The apple empire

« If we don’t make any money on them again this year, I’ll burn the whole lot down » said my husband darkly.

I looked at him, surprised by the outburst, but not by the proclamation. In the roller coaster world of farming, his views on our apple orchard changed on a regular basis, depending on what we made or didn’t make on the sale of the crop. Over the last few years, he had respectively decided to plant more apple trees because that’s where the future lay; dig them all up, because apples were worthless; cover the whole lot with netting to shield future crops from hail; cover nothing at all because there was no point in throwing good money after bad.

This was the first time that he had talked about burning them though, and I could appreciate his frustration. Last October, French apples on the whole had sold reasonably well for the first time in years. Not ours however. A serious error of misjudgement from our intermediary meant that by the time we had paid off the costs of picking and packing our beautiful Golden Delicious, we pocketed the perfectly round figure of ‘zero’.

The problem now, as I understood it, boiled down to the weather. The continuous storms and rain meant that the trees ran the risk of becoming a hotbed of bugs and diseases, deforming the young, ping-pong ball sized apples. Added to this, was the omnipresent threat of hail that could destroy a year’s work in a few minutes. Part of the orchard was covered with protective netting, but a large part was still open to the elements.

He gazed out of the window for a long time, all traces of anger finally receding from his eyes. There was nothing he could do about the weather; and even though his livelihood depended on it, he accepted the follies of Mother Nature with quiet resignation.

He was a farmer after all.

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11 Responses to The apple empire

  1. meredith says:

    You can count on me to buy a crate of your golden delicious apples. And I’ll drive anywhere you want to pick them up, that way we can avoid any expensive middle man.

  2. Cari says:

    Ahhh, the farming life…I wonder if anyone but a fellow farmer can know how easily it brings out the inner schizophrenic! Enjoyed the last three posts hugely – love your village – please forgive me for not commenting on each post individually but I’m so behind 😉

  3. tut-tut says:

    Here, our farmers are having the reverse problem: deep deep drought conditions. We are supporting are local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), getting our box a week of whatever is on offer, and taking the good with the bad. Do you have this plan there? We pay a flat fee up front, and then throught the spring, summer, and fall receive what’s available that week, in whatever amount he’s able to offer.

  4. Meredith – thank you!
    tut-tut – As far as I know that scheme doesn’t exist here. Maybe it will be introduced one day. I have also heard that the US farmers are having a hard time. I hope things improve for everybody.

  5. Gigi says:

    I agree with Meredith, Mountain Dweller…I’ll come and buy crates and crates of your lovely apples!

    This weather seems to have caused problems for a lot of people…and I was told we were going to have another heatwave this year…

  6. The woes of farming. The endless hours of wondering what the weather will be …the crop that tastes bittersweet.
    My Father was a farmer, he worried everyday. Farming is subsidized me the states, yet for a farmer their is pride and their crop is like their baby.

    I hope your apple trees are strong and do not succomb to diease!
    Golden Delicious doesn’t that sound beautiful.

    I feel for you.

  7. zuleme says:

    I have a few apple trees, I’m no farmer. I took the whole crop and sun dried them in a little electrical gadget. I dried them until they were as crisp as potato chips and they were delicious. I put them in the freezer to keep for the winter but you probably don’t have to.
    If I had an orchard I would figure out how to do this on a large scale. The commercial dried apples you usually get are rubbery, I dried mine until they were well, like apple chips.
    I’ll do it again this year since my trees seem to have a lot of little apples.

  8. Zuleme – I know what you mean about the dried apple rings – they are rubbery here too. I did look into buying the dryer once, but drying them on an industrial scale isn’t possible. We have over 30 tonnes every year – that’s just too many apples.

  9. zuleme says:

    yup, that’s a lot of apples. I have three producing trees and three coming along and that’s it.
    And I do a lot of tomatoes in my little dryer.

  10. Hexe says:

    How frustrating and humbling – you can do everthing right and still elements beyond your control destroy what you have worked so hard to accomplish. I suppose that is true of all of life but farming seems to be a bit more in your face with this lesson.

  11. There’s a secret about your post. ICTYBTIHTKY

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