Welcome To The Dark Season

Welcome To The Dark Season

The days are so short now, and though the rain is wonderfully welcome, it makes the days even darker.  So this is the time to plan for the year to come, order seeds and trees (some links of our favorite sources below), reflect on what went wrong and right, and renew energy for the year ahead. We are wrapping up another successful year at Birdsong Orchards. We harvested and sold over 3000 pounds of fruit, launched our popup farm stand and welcomed hundreds of new friends onto our land. 

We give thanks to you: all our friends, fans, family and customers who make the farm possible. It is not the easiest path to follow, this regenerative agriculture thing, but it is infinitely rewarding to see the excitement, enjoyment and support from our community. You folks really make it possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Handwork versus Brainwork

One of the deepest lessons I have learned this year is how rewarding it is to host other people here on the farm. We threw a few workshops, gatherings and parties in 2019. Every time, I witness people delighted see this way of life, walk the orchards and taste from the trees, use their hands and bodies, learn new skills, pet the critters, watch the wildlife, and have an enjoyable somatic experience in the great outdoors.

I have been musing a lot about the shift in world culture, mostly in western countries, from what I will call handwork to brainwork. This is a really recent change in how we live day to day. If we look back a few hundred years in time, most people worked with their hands. They farmed, they sewed, they cooked, they lived in partnership with animals, they made household objects and repaired them when broken. Today, there has been a shift away from valuing handwork to brainwork. We highly reward computer programmers, lawyers, finaciers  and the managerial class far above those who do what is now called menial or service labor. I see this value shift as a deep failing of so called modern life.

There is great joy, satisfaction and value in handwork. I have intentionally gone from brainwork to handwork, from a career in tech to a life and vocation on the farm. We have diminished ourselves in this country by not rewarding farm and factory laborers the same as office workers, not investing in trade and vocational schools, and not honoring the need to use our bodies as much as our minds. 

These thoughts have led me to want to do more in 2020 to bring people to the farm and share the skills, learning and experiences here. So, I am planning a new series of workshops, and I hope all of you are as excited as I am.  Our first workshops in January will be on the topic of winter pruning fruit trees. If you can think of other topics you would like to learn about regarding organic farming, please let me know!

Wixon apple

Winter Pruning Workshops 

Do you have neglected fruit trees but don’t know how to care for them? Are you planning on planting new fruit trees this year and need to know how to set them up for success? Are you scared of pruning, fearing you will hurt or kill your trees through ignorance? That was me when I started this orchard. I was honestly terrified of pruning, but after many years of practice, and seeing how my trees respond to some careful cuts, I am  ready to share what I have learned with you.

I am planning two winter pruning workshops for January. We will cover the theory and practice of dormant season pruning for apples, pears, quince, walnuts, peaches, plums, cherries, citrus, figs, pomegranates, persimmons and why we don’t prune apricots in winter as well. Time permitting, we will also discuss pruning woody perennials including roses and fruiting shrubs. The right tools for the job, how to prune trees of different ages, and other winter care tips will also be discussed. We will walk the orchard together, and I will talk through and demonstrate pruning at least one of each fruit tree variety. We will discuss pruning for optimal tree growth, height, health and fruit production. 

The workshops will be held here in our orchard at Birdsong Orchards on the Saturday the 11th and Saturday the 25th of January from 12 to 3 pm.
Winter pruning

Persimmons on Sale!

We are knee deep in persimmons, so please come take some off our hands!
Hachiya, Tamopan and Chocolate Persimmons (all astringent)
Saijo Persimmons (the very best of the astringents)

Where We Source Trees, Seeds & Tools

We would be nothing without our suppliers. Sounds dramatic to put it that way, but seriously, without the nurseries and seed sellers who provide what we grow, this land would still be arid and empty. 

Trees of Antiquity supples the vast majority of our tree stock. They are based on the Central California coast, so their trees are already acclimated to our climate. They are also certified organic, virtually unheard of in tree nurseries, and the trees they have sold me over the past five years have been super healthy and vigorous. I cannot say enough good things about them.

I have really liked the organic seeds for flowers and vegetables from Harris Seeds. They have a great selection of varieties and I have had complete satisfaction with the quality as well. 

Seed Savers is another awesome resource. They sell seeds directly and you can also participate in their free, amazing and extensive exchange program. https://www.seedsavers.org/

For tools, organic fertilizers and other various farm needs, I have enjoyed ordered from Peaceful Valley over the years. They also have an excellent selection of seeds, plants and trees. https://www.groworganic.com/

I don’t get any commissions from these businesses, I just like them. Happy growing everyone!
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