​Spring comes early--again!

This winter has seemed very long, very cold and very wet in East Texas. We are happy for signs of spring even though it's disturbing to see our peaches in full blossom a month ahead of norm. This 15-year-old peach is always the first and always the most beautiful. The bees are busy collecting their pollen and making sure we get a good fruit set...if we don't have a freeze on Easter!

© Dan Schellenberg 15 year old peach.jpeg

15 year old peach in full flower March 1, 2015

© Dan Schellenberg Bees.jpeg

Bees at work in the blossoms

One of the reasons that our trees grow and produce so well for so long is that we follow a very simple method of planting them. You can Google Dr. Dirt (Howard Garrett) in Dallas and learn how to do this. The only thing that we add to his method is to take a sharpshooter and insert six or so deep cuts (slits) in the bottom and sides of the bowl shaped hole. We then loosen the root ball and guide any roots into them.

People often ask why we do that, and so I pulled up (or I had to dig up because I couldn't pull it up) a small peach planted last November by this method. I'll only point out the obvious result which you can see clearly in the long, healthy roots that found the slits and grew quickly into them. You only see half of the roots at the bottom because I had to cut them off as well as those on the sides. We never stake any trees because their roots will quickly penetrate into the slits and anchor the tree. We think this makes a stronger tree in the end. We do not fertilize or compost or water our trees. We have 65 fruit trees total with the first tier now 15 years old and soon to be replaced by the five to ten-year olds and then the one to five-year-olds. Commercial fruit trees are typically done full production in about 15 years. They go to fire wood, and a young tree will be planted to takes it place.

© Dan Schellenberg long roots.jpeg

Long roots from slits in planting hole

The other very exciting spring event (that is if you time your breeding right) is a spring calving. We've had two calves born this month--a lanky, black heifer and a grey bull who seems to be unusually strong and intelligent. His bloodlines suggest to us that he will be our placement herd bull. Say hello to Miss Victoria and a great bull born close to Valentine's Day and properly named Valentino--a prophecy of good times ahead for him.

© Dan Schellenberg Victoria.jpeg

Lanky Miss Victoria--black heifer

© Dan Schellenberg new bull Valentino.jpeg

Champion bull, Valentino

This spring I decided to have hand surgery to correct a genetic problem called Dupatrens contracture, which turned my right hand into a claw. I am recovering well, and I can continue writing (blogs and the big book on the way!) by using the magic of Dragon dictate. My fabrication shop has also been at work on a prototype vertical axis flywheel which I am testing and will report on shortly. We are also using this wet, cold snap to finish fabricating the commercial methane digester. I'll be posting photos and a brief log on that progress.

We'll be glad for sunshine and warmth, but the winter rains have watered the land and the cold has killed the bugs! Our ponds are full and the hardwoods are about to break into their most beautiful green filigree. What a great life we enjoy here!

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