Thursday, June 17, 2021


 Some of the damage in my orchards from the 17 year Cicadas.

. The female Cicada "stings" a branch and lays her eggs in the "groove" she makes.  The eggs hatch in about a month and the young will fall to the ground, burrow 2 feet deep and feed on tree roots for 17 years when they will again emerge.  

Hardest hit are my one to three year old trees.  I expect to lose many of the branches on these trees and they will take several years longer than normal to bear fruit.   My older trees will lose mostly just the tips of their branches and only time will tell how it will affect my crop this year and the next.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Anyone Home ?

Another activity that I enjoy is building and maintaining bird boxes on my land.  Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Wrens and Chickadees all  make use of my boxes.  Mice also use them and if I'm lucky occasionally a Flying Squirrel will raise a litter in them.

 A box full of hungry Chickadee chicks.

A Tree Swallow hen nestled under some feathers sitting on her eggs.  I always wonder where they collect the feathers they use to line their nests. They seem to be the soft downy breast feathers of ducks. 

These Bluebird chicks are nearly ready to leave their nest.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

My Other Passion

 After the woodcock have passed through or settled down to nesting and rearing the next generation of these wonderful little birds for the dogs and I to seek in the fall my passion turns to grafting.  Mostly apples with an occasional pear it is a pastime that I greatly enjoy.  You'll find no Honeycrisp, Fuji or Gala apples growing in my orchards, these standard varieties that can found in any grocery store or farm market. I prefer to grow heirloom apples, apples that your great grandfather might have grown on the old family farm.  With names like Smokehouse, Mammoth Black Twig, July Sweet, Myers Royal Limbertwig and Arkansas Black these old varieties have endured for a hundred years or more often only a few trees surviving at a time but always grafted by a few concerned grafters who did not want to see these old varieties die out.  I count myself as one of these "concerned" grafters who try to encourage customers to my small nursery to plant a few of these heirloom varieties for themselves, their children, and even their grandchildren to enjoy.

Rootstock, scion, parafilm tape and a sharp knife are all you need to make an apple tree.  This is know as benchgrafting.

Ready to go into a damp bucket of sawdust with a dozen others for a month in a cool dark corner of my basement so the scion and rootstock can "grow together" into a successful graft.

After I'm done benchgrafting I turn to "top working" existing apples trees, either wild seedlings or trees that I have planted that for one reason or another I want to change to another variety. 


With an already established root system this tree should be producing it's new variety, in this case Myers Royal Limbertwig, in a few years.

Growing apples trees isn't for everyone.  They need to be pampered for a few years, eliminating weeds, watching for insects and disease but to me at least it's well worth the effort.  The main thing I tell new apple tree owners is to have patience, something that's sadly missing in many people. :(

Friday, April 2, 2021

This Springs Woodcock Wanderings

 Just some pictures from this springs Woodcock Wanderings.  The birds were scarce again this year until late March then I began to find some, but I always stop looking April 1 as they begin to nest.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

A Walk Along Piney Creek

Took Bliss for a walk in the Piney Creek Bottom yesterday, but no woodcock were found.

 An old apple tree with several trunks growing on an old bank barn foundation.  The multiple trunks are a sure sign that's it's a seedling apple tree.  One fall several years ago I picked several small red apples from it. Surprising they had a good flavor.  I returned in late winter and found a single piece of new growth wood that I could use to graft with. I now have a 2 year old 6 foot tall clone of this old tree that I call the Piney Creek Mammoth growing in my orchard.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Orchard Work

 I've started pruning my apple trees. A chore that I enjoy, shaping each tree, deciding which limb stays and which limb goes.  Limbs that grow inward or cross other limbs are the first to go.

The end result, a nicely balanced tree.

It's also time to collect scion wood, the one year old branches used to graft onto rootstock to produce new trees. Apples do not reproduce true by seeds.  Because it takes two different varieties of apple trees to produce fruit, each seed carries a mixture of genes so each seed produces a distinctly different apple often times nothing like the "mother tree" it grew on. But by grafting a small piece of branch called a scion from a certain tree onto a rootstock (which is basically a "baby apple tree" ) you will produce a tree identical to the tree you cut the scion from. 

The tips of the scion have been dipped in wax to prevent it from drying out.  Labeling is crucial to keeping the scion "true" to name so that the tree you graft is "true" to name. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

RIP Pinecoble Emma

 Emma passed away several days ago.  She left behind many wonderful memories of past hunts.