Perfect Pear on Fall Foliage
Fall Foliage is peaking this week. It is quite splendid. In other areas it will peak a little earlier or later depending on the local micro-climates.
This week our daughter Hope and I picked all of our pears and apples. This pear is from the trees we planted in 2005. Today she made three batches of apple crisp, one of my favorite treats. Apple crisp is a wonderful way to use the less than perfect apples.
We planted a lot more apple trees than we might need for our own consumption and I plan to plant over a thousand more. It is not that we are starting an orchard for commercial production of apples. Rather we are planting fruit and nut trees to produce food for our livestock. This is a part of a more natural diet that produces a particularly delicious portion of pork.
My technique is to plant apple trees between fence lines such that the larger animals are kept off of the trees. The trees get guards as well while they are young. The smaller livestock such as geese, ducks, chickens, lambs and piglets can then creep feed into the double fence rows to clean up the drops close to the trees. More drops fall outside the protected zone and are consumed by the larger livestock.
We’re working on preparing additional lines where I hope to plant several hundred more trees next spring. Eventually we will have thousands of fruit trees, nut trees and small fruit bushes along the paddock divisions.
Growing fruit is normally a very labor intensive process. Having free labor in the form of pigs and other animals to help spread the fertilizer, mow the orchards, pick the fruit and clean up the drops works and produces a better flavored meat in the process.
Normally the trees are also heavily sprayed with fungicides, herbicides and pesticides to minimize the number of blemished fruits. We don’t do any of that spraying because our direct customers, the livestock, don’t mind a spot on their apple and think a worm in the core is just a bit of extra flavor.
So I grow fruit and nuts to be harvested by the animals, taking myself out of most of the equation. Not only do they like these delicacies but they appear to enjoy the process of harvesting.
More about: Double Fences.
Outdoors: 58°F/48°F Misty Rain
Tiny Cottage: 68°F/65°F
Daily Spark: I have heard some people say, “The government we have today is the direct result of choosing the lesser of two evils for generations.” But might I mention that had we chosen the greater of two evils we would now be in Hell instead of Heck.
Like your daily spark today!! And your grand pomology scheme.
Envy you your fall, just a bit. It’s been a degree or two over one hundred here for a few days now.
Walter, have you planted any walnuts , hickories and oaks as livestock feeders?
They of course have a longer time until you get a harvest than apple and pear. I think walnuts take about 15 years, hickories 40 and oaks maybe longer . But Holly and her grandkids will thank you.
We have a variety of wild nuts but sadly no oak. Down the valley below us there are oaks but none on our land. That is something I plan to rectify. It is a long term plan. We have a lot of beech, hickory, some walnuts and wild apples in addition to what we have planted.
I think you mean Hope, since she’s the daughter versus Holly who is my wife. :) Oaks take a long time. :)
I meant Hope and her grand kids! But I guess Holly her grand kids will too! (damn brain farts)
:) Other people have made the same typo and speako. Then there is Walter vs Will, our eldest son named after a cousin. Ben is Ben, named after three uncles. So what shall we name the next child?
Do you prune any of your fruit trees?
So far only in a most minor way. Some of them I should and plan to prune this winter.
We have a heavy crop of pears this year too and we don’t spray any of our fruit or nut crops. Once you start you have to do it all the time and there’s too much work to do now.
We have more than enough for us, the animals and friends & family!
Walter: We own a small pastured pork farm in South Texas, and also raise chickens, eggs, vegetables, and herbs. I have read your posts for a long time, and get a lot of inspiration from you. It is such a blessing to know someone else is doing this kind of work, and making it. We have followed your butcher shop with a lot of anticipation.
I wish we could grow apple and pear trees in our coastal desert! Our farm is covered with oaks, so, depending on the level of drought, our pigs get a lot of acorns. We keep them under oak trees in the long hot summers. Instead of fruit trees, we grow “Three Sisters” gardens, corn, beans, and squash in the Native American style, and turn the pigs loose in the gardens in the spring and fall. It is a low maintenance garden, and we sell much of the produce also.
