A busy few days, it started with cutting the long grass in the orchard (and other places). I do this with a grass blade on a scrub-cutter, which throws the cut grass to the left. Working anti-clockwise around trees the long grass forms an excellent mulch around the trees, locking in the soil moisture, then over the next winter breaks down adding carbon and nutrients to the soil in the main feeding area of the trees.
Then the shearer rang to say he’d be here at 10 a.m. in the morning. We normally get the sheep in the day before to take the dags off and let them empty out, as shearing for the sheep is like a combination of the tango, break dancing and yoga, which is not comfortable with a full stomach. There are quite a few shearers doing small flocks on the side and some are definitely better than others. The fellow we get in most years, doesn’t cause too many nicks, is patient and we’ve never seen him get aggro with a sheep that’s kicking out (some shearers can be right bastards). If we’re lucky the sale of the wool covers his costs, and I get the crutchings (dags) for more mulch in the orchard.
As I was taking photos for this post, I was thinking I might need to thin the apples this year,
or run the risk of biennial bearing but just as it was getting dark a storm front rolled up,
a few hail stones banged on the house and when I went outside there was a roar coming from the roofs of Rangiora (rangi – sky, ora – life) about 5kms away. That was just enough warning to get some cover over the cars and fresh asparagus shoots then it was rangimate (mate – death). There was still plenty of hail around in the morning and while the damage to plants was light the apples took a beating. It’s a shame the hail pits grow as the apples grow but it might solve the thinning problem.
Blackbirds are getting into the cherries (even though they’re still green) so time to net them. It’s not perfect but it’s effective enough, a pole with a kids hula hoop and a tennis ball impaled on the top then lashed to the trunk, holds up a 10m x 10m birdnet. For some a 10m fibreglass pole forms an arch over the centre of the tree. The birds get a lot of fruit through the net but there is enough left for us and friends. I’d be happy to share with the birds but the blackbirds strip the trees in as little as a week.
Then to top it off, on a friends place an hours drive away, a big silver wattle needed to come down before it fell on a fence. It had tipped up in the big winds 14 months ago then stabilised on a 35 degree lean with the crown hung up in other trees but had started moving again with more wind during the week.
Being unsure if the rootball was going to counter my added weight I scrambled up to carefully reduce the crown then made my way down shortening the trunk as I descended. I’m hoping I’ll be able to do something interesting with the bottom section and will have to go back to finish the cutting but I got it back to clear of the fence.