Broad Valley Orchard

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Winter Solstice Greetings

Hello All,

I thought I would tear myself away from ice storm damage control to make one of my occasional mid-winter journal entries. Our regional ice storm was devastating; some people in our county have been without power and phone for three days. Emergency shelters in the region are just closing down, now that power is restored and people can get home to start repairing the damage.

Our village had some branches come down on electric lines, and BVO lost power for 12 hours. Fortunately we still keep up our winter emergency kit, and suffered no discomfort; in fact it was sort of cozy not dealing with the phone, computer, and electric lights. In 1994 We survived a week up here, isolated from the rest of the county by 8 foot ( 2.4 m) snow drifts. Needless to say, I like having wood heat, which is backed up only by passive solar. One of our winter harvests is firewood.

When we moved here, we planted a thousand trees on the property, and have been selectively harvesting them for fifteen years. This morning I took down a cherry tree, which had been rooted in a wet spot, and the ice caused it to topple over. If I warm up, and no rain nor snow is falling, I might go out and deal with another toppling tree. And I have to “Tom Sawyer” some friends to help me take down two very large, sick, white pines which are leaning over our lower garden. I urge everyone who lives in areas subject to ice storms to keep your trees properly trimmed ( including cutting out ‘bad crotches’ = narrow upright “Vees”, and to not plant white pines, which ‘self-prune’ in ice, and cause much of the damage. White Pine is also poor firewood, and has low value for lumber. Spruce, Fir, and Hemlock seem to hold up better to ice.

Our two hoop houses held up well, but during this cool short daylight time of the year, the greens barely grow. Within two weeks, though, they will resume their growth, and by late January, Judy will transplanting more greens to the hoop houses, to give us some April salad sales. For now, we are enjoying fresh picked salads a couple times each week. Sure taste better than that store bought lettuce that has been shipped thousands of miles.

We have supplemented our root cellar supply, by purchasing 4 bushels (90kg) of organic carrots, and a bushel (22kg) of beets from our friends Matt and Jenn who operate the new Dickinson College Farm. Our Coop members split up a couple bushels of carrots, and the rest is being shared with the CSA weekly. Before the storm, we harvested out last outside crop, Brussel Sprouts, for this week’s share. Winter b-sprouts are very tender and sweet; Ethan, one of our CSA shareolders sent in a recipe for them – I just posted it on our website. We also have 5 bushels of winter apples in the fruit cellar, and a couple bushels of potatoes, and one of turnips in the root cellar. The old timers up here (our chestnut log house was here by 1872) sure built this place for Sustainability. Of course they had probably never heard that term; for them it was just “gettin’ by

So, enjoy the Solstice on Saturday. We celebrate by sighting the rising and setting sun above our “standing stones” solar calendar, and then by having a sauna that evening. I always feel better knowing the sun will indeed come back, and we will not freeze and starve in the dark.

Thank You

thom

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