It’s been in the mid-forties and strangely Springlike around here lately. Which is odd, but hopeful all at the same time. When a fruit tree and shrub catalog arrived in my mailbox over the weekend, I got thinking seriously — we actually have a place to put these things now.
Which is precisely the issue – and the frustration. For all that our land is, it isn’t flat, dry, or totally accessible. Here’s a (very old) photo of what we have and hope to achieve to again with the help of a chainsaw and some hungry goats:
Or, as it’s easier to reference:
Though the photo we’re referencing is a good 20 years old, it’s a good starting place to figure out what we’re dealing with. I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but we also need to roughly estimate where things might go, so we don’t end up planting an orchard in our most ideal horse pasture. And, as most semi-dwarf trees take a few years to fruit, I’d like to not miss another growing season.
Pasture A and B are bordered by rockwalls on both roads, and a metal cow fence in the middle. The area near the pond is much more overgrown now and also has some wetland areas that flow in and out of it, mainly across field A and on the border of B & C, heading under the barn. Pasture C is open and sunny, though not level — sloping down to the pond. With access to the barn, it lends itself to be a good area for a horse pasture. Field D is wide and open (the cows were here last year) and is level in the center, steeping angling down towards the pond on the edge, in an area that’s much more overgrown now. It’d be an ideal place for a pasture, gateway to trails, or possible riding ring on the level part in the future.
We’re looking to plant most fruit trees and bushes that can be grown in our region – Zone 5B – Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Cherries (I prefer sweet over tart, though they’re more fussy), Peaches, Pears, Plums, and of course, Apples. I’m not saying we need an orchard of each variety, but a few different trees — enough to cross-pollinate– and have enough fruit for both of us, some to give away, or possibly sell at our neighbor’s stand. We’ve identified hardy varieties for our area, but now just need to determine where they’ll go. We’ve even considering doing some in an espalier method (training them to grow in hedges), like the photo at the top of the post.
But, it’s so hard walking around this:
Imagining where fully leafed out trees will cast shade, where wetlands currently hardened with frost will creep up.
So we’ve listed what we want out of the land:
- fruit trees
- a place for horses (likely 2, with access to barn and/or run in shed we’d need to build)
- ring to ride in (as level as possible)
- temporary electric fencing/area we can move around for goats or sheep, should we choose to use them to help control weeds
- small veggie garden area. We’re not looking looking to grow for a farmer’s market here- just modest produce for ourselves, including some permanent crops like asparagus, strawberries, etc.)
Now, we just need to figure out where works. We’re hoping to call on some resident ‘experts’ too – our farmer neighbors across the street, and our neighbors down the lane – one who managed a 30-stall horse barn… She’d be a great resource for our horse questions.
But, right now – armed with a fruit tree catalog and a blank slate overgrown with stickerbushes, things seem quite a bit more daunting.