…fool me twice…shame on…YOU!

…last year friends of ours had a horrific tent caterpillar infestation that totally defoliated their plants and ate their berries…

…we were at their place on sunday and were asked why there was precious-little fruit on their plants…next to nothing…

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…it’s because haskap sets its fruit the year before and those fruit sets were eaten off by the caterpillars…LAST year…

…so they not only eat one year when they invade…but the fruit from the second year as well…

…stinkers…

a huge chorus of living creatures

…salamanders are signs of ecological health…not a canary in the coal mine, warning of death, but a reptile bestowing a five-star rating of life on our orchard…yesterday we discovered that one of these had taken up residence in a pond that we had had dug in 2010…just another resident that proclaims that this is as it should be along side of…whitetail deer
…elk
…moose
…black bear
…racoon
…skunk
…martin
…mink
…weasel
…mice
…moles
…voles
…a dozen varieties of birds
(including cedar waxwings by the hundreds upon hundreds)
…frogs
…snakes
…salamanders
…and insect animals beyond my imagination
…dogs
…cats
…a cacophony of chorus-voices arising from our orchard

Mists of damp heat rise up out of the fields around the sleeping abbey. The whole valley is flooded with moonlight and I can count the southern hills beyond the watertank, and almost number the trees of the forest to the north. Now the huge chorus of living beings rises up out of the world beneath my feet: life singing in the watercourses, throbbing in the creeks and the fields and the trees, choirs of millions and millions of jumping and flying and creeping things. I lay the clock upon the belfry ledge and pray cross-legged with my back against the tower, and face the same unanswered question. Lord God of this great night: do You see the woods? Do You hear the rumor of their loneliness? Do you behold their secrecy? Do You remember their solitudes? Do You see that my soul is beginning to dissolve like wax within me?

– Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas, ‘Fire Watch’

op old world

…grown from old world seed several rows of mature plants were transplanted into dirt, tilling next to them to control weeds…however, the rows had become weed infested and were just mown off last fall…these have come back almost to the plant and are, again, vibrant and bushy in response…

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…this year the row will be allowed to grow into grass…

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…these originated in the Kitoy River region of Eastern Siberia…

when plants talk

…the first week of november 2014 a friend phoned and said that a relative of his had just ripped out all his berry blue honeyberry plants using a tractor and chain, and that the plants were sitting in my friend’s farmyard and did i want them?  …i hooked up my trailer and drove over to have a look  …there they were…mostly bare root…luckily dormant…so i figured it was time to experiment…i dug 300 holes with my post auger in the almost-frozen soil…stuck them in…covered them up…and went away, anxious for spring to come…

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…this is what has happened over the past – now – three years…

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…this is one i did not trim last fall…

…it ain’t exactly the healthiest looking specimen, is it?! 😉

…so last fall i just mowed down the whole row…and here’s what’s coming back…

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…rick sawatzky told me years ago that if i’d just shear off each plant for the first couple of years rather than be so anxious to have them bear that the bush would come back incredibly thick…

…he’s right…

…that’s a lot better…and we will let the entire row go back into grass rather than plastic mulch…the roots are well established…competition will not hurt it much…or at least we’ll find out (another experiment!)…and we won’t be constantly tilling it…we will leave this row for the cedar waxwings uncovered as a way to appease them as they migrate their way through our orchard on their yearly dining course here for a week of feasting…

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…it’s looking like a plan…something that the plants themselves are dictating…it just taken me a bit to hear them…

haskap orchard tour tonight

…trimmed and mown this is > 1/4 mile of haskap running along the foot of the north face of Thunderhill, MB…almost 3,000 plants of both old-world and new-world stock…haskap, honeyberries, and Siberian/Ural/Polish/Asian-steppe proto-genetics…a brief tour from one end to the other takes three and a half minutes and runs across three soil types of this glacial deposit piled against this massive ice-thrust formation…various stages of development, planting, and testing are each visible along the way if you know what to look for, in addition to fully producing plants…the video is not the best quality, taken at the end of a long day of orchard trimming and work, and before a coming storm front, but is telling for now and something that we are glad to show and share…the majority of this fruit will be donated to soup kitchens, Catholic Worker Houses of Hospitality, and a monastery for their self-support, in addition to local families and homeless who have less access to the needs of life…and this fruit is better than just the needs of life…what an irony that those most in need get the best for free.

The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.

– Dorothy Day

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haskap in the dog food…

…our dogs have always loved haskap…in fact they are literally crazy over it!

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with a degree in animal science i feed our dogs a balanced feed ration of fresh cooked food every day…the vets are alway impressed at their health and condition…purchased rations may be balanced as well, but they certainly do not use the fresh ingredients that they get in our kitchen…and in the winter when we process haskap for its juice, they are the ones that get the left over pulp…so in addition to grains, calcium, alfalfa, powdered milk, meat, sometimes their bowls have a distinctive purple colour to them as well…and they are so intent when they get this treat…

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