Fresh Facts Week 17: Focus On What’s Important And Prune-out What Isn’t

We’re baack! Hope you missed us as much as we missed you. And I hope you’re rested and refreshed starting the New Year.

Let’s get you caught-up with the haps on the farm. The guys in the field are finishing up pruning. The young orchards are like little kids who don’t want to go to bed at night, so they’re the last to shed their leaves in the fall; therefore they’re the last to be pruned.

Pruning these baby orchards, selecting the main limbs (we call them scaffolds) that will define their productive expression for the next 20+ years is a creative art form not unlike parenting: channeling natural energy into a foreseen productive structure that helps the young’un do better what she was good at anyway. The problem with parenting is that only amateurs attempt it and when you’ve got some experience you’re out of a job. For an orchardist, we get to hone our skills on the new young orchards over decades.

We’re also winding up our fall manure program. I like to do this Novemberish, so we’re about a month late. Because of the chicken house remodeling, I didn’t have the quality of manure we needed, so I waited another flock; yep, uncle Vern knows his poop so let me share the wealth.

We think it’s important that you know not only where your food comes from, but how it’s produced. Organic farming as it’s currently practiced requires what comes out the south end of a north bound critter for its fertility. Our farming here in Kingsburg has included poultry production as part of its portfolio for over 120 years now, so we’ve been organic in our fertility practices all this time. What’s rare in this age of specialization is to still have the crop/livestock symbiosis; probably more a function of stubbornness than foresight, but it’s really cool to know our farm imports organic grain, and exports organic chickens and peaches; you’ll see it all when you come visit.

There’s a tremendous subterranean alchemy that we’re learning more and more about where soil microbes transform this into available organic crop fertility. More on this in the future.

Seasonality. The Byrds had a hit in the mid 60’s that went: To everything turn, turn, turn. There is a season… I think seasonality is one of the best parts of farming. Our job is really just supporting our crops through the seasons, and soon, their rhythm becomes ours.

From the outside, it might look like we battle nature, but really, that attitude will always fail. Organic farming gets in sync with nature, and the farmer’s job is to anticipate the next season and facilitate his crop’s need. Understanding seasonality is crucial.

Going into the New Year, I think many of us have identified simplicity as a goal. The pace is too quick, complex, tense… Leading to universal societal burn-out.

Key to getting a handle on our calendars, finances and relationships is a farmerly understanding of seasonality. Step back and honestly identify what season of life you’re in. Focusing on what’s important in THIS season will help us prune-out what isn’t.

If we were standing in an unpruned orchard right now, and I had a pair of shears, I’d show you how we eliminate light robbing suckers. I’d show you how every single fruiting branch is cut back to its realistic potential. And if we could time-lapse a year, you’d see beautiful organic peaches come harvest season.


Author Cristina Gutierrez

More posts by Cristina Gutierrez

Leave a Reply