Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spring Growth and Scything

Spring has arrived and with it the grass has grown swiftly and strongly, the fruit trees are blossoming and being pollinated by my bees and consequently setting fruit.
A pear tree, with my hives in the background....
 and set fruit.
Looks like we are in for another bumper nashi crop.
 The chooks are enjoying the growth in their run.
 The chooks enjoying food scraps and sprouted wheat, next to the korokia which has delicious (to chooks) red berries later in the season; and the fig from which we ate our first fruit last year. 
An apple tree and, behind on the fence, a boysenberry vine given by a friend - a huge mistake, as it is rampant but the chooks enjoy them.
I've never eaten vine leaves, but judging from the way the chooks keep the vine trimmed, they must be yummy! It's hilarious watching them jump straight up in the air to pluck a leaf.
We planted the pear tree, but both the avocado and the peach (just over the fence) have grown from seed thrown out with scraps, and are thriving in the rich compost made by the chooks. The avocado had flowers this year, so maybe next year we will get fruit, though I'm told it takes up to 15 years for a seedling to produce, and this is only about 6 years old.
The flax was brought with us when we moved here, and just dumped into the ground with no thought of where and why. Later we built the chook run around it. The chooks love the dry, shady spot that also provides snails and insect snack delights.
Mac mows with the tractor, and I used to clear around the trees using a line trimmer or bush bar. Neither the process nor the results were satisfactory. The process was loud and smelly, and often I gave up because the damn thing would stop and refuse to start again - I'm not really in tune with motors. The result was often a ring barked or damaged tree.

I now use a scythe, thanks to a workshop with The Jolly Scythers, and find it so much more satisfactory. The process is both good exercise, and a meditation practice. The results are better: I have not damaged a single tree.
Kiwiberries (tiny kiwifruit) and grapes - the scythe is so very much easier for freeing these from the grass.
 The Luisa plums were 'grassed out'...
 and looked better for the grass being cleared.
 My scythe.
And though the ordinary plums don't have much fruit this year, the Luisa is looking good.
 The grapevine on the chook run is looking good.
 The ugli fruit wasn't looking at all - it couldn't see out!

It's actually quite big! It had a few not-very-nice small fruit this year, but is covered with flowers at the moment, so I have high hopes for the next harvest.

Scything is hard, hot sweaty work, but I love the meditative quality of the time spent doing it, and the sense of satisfaction when I'm done. Over the last ten days I have done about half the trees, and by the time I'm finished it will be time to start again - but it's the sort of work I love, and it makes me feel like a real yeoman farmer.


Anonymous said...

Would you mind putting up a photo of you scything? I can't quite visualize how you do it.

Cally said...

I haven't got any pics of me scything, but here's a link to some that's being taught by an Austrian, plus Bryan and Jo who taught me.