I returned again to Vermont last weekend. My work in Boston will end in just under two weeks, so I suppose I might have remained here to take in the sights and sounds. My heart called elsewhere, and when work ended unexpectedly early on Friday, I ran to my apartment, packed a bag, and hit the road.
As I mentioned before, I have a small old farmhouse, about ten miles outside Burlington. I lived there for three years prior to my stint in Boston. It’s a beautiful home but the property (only about three acres) was very overgrown when I moved in. I spent most weekends ripping out weeds and brush in an attempt to civilize the place. Gradually, I succeeded. In place of sumac and thorn bushes, I planted wildflowers, fruit trees, cranberries, and blueberries. I got a chicken coop and the chickens, who roam around eating bugs all day. I fenced a large portion of yard and woods, where the dogs chase rabbits and vermin.
Here are some photos from the past weekend.
Most of the peonies have already bloomed and wilted, but this one, a bit shaded and sheltered, remains vibrant.
I planted five apple trees, all different species. This one, the macintosh, is the most recent. It has a good crop of apples. It also has a touch of apple scab (see the small leaf spots), a common fungus to attack apple trees. I’ve controlled it with fungicide, which I hate to use, but I hate even more for the apples to die.
I planted two peach trees. Last year, they were afflicted by fungus, but spraying in the fall and spring (again with the fungicide!) has eliminated it. Now there’s a large crop of peaches. I cut maybe fifty percent off, so the trees can concentrate their energy.
This pear tree is maybe fifty years old. Every other year it produces a large crop of delicious pears. This looks like another good year.
I dug and planted a cranberry “bog” in the spring of 2012. It grew beautifully through the summer, produced a large crop of berries, then was eaten almost to its roots by deer during the winter. There are eight plants, all of which have rebounded well. There won’t be a crop this year, as the plants flower on old growth.
This photo is from May. There was a chicken massacre a few days before I returned. A raccoon got into the hen house at night. Only one hen survives (the araucana standing in the background). She looks scared and lonely.
A black locust that I let sprout last year. It’s growing close to the house and I’ll attempt to transplant it later this summer. The house has several ancient locust trees, maybe 100 feet tall, and I’m trying to nuture a new generation.
The house from the front yard, mid-June 2013. The large tree on the left is one of the mature black locusts.
Bishop weed grows at the edge of the orchard. (I’ve planted two cherries, two peaches, five apples, and eight cranberries. The area was formerly a patch of sumac and poison ivy. I think I’m allowed to indulge myself by calling this creation an “orchard.”)
The first day lily opens, with many others behind, against weather-beaten clapboards.