Many people ask “What goes on at the farm in the winter?” Well, it’s definitely not as busy as summer and fall, but the show does go on. Of course, the animals must be cared for, tax work must be completed, and Dad’s shop is full of repair projects, but one of the most important winter jobs is trimming the apple and pear trees.
Every December the guys bundle up, sharpen the trimming shears and haul the ladders to the orchards. “Opening up” the fruit trees is important for good air movement and sunlight. Some years suckers in the tops of the trees have three feet of new growth and need to be thinned out or headed back. Reducing the surface area of leaves and buds enhances fruit growth on the remaining buds. At the end of March or early April, the brush is windrowed from under the trees by hand and then forked with the tractor to the burn piles.
This year has been more difficult with the snowfall. It makes it harder to maneuver the ladders under the trees, so Dad blazed trails through the orchard with his old Moto-Ski snowmobile. I’ll have to admit that I’ve never trimmed the trees. I give the guys credit for being out in the orchards all winter long. To be honest, Mom and I prefer “keeping trim” snowshoeing and then enjoying a hot cup of tea.