Apples and Bunnies…

First of all, though, let me show you a couple of pictures of the progress on our front yard garden fence.

We basically have two sides done, which means we only have one side left to go.  And it’s killing me that the weather turned wet and windy, so I can’t work on it.

In case you missed the previous post, it’s made of rolled, 1″ bamboo fencing, attached to T-posts.

While I can’t work outside (I refuse to make myself miserable by working in the rain) I’ve been doing some more research into apple trees.  I was originally planning to have purchased them last fall, for planting this Spring.  That did not happen…because wow.  Getting apple trees is FAR more complicated than I would have imagined.

First of all, there are a million different varieties, and they all require different pollinators, so you can’t just pick one and bring it home.  You have to make sure that you have one or two others that will bloom at the same time.  And even then, you have to make sure that they are varieties that actually have fertile pollen!  I didn’t know that.  I knew fruit trees often require a second tree to pollinate, but I had no idea some apple trees have infertile pollen, and are completely incapable of pollinating anything.  If you get two of those trees, you won’t get any fruit at all.

Then, you have to select a rootstock to have your tree grafted onto.  There are a many choices, and they all have their pros and cons.  I’m looking for something that will make a dwarf tree, because I plan to turn mine into espaliers.

So at this moment, I am still trying to figure all this out, but I am utterly determined to order my trees this fall.  For one thing, since I am doing espaliers, I have to start out with a 1 year old tree.  Basically, a stick, with no branches.

images23

With a lot of growing and pruning, it will eventually be this:

espalier12

But as you can see, it’s not going to be ready to produce fruit for some time.  I need to get started ASAP!

I do have three apples I am quite determined to get.  They are:

Arkansas Black.

orchard-8

So freaking beautiful!  And a great keeper, too.  It starts out quite tart on the tree, then sweetens in storage.  And they are, quite possibly, the most beautiful apple ever.

arkansas-black1It is also a heirloom apple; it has been around since 1870.

Another is Cox’s Orange Pippin.

AppleBushCoxOrangePippin

This one is even older, dating from 1830, and it reputedly the BEST tasting apple in the world, ever.  If it likes you.  It’s also reputedly somewhat difficult, which would normally make me give it a pass.  But I am just hugely drawn to this apple, so I am going to give it a try.  It grows well in England, and the Pacific NW is often described as having an English climate.

Gravenstein is my third choice, and also very old, dating from around 1669! The problem with both Gravenstein and Arkansas Black is that they both possess infertile pollen.  Cox’s Orange Pippin is a pollinator, but is not enough.  I need at least one more fertile apple tree.  I may end up getting a crab apple.  They are among the best pollinators for other apple trees.  One crab I wouldn’t mind having is Wickson’s Crab.  It is far sweeter than most.

Decisions, decisions!

I am also mulling over the whole meat rabbit thing.  I already know that I don’t want to keep them in small cages – and absolutely NO wire on the bottoms.  I want to give them a happy, natural life.  Recently, I’ve begun looking into keeping them in a colony setup.  I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve read/watched so far.

I’m also considering French Angoras as my breed of choice.

French-Angora-Blue-Buck

Yes, under all that fluff, they do have the body of a meat rabbit.  In fact, they were originally bred as a dual purpose animal…meat and wool.  If I keep angoras, not only will I have a source of meat, but I could sell babies and wool for a little extra income.  I’ve also long been interested in learning how to hand spin with a drop spindle, so maybe I’ll end up keeping all the wool for myself.

Another bonus; angoras are so soft.  In fact, when you pet them, you can hardly even feel their fur, it is so incredibly soft.  They are also quite easy to keep, not nearly so demanding as other angora breeds, and are very gentle.

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3 responses to “Apples and Bunnies…

  1. I like your rabbit colony

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