A Cowboy’s Faith: Apple-less orchard recompenses

buchmanhead“The orchard never did produce very many apples.”

A handful of small apple trees were in the quarter-acre west of our home when we moved here 44-plus years ago.

Despite getting along fine in college botany and mowing lots of lawns, our thumb’s not green. Forgetful about book learning, seems weather fragile fruit trees don’t always yield.

Think they were miniature Jonathans, the most apples ever picked in a year from the dwarf trees didn’t fill a three-gallon pail.

Mostly green with a tinge of red, the apples wouldn’t ripen, were hard to bite, and sour, too. That is if we could find fruit around the worm holes, rust and bug specs.

One time, there were enough tiny apples, which took forever to peel, for a little pie that sure could have used more sugar.

Wind blew one of the weak trees over; then a couple more expired. The last two, which sometimes blossomed, but never produced, were killed when we moved in hog pens.

A dozen or so other trees, elms and what we’re told are ash, initially small, continued to grow weakly, often shedding limbs, with a few vanishing here and there, too.

Still, the somewhat wasted area’s always been called the “orchard,” remaining so today. Probably, better description, besides hog lot, would have been junk yard.

When the brush racetrack closed, we got its dilapidated starting gate, with intent to build bucking and roping chutes, which we never did. Rather, the old steel contraption soon became storage for rusted pipe, posts, wire rolls, scrap lumber, just name it.

Troughs, feeders, barrels, trailer frame and worthless equipment cluttered the area such it was impossible to mow, always vouching we would, and sometimes even tried.

Finally, after unsuccessful attempts to clean up the mess ourselves, we hired an ambitious crew to salvage some, haul most away, and develop back into at least lawn.

From all the hog rooting, and equipment intrusion, a truckload of soil had to be brought in and leveled so it can be mowed.

Orchard could become site of carriage house for viceroy, stagecoach, hearse, and classic red Thunderbird, and custom-matching, red-white, one-horse trailer.

Reminds us of Second Kings 4:42: “He had few apples from the orchard to eat.” Yet, Proverbs 27:18 “Care for your orchard, and you’ll reap unexpected rewards.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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