Fall Observations from our farm.
*** Little trees are like little kids, they don’t want to go to sleep. Most all the leaves of our mature orchards have clocked out; waved good bye as they’ve fluttered down to the orchard floor. In fact, it seems the orchards that worked the hardest—produced the biggest crops—were the first to call it a year and go night-night. It’s like they’re saying: “Oh man, what a season! I’ve got to rest-up, big year comin’…”
Not so the new orchards. You can hear all the trees singin along with Chubby Checker: ‘Let’s twist again like we did last summer!’ But as Michael Jackson’s: ‘Farewell my summer love’ fades, some old tree hollers: “You kids quiet down over there, we gotta get some rest!”
Sooner or later though, old Jack Frost comes and sends everyone under the covers for their long winter’s nap.
*** Some orchards like to go out with an explosion of color; reds, lots of golds and then like extravagant flower girls, they carpet the path under the arbor for the bride’s enjoyment; breathtaking!
*** Orchards are going dormant, but lush green winter grasses are pushing up through golden leaves. Bed time for some is go-time for others; there’s always positive activity in an organic orchard.
In that same vein, we have a little bird here on our farm my father named Oscar when he was a little boy. When we say every fall: “Oscar’s back!” that means winter is here. I should do some research into Oscar’s family traditions since his are such a part of ours but here’s what I know. He’s maybe the size of a chicken egg—I doubt he weighs half an ounce. He’s constantly flitting from one branch to another; he’s a swallow of some sort; he eats bugs even though from my perspective there aren’t any in winter; he’s solitary; you never see more than one, but if I’m over at a neighbor’s, he’s there too; we never notice when he leaves because so much is going on in spring.
Thank you for letting me introduce Oscar to you. Like his cousins down in San Juan Capistrano, his annual return is special to us; it means—at least here on our farm–all is in order.
*** Here’s the great part for you. We have visual proof that all the expensive organic compost, calcium, bone meal, and the gazillions of beneficial microbes we applied to our soil some weeks back are at work: earthworms!
I think earthworms are the canary in our soil’s coal mine. I only see earthworms and their castings in very balanced soil, and it doesn’t happen over-night. I can have a new ranch chemically balanced (soil lab analysis) for a decade before I start to see the earthworms come back. It’s like salmon coming back up a stream, it just doesn’t happen until everything is perfect.
We can have a great looking orchard, nice fruit, but until we see the earthworms, we know something’s missing, and we keep working until we get it. When the earthworms are happy, we know positive microbial activity is very high; good for the earth, good for our farm, and good for your family when you eat our fruit.