Apple orchard rescue

One part of our property is covered in an old apple tree orchard, which has gradually disappeared amid years of scrub growth. A fairly diverse range of mature eating and crab apple trees are situated on a lovely south-west facing hill where we have noticed a rather pleasant micro-climate; it’s the quietest, warmest spot on our land. It’s a thing worth saving, but the work ahead of us is huge, given that we can only work on it in our spare time, amongst 1001 other jobs.

This afternoon after lunch we set out to start rescuing one corner of the orchard.

Dad and sons heading off with saws and clippers

At first, it’s a little daunting. Seriously, it’s been years since anyone tended to these trees, and in the intervening time the bases of the trees and the ground around them have become covered in thorny trees with absolutely no redeeming value. Our land is positively covered in nasty thorny bushes and trees in many parts, and it will take us years to eradicate them.

Apple trees surrounded by scrub and bushes

Nothing to do but pick up clippers or saw and get to work. A large spoil heap builds up in no time, and gradually the shape of the old trees underneath it all starts to emerge.

Young boy using clippers to cut down branches

With so many sets of hands cutting and clipping, I often end up being the person who hauls what’s been cut to the pile, but my youngest decided to take over this job once some of the larger specimens had been cut down.

Young child hauling a small tree

One of the bigger thorn trees to be taken down today was felled by my older son’s simple hand saw, which he acquired in his capacity as a Scout. It looked arduous to me, but he insisted it was the best tool for the job (for him!). I assisted with holding the tree as he neared the end of the cut.

Sawing down a small thorn tree

The find of the day was an abandoned bird’s nest that had blue Easter ribbon incorporated into its design.

Small bird's nest with blue ribbon

Next up: more cutting and a session with the burn barrel to finally get rid of everything we cut down today.

10 thoughts on “Apple orchard rescue

  1. Oh isn’t that amazing? Birds are so industrious when it comes to crafting their nests. And how many other people do you think can say this, “This afternoon after lunch we set out to start rescuing one corner of the orchard.” It is a wise and beautiful life you lead, my friend, and I know it is full of purpose.

    1. Yes, that nest really was a wonder to find. I look at something so beautifully made and think “I wish I could do that”! Birds are nature’s recyclers and I love that.

  2. Your hard work will show up in the years to come. I have 300 apple trees. When we first bought our orchard, the trees hadn’t been tended to in years. Just remember when pruning your apple trees to not take more than a 1/3 each year. Good luck!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and sharing a bit of guidance with us. We’re total newbies at tending an orchard, so all advice is gratefully accepted!

      1. That’s great advice. One more question for you: how did you deal with all of the branches and trimmings from your trees when you first took them over? We are planning to use our burn barrel, but it’s not a plan we’re thrilled about. Would love any experience you have to share on that!

      2. Since we had so many trees with limbs the size of trees themselves, we had them hauled away. Now that they are a manageable size, we have them chipped.

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