Thursday, April 12, 2012

Back to Reality

Well, what goes up must come down.  After 6 weeks of significant above normal temperatures, we experienced a very hard frost this week.  Normally this would not be a problem however the warm weather has cause most of the trees to bud out significantly and more importantly has advanced my apple and pear trees to start blooming way too early.  2 years ago a mid May hard frost eliminated my entire apple crop as it froze all of the fully opened blossoms and killing them.  As of today most of the blossoms are still fairly tight and have not opened up, this may be a good sign.  The new reports of the hard frost extending south to Missouri have the commercial orchard's concerned.  I guess we will just have to wait.  If left alone apple trees tend to be cyclic, producing heavy one year and light the next.  Orchard chemically thin the apples once the blossoms have been set and have started to develop small fruit.  When the apples are about the diameter of a dime the trees are sprayed with Sevin (carbaryl), an insecticide that will cause about half of the fruit to drop off the trees.  Once thinned, the apples will grow larger and the stress on the tree is less causing them to fruit more consistently from year to year, assuring a viable crop each season.  I wanted to try this last year as the trees were filled with apples, just ran out of time.  My Haralson tree always produces a good crop yet my Honeycrisp, Honeygolds, and Wolf River apples are very cyclic and will not have a large crop regardless.  Lord knows how my pears will survive.  In the end the cold weather might simply be a minor issue or I might just be able to take the summer off!  Last Sunday I was determined to fertilize my orchard, something I did for the first time last year and it really paid off.  Having bought a heavy duty 1.75 inch earth auger for my drill, I drill 4 holes around each tree at the drip line then fill each with a 10-10-10 fertilizer.  It is recommended that you do this before the tree fully leaf's out.   As I was preparing to start drilling Rick Shermer, a guy with the same interests shows up to say hi.  Noting that I was ready to fertilize my trees and showed him how it was done he just had to try this.  Being the nice guy that I am, reached for the auger and told him to go ahead and use it today.  Promising to bring it back later that day, not a problem....right?  3 days later and no Rick we stopped by to check it his chickens, garden, trees and maybe hint about the auger.  Well, he had no intention on giving it back!  This was fine with me as Rick would give you the shirt off his back as noted by his past actions when he rototilled my garden as I laid up from surgery a few years ago, mowed my back acreage when it was too tall for my mower.  He actually came by on Saturday morning and with his Kubota made short work out of tilling my garden again.  What a guy.  I did receive my new auger this week and the trees are all ready for their summer meal.

Our Alaska trip planning is really starting to take shape.  We finally have all of our lodging booked as well as 2 days of ocean fishing out of Seward.  We have come to enjoy the combo trips out of Seward which feature both Halibut and ocean run Silver Salmon with the chance of getting a few rockfish and Ling Cod as a bonus.  Our planning works well with the tides for the days we are going and look like the morning high tide to afternoon low tide differential is only 2.5 feet.  That sure beats Homer where you can see a 20 feet change in 6 hours.  August quarter moon tides tend to be quite tame and our trip is planned to take full advantage of them.  Halibut fishing is always the best at the lowest differentials in high to low tides and for sure it's a lot easier to fish.  We have had to use 6 pound weights on time to hold our baits on the bottom of a rushing tide in 300 feet of water.  This is truly work!  My cousin Mark will be hosting our Kenai salmon fishing adventure with a rented 18 foot/35hp jet that will handle all of us.  We are trying to do something exciting and another fly out trip across the Cook Inlet for Silvers might be interesting.  The last time we flew over to Polly Creek it wasn't what we expected but still caught fish and had our first encounter with some Brown Bears.  My uncle Jerry is not coming this year however in the spirit of our adventure he did make me a few items for the trip.  Being a master wood worker, he hand made these fish dispatchers, a must for any Alaskan fishing trip.  Hooking a big Silver is one thing, landing it is another, but once you get the fish in the boat watch out!  These things flop around with the tenacity of a tornado.   About the only way they can be safely subdued before completely trashing your boat is a good konk on the head.  This can only be accomplished with the right tool and Jerry is the master of what he calls the Konkinator.  They come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, wood types, each with their own special label.  Starting from the top you see the plain Konkinator, design by Cordless Conker Co., Inc., LTD.  This is made from a heavy wood and can be very effective.  The next one down is made from the famous Lodgepole Pine of central Idaho.  Called the Oinker Silver Doinker, it is courtesy of Rip'N'Jerry Mfg. LTD, Kenai Branch.  The middle grey colored a uniquely stained device directed right at my political preferences.  Labeled the Lite Wt. Smolt Smasher it further described as Republicanator for Killing Small Fish, Boehner & Co, Brains LTD.  I told Jerry that the gray color reminds me of elephants.........what can I say!  The next light colored pine device is none other than Dave's Sockeye Slayer and was specially built by Andersonock-A-Head Mfg, Chimney Rock, Wis. The bottom is the one he made for our trip in 2008 and I can assure you it works pretty well.  I am anxious to try all of these out in a few months and hopefully can reward Jerry with the assurance that we had a great time.  Now I know where I got my sense of humor!  Thanks Jerry, I will cherish these gifts forever.

With snow in forecast and a heavy travel schedule, time continues to fly.  I finally got an appointment with Frankie's to get my boat cover redone because of the trolling motor difference.  She is nice and clean as I had more time on Saturday to keep going once Rick took care of a few hours of planned work.  As predicted I started the Suzuki and honestly it could not have turned over for more than 2 seconds.  I love the way that motor sounds, it's a 4 stroke and purrs like a kitten.  With opener 4 weeks away, this cold weather should prove interesting.  Slowly but surely things are coming together.

No comments: