Having a bit of free time over the Easter weekend, I decided to give my husband a hand in the orchard. He has been cutting back our thousand Golden Delicious apple trees since November; a solitary figure working alone, as our finances have yet to stretch to employing somebody to help him.
He had already finished the lower branches and had started on the tops of the trees – standing on a motorized platform, which he manoeuvres down the middle of two rows. Moveable ramps on each side can be pushed out allowing access into the heart of the trees.
My husband uses a hydraulic pair of secateurs. A slight movement of the thumb sends them into a chopping frenzy. He had already warned me however, that I wouldn’t have the luxury of this labour-saving device. I know that he thinks that I am manually deficient and as the secateurs would chop through a wrist as easily as a branch, he doesn’t want to take the risk. I think in fact that he is overly attached to my fingers, or his maybe.
He selfishly gave me a huge pair of secateurs which require the strength of Godzilla to operate. Self-mutilation would be limited however as my hands would be firmly placed on each of the handles. We started work in companionable silence, over the deafening roar of the platform’s engine.
After a couple of hours, my arms were on fire and the effort of cutting branches was making me grunt and snort like a pig choking on an acorn. My stomach muscles were starting to protest at the unaccustomed abuse and the top half of my body felt like lead from the effort of pushing the ramp out.
I was just thinking that working out in the orchard was better than aerobics, when I was suddenly hit with the inspiring thought that if I kept this up, I might even go up a bra size. I voiced this idea to my husband who quickly glanced round and looked me up and down with interest, presumably in the hope that he was now sharing the platform with a buxom beauty.
Then he turned his full attention back to the tree. “You might have to work all year” he muttered.