Keeping good company

July 18, 2013

dog.jpgThe quiet peacefulness of the orchard is one of the things I love most about life here.  I try to take time each day to walk through the trees without any work in mind.  I’m always jubilantly accompanied by Nala and Oso, our two dogs who couldn’t be happier.  There’s a lot going on out there besides thousands of trees growing lovely fruit.  Early in the summer the hummingbirds were busy.  The tiny nests that hold their eggs are pretty amazing.  This week I’ve seen a robin on her nest with a recent hatchling, and a mourning dove with two little ones tucked in the nook of an apple tree.  The yellow breasted chats sing through most days, occasionally interrupted by the sweet song of the lazuli buntings.  Last week the dogs were captivated by a young skunk.  Yesterday evening seemed especially lively with raccoons in the area.  I saw a very large raccoon in a tree just outside the fence, and heard Nala encountering another one at the irrigation ditch.  I wonder if that’s what our dogs were barking at through much of the night.  The orchard is fenced to minimize wildlife damage to our trees, but occasionally a deer will get in.  Frank caught a glimpse of a young buck that on.  There have been some signs of the bear for which our orchard is named, but no sightings yet.  

We’ve also had visits from our human companions this summer – the Stonaker clan has been around regularly and working hard. Our heartfelt thanks go to Ian, Liz, Mary & Clyde for their visits and unflagging support!  Ian’s friend Jackson has also already put in time with the trees.  My daughter Marika helped pack for countless days, but has yet to get up to see the orchard.  More packing help was supplied by Brian Gabel, Heidi VonNieda, and Ian’s tribe including Natalie, Sean, Jackson, Jordan and Jared.  Keegan Athey took a day to drive a truck and haul equipment over the mountains.  Martha McMahan drove a second truck and provided many days of invaluable help to get us here with all our stuff.  Sarah & Tom Rummery of Osage Gardens visited and offered abundant adulations of our good fortune as they reminisced about their agricultural beginnings.  Sara Kammlade spent a night as a gracious guest – the least we can offer to a grad student who is taking on some of Frank’s previous work with the specialty crops grants program.  Greg Litus & Stephanie from Grass Valley, CA stopped by for a few days, offering company and a significant contribution to getting our store room organized.  Stephanie helped get the guest tent set up, so there’s now officially room for visitors!  So many more people have helped us make the move to the North Fork Valley, and welcomed us here: Steve & Becky Ela; Tom, Richard, Zed, Jonathan and everyone else at Rogers Mesa Fruit have offered invaluable help and patient support; Bob, Eddie, Chris & Nancy White are fabulous neighbors running the orchard that ours was once part of; Bo and Kathy Gates who sold us their gorgeous orchard; Bob Lario who put all the details together gracefully; and Tyler Hawkins at American Ag Credit without whom we couldn’t be here.  Thanks everyone!