A couple of years ago I planted a Kansas Sweet Cherry tree in the yard to the west of the lane. I figured that grassy area would make a nice place for a small orchard. So far there are just a few fruit trees there and they seem to be doing OK. As I recall the spot where the cherry is planted has its share of crushed limestone in it – the digging wasn’t as easy as I had hoped it would be when I planted that specimen.
Earlier this spring, that little Kansas Sweet Cherry tree was the only fruit tree to pull off a crop of flowers. I really don’t know what happened to the other trees, but the cherry offered about 50 blossoms to the local pollinating insect population during some interval between extreme cold and dry blasting wind. The weekend before last, while reinforcing one of the barbed wire fences with additional strands of hot and cold wire, I noticed a small bounty of bright red cherries on my Kansas Sweet Cherry tree.
Once the fence wire was stretched and the sheep were enjoying their new paddock, I remembered those red cherries again and wondered whether they were ripe enough to eat yet. So I tugged gently at one and it practically fell off the tree and into my hand. I popped the Kansas Sweet Cherry into my mouth and was rewarded with the most amazing fresh sweet – tart cherry flavor I have experienced since picking Bings in Michigan years ago. Wow, yummy!
Needless to say, I made a light lunch out of the rest of the cherries – not one of them had been blemished by insect or weather. I spit all 25 or so pits gleefully into the yard and felt good because I had managed to pull off my first cherry crop – and unlike much of last year’s lettuce, I actually ate it instead of saving it for that “special” occasion. In the case of the lettuce last year, daughter Alaina and I enjoyed one lovely salad together and decided to hoard the rest – and then it bolted and got bitter. Note to self: eat it when it is ready!
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.