Cake-Fueled, Rain-Soaked Tree-Planting

So, a couple of major (and awesome) things happened on the farm this weekend. 1.) Technically I got a year older…


So… it turns out I’m a year younger than I thought I was going to be, and I feel like that basically cancels out my birthday, except I still got to eat a lot of cake(s). Like four of them. Which I think makes this a win-win scenario.

That is not a joke, by the way, I legitimately thought I was going to be 35 this year. I had real discussions about my age with several people including my doctor, and when my mom texted me “Happy 34th!” I actually snickered because I thought she got it wrong. So, guys, when I say I’ve been a little stressed and not quite able to manage ALL OF THE THINGS, this… this is a perfect illustration of what I mean. I am mentally maxed the eff out.

Which leads me to 2.) For my birthday this year, I bought myself an orchard.


I’d resigned myself to the fact that I was not going to get this done–yet again–this spring. I’d mostly given up on it, a little because of the work, and a lot because of all of the decisions that were going to go into it: where on the property to put the trees, what kind of trees to get, how to plant them, how to keep the deer away, etc. I don’t even know how goddamn old I am, okay? That many decisions was going to push me over the edge.

And then, two weekends ago, some of my very favorite people came out to the farm and we had a garden-bed-building session:


Three of the (half-width) beds went to their place to make this awesome little keyhole garden…


And a lot more of them went of Up North to what has got to be the most beautiful setting for $25 raised beds ever…



Meanwhile, the rest of the beds we built for the farm still look like this…



Still. At some point in the building of all of those beds, and drinking of a lot of beer, I guess I convinced my friends that for my birthday they should come over and help me plant a bunch of trees?

I don’t know. It’s totally unlike me to ask for help or to try to coerce my friends into doing some hard-ass physical labor on the farm, and I felt kind of uncomfortable about it for, oh, two or three minutes. Then I realized I was never going to get the damn trees planted if I didn’t get over my ego and let people who I love, and who just genuinely wanted to help, actually help.

So I did.

I mean, I took a day off work just to visit every tree-nursery within a 30 mile radius of the farm, picked out my trees, and then did a lot of stress-mowing on the tractor.

Stress mowing. That’s a real thing.

I was planning to clear a couple of different spots on the Back Four and then have my friends help me pick the perfect place for my orchard, but after I mowed the first spot…


And then pulled the tractor around to the next spot I was going to mow, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye…


Do you see it?


I just…

Guys, every day on this farm is a gift. It costs me a lot of things sometimes as far as balance, and stress, and sanity, but on days like this, it gives back far, far more than it takes…

This is the second fawn born on the farm that I’ve seen up close (although I’ve seen Mama out in the Back Four with a baby pretty regularly for the last four springs.) This little guy was so tiny… I imagine only a day or two old, and I’m so glad I stopped mowing when I did. I keep the bucket low on the tractor whenever I do this to scoop any critters out of the way of the mower just in case, but still…

Also, side note, want to know another handy thing about chickens? When you keep the bucket low while mowing and inadvertently scoop up a bunch of bugs? Free tractor cleaning…


Nuggets. So helpful.

Anyway, finding the fawn effectively put an end to my stress-mowing, and I decided that the first plot I mowed would work. Seems like a legit way to make that decision, right?



So I hauled most of the trees out there with the tractor. Except for the one my mom insisted in carrying by hand…


Just strolling through the pasture, hugging a six-foot tall tree. That’s my mom. Love her.

Then we spent a good half-hour trying to get the auger attached to the back of the tractor, but let me just say this: Despite what it cost and the amount of time (and humans) it took to get the damn thing hooked on the tractor, it was totally worth it.


That ground was not going to be shoveled by mere mortals, okay? I mean, shit. Even post-augering it was tough to get the holes to the appropriate size. And, you know, it was also pouring down rain…


So what we ended up doing was a.) drinking a lot of beer in the rain, and b.) installing about 3 trees at a time until we were soaked all the way through and needed to go inside to dry out…


But even soaked-to-the-bone, we were having a ton of fun.


Here’s the thing… I don’t know that I’d call myself a particularly social person. I don’t always take the time or put the thought I could into nurturing my relationships with other humans because I’m so wrapped up in ALL OF THE PROJECTS. Projects, and donkeys, and work, and maintaining the farm… a lot of the time I’d take an hour of talking to my chickens or singing to my cat over, like, actual human interaction. So I consider it nothing less than a blessing that my life is full of such amazing people.

These particular people are getting fruit-for-life after this ordeal.

And also for making me the most delicious banana-raspberry cake with chocolate frosting and just the right number of candles, obv.


I can’t even.

Let me just say this about my birthday: there was enough alcohol and cake that at 5:30 the next morning I found myself wandering out in the rain before the sun came up to find the tractor and put it back in the barn…



Holy shit. And then I spent a good portion of the next day building cages and staking the trees against a pretty relentless wind…


I’m not entirely sure how those deer-proofing cages are going to work, but it was way easier than trying to fence the whole area in, so we’re going to give it a go.

I built them the same way my mom built my tomato cages: 5′ welded wire fencing with the bottom rung cut off so I could sink them into the ground.


(As with every other time in my life I’ve worked with welded wire fencing, I ended up bleeding from multiple fingers and the side of one ass-cheek… it’s inevitable.)

Here’s the end result:


The 2015 Black Feather orchard consists of 2 peach trees, 2 pear trees, and 5 apple trees.

I’m so happy. Best birthday present I’ve ever given myself…

28 Responses

  1. Your blog was mentioned in a post on Pretty Handy Girl which is how I found you and after reading this I am so grateful I did.