Thank you for your posts, and your insiration. All the best to your family!
Oaks! You are very fortunate. I wish we had a lot of oaks like where I lived for a while in New Hampshire.
What type of pear is that, Walter? Kiefer? Regardless, make some Ginger Pear Jam with it. Good stuff.
I refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils anymore. I’d rather it all go to hell in a handbasket fast so we can get on with the task of restoration. This slow, painful death is torture.
Unfortunately I don’t know which tree that one came off of. It was around the lower driveway curve and there are several varieties there including Cabot and Waterville as well as some others.
Are you concerned about tree limbs falling off and hitting the fences, thus allowing animals to get loose?
Not really, we have to deal with that issue anyways since our pastures are surrounded and divided by trees[1, 2] and forests. Fence checking is a normal part of life on the mountain. Additionally, virtually all fruit trees are in inner paddock divisions. The outer divisions have much bigger trees and occasionally they do fall, the entire tree, down on fence lines. The clicking sound the energizer makes changes when this happens and we go figure out the problem. Even when animals do get loose the dogs put them back in where they’re supposed to be and we don’t have nearby neighbors.
Out of curiosity, have you considered mulberry or anything other than apple? What bush fruit are you considering?
For the apples, will you buy named varieties or plant your own seeds?
I have considered mulberry but not yet tried them. We have a very large number of red raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. For the apples, we have many wild ones which are descended from trees planted by the settlers plus we have planted ‘named’ varieties. Macs are my personal favorite.
Walter, you said you plan on planting hundreds of trees. As someone who seems to be creative and thrifty, how do you get that many trees without breaking the bank? I recently bought a few bare root fruit trees and they were not cheap.
In the past I have bought them in the fall on close out. I’ll probably do more of that. But there is another trick, buy a lot of trees. The price is quite low when buying in volume from the source. Retail I’ve seen trees run around $50 but in quantity they are a small fraction of that. See the linked post above for a good source.
I love your blog, thanks.
I can’t find the links for where to buy apple trees cheap, and I clicked on anything I could find.
A very good source of fruit trees for our climate is Saint Lawrence Nurseries in Potsdam, NY. If you are in a very different climate then you will want to check climate requirements for the trees very carefully.
That photograph of the pear is absolutely stunning! It should be a poster or a calendar. I know you make a calendar every year. Is there a way to get a copy? If you used that photo I would love to have one? Is there any way to make a poster of it?
I hope to make a calendar again the end of this year. Does anyone know of a source for making good larger size calendars, not too expensive? I’ve been using VistaPrint but the calendars are only 8.5×11 sheets spiral bound. I would love twice that size as I use our calendar for notes and it gets pretty packed.
What a beautiful photo of the pear. That should be a poster. You have some gorgeous photos on your blog. You are quite artistic.
(This might be common knowledge already, in that case please ignore). I recently saw something that might be of interest if you were planning to plant fruit/nut trees in shallow earth. I.e. if you decide you need filler materials. Hugelkultur (permies.com) uses wood from trees as filler. Jack Spirko recently had an interesting idea to combine hugelkultur filler method with terracing: youtube watch?v=o6Zwa1rEWpM.
While searching the internet for sources of apple trees, I was lead to this company in Maine. I rather likes their philosophy and thought it worth sharing with you. I particularly liked the integrated pest management using carefully chosen plants to grow in the area of the fruit trees .
Walter, if you are planning on growing literally thousands of fruit trees on your property, you might want to check with heritage fruit tree sites to see if you can gather up some of the types that are difficult to find. The pigs will happily eat even the older heritage varieties that most people don’t have a taste for these days, and you might well become a source of cuttings to preserve some old fruit tree lines. Of course this is probably only possible if you can get them at a reasonable cost, or free :)
Yes, and I tend to buy them in the fall when the prices are low as I know how to plant them over the winter. We have many wild apple trees as well which do produce fruit although not what people would want to buy in the supermarket.