhere, on the most daunting projects, and that is what we found ourselves faced with as we stood and viewed our "orchard" a couple weeks ago.
We had discovered, on one of the earlier trips to the property before we bought the house, that there were 10 fruit trees behind the house. 3 of them were staggered out closer to the pole barn, but then there was this expanse of scrubby brush ground, that when you looked carefully contained 7 more fruit trees.
Our first prerogative was to find the orchard. It had been obviously "let go" and was overrun with brush, Autumn Olives, twiggy baby trees, and even a few good Oak trees as thick as my forearm or thicker!
So armed with various clippers, saws, and other implements of destruction, we set at the first few trees hoping to free them for pruning at a later date.
Some of us simply had the job of dragging away the brush that was cut down. Mom and I at one point worked on the Grape Vine which was a story all in itself!!
Shine, who was visiting for the day, supervised, while Moby and Sadie ran hither and thither, stopping every once and a while on their rambling to "check in" on us.
Josiah has a personal vendetta against Autumn Olives. They're invasive.. destructive, and quick growing. They tend to crowd out and kill some of the native bushes and trees, and have been known to invade and sweep through a innocent empty field, taking over and filling in the once open meadow.
Well his encounters with them in the orchard, did nothing to "sweeten" his opinion of them.
They, along with a grape vine and other various menacing plants, succeded on strangling and suffocating the life out of this unfortunate Apple Tree. It's tortured dead remains casting a depressing silhouette against the barren landscape. But all is not lost, we can and will plant a new apple tree to replace and carry on the standard of the unfortunate one. And the new one will be kept free of any marauding Autumn Olives, if Josiah has anything to do with it.
Some of the other trees had to fight different battles like this one that Kitten found fun to explore. It had so overgrown and intertwined it's top most branches, creating a living umbrella, that it had succeeded in shading out it's lower limbs, cutting them off from sunlight, the vital life line, and causing them to perish in the darkness beneath. Though I don't have photos of it yet, this tree went through a strict disciplinary pruning to bring it under control and help it to live in a more productive manner.
Josiah, our talented ax man, took care of the bigger trees, while the rest of us took care of the more manageable sized items.
This is a "before" photo. And the after is yet to come.
It was a productive day in the orchard. There have been a few more that I have not been a part of, but we are making good headway in preparation for spring. Operation "Take back the Orchard" is in full swing!