My father used to remind me to finish up the fall farm work and have the orchards “put to bed” for winter by the end of November – because freeze-up usually happened the first week of December. Any job not completed by then might have to wait until spring.
But not this year!
Here we are in the 3rd week of December & it feels much like October. We have only had a few nights with frost all fall. The temperature almost reached 20 C last week!
That’s great because we have had much to do on the farm this fall. It was a lot of work to cut down our fruit trees & clean them up & burn them (cherry, plum & pear branches were saved for firewood). Do you have any idea how many roots sweet cherry trees have?!! We cultivated the ground & picked up roots several times, then plowed the soil & picked up roots again. But I know we will still be finding roots for a few years. More cultivating & discing was necessary to get the ground level & smoothed so we can plant vegetables in spring. Then we spread manure & lightly worked it in. Finally a layer of leaves & grass clippings was spread over everything to try & cover the soil. We did all this on about half of the farm.
We really don’t like leaving the soil exposed over the winter – the winter winds cause erosion & blow our soil to the neighbours. However by the time we were finished everything, it was too late to seed a cover crop to protect the soil through the winter.
On the other part of the farm we only removed the trees – no cultivation or plowing. We won’t need this ground for early planting so we can prepare it in the spring. This allowed us to leave the grass & mulch that were already there from when it was orchard and will prevent soil erosion over the winter.
We left 4 rows of trees spaced throughout the farm. The purpose of these trees is to be windbreaks for the vegetables. These will be removed once better & more permanent windbreaks are established. Because I don’t intend to prune or spray these 4 rows, we probably cannot expect to harvest any quality fruit from them.
The farm looks totally different now from what it has looked like for the past 65 … years.
It’s going to take some getting used to!