We waited a long time for fall to arrive, for the trees to go dormant. Impatiently, as we'd decided it was time to do some major pruning in the young orchard, and were anxious to start. This orchard always been the misfit, with trees planted too close together by a previous owner, then badly pruned so the trees never had the structure they needed to grow up straight and strong.
And we added neglect to their lineage... waiting too long between pruning sessions, and allowing some suckers to grow too tall and too big.
Today we fired up the chain saw and hauled out the ladders, cut branches and suckers, stood back to contemplate how deeply to cut, what to leave, what to remove, then moving on to the next tree. There was damage to repair, too... trees that bore the brunt of the ice storm in 2012.
While he cut, I hauled branches out to the yard. On another day soon, we'll cut the branches into firewood, and stack the small stuff to burn next spring. We've pruned so much this fall: our burn pile has grown to three piles, and will soon be five. And we still have hand pruning to do, to thin out the branches for better air flow and light.
The mess is huge, but it's beginning to look more like a healthy orchard. That makes it worth the aches and pains. That and the good feeling that comes from a day of hard work, done together.