Archive for March, 2007

Orchard Weekend

March 3, 2007

We’ve set the date for the first North End Orchard Weekend in April; I’ll send invites out soon, or write me email for more info. Highlights:

  • Sixteen heirloom apple trees, four peaches, and two cherry trees will be planted in the nursery bed
  • The new orchard site will be cleaned up, turned over, and seeded with soil-building cover crop
  • Fencing needs to be moved to protect the new trees, possibly also fencing around the new orchard
  • Twenty high-octane sugar maples will be planted, either in the nursery or along the stone wall down to the cove
  • Further orchard clearing, brush chipping, and compost-making as time permits
  • Meet the goats (Willow and Larry), three new dogs (Kermit, Zoey, and Lacey) and check out Dave’s new excavator

We’ll provide grub and (rustic) accommodation, also a tank of last year’s hard cider as well as apples and fresh cider (if we can find any decent stuff), and music (if people bring instruments). It will be a good time. Too cold to swim, but there are usually canoes around.

Vin and Alice

March 3, 2007

Thinking about apples often puts me in mind of Vin and Alice Strout, who were our neighbors to the south all the time I was growing up. Vin and Alice came from upcountry in Maine, town of Jay I think. They were both teachers, first in Farmington, then maybe in Fairfield, CT. At some point they bought an old farmhouse with a few dozen acres on Robinhood Cove, and ran a boys’ camp down by the shore for a few years, probably in the 4os or 50s. By the time I knew them they were getting on in years and wintered in Florida, but they remained active and were a significant part of our lives on the North End. Vin was an incurable tinkerer with sheds full of old machines that he would try to get running, “titravating” was his word for the mechanic-ing efforts. His example was a large part of the inspiration that turned me into an engineer.

Vin and Alice kept a very nice vegetable garden; they always had the first corn on the North End. Vin also kept a number of sorry old apple trees, they never had a dog or a fence so the deer raised havoc with them. His favorite was the Red Astrakhan; it’s a summer apple and we’d go over and help him make the most brutal, tart cider you can imagine in late summer; he had a nice old cider press with a small AC motor that he jury-rigged to run the grinder. Vin died some years ago and Alice followed not long after; we were afraid that their farm would be turned into some gawd-awful subdivision, but thankfully it was purchased by a conservation-minded lawyer from around Portland and his family; they’ve fixed up the drafty old farmhouse and rebuilt the dock and they appear to be using it as a summer getaway.

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