I asked Adrian, our neighbour, about 3 years ago if he could help when it was time to prune the fruit trees. ” “Of course”, he replied, so the other day I texted him and said, “remember your kind offer of help to prune? Could we do that this weekend?”
Not sure he knew but in the three years since, they had had their barked stripped, and ends chewed by the goats when Gilbert put, yes I said Gilbert PUT the goats in the orchard to keep the grass down, securing them to a drum which he assured me they couldn’t get off. “You’re right I screamed at him after discovering them down there, they can’t get off, but they CAN drag the bloody drum around!”
Goats were moved and never again allowed within 50 metres of there, it was to be the cows who got through the fence next and either snapped their stems or simply pulled them straight out of the ground. This time Gilbert came down with sticky tape stuff and taped them up. Finding it all too distressing, I ignored the orchard for a year or two. So now Adrian was going to ‘teach me’ how to prune on some we couldn’t even tell what kind of tree it was, given the goats ate most of the tags.
Adrian never bated an eyelid and while some looked to have made a pretty good recovery, some he pruned and said to see what happens, and some he virtually made the sign of the cross and said it was probably time to replace it.
The week before I had asked Gilbert to help me with pruning the big stuff around the garden, to pull out stumps I was trying to dig out, to limb up trees I saw potential for the grandkids to scury underneath the outer hanging branches and make secret places within.
When we were children, there were many places on the farm where we could use our imagination and one in particular was a row of conifers, so huge with long branches that swept the ground and hid something special. There were three quite separate places within and to us three little ones, they were designated as kitchen, lounge and bedroom spaces. Somewhere the ‘three big ones’ never ventured. We had old pots and pans hanging from the tree branches. Old beer crates doubling as shelves or seats or office desks or shop counters, where ever the mood and our imagination took us.
We would gather the cones and feathery bits to stir in the pots on a make believe stove and a broken branch was used to sweep to windblown leaves aside as we got our housework done early. This I want for the grandchildren. Monie and I decided we wouldn’t tell the kids what we were doing as we planned where we could prune to create hidden spaces, but let them find them. I can’t wait. But first I needed to enlist Gilbert’s help. Some of these trees were way too big for me to handsaw through. I needed some muscle.
Gilbert patiently walked around with me as I detailed what needed to be done. With little said he went off and got the tractor out. Within half an hour the stumps were out. Then he took me up to the shed to ‘show’ me something. We walked in and he picked up a De Walt battery powered saw thing.
I watched as he showed me how to fit the battery in and then swap over. I tested its weight in my arms and then checked how the safety switch worked. I wasn’t sure why exactly, but the power of this thing throbbing when I pressed the button was exhilarating. I stared in wonder at the potential. Gilbert popped earmuffs on me and motioned me to watch him first then handed it back to me. I tested it on a small branch and it went thru like a hot knife through butter. I stopped and smiled at Gilbert. He smiled back and pointed to a bigger branch. It slipped through that too.
At this point I had completely forgotten that I had spent so many hours rigorously handsawing. Now I had power. Nothing was safe as I looked around the garden, and for the next few hours the air was full of the sound of ‘De Walt and me’. OMG! I was in De Walt heaven. There was no stopping me. The hand saw was discarded and the pile grew.
Monie came in that afternoon and was stunned. Between us all we soon had the trailer loaded, emptied up the paddock and the place cleared. Amazing I thought as I laid my ‘De Walt’ to recharge for the night. I will never be daunted by pruning again….