Stephen, the now big brother to our little Joanna Prayse, is my farm helper. (Now, I really think he is helping mom by helping me, but nonetheless, I enjoy spending time with him!) Stephen, like most of my children, and probably like many of your children, loves to work with his daddy.
The other day, when I was doing the initial pruning on the Honeycrisp and Chehalis apple trees, Stephen was working alongside me. When pruning trees, the first thing I do is decide what branches are going to stay and then I start cutting. I always make up my mind before I start pruning. I want to prune the branches so that light will be able to get into the tree canopy to help the fruit ripen. I also want to consider places for my ladder to get close to the tree. Even though I won’t need a ladder for a few more years, I need to leave an opening for them now while the tree is still establishing fruit bearing branches. So, you see, a little training now will be helpful later…which is why Stephen is my helper. Training trees and children will not happen unless I am hands on.
As I was pruning, Stephen was asking, “When is it my turn?” I was able to find branches that he could prune for me on most trees. I try and let him actually prune the tree, involving him in valuable work, not busy work. We were finishing up the Honeycrisp