Fresh Facts Week 32: A Fortune in the Woods

By April 17, 2016Fresh Facts, Newsletter

We’ve been thinning stone fruit for about a month now and I’d say we’re about half done. We should have apricots in your box first part of May as thinning turns to harvest. Our orchards all have very beautiful crops.

Maybe 30 years ago, I was on a horse next to a very prominent, soft spoken cattleman on a rocky, shale covered mountain. This man was late 60’s then, maybe 5 foot tall, easy 200 lbs of solid man under a hard used hat.

His horse looked okay, but lacked that certain commanding appearance one might have expected from the mount of a man of his position; but my could they move cattle across rough country. His team of 5 dogs, himself and the horse were magnificent. Myself on my valley horse might have been worth half a dog.

I asked him how he came on such a good working horse. He said he had too much work on the ranch to train them himself, that he only bought geldings because he needed consistency every day, that he paid top dollar, but only after he’d proven them. “See that mesa across the way there?” He pointed at a flat topped mountain maybe 2 miles away. “If they seem okay otherwise, I run em along the top and off the edge, if they stay under me, they’re worth buying.”

I don’t know if you ever watched ‘Man from Snowy River’ but that’s pretty much what he expected a horse to do. *** I’m trying to get to the good part so stay with me another few sentences***
After we’d pushed the cattle up to new pasture, we were resting the horses. Far as you could see in any direction was this man’s ranch. Another greenhorn helper looking at all the oak trees everywhere said: “Gee Mr._______, you have a fortune in fire wood here. He looked at the fella, spit some tobacca juice on a rock and said quietly: “There’s a big difference between a fortune in the woods and a fortune in the bank.”

I’ve never forgotten that wisdom, and I’ve quoted him many times. There’s a big difference between a fortune in the woods and a fortune in the bank.

Right now, we have as nice a crop as anyone could hope for, but there are many obstacles between that fortune in the woods and a fortune in the bank.

I type this with one eye looking at the afternoon black clouds coming our way. A few minutes of hail, and you can start thinking about next year.

Hail comes from the outer edge of a fast moving, intermittent thunder storm usually in the afternoon and here’s why. Hail needs updrafts from land that was heated between clouds. Rain falls, then is picked-up by the updraft where it freezes, comes back down picking-up more moisture, then going back up and freezing. The more times this repeats, the bigger the hail. It’s always accompanied by lightning and thunder because of the violent wind in the atmosphere and always on the outer edge because that’s where you get the updrafts.

If it’s morning, you’re okay. If it’s raining solid, you’re okay. If you don’t see streaks of rain coming from the bottom of the cloud, you’re okay. If you don’t hear thunder, you’re okay. If it’s coming straight at you, you’re probably okay.

So how come a fruit farmer knows so much about hail Uncle Vern? Because there might have been a fortune in the bank if it weren’t for the infernal stuff. So far, only black clouds this afternoon.


Author Uncle Vern

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