These old apple trees were pulled up a week or so ago. They reached the end of their productive life, so the orchardman is making way for new trees. Each tree in a viable orchard has to produce a certain amount of fruit to sustain the orchardman, so when the trees fall below that point, the old trees have to go.
The land will likely lie fallow for a year before new trees are planted. Behind the old trees you can just see a few of the new trees that were planted last year to replace the batch of old trees that used to grow in that area.
I grew up a farmer’s granddaughter, and an orchardman’s daughter in later years, so I understand how this cycle has to work. But I’ve never gotten over wishing that it didn’t have to be so. It seems wrong to me to pull up living trees, though I’ve never been able to think of an alternative. The amount of land isn’t unlimited, after all, and the orchardman has to eat. Non-productive trees deplete the soil without producing anything. But still….I just can’t get past the idea of it. Perhaps it’s simply the sight of the old trees, roots above ground, that bothers me. I certainly enjoy seeing the new trees take root and grow when they are planted. I will get over this. I always do. Perhaps it’s just the dreariness of an early March day that has captured me. Once the new trees are planted, once the first blossoms appear I will greet them warmly.
Further in the background is Roundtop Mountain, still well-covered with snow.