Bear Swamp Orchard & Cidery


Certified Organic Hard Ciders and Apples

Thinning and animal update

Given the current downpour, I have time to write an update. We have been fitting apple thinning in between rain storms, and have (almost) finished the Libertys and Cortlands, as well as our early varieties. The ever-reliable Libertys are covered with fruit; we thinned at least half a bushel of tiny apples off each tree. Given the wet, cold weather this year, the plum curculio weevils were active for a longer period than usual - they started damaging apples at their normal time, but were still active while we were thinning. It has also been a challenge keeping clay on the trees to fend them off, but the apples we left on the trees look good. We still have the Freedom variety to thin, and the old-fashioned standard trees, most of which are fruiting very lightly this year for various reasons. There is some scab on the vulnerable varieties, but nothing like last year. The down side to using less-harmful controls is that we can't eradicate scab, we just try to keep it down to a dull roar. The next break in the rain we will put up our sticky traps for apple maggot fly, which will start to enter the orchard very soon. We use lures that smell like ripe apples and traps that these flies are attracted to to target this control measure specifically to this pest.

On the animal front, the killdeer hatched last night - the chicks are tiny tiny duplicates of their parents, running around my garden and the driveway. Last year I saw the family occasionally for the rest of the summer in the same area that they hatched; I look forward to keeping an eye on this brood as well. And now I can weed my garden! If it ever quits raining, that is. As for our little lamb, Fifi has developed amazingly in the week she has been alive. Her four front teeth all came in at five days old, and she has been practicing running, jumping, leaping, so she is now as fast as the adults. She has started checking things out with her mouth, so when we pick her up she now will gently taste our skin in addition to sniffing us. She won't eat anything for some time yet, but will be playing with the idea. We try to pick her up every day at least, so she remains unafraid of us and will learn to enjoy eating from our hands, being petted, etc. Of our 5 adult sheep, I think only one got this kind of attention as a lamb, since one asks for petting and will eat out of our hands, while the others run from us like wild animals. Taming adult sheep is a much bigger challenge than taming a baby.
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