At Swan Barn Farm the sun was shining and the birds were singing today. You could feel spring threatening to burst onto the scene.
At this end of the winter we are always struggling to try and get everything we wanted to get done finished, sooner or later the season will overtake us and we will have to surrender to the sun, but for now it is all hands on deck.
Our orchards are getting their annual prune, and today we planted a new apple tree.
It was kindly sponsered by Transition Town Haslemere, it is a Cornish Aromatic, it has rather wonderful red flushed, smooth, sweet flesh. I will look forward to some of its apples making an appearance over the next few years.
I am so pleased to see the trees in our orchards growing well. Orchards are cultural landmarks. They give us a direct link with the past as well as the ability to provide food for the future. They are havens for wildlife and genetic variety, at blossom time they provide sights smells and sounds to stir the soul. We do everything we can to look after the orchards in our care, and would encourage local people to get involved, even simple actions like eating English apples, drinking local cider and apple juice and making a nice apple pie can directly support these treasures of our landscape.
In the background of the picture above you can just make out the progress we have been making recently on our Orchard House. We are building it to house our historic apple pressing machinery and over the winter we have put in the braces and rafters.
It has been hard work with frost on the ground and on the timbers. But progress has been steady.
The braces hold the frame steady and stop it from racking in the wind. I am so pleased with the way some of them look, especially these triple ones holding this upright in place.
The rafters form the frame on which our roof will sit. Putting in roundwood rafters on a roundwood frame has been quite a challenge. Especially in the cold, but I am so proud of how they look now they are all done.
There are plenty more challenges to come to get it finished, but the main frame is now complete and freestanding, and that feels like an achievement. For now I am looking forward to the warmer months, and seeing the blossom in our orchard soon.