Let me get the possibly obvious out of the way I, Trina McAlexander love fresh starts, new seasons and next chapters. The autumn leaves have all fallen in my orchard and now the trees are covered with layers of ice or snow. The branches have traded their leaves for white sleeves. I love admiring our fruit trees when they are stripped down and skeletal. They really all have different shapes, stories and personalities. Some of the trees on the orchard are over 100 years old and are still faithfully producing each and every year. They are legends and dear friends of our farm. I am filled with gratitude that I live in an area that has rich fertile soil, ample irrigation water and mild temperatures while our trees rest in the winter. We are always replenishing and rejuvenating the soil and carrying for our trees to keep them happy and healthy.
I recently worked on getting all our pruning loopers sharp for next week when we are going to start pruning our trees. I went to the Parkdale Hardware store and bought some thermometers as well because you cannot prune below 28 degrees. I remembered pruning the smaller trees with my mother and watching her find the central leader and then strategically pruning back any limbs in competition with it. I found pruning to be a tad cold when I was young but I loved working beside my mom, my favorite farmer. The goal of pruning is to keep the tree from becoming too tall, to strengthen its roots and keep the tree and roots balanced, to allow more sunlight into the tree and prevent the tree from overbearing fruit. Our goal is to grow high quality apples and pears and if we do not prune the trees each January the trees would be heavy laden with small tasteless fruit on the tree.
I run rather hopeful and believe good things come to those who wait. But if I could share a little more candidly my last 3-4 months of 2014 felt at times like I was being intensely pruned as well as I waited and waited for my little place to be completed on the orchard. There have been set backs, and then more set backs and many have made no sense at all to me. I have cried all the tears and even found myself doubting my decision to move back or the timing of coming home. In this raw place I want to acknowledge all the many good people in my life that have intentionally buoyed me up when I feel like if I am drowning in confusion or losing my ground as I waited. I am holding on to hope and believe that hope will not disappoint. I am believing that in 2015 there will be some momentum that begins and that I can soon post pictures of my new farmhouse home. The learning curve remains very steep in owning an orchard and I know that there are going to be some mistakes made ahead of me this year but I feel a sense of purpose and comfort by those around me who are letting me stand on their faith when mine is becoming too wobbly or thin. I am trying not to think about being 7 figures in debt but reframing my debt into a 40 year adventure where I faithfully buy my families orchard, month after month. Happy New Years from your grateful farmer!