Putting the Garden to Bed

| 10/28/2013 1:52:00 PM

Pam TinninIn the summer of 1971 when I was 25, I made friends with two old farmers, brothers who had fled a broken Germany after “The War to End All Wars,” as some called World War I. They were old enough to be my grandfathers and spoke with heavy accents, but they were my heroes. I had wanted to be a farmer since my grade school days. Besides, they reminded me of my own grandfather whom I rarely saw.

Franz and Jakob had a small dairy in the hills outside Salem, Oregon. They also raised apples and once on an afternoon about this time of year, they showed me how to graft one type of apple onto another. The brothers worked as a team — one held the small cutting, the other made a delicate slice with the knife in the bark of the receiving tree and then applied the sticky tar and grafting tape.

For a long time my dream of farming was just that, a dream. I worked at a lot of different things for a lot of years — office manager, paralegal, grocery checker, administrative assistant, newspaper reporter/typesetter, editor, desktop publisher, writer, actor, and pastor. A lot of years have passed since I met the Hoefer brothers, but finally I am a farmer — at least an assistant farmer to my husband. We even have our own apple trees — a Gravenstein, a red delicious, a golden delicious, an Arkansas black, and one that we have never been able to identify. We are also blessed with a variety of other fruit trees and grapevines, as well as olives and a walnut tree and two almonds.

<<apple tree picture>>

Our Apple Trees

This was a good year for fruit. We have stored jars of apple butter and quarts of dried apples along with peaches, pears, figs as well as the late ripening Arkansas blacks, persimmons and pomegranates still to come. Grapes were especially abundant — we've picked baskets and baskets. We've sold some, but our grapes are old-fashioned types and are not seedless like the modern varieties. I don't really notice the seeds, but they seem to bother most people.

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