Fresh Apple Bark

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.

Pruning apple tree 001

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.

Brushing goats 001

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.


12 responses to “Fresh Apple Bark

  1. WONderful!!! From the title I thought you might be giving a recipe for dried apple wrap-around or other and ho! Such a great surprise to see those goats race the chute in my mind. I love your Farmlet Stories, Christi, and the illustrations can’t be beat. – xo Pierr

  2. Thank you, Pierr! The B.O. always gets off on your praise, as he puts it. (So do I) 🙂

  3. Would have loved to see the goats come running…so dang cute!

  4. LOL! I think that the bearded one is hesitant to go by instinct and would rather have an expert behind his decisions? So long as he cut them in the right place there shouldn’t be any problems 🙂 Apples are some of the hardiest plants around like pears, they just keep on keeping on. Steve takes to things with a vengeance and I am a long hair cryer like the B.O. funny thing is…Steve’s pruning is always rewarded by a wonderful flush of new growth…methinks I might be too hesitant for my own good 😉

    • You are right, Fran, the B.O. is a careful, meticulous, nurturing soul, like you. 🙂 He is a digger at heart, and even though we all have the ability to BOTH prune and dig, the B.O. stretched his pruning-mind to the max this week. I am a pruner at heart — but in the name of love, I didn’t try to usurp his apple tree. 🙂

  5. Christine Widman

    Here I turned all responsibility for this desert landscape over to my unbearded one and our faithful once a week groundskeeper. With our five acres of flora I knew nothing about, it felt like I was responsible for a million babies crying for attention and I didn’t even know their names.
    I can still – 11 years later with no flora responsibility whatsoever – lie in bed at night eyes wide open worrying about an agave or a desert willow – should we prune?…should we water more/less?…should we plant more in shade or sun?.
    Now at least I can name all our desert flora – mesquite tree, palo verde tree, spanish bayonets, fish-hook barrel cactus, golden barrels, saguaro, teddy bear cholla, chain-link cholla, blue-elf aloe, creosote bush, etc etc etc – as I walk the property talking to our plants while admiring the pruning and digging labors of love by Den and Alicia.
    PS If my sweet had his say, my hippy hair would be to my knees and beyond by now. Rapunzel-like.
    lololol – the drawing of the Bearded One pleading with you not to cut your hair.

    • Oh, Christine, I well remember the story of your agave fit! I am so impressed that you can now name your flora, so different from here, and I,too, wouldn’t have a clue as to how to prune it. I think the idea of talking to the plant definitely helps. Surely that’s when intuition kicks in? 🙂 And my hair is getting thinner and thinner…my ponytail is barely a dime in circumference. Still, the B.O. likes it. Who else matters? lol

  6. Funny how once you have a place firmly in your mind, you can revisit it perfectly when encouraged. I saw the goats running down.

  7. Only just found your blog and I am really enjoying it! Thanks

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