The Bearded One has been troubled this week by the prospect of pruning the top off of our Spartan Apple tree, which is full of little green and pink buds.
I’ve watched from the window as he’s studied it, taking pictures from every angle with plans to send them to tree specialists on-line.
“All I want is to walk around the tree and pick the apples,” he says. He is very serious. “I could really mess it up, stunt its growth.”
I can’t believe the big deal he’s making over this. There are two 6-8 foot branches sticking straight up beyond the reach of Goliath, and every intuitive cell in my body says to just cut them off, the tree will be fine. “Just cut ’em off,” I say.
He then explains the octopus shape he envisions, that it’s just a 4-year-old tree, that he’s not ready to cut yet. It doesn’t get enough sun here to be super hardy.
I am a natural cutter and trimmer. When I head into the yard, I grab the hand pruners to cut some huckleberry or salal for the goats. I am the one who usually mows. I trim my fingernails regularly and I use my kitchen scissors almost as much as my knives.
The Bearded One is a digger, and goes for a shovel or pick every time. He likes to dig and plant and build and is a whiz with the hose, lassoing it down calmly into the grass. He doesn’t like to cut anything, though. He wants it all wild. He needs lots of reassurance.
If I even mention the possibility of cutting my long hair, he says he will cry in the night. Likewise for perms.
He himself hasn’t had a haircut since we got together in 1996, and he hadn’t cut his dark brown hair for a couple of years before that, when he left the law practice for good. The kids, who were ages 6, 10, and 13 when we married have known him only as a long-haired hippy.
And now he’s a goat-whisperer, gray-haired hippy, the only person on the planet who can actually pet and brush the wild goat Pearl.
All three of the goats’ fleece is as long and thick as it will get, but it’s still freezing some nights and they need those coats for another couple of months.
The Bearded One patiently brushes each goat every day with hopes that we never have to sheer them, that we can just pull the fleece out with a brush as it sheds. I like that idea, too, but mainly because I don’t want to restrain them. I’ve read that it’s possible to pluck Angora cashmere and mohair fleece. We’ll see.
If we do nothing, they’ll just rub it completely off by endless scratching and shoving against the fence.
Before I have a chance to download the apple tree photos, I look out the window again and see two long apple tree branches displayed on the grass. The Bearded One waves happily for me to come and see.
“What happened?” I ask, and step out on the deck.
The Bearded One is so pleased he doesn’t seem to even remember the tree consultant idea. “I saw Lou on the road and he said to just cut ’em off.” Lou has a nice orchard. He knows stuff.
“Yay!” I say, relieved that he is relieved. And then I notice all three goats peering down the chute to the lower pasture, watching the Bearded One carrying around fresh-cut apple tree trimmings.
He holds them up and waves them at the goats.
They have superb eyesight, and it’s the Kentucky Derby in an instant. Down the chute they race for all they’re worth. Anything for fresh apple bark.