    There was so much running through my head as I was reading this:

    1) Add a year to your age? Did it the year I was 29 AND spent a year saying my oldest boy was 21 when he was 22.
    2) I wonder if she’s going to plant pear trees
    3) Stress mowing? I get that.
    4) Oh My God! A baby deer!
    5) Gorgeous scenery by those raised beds!
    6) My mom would have carried the tree too
    7) I want a tractor and auger
    8) Ouch, I hate wire stuff – that shit always bites back.
    9) She planted pears!

    So umm yeah – I realy enjoyed reading this.

  2. Happy Birthday Kit!

    Glad you had fun with trees, nugs, and donkeys.

    Your Mom … she is amazing. And your Gramma. And you too!!

    I finally got half of my garden planted (other beds are yet to be built!) and now I am on Frost Watch III for this season. What the heck.

    Look forward to all the fruit recipes and what I am sure will be kick-ass cider.

  3. Seriously… I did the same thing with my birthday a month ago. I really, really was convinced I was 33, turning 34. Got into an argument with my phone while filling out some info and then stopped to do the math. I’ve been thinking I was already 33 for the past 6 months or so. The reality is in my mind I’m going to be 33 for about a year and a half.

    At least I’m not the only one losing it ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. If your farm is anything like mine, you will have to find a way to fight the relentless growth of grass around your trees. I have used both tree fabric and tree mats. It is impressive the difference that makes. It is also impressive how grass can encroach so relentlessly into places you don’t want it but I can’t get it to grow where I do want it!

    Good luck with the orchard. I went with mostly bareroot trees to save some costs and for ease of handling. I have been impressed how well those little sticks grow. They generally catch up to the container plants in a few years.

    I also have a few cherry trees. They really make good jam and wine!

  5. So much fun on this post! Instead of commenting on everything, I’ll just say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  6. Happy Birthday! I’m always doing the math to figure out how old I am lol. That’s something that just comes with age I think as the years just keep coming and you can’t remember EVERY THING!

    The baby deer. SQUEE so cute!

    I’m excited that you got your orchard planted this year!

    Also you amaze me at how much you have accomplished in your 34 years. Pretty impressive!

  7. happy birthday! love the orchard! so glad it worked out so well. love the random guinea hen that mingles with your nugs. is he/she the last one left?

    1. I have 2 guineas… that one is the male, and the female has been hiding out in the pasture for the last week (sitting on a nest, I assume.) I don’t necessarily want a whole flock of them running around, but we’ll see if she’s able to hatch these!

  8. Happy birthday. Yay for you for buying yourself a present–and making it something really meaningful. It will be so neat to watch the trees as they grow and remember when you planted them.

  9. Happy birthday! Your orchard is looking great!

    Yeah, I’ve been doing the age math since I was around 20… The tough part is remembering the current month and year so I can get the right answer ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. OMG that text with your mom made me laugh… I turned 27 last week and I had to do the math too! Actually, I still keep doing the math because I have the opposite problem, I barely remember turning 26 and feel like I should still be that age. Ha.

  11. Happy belated Birthday Kit! Looks like it was one of the best! I can’t wait to get our fruit trees in. Next spring. New Chicken Coop enclosures this year with wonderful wire fence urrrgh. Buying bandaids already

  12. Great birthday present to yourself! And you have very excellent friends to visit for your birthday and do manual labor in the rain. Blessings.

    Once you can’t remember your age exactly, it’s time to forget about it. Drop the year and just remember the month and day.

  13. I had just told someone the story of how I went almost 4 months thinking I was 28 when I turned 27. Afterwards I thought I have to quit telling that story because a)people will think I’m lying that I’m that oblivious and/or b)people will think I’m crazy and seeking attention. I am neither of those things (except oblivious obviously). But it happened for real. I totally didn’t realize how old I was for four months. My husband, who is four months younger than me finally pointed it out at his birthday by saying “whoa stop making us a year older ok?” Who knows how long that would have gone on. So that was a long way of saying that I’m super (extra) glad that it was your birthday and you told that story. Now I know I’m in good company. REASONS as you would say. Also, that is exactly how I do tomato cages too but I haven’t sustained any butt cheek injuries yet so thanks for the warning. Happy birthday!

  14. Happy Birthday, Kit! Never a dull moment on the farm! So glad to see you were able to get and plant your fruit trees after waiting so long. I LIKE forgetting my age! Problem is when it’s one that’s a decade marker, it sticks in my brain!

  15. Happy Birthday!!
    The very best birthdays end with loosing a tractor!

    YAY for the orchard! I’m so thrilled for you!! xx

  16. Asking your friends was a mitzvah! A gift to yourself, a gift to them and a gift to the earth! I’m sure they were more than glad they were able to help and be a part of something so wonderful! You did a great job with the deer fencing..Neosporin on your hands and arms. An auger…one of the two most important inventions for every farm. The other is an instant hot water dispenser on your kitchen sink! Happy Birthday, Kit…

  17. The nursery probably sold you the proper sexes of pear trees. I’m not sure what the deal is with every fruit tree, but my mom’s pear trees (in NE S. Dak.) needed a separate tree of each sex to bear fruit. She didn’t seem to worry about the sexes of her other fruit trees. The sex lives of trees…..

  18. Happy belated Birthday, Kit. Don’t have kids. They’ll constantly remind you of your proper age. All of the time. ๐Ÿ™‚ Your orchard looks great. We planted a mini this year but I think we’ll be adding a couple more trees. One can never have enough peaches or plums. I have to say, you had the kind of birthday I would love to have. Maybe one day, they’ll get it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. Stress mowing is a real thing! Happy belated birthday. Planting an orchard is a great gift!

Comments are closed.

I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.