Fig Trees

The Fruits

The high winds have done some of our work for us. I normally spend large blocks of time pruning the peach trees this time of year. Instead, the winds blew so many blossoms off the trees that very little pruning will be required. Our harvest will not be as large as last year, but it has given us time to be spent elsewhere. Something good sometimes comes from something not-so-good.

We hope this will be a breakout year for our figs. The 12 trees planted in the fall of 2010 were first hit by an icy winter which proceeded into the drought of 2011 and ‘12. These little trees understand the maxim that what don’t kill you makes you stronger. So maybe this is their year. It would be good to add one more farm-raised fruit to our pork-finishing regimen. The pears were not so lucky - we had an outbreak of fire blight in our newly-planted pear orchard that took out 5 of the ten trees planted last fall. Particularly distressing if you are the one that dug the holes in the dry, clay soil last year (that would be me). The prospect of doing that again is not a pleasant one for my old back. Ugh. But pears are another high priority fruit for us, cutting down as they will on the amount of imported fruits we need for our pork finishing programs while supplying yet another local and organic fruit to our inventory. 

The good, the sad and the bug-ly.

We saw life start and we saw it end, as we always do on the farm. Farming always reminds me of the movie Lonesome Dove when the character played by Robert Duvall gives the short eulogy for the boy killed by water moccasins in the Nueces River, “Life is short, shorter for some than others...”  Life was shorter for many of our young fig trees as one freeze after another hit them this winter. Of those that did survive, we shall see - they may be too damaged to be productive adults. “Fig Lane” will be slower to come along than we had hoped. Ditto our orange and lemon trees - completely wiped out. That’s life, shorter for some than others.

There is offsetting good news. Peach and apple trees like the cold and it shows. There were so many peaches set that we pruned 2 of every 3 from the trees. We saw more flowers on the apple trees than we have ever seen, but we don’t know how many apples will result yet. Apples are slower than peaches. And our one giant Celeste fig tree has set figs earlier than ever witnessed. For all of the above, refer back to “Mother Nature’s vengeance” in the opening paragraph. She giveth more than she taketh away.

The last bit of death we witnessed was to our prized hens. There is really nothing that completes a farm yard like hens. So active, enthusiastic and entertaining - and then you get eggs! We thought we had enough predator deterrents that we had finally out-smarted them. But it only takes time before they figure around the best-laid plans...they hit us and in 3 days wiped out our small flock. No more eggs for a while.

The last bit of news on the bug-ly side of things is the coming of the lady bug in very noticeable numbers. As we pruned limbs and buds from the peach orchard, we saw them in numbers we have not seen before. Keep in mind that the farm did not have a single lady bug inhabitant 20 years ago when we started this rehab project. How does that happen? Where do they come from? Nature is a daily miracle waiting to happen. It is humbling and only encourages us to be good stewards of this gift.