dancing in the clarity of perfect contradiction

berry picking begins tomorrow…the bushes are heavy with fruit…as are the apples, dwarf sour cherries, and chokecherries…yesterday I removed a mile of electric fencing wire around the haskap, winding it onto a spool…it had been in place for nearly ten years….

…long-time friends stopped by a couple of days ago to ask when berry picking would start?…gentle souls in love with life…and haskap…for them picking is a love affair…how can I keep my haskap interred behind a fence?…there has been a total face lift on the character of the orchard by removing this wire!

…whether you like it or not you will never be free if you play a role that is predetermined for you…the freedom of an artist is found precisely in the choice of work and not in the choice of a role, even one that society asks one to play as ‘artist’, for reasons that social architects will always find hidden, mysterious, obtuse, and un-reasonable (thank God)…

~~~~~

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Every plant that stands in the light of the sun is a saint and an outlaw.  Every tree that brings forth blossoms without the command of people is powerful in the sight of God.  Every star that people have not counted is a world os sanity and perfection.  Every blade of grass is an angel singing in a shower of glory.

– Merton, Raids On The Unspeakable

these dogs…

…are probably the only ones in all of Canada, or North America, or would at least be some of the few in the entire world who had haskap in their dinner bowl tonight…which they most definitely relish!

not a bird in sight

they are gone…just like that…not so in others’ orchards…friends have 400 plants and if they did not carefully net then their plants would be picked clean…not so with ours…not so…it seems that our friends believe that the waxwings nest in their spruce groves, which are extensive on their property…and may work to explain why our sparse spruce both stand out so much amongst our aspen as are a gift to us in that they both are visually stunning in our bush and don’t provide enough harbour for these birds to be any more than passing guests…and it seems to be a grace given to us and this place that even as the idyllic site of our orchard evolved in our consciousness as an ideal space for these plants over time so the threats to the orchard’s viability has turned out in the end to be minimal as well…

…it is always the greatest of ironies that even as we fought this week to attach and reattach the netting during four days of raging winds…so the birds had their way anyway…and are now gone…one of the gentle follies of our lives that really isn’t worth becoming upset over…

…next week i will start to tear out our electric fencing around the orchard…which was connived to keep out bears, but mostly my neighbour’s cattle which for 16 years regularly invade our property throughout grazing season…and whereas the cattle don’t steal much of our hay crop…i think we have better plans to keep them out…and the electricity doesn’t so anything to keep out wildlife, period…which wander through on a regular basis anyway and never cause any problems with the haskap…

spreading netting

waxwings arrived today in number…i bagan netting our haskap…netting is more of a deterrent than something that absolutely prohibits birds from eating berries…they are welcome to eat…they are migratory grazers…they leave our orchard in a week…with so many plants we leave some unnetted…that attracts them away from the netted plants…

…it’s cool out today…11C (46F)…but it is humid…any shirty or jacket is just too much for me…netting goes quickly…dragged out of their numbered storage bins that correspond with their row…opened as you go…laying them on the bushes…to be fastened down and together tomorrow…we will move on to the newer part of the orchard with less mature plants…

it was a ball field…

…an acre of ground for my children that we seeded to perennial rye grass and mowed…they played soccer and practised baseball there…but by 2008 they were grown and gone and i asked them if i could convert it to an orchard and they said yes…so i disced it with a discer and then worked on it with a field cultivator and finally used a 3-bottom moldboard plow to cut furrows from east to west for each row…we laid plastic over this and tucked in the edges and then i used a snowplow on the front of my pickup truck to thoroughly cover the edges of the plastic…it was a thoroughly wrong way to go about planting an orchard…but at the time it was the best we could do…

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…we picked up our plants from prairie plant systems…1,000 of them…and worked at hardening them off for a week…and then we loaded them onto a flatdeck along with a water barrel and went down the row using a sharpened spade that i modified, cutting L’s into the plastic, prying out wedges of clay, inserting plants, covering them over, and watering them…it was way more work than we now do…but that was the best we could come up with when it came to equipment…and we watered them almost every day using a 55 gallon drum and a short watering hose, one plant at a time as we drove down each row…

…the rows were set on 20 foot spacings, not optimal for pollination, but was a width that i could drive our hay equipment down in case the summer turned out wet and it became overgrown…all of our plants survived and looked like this by august…we were on our way…

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…by the end of the summer our original EBH non-varietals from the u of sk also looked great…

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…so this is what our field looked like in early july of 2008…and what it looks like as of today…

…it’s a beautiful transition!