Homestead Trip Early April – Starting my Orchard

My wonderful little trees, four in the front row, two in the back, from right to left, 2 pears, 2 apples, 1 peach, and 1 plum (the other apple can be seen as a floating clump of leaves just to the left of the second pear).

Sitting around a campfire. I should be relaxed, but instead I’m going over a bunch of things in my head all at once.

I suppose I’m fairly relaxed. I mean, it’s not like I can go rushing off to the Internet and check my email. I don’t even have phone service out here. I’m completely disconnected. As you can imagine, this post was written in the woods. I have a little 10-amp generator to charge the laptop with, and I only run it when I’m writing, or using power tools.

In case you’re wondering. I’ve gotten a lot done. It’s never as much as I want to. If I had my way, I could wave my magic wand and make all these cedar trees disappear, replaced by lush pastures, animals, and all of the infrastructure required to keep up such a farm. But that’s not happening. Solar panels cost money. Tractors cost money. Everything costs money, so I’m out here with shovels and a chainsaw, building my dream homestead from the ground up.

It’s hard to sit by this fire and not think about those that came before. Western pioneers come immediately to mind. I mean, imagine traveling for months by wagon with meager provisions, fighting against all odds to settle on the side of a mountain somewhere, and the odds only grow worse after you settle.

There are dangers around every turn. You have to watch which plants you touch. Poison Ivy is a favorite scare for people coming from the city, but I’ve met people who have never heard of poison hemlock, a pretty enough flower, and deadly if you are foolish enough to pick one while snacking.

The soft-woods (the original pasture was left to nature for 20 years) are thick, and the cedars are starving each other out. When cleared and maintained, the grass around the former thicket looks like a manicured golf course. After a couple years they will fill up with sage, and the brownish grasses you see in the foreground.

The animals don’t bother me much. I see a pack-rat now and then, and there’s always a few armadillos stomping through the woods making noise. There’s rabbits, and tonight I even heard turkeys calling from the south side of the property. I tried to snap a picture, but they are louder than I give them credit for, and I didn’t want to walk all the way down to the river bottom as the sun was setting. (creek really, out here they call it a hollow).

There’s no real working at night. Even with the moonlight as bright as it is, I’d rather be by the fire or in my cabin, in case the ‘yotes decide to try me, or I run into something bigger (hogs, small bears, wildcats, oh my!).

I have been using the hours after twilight to keep up with my writing. 500 words per day. I’ll probably start another edit on monster book when I get back, and I still have the FTDB launch to finish up, along with selling my house in Louisiana, and starting the “move” out here.

I’m glad I got a little done. I managed to plant six fruit trees after clearing out a space for them in the cedar forest growing atop the hill. Two apples, two pears, peaches, and plums. The apples will (assuming they survive) provide pectin for jams and jellies from the others. I’ll have to look up the pectin content of pears also, they seem pretty robust little fruits. I rescued the trees from Walmart and tried to get them as happy as I could. As I write this, watering them in the morning is on my mind.

There are some storms rolling in, but I don’t trust them. So in the morning, I’ll drive to a “hog pond” at the front of my property, fill up some five gallon jugs, and haul them to my mini-orchard to make sure each tree has the best chance. A few bugs have already started picking on some of them. I worry most about the apple trees. They look so helpless.

I also managed to clear out a crucial area of cedars. This zone will be a turn-a-round when the rock trucks show up to pave the drive, hopefully this summer. The road to the hilltop is a quarter of a mile long, and when I bought the property, it was quite narrow and uninviting. Now it’s widened, but I need to get rocks down to keep parts from washing. The culverts have done a good job of diverting water on their own, but something more substantial is needed.

With all the work, I have managed to squeeze in a little fun. I found a perfect lump of pottery clay while digging and made a brick, which I fired by campfire. It’s not the perfect mineral combination for a brick, or the perfect curing mechanism, but it turned out okay. I’ll be making an oven/kiln at some point, and some pottery will definitely be on the menu.

Once you get on top of the mountain, the trails are in pretty good shape, but require constant attention to keep them from being congested with seedling cedar trees.

Anyway, that’s my update from the property. I’ll probably post this when I get back from the woods, likely Monday or Tuesday. Until then, I wish you all the best building your own dreams. Good luck.

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Author: spottedgeckgo

Writer. Making my living on my pen, and working to turn a raw chunk of land into a future homestead.

4 thoughts

    1. Thanks. Hopefully I’ll have bunches of more farm blogs this year. One little tweak should give me a lot more time at the property, and it’s coming soon 🙂

  1. I’m hoping to develop my family’s Montana property a bit more as the years go by. Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of building my own tiny house. Mind you, at this point I would probably saw off my fingers if I used an electric saw, but a person can learn 😉

    1. It’s actually pretty easy stuff once you know what the dangers are. I had someone help with the building, and they were able to give me some pointers and insights about the construction that made it stronger. My best advice is to just build something. Assume it will destroy itself in five years, so that you can learn the basics with a low cost to entry. My little “shabbin” has already exceeded it’s expected lifetime, so I’m happy for every day that it’s still standing, and I’m planning to get started on the next building iteration pretty soon, maybe this summer. My next project will be sourcing materials on site (mud bricks or fired bricks, logs, thatching, etc) so it will cost virtually nothing except work. It won’t be for living, just a dry storage area for my tools, so I can move them out of the cabin.

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