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The Fruits of My Labor

Patience may be a virtue, but it is not one I possess. In the words of Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part. Especially when you’re waiting on fruit trees to produce that soft, juicy, delicious fruit.

In late winter/early spring 2016 I started planting my orchard. I planted cherry, apricot, apple, peach, mulberry, and almond trees. My dad gave me several plums, David rescued a couple Indian White Peach, and I’d purchased pear trees as well which I planted in our upper field with the plums. Apparently, apples and pears don’t get along and they’re not supposed to be planted together. I haven’t done enough research to learn why, but I followed the advice I found online and kept them separated. All last year I was confident this would be the year my trees would give me fruit. And I am happy to announce I was right. Now, I’m not going to be making pies or selling bushels yet, but I do have a count on each tree bearing fruit, and I will confess, with my week off work, I’ve checked them every day to make sure they are all accounted for.

I have exactly 2 Indian White Peach.

Five nectarines.

Six Liberty apples.

And four plums.

I most likely would have had more had we not gotten late frosts. In March I watched in excitement as my fruit trees bloomed. And then we got a freeze. One by one my beautiful blooms turned brown and fell off the trees. And then, like magic, my Indian White Peach and nectarine trees bloomed again. And… we got another freeze. Feeling completely defeated I accepted that this would not be the year of fruit. However, the gods must have been smiling down upon me because overnight the fruits appeared.

Last year my nectarines did start to produce fruit. All three trees had about a dozen of the most adorable little nectarines clinging to their branches. Unfortunately, as I watched them grow, I also watched them wormy. All except for one. I pulled all the wormy nectarines off the trees and fed them to the chickens. They were more than happy to be my little exterminators. For two months I watched my one perfect nectarine grow. I watched as it turned from green, to yellow, to almost red and knew it was getting close. David started telling me I needed to pick it. But fear of picking it too early kept me from doing so. And then one day I decided it was finally time. I was going to pick it as soon as I got home from work and I was going to eat my beautiful red nectarine for dinner. When I got home that evening to pick it, the Japanese beetles had beaten me to it and it was halfway devoured. My heart sank. In my sadness, I plucked what remained from the branch and tossed it in the chicken run, along with all my hopes and dreams of getting to eat my homegrown fruit for the year.

I know I sound a little dramatic, but it was a dramatic event. And that is precisely why I inspect all of my little fruits every day. I will be darned if I’m going to let any pest beat me this year!

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