We have big things to look forward to in the future! Mark your calendar and set your alarm–we planted FRUIT TREES!!

Let’s give a warm welcome to the newest members of our farm:

Bartlett Pear: She’s on the east side of the farm, next to the plum tree. She enjoys light spring breezes, having her branches trimmed and watching people train for marathons. Her two best friends are heritage turkeys.

Multi-variety Apple: She’s next to the oak tree in the north pasture. She’s into natural healing, deep breathing, and she loves mountains. Her goal is to eventually provide shade for summer picnics in a few years.

Hardy Fig “Chicago”: He (and his twin brother) are on the hill next to the swale, in the pasture. Their goal is to “stay outta trouble–or at least not git caught like that dope, Lenny”. They enjoy talking trash to the ducks, starting fights, and dodging bullets. Their goal is to “live hard and die harder”.

Kiwi berries “Prolific”: These two best friends just finished a road trip together in the back of a restored 1947 flatbed with wood siderails. They love French impressionist music, the smell of fresh rain and they adore “Jane Eyre” (but not Jane Austen). Their goal is to “make friends with every living creature on the farm”. They’ve both been caught staring at the figs, but have denied it.

Welcome to Chehalem Prairie Farm! We’re glad you’re here!

Today was pruning day. This is the first year that I haven’t done major renovations on the plum tree. The pear tree also got a light pruning as well as the young fruit trees. The grapes got the usual treatment.

After a record-breaking hot and dry summer, this winter has been really wet. We had a week or so below freezing between Christmas and New Year, so hopefully that was sufficient for the plants that need it. Otherwise, temperatures have been pretty normal. January has been pretty mild.

Heather moved the herbs from row 1 of the garden to the south side of the house.

Good news from the beehive: so far, the bees have survived the winter! On warm sunny days such as today, they venture out of the hive.

I finally got around to addressing the coolant leak in the tractor last week. I decided to try the easy option first and pour a bottle of Bar’s head gasket sealant into the radiator. I’ve cycled the tractor through warm-up/cool down a few times, and the amount of steam coming out of the exhaust seems to be diminishing. I also changed out the milky engine oil. If this fix doesn’t work, I’ll have to take the engine apart and install a new head gasket.

Life is filled with the opportunity to make decisions. And it’s not my job to judge you based on the decisions you choose to make.

Howeverrrrrr, if you move to a new home and you decide to chop down a productive fruit tree because it’s inconvenient/too much work/in the way, then you have some of the key traits of a mentally unbalanced puppy-kicker. And I suggest you revaluate your decision to remove the tree.

Fruit trees take many years to become fully productive. When mature, they produce an abundance of food–usually more than one family can eat + process alone. Trees produce oxygen, they stabilize the soil, hold moisture, and provide shade and shelter. Trees are our ticket out of global warming (if you’re into that). Fruit trees are a gift to the future from the past.

So why on God’s green earth would someone chop down a productive fruit tree?

I sprayed copper fungicide on the peach, nectarine, and peach-plum trees a couple weeks ago and again today. I’m hoping it prevents peach leaf curl. This year, those trees all had to grow a second set of leaves after the first set curled up and died off.

The peas we seeded on March 25 are starting to sprout.

The kale and chard are a bit yellowish but surviving. I think nitrogen availability must be lower when the soil is cold, perhaps due to decreased microbial activity.

The basil got killed by the cold nights, but most of the other herbs are doing well, especially both types of parsley.

The plum tree is done blossoming, the pear tree is in full blossom, and the young fruit trees are starting to grow again.

I pruned the grapevines, plum tree, and pear tree. I think the grapevines are starting to look more like they should.

I pruned the pear tree lightly, after a heavy pruning last year that resulted in not much fruit.

I pruned the plum tree heavily this year, trying to open the canopy so lower branches will grow and bringing down the overall height of the tree. We’ll see what happens this year, but last year we had more plums than we could handle.

Today was also shearing day for the three wool sheep. We had them fast from food and water for about 18 hours before shearing. The shearer said it might be better for these sheep to be sheared twice a year to avoid felting. He also said their hooves are looking good and dont need trimming, and they’re not too fat or skinny, but to not reduce their feed. Shearing cost $100 for the three sheep. The sheep look kinda funny now… and not nearly so big and imposing.

A few months ago, we got to use a hydraulic log splitter to split a bunch of wood we had gotten from arborists. Today, we stacked it along the west side of the barn, probably about 1.5 cords. We don’t have a woodstove, though.

We also reapplied wood chips around the young fruit trees after adding some landscaping fabric.

The sheep have mowed the entire pasture down to stubble, due to our not implementing paddocks. Heather has installed some temporary fencing allowing them to graze the area north of the barn.

We haven’t gotten any chicken eggs for months. But they don’t have a proper chicken coop in which to lay eggs, nor are we giving them any feed beyond table scraps and what they find in the pasture.

Something happened to the carburetor on the John Deere mower and it will barely idle at full throttle. I fiddled with it a bit, then ordered a new carburetor. At about $15 to buy new, they’re hardly worth trying to troubleshoot.

The Case tractor has a rear left tire that loses air over the course of about a week. I need to see if I can remove the wheel so I can take it to a tire store for repair. Otherwise, it’s probably about $100 for a field service call.

We’re still getting some kale from the garden, but the chickens have been escaping the pasture now that we extended it for the sheep, so the kale isn’t going to last much longer.

Planted fruit trees: apple (5 varieties), peach (), nectarine (), peach-plum. Mulched with wood chips. Pruned the plum tree (a lot).