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Our Big Buy: The Orchard Project

Caitlin Ethridgeorchard project infographic 
A few months back we did something big.

Really big for us.

So big, that I have no idea why I'm just now getting around to sharing with you guys.

Last fall we made a grand (because I've now reached my limit for the word "big") purchase. We bought 14(ish) acres of completely undeveloped land.

orchard project-cree
We didn't do much with it over the winter besides clear trails, so I guess that's why I didn't feel the need to share. But now that the days are longer and the weather is warming up, my mind is reeling with the prospects of this beautiful piece of land.

sun land picture

The plan is to build our "forever" home there in the not-so-distant future, but for now, my focus is on a project that I'm ecstatic about. I've always dreamed of having a little orchard of my own. We've planted a few fruit trees and berry bushes at our current home, but have never really gone "all out" because we know that we don't plan to be here forever.

So when we purchased the new property, I started dreaming about walking out my back door and picking fresh apples for a dutch baby pancake or peaches for a cobbler. I know, most people fantasize about the house they will build, and I'm sure I will, but for now, my homesteader heart says "orchards and gardens".

apples in hand

There was already a small clearing on one side of the property that Dustin cultivated as a food plot for hunting last fall. We decided to expand it since it's on a higher elevation with good air flow, and because there is a slight slope with good soil drainage.

We have started to spend all of our free time pushing trees down with the tractor, dragging brush, and stoking the fire.

stoking the fire

creek driving tractor

Since the wood was green and we have had wet weather, our fire needed a little encouragement, without spending our entire month's gas bill on diesel fuel to stoke it. So, the Ethridge brothers exercised a little redneck ingenuity and used the leaf blower to force oxygen into the base of the fire.

leaf blower fire

It still amazes me how these boys can be so fascinated by fire. They were like a couple of kids watching a firework show. They always find a way to make even mundane chores fun.

making chores fun

We still have a small patch of pines left to clear so that our little orchard will get more sun, then we will use the tractor to smooth the clearing and plant away!

We have transplanted a few fruit trees from our current house, and bought more from our Cooperative Extension fruit sale a few weeks ago. So far we have apple, peach, and paw paw trees, plus something crazy called a fruit salad tree. It's peach, nectarine, plum, and apricot trees grafted together, and I couldn't help myself when I saw it on the order form!

fruit tree bud

We still have to move the blueberries that we planted last year and our grape vines, but I think we will wait until the fall.

It feels so good to invest in our future. I know that we will be so thankful that we took the time to create an orchard that will produce fruit and berries for our family for years to come. After moving around several times our first few years of marriage, it's an amazing feeling to finally put down some roots.

running on land

— Caitlin