Living here in the Sonoma “West County” its human inhabitants understand that gophers, in abundance, live here also. Our neighbors to the West had to replace their above ground swimming pool with a cement pad beneath when the gophers nibbled through the bottom of the pool. And when most perennials are planted at MuRefuge they are installed in gopher baskets.
Gopher baskets give young roots a chance to grow and feed the plant of which they are a part. However, they are temporary after years of sitting in damp soil. Even with many years of drought here the soil still does get damp from the intermittent rains. As the gopher baskets disintegrate and are incorporated into the surrounding soil, the apple trees seem to be the most susceptible to the gophers who apparently like the taste of their roots!
Accepting all that appears at one’s place of setting down roots is by no means easy. Accepting can be simple, however. As I surveyed this Pink Pearl apple tree a few weeks ago, I noted the foliage was droopy and the little green apple were wizened. Since this is not the first apple tree to have lost its root system to the gophers, I wiggled the trunk: not too wiggly. But once the dead vegetation was removed not much soil needed to be removed from around the trunk before the entire trunk and what was left of the roots system could easily be pulled up from the soil.
|Remains of a 30 year old dwarf Pink Pearl apple tree.|
As I set the trunk in the pile to be chipped, I was grateful for all the Pink Pearl apples this dwarf antique apple tree has given us over her many years.
|Pink Pearl apples picked and ready for applesauce making.|
|Pink Pearl apples almost all cored and chopped for applesauce.|
|Canned Pink Pearl applesauce ready for one of our previous Winter.|
And I thought, “apple trees come and go just like humans.” Accepting is easy when one embraces cycles of birth, life and death.
This part of Sonoma County use to be mostly covered with apple trees; in fact the very property on which MuRefuge is located was a Gravenstein apple orchard. Most of this area was the same until the land was divided into much smaller parcels, like the six 3/4 acre parcels here at the West end of our road, or ranging in size up to several acres.
To our delight the nearly 50 acres abutting the West most house on our gravel road has become Green Star Farm.
Sonoma County has been an agriculture county since it was settled. The “old time” farmers, like the man who owned the old orchards on which MuRefuge is now located, are either dead or retiring. These farmers focused on farming without conscious thought of their practices, farming as they were taught by their parents, so now top soil essentially no longer exists and the nutrients of the soil long ago extracted. Soil regeneration is a hot topic now a day. The young and energetic 2 legged present day farmers are now carrying on the agricultural tradition and are focusing on caring for Mother Earth in ways so all living BEings, including the soil, can thrive.
As each of us considers ways to care for Mother Earth, may we