Hope is a Thing with Branches

New year, new leaf. I will spare you the excuses for the hiatus, but assure you I was not lolling on a beach somewhere or hiking up a mountain or indeed doing anything more thrilling than trying to get the next book on its way to you. (MAD RIVER RISING. APRIL 2017. It's a date!)

I've been itching to write this post for a while, because I'm so excited to tell you the news: we planted an orchard! Yup. In November, we drove the truck to Edible Landscaping in Acton and hauled twelve fruit trees home: three apple varieties, three pears, two cherries, two plums, a mulberry, and a persimmon. 

Here's what it looked like after we got them in the ground.

What trees, you say? Yeah, you have to zoom in. They are tiny! But that's the best way to start. You can see my husband, digging the last hole. And, YES, I dug, too. I actually dug more because he was doing the technical work of installing the electric fence. I'm the grunt.

Each tree received a circle of hardware cloth to protect the trunk from nibbly mice. The electric fence is for deer (and groundhogs) but I read that it is best to train the deer. Animal behavior--right up my alley!

The idea is to attract the deer to the fence. I know, it's counter-intuitive. But if they see the white flags, they march over to investigate and...ZAP! I'm not a mean person, I just want apples. The deer are free to forage over our remaining 40 acres. Also, I put aluminum foil on there, smeared with peanut butter, in case they missed the white flags. According to what I've read, and basic principles of conditioning, a single zap should keep them away for a good long time.

Of course I don't know for sure that the deer came over to the fence for their lesson. However, after the recent snow, I did check to see if there were any tracks nearby. Those little buds would've looked mighty tasty.

But, no, not a track in sight. Success!

We do worry about our trees. Those spindly guys look awfully vulnerable. There's a saying that the best time to plant an orchard was 25 years ago, and the second best time is now. 

It may not yet be a thing of beauty, but planting our orchard was an exercise in hope. And even on a snowy winter's day, there is warmth in that.