The orchard

Ken has gone on a bit of a gardening kick this year. So far he’s planted 150 strawberry plants, five rows of beans, six rows of corn, several native melon plants, several squash plants, six watermelon plants, four apple trees, and two cherry trees. The man does nothing by halves. This is all well and good when one lives somewhere where things… you know… grow. With actual dirt (not gravel), water that falls from the sky, and a manageable number of wild animals that also want to eat anything green. But no, this is New Mexico, so anywhere you’d want anything to grow you have to add organic matter to the soil, you have to water everything (by hand, with a bucket, if the irrigation system wasn’t designed for all this – which it wasn’t), and you have to enclose everything to keep out the voracious animals.

Hey, if it was easy it wouldn’t be any fun. Right?

So, because we have a herd of deer and numerous birds, if we hope to ever get any fruit whatsoever off of a fruit tree, it must be completely enclosed. So, we had to build an orchard enclosure. Thus follows the tale of the orchard enclosure.

A proud man and his baby apple trees.
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Digging holes. Don’t let this fool you, I dug a lot of holes too. Just no photographic evidence.
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Holes for the trees done!
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So, not only do we have to build an enclosure, it has to be designed and built as a timber frame structure because this is what Ken wanted. Which means that Ken hand shaped mortise and tenon joints on the end of each board. This is a very time consuming project, but hey, it’s his time, not mine. However, if you were to ask me, there’s a reason that screws and drills have been invented.
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Structure laid out and ready to put up.
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Fruit tree holes dug and amended. We have to do serious amending in order to get anything to grow in the gravel around here.
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Vertical poles set up.
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So getting all the poles fitted together with their respective mortise and tenon joints and pegs put together up 12 feet in the air with only the two of us was incredibly difficult. At one point a 2×4 dropped on my head. There may have been tears shed. It was not a good sort of a project. I may have proclaimed that I would never ever help him build another timber frame structure as long as I live.
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However, what does not kill us makes us stronger, and it eventually stayed together on it’s own with the help of many, many straps.
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Since, Ken has built a gate and enclosed most of the structure with deer netting and chicken wire to keep the deer and birds out.
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The apple trees are thriving, and haven’t been eaten by anything since Ken got the netting up, so it seems to be working. Those better be really freaking good apples.
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August 2015
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