Bloody hot work

Late last week the NWS had Georgetown as clear and 71 on Saturday, clear and 80 on Sunday.  So I figured it would be a perfect weekend to work in the orchard.  But the reality was that it was mid to upper 80s and humid both days, still I got a good (if extremely sweaty) two days work in.  Yesterday I took the Farmi and skidded about 20 saw logs out of the area south of the orchard to the hillside by the pumpkin patch where they will be turned into boards.  Dragging conditions were pretty much ideal, with solid ground and thick grass in the field which made for slick skidding.  I also hitched up the firewood trailer  and pulled a half-cord or so of four foot wood out of the maple area west of the orchard and stacked it in the new fitting area by the cabin.  This wood has been drying there for a couple years and the maple is fine but the oak will start to decay if we don’t process it.   It’s funny about different kinds of wood – maple dries in the round without delay; oak stays green pretty much until you split it, and birch is ridiculous – it will pretty much rot under cover unless you split it up and let it dry, presumably because of the thick oily waterproof bark.

Today I started in the garden, harvesting garlic for my mom, who planted some special variety from my sister in Idaho.  I’m not sure what kind it is, but it grew really well; I pulled them out by the stems and  filled a 50 pound grain sack, then spread them out to dry in a hot attic.  Then I pulled out another shy cord or so of four foot wood from south of the orchard, and yarded out some large longer firewood with the winch.  Since we have more wood than we can put to immediate use, my dad has been selling the excess in 10′ lengths to local folks who want to save a few bucks and fit their own.

Though I mowed around the trees and the fence line just 3 weeks or so ago, you couldn’t tell at all by appearance, the growth of the grass has been so lush.  So I resolved to implement a more long-lasting solution.  I first took the walk-behind mower and mowed aisles on either side of the rows of trees.  I then got the gray wagon and pitched in a load of hardwood chips from this spring’s chipping, and made donuts around the 8 youngest trees at the west side of the orchard.  With luck this will keep the grass at bay for a year or more.  The biggest surprise was the extent of decay in the pile of hardwood chips that had been made from trees with green leaves still on; at least the layers of the pile with leaves were dark and well on their way to decaying.  I’ll definitely keep this in mind for later on; it’s nice to have chips around that are less piney and further on their way to composting, so that they will become compost to feed the young trees.

All in all it was a hot, strenuous couple of days, but I got a lot done and feel like I’m making real progress toward the orchard goals.  The tide was rising and it was still hot when I was through picking up, so I went down to the cove for a very refreshing dip, then over to the high bush blueberry patch where I ate my fill of warm, sun-ripened berries.  Then a sandwich and some iced tea, and on the road for the trip back to Boston.

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