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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Who's to say her nay?

Risa has been pounding in t-posts, not to make fence but for converting some of the current veggie beds to grapes, raspberries and the like. For this sort of thing she likes to put up pairs of posts about two feet apart and then thread some wire through a two-foot section of pipe, lash a pair together, and on to the next pair, then string wire about four feet off the ground all the way round. This sort of thing will not hold up a grape vine, of course, without bracing; her method, which is just barely adequate, is to hammer a pipe in the ground at each end, leaning away from the end pairs of posts, then string wire from post A to pipe to post B, which she tightens by the fence-builder's expedient of threading a pipe or 2X2 through the wire near the leaning pipe and winding the wire tight. Once the wires strung along the bed are tensioned, she props the winder against the leaning-away pipe, so that it will not spin back, and walks away.

It's also her pruning time. She's knocking back the grapes a bit, and taking down water sprouts from the apple trees. There are now forty fruit trees on the place, but don't let that fool you. Only eight of them are old enough to produce much, if anything. If she has one piece of advice for those who want to get a small country place or start yardening where they are, it's get your fruit and nut trees, your grapes, kiwis, hops and such, and your berry bushes in now. Not seventeen years later, as she's mostly doing. 'K? 'K.

Of the five grown apple trees, three made apples last year, four the year before, two the year before that. The two plums have skipped four years runing, the cherry had a great year two years ago, nothing last year. So you see, forty trees might not be too many, what with the jumbled weather keeping what's left of the bees away from the blossoms, or blossoms freezing off, and so on.

The apples from the three trees, and the grapes from the three grape vines, were enough to keep Risa busy for awhile last fall. She has half a bushel of dried apple slices, twenty-four bottles of grape wine, ten quarts of canned grape juice, lots of canned-up applesauce, and has been going through maybe sixteen quarts of apple juice, the most popular of these items.

The white wine is a little young yet, but today Risa discovered she can mix it half-and-half with apple juice and -- presto-change-o -- Apple cider! This is a discovery for her because she tends to make apple vinegar when she tries for hard cider, and doesn't feel motivated to invest in enough chemistry or fancy bottle brushes and such to give herself more of an edge. She's willing to make her cider on the spot, and who's to say her nay?

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