29 November 2011

Apples!

There are over a dozen trees scattered about our seven acres and just about all of them are in the golden years of life.  The apples have surely past their prime decades ago and now their trunks are gnarled, their limbs have grown into tangled messes and one tree within the first few weeks of us living here split right in half.  I hacked off the limbs from the lifeless trunk and used it as a crutch to support some of the weight of the still-live portion.
When we planted another modest orchard just north of the two elderly apple trees, we bought a few galas that will one day replace the originals.  For now, they're still just babies.  It will be a few more years before they sprout any fruit and more than likely, we'll have moved on.  Planting an orchard seemed like it would be a good selling point though we wouldn't reap much--if any--benefits after the cost and work of transplanting.  But what is a hobby farm without a fruit tree orchard?
Sometimes it seems people tend to discount old things as obsolete.  If it's not shiny and new, it's not any good.  Not true!  In their mature age, the trees still produce several bushels of apples.  We're not sure of their breed--they're fairly small with a thick skin and there's only about a week period where they're mildly sweet.  Otherwise they've got an unappetizing bitter tang.

I don't know why but there's something very satisfying about eating food produced from our own soil.  Sure there are a few worms to yank out but the best part about is that there's little work involved and they're one of nature's many freebies.  Other than pruning, mowing around their trunks and plucking blossoms so that one apple grows at the tip of each twig, we just wait for the apples to plump up for that magical week of sweetness.  I have a hunch the hot weather near the end of summer has something to do with ripeness (which explains why Claire's munching on apples in her diaper).  All except for the tree who split in two--he's in panic mode ever year and drops his apples mid-summer.  They can barely even be called apples.  They're more like oversized cherries: the skin flushes a dark red while the fruit inside is grainy and powdery.  It seems he's in a hurry to produce some replacement offspring.

Fruit isn't the only benefit of the geriatric trees.  The cats love scrambling up their trunks because they have hunched with age and are an easy climb.  Sometimes the squirrels dash covertly over for a mouthful of apples and during the summer of cicadas, there were several insects at any given time droning from the apple's limbs.
Any apples that fall to the ground and rot before we can sink our teeth in are fed to the creatures that probably appreciate them more than any of us: the horses.  We dump fruit in their paddock by the bucketful and watch them eat.  The way they rip off the flesh and smack their lips, it almost sounds like a pride of lions eating freshly caught prey:


The two apple trees give me the impression of brothers.  I have no idea why other than the way they have grown up side-by-side, weathering the strong winds and storms through innumerable seasons.  I don't have the heart to hack them down as some guests suggest I probably should.  For now, they are in retirement--still chugging along with not much being expected of them save one unpretentious yet appreciated apple crop each autumn.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...