Life always seems to throw you a few curve balls when you least need them (but then when do you ever need them) and in keeping a promise to my husband, it’s always going to be family first and blog second. Which is why I’ve been a little quiet on blog land. Because life goes on regardless – whether you are prepared for it or not. So the last few weekends we decided we needed a little escape from all of the ‘must dos’ and bring ourselves back to why we made this move to begin with. Lifestyle. In a word. Lifestyle. So we decided to plant our orchard. We intially decided on a three year plan.
Orchard: Plant half the apples, plums, one fig tree, necatarines, two pear trees.
Practical planting: 14 Canadian Maples to line the driveway and 220 Leighton Green Conifers along the road side to block the dust and limit the western sun.
Orchard: Plant the other half of the apples, another pear, apricot and peaches, another fig, grapes and a quince tree.
Citrus: A lemon and lime.
My parents came down to look after the children and my husband and I set about planting over 250 trees. Unfortunately the recent rain meant that the soil had other plans for us.
We tried for a couple of hours to get it out, jamming palettes under the wheels, bogging the car trying to get the tractor out… But this was as good as we got. I should probably note that my husband at this point was NOT appreciative of my efforts to document this… But by then end of the day he saw the humour in it and I secured his permission to blog about it!
I put in a call to the only rural neighbour I knew in the general vicinity but she was at their other farm, well over an hour away, marking their lambs. Luckily a neighbour, who had driven past us bogged in the morning, took pity on us when she drove by us on her way home and saw that we were still bogged. So she offered her husband and their bigger tractor to helps us out. They kindly informed us that everyone bogs their tractor. We must’ve looked as embarrassed as we felt!
We eventually got almost all the trees planted, but the delay meant my husband had to return on the Sunday, when we’d intended that to be a family day. Not to let things get the better of us, I took the children to the nursery and invested in some seeds and we made a start on our vegetable patch. That way we could join my husband on the property. I’m not sure how many seeds made it into the soil, but the children had fun (and I need to keep reminding myself that this was the whole point… not necessarily planting the seeds in any particular order… or even in the ground.)
However luck was not on our side. It rained tremendously over the next week, which I think might have washed all the seeds away. And worse was to come. We had a tumultuous week which landed my son in hospital with breathing difficulties and we thought – stuff it. Blow the budget and our three year plan – let’s take the kids out, buy the other half of the fruit trees that we intended to plant next year and plant them now. We knew the kids would love it and we hoped it would serve as a happy reminder of what we are trying to achieve with our big tree change. So we went back to the nursery and bought another eleven fruit trees.
A few hours later we were back at the property planting trees. We’d left space in the orchard for 30 trees in total. Would you believe we’ve gotten to the end and I’m not sure we’ve got enough? I tossed up about putting grapes in for so long… but went with a Quince and a Nashi instead (in my mind I’m going to make quince paste to rival Maggie Beer). In another blog post, for those that are keen, I will set out what trees we’ve bought, at what cost, and the full details of their layout in the orchard. But I know most people who read this blog really don’t want that detail!
Being the honest, caring mother that I am, I told the children that they needed to ‘turn the soil’ to help plant the trees. So they industriously set about with their tiny spades to dig up and turn the soil over. That kept them occupied for all of ten minutes!
But that gave my husband and I enough time to put the trees out next to the holes we’d dug for them. Then the children got to help put in some fertiliser and, after we’d dropped the tree in the hold, push the soil back in over the trees. I’d like to say this was an idyllic afternoon spent out in nature, planting some trees…. but let’s be honest. This is planting trees with toddlers. There was a lot of, “Don’t fall in the hole!” and “Don’t eat the dirt!”, not to mention, “Stop putting the dirt in your gumboots,” and ofcourse, “I told you not to throw the dirt or it’d get in your eyes.” And all those years in my education degree, teaching me not to say, “Don’t,” and instead to re-direct the behaviour to something more positive such as, “Put the dirt in the hole (not your gumboots),” was totally wasted. Perfectly constructed instructions with children in my classroom – fine. With my children – fail, every time.
For those who are more interested in the house: Our roof is almost complete. Only the area over the alfresco is left. The bulk of the brickwork is also complete. The detailing around the windows and doors, and the front porch area is all that is left. They are about a week behind now. Unfortunately the high winds meant that the roof was delayed. I’d like to think we’ll be in by Christmas… but we’ll have to wait and see.
This week I’ve linked back up with Jess for I blog on Tuesdays. Be sure to check out her post and all the other great blogs which link up every week.
If you’ve missed the start of our journey, check it out here.