farm day

Grandfather Apple



Meri eats at least one apple every day. Sometimes, she will eat five. It’s not unusual for all the kids to have apples and peanut butter for lunch. If you do the math, that makes 4-6 apples a day on the low end, and 10+ on the high end.

Every day.

You have all heard the saying: “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and I believe it must hold some truth. The more fruits and veggies my kids eat, the healthier they are. And I don’t mean fruit servings in a fruit snack or energy bar, or a drink, but an actual piece of fruit. One of the kids friends referred to apples as “nature’s toothbrush” once, in telling a story about someone that didn’t use a regular toothbrush and how “…he wasn’t very wise”. Whether apples are good dental care stand-ins or not, they are definitely part of our family’s diet, and the number of apples we require is almost embarrassing.

You may remember our Farm Day post, where we spread woodchips around our yard, and made plans for our urban farm. Part of our strategy included at least two apple trees, so that we could offset our apple purchases with home grown fruit.

Last week we were the happy recipients of a free espalier* apple tree, which is actually two trees in one, grafted together. One part of the tree is “Melrose“, and the other part is a wild apple from Kazakhstan! I have been doing some reading on the wild apple forests of Central Asia, and everything about it is fascinating.



We may have to do an apple research project for school!

Here are some things I learned over the last few days:

“The Latin noun malus can mean either “apple” or “evil,” which is probably why the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” in the Garden of Eden is often depicted as an apple tree, even though the biblical book of Genesis does not say what sort of fruit tree it is.” via National Geographic



The wild apples of Central Asia are the grandfathers of all apples, worldwide, and every apple you see at the local grocery store is one of those grandbaby apples. {Also, the apple forests are in danger of disappearing due to pests, climate change, and deforestation.}

The Kazakhstan apple graft came from a retired CDP {customs and border patrol} agent, who seized it from a traveling scientist/professor. You can read more of that story here.



  1. 1.
    a fruit tree or ornamental shrub whose branches are trained to grow flat against a wall, supported on a lattice or a framework of stakes.



We brought our tree home, and planted it in the front side yard, where it will get plenty of sun. When spring comes, and the tree starts to wake up and grow, we will continue training the branches by building a support system for them. Eventually it should look like a mature dwarf apple tree, just flattened out.  My hope is that is will be the friendliest fence, providing snacks for the neighbor girls, as well as a bit of privacy for us.

One small piece of our farm objective has been implemented. On to finding a Salt Cedar!

Avoiding cleaning for Thanksgiving,



Farm Day

axel_treeOne of the things we are ‘studying’ this year, is Home Skills, and one of those Home Skills is gardening.

I remember being given a little area of the yard that was my very own when I was in about third grade. We went to the nursery, and after very carefully picking out some hot pink fuzzy looking flowers, I took them home and set about planting them. Over that summer they wilted and died, under my forgetful care, but I will never forget how much fun it was to have my own outdoor space. It also instilled a love for working in the yard in me at a young age, a little ownership goes a long way.

Our backyard is the perfect place for each of our kids to have their own space, but it will require some elbow grease. Enter Farm Day.

This book, and the photos of edible estate projects always gets me excited to start working on my yard!
edible-estates-lead0151b99c56fb04d62de20019b0._w.540_s.fit_51b99c4c74c5b6622e001864._w.540_s.fit_{all via apartment therapy}

During the summer, the backyard gets full sun. During the winter, it gets no sun. So, from fall to spring, it is a gigantic mud pit that grows mushrooms. This is not the most inviting type of place to play or work.  While the sun was still shining back there, we began our plan by planting a row of raspberries, which Elvis has been wanting for years. And while we were working, we started talking about all the different ways we could use our backyard. The kids were all very enthusiastic about having some garden space, and a fort, and room to run….so a small shred of a ‘map’ began to form. In the back of my mind was always ‘but what about the MUD?’ and, ‘but it’s so horrible and cold all winter!’. farm_day_lia_vegas

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 8.09.54 AM

{via Farm Fresh To You} I imagine a yard like this…but we have a long way to go! Maybe if we read this book:TheQuarterAcreFarm_web

{also via Farm Fresh To You}

{on a side note, in the age of internet domination, I am still thankful for the abounding resources that I would have never been able to get my hands on, even 10 years ago. We have access to never ending gardening tips, plans, ideas, inspiring stories and pictures….as long as we don’t get lost online, and get outside!}

Then we talked about having chickens. Boy was there a resounding “YES!!!” to that suggestion. So we made a deal. I would grant their chicken wishes, if they would help me prep the farm all winter. They totally agreed, and here we are. farm_day_chip_pile

After months of waiting for Chip Drop, we ended up getting a full load of wood chips from craigslist, for free. The load contained about half long pine needles, and half chips, but I am not even close to complaining, because it smells like a christmas tree farm in my yard right now. All the cousins came over and we spent a full day carting loads of chips to all the muddy areas of the yard. We put them under the swings, and on the paths…the backyard is in need of a complete overhaul anyway, so anything we didn’t love, got covered in wood chips. I am hoping this puts a damper on the mud carnage that usually occurs during fall….and winter….and spring.


Farm day was a success, we had cocoa, hot cider, pizza, sore backs, and a ton of fun.

Hoping we keep working all winter! Looking forward to chickens in the spring!

Planning an aquaponics project,