DIY Large Fruit Tree Pruning-
Last year when we had our huge maple tree pruned in the backyard, we decided on having the front large apple tree pruned this spring. After looking at it, and seeing what was available locally for rental, Dave and I decided to rent a really tall aluminum orchard ladder. It was 16' high. It's much much taller than our wooden one. We decided to go ahead and take the plunge to have Dave bring the tree height down. He wanted to rent a chainsaw on a long handle. I vetoed that I thought it was just too simply too dangerous to be on a super tall ladder, leaning way out with a motorized saw! We did have a buck saw a couple of different lopping shears and a Sawzall. I reviewed some articles about how to prune fruit trees to refresh my brain cells. Dave watched a few YouTube videos to help him also. So Saturday morning he went and picked up the ladder , I helped him unload it and set it up.
Dave bought a hard hat, which was an excellent idea, since he got whacked in the head more than a few times by branches. Good $10 investment! Basically he started on the south side of the tree, which is around this side of our cedar fence in our easement. We both decided about one-third of the tree height would be about good. It is so much easier to do this before the tree leafs out! This is definitely not something for you if you are afraid of heights. I was concerned about Dave being up so close to the top of the ladder, if he fell it would be a long... way... down...
I did not leave him alone while he was up there in case he had an accident. I also was able to describe to him what needed to be cut, since a second pair of eyes is always helpful. As the branches started coming down he would either throw them over the fence or they would fall down on their own. I stayed far enough out of the way to not get hit by any falling debris, always a good thing.
North side of tree
It took several hours but all in all it came out really well and we saved $250. We also feel educated on how to do this now! Good when you're trying to be more self sufficient. There was the $25 for the rental and the rest were tools we already had. Everything will be cut up and go to the city composting program and they will grind it up for bark dust. We were going to trim the peach tree but really didn't need that big of a ladder, so we were able to get it back under the time frame for the rental easily. Dave and I did trimming of the peach tree later in the afternoon, which went really well.
Since there's an easement to the left we have to keep it cutback more. Sadly county trucks have broken off many branches.
Peach tree (with maple tree in back) nicely trimmed.
Homemade Clotted Cream-
I had plans on making some homemade British Cream Scones
for St. Patrick's Day, but came down with a bit of a bug, so I put that on hold. I've been reading a clotted cream for quite a while, never tried any, so I decided to make some! I stumbled on a couple of simple recipes for home making- Theviewfromgreatisland
Basically clotted cream is a British food that is used a lot on scones and other baked goods. Basically you take cream, not ultra pasteurized or it won't clot, and bake it in the oven at a very low temperature for 10-12 hours. Basically sounds like a cultured
cream. I set my oven at 170 on Saturday night, took it out of the oven Sunday morning to cool for about an hour. It went in the refrigerator for about 3 hours. At that point it had thickened quite a bit and I was able to scrape off the top. There's some watery cream mixture left below that can be used as milk in baked goods, etc-
Basically the clots that I had were very, very dense and stiff. I had to re-add some of the milk liquid into it, which was messy, but easy. After you mix it together the brown film on the top disappears.
I read the flavor really varies on the type of cows that create the cream. I used organic, free-range whipping cream. One pint made about 1 1/2 cups. Mine has the taste of whipping cream, with a little subtle bit of a different flavor it's hard to describe. It didn't taste sweet, or nutty, but very neutral. It is definitely pure fat! So if you're itching for something really British it's really easy to make! According to what I read it should last several months in the fridge.
Shepherd's Pie/Lamb Smell-
For St. Pat's Day I decided to make my first lamb Sheperd's pie. I always like to make corned beef and cabbage, but Dave's not a fan. I'll probably make some next weekend after they go on sale. He can have nachos! He he. I couldn't find any ground lamb (waited too long to shop) so we bought 2 lamb chops. I noticed this odd smell when I opened the package but didn't think much of it. Sadly no one warmed me in the recipes ,about prepping the lamb ahead of time, to avoid the gamey smell! Lesson learned. I've never had that problem with ground lamb. Luckily it was mild outside and I opened the windows. Tons of good info online though to easily avoid this problem in the future. I used a basic recipe, with chopped lamb, onions, peas, carrots and mushrooms. Mashed potatoes go on top. I used a bit too much beef broth in the next photo, so I removed about 1 cup.
I topped with unpeeled russet mashed taters. They did sink a bit, but the flavor was wonderful! Broth was amazing with some tomato paste for thickening. I skipped some non-traditional ingredients, like red wine and garlic. Wanted it more simple and traditional. Many use flour for thickening, but I opted for paste. You can really customize this too, some added parsnips, which I would do next time. We have plenty of leftovers and the house smells normal again! Lamb buyer beware!