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.
I pruned the plum tree today. I removed suckers and headed back vigorous growth but didn’t remove any large stuff. I’m starting to develop some growth down low that will hopefully become productive someday.
Last year we didn’t get many plums. It could have been due to the aggressive pruning or the every-other-year tendency of fruit trees.
I read up some more on pruning. Winter (dormant) pruning spurs vigorous growth because the energy stored in the roots is concentrated into fewer branches when spring comes. Summer pruning slows growth because it reduces the amount of energy-producing leaves. So, I probably need to do less winter pruning and more summer pruning on the plum tree.
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.
We worked on building the trail today by spreading wood chips. We also put up fencing around the fruit trees that we planted a few weeks ago to insure against deer. I pruned the pear tree today. I probably removed about 30%, which is more than you should for a pear tree. It might cause the tree to grow over-vigorously this year. But there were a lot of branches growing downward, across the center of the tree, or crowded.
We also dumped about three tractor buckets of wood chips on Heather’s hügelkultur garden row.
The boy lamb looked quite a bit better the day after his first shot five days ago. However, he has continued to run a fever of 104, and he has been lethargic compared to his sister. She is very empathetic and spends a lot of time with him. This morning we gave him his second (and final) antibiotic shot. A few hours later, he was already looking better. But we don’t know if it will last.