This past week marked the start of our restoration of the old Coates orchard on Lupin road. Judging by the overgrown watersprouts and canker, it's been a while since this orchard was tended--but the rusty old weights we found (top right photo), hung on young branches to train them to be horizontal, fruit-bearing branches, are evidence that these trees were being skillfully tended at one time.
February is a good time to do the structural pruning these overgrown trees need: the weather isn't cold enough to damage the tender tissues exposed by pruning cuts, but the trees are still dormant. Much of our work has been cutting off all the dead, canker-infected branches and dumping them in the burn pile (bottom left). Unfortunately, canker has already been the bane of some of the smaller apple trees. With annual maintenance, scraping off of new sores, and some thinning of the tall surrounding fir trees, hopefully we can slow canker's inevitable advance.
On a happier note, this year's test-batches of cider are reaching optimal dryness according to the hydrometer . . . now comes the hard part of waiting for it to age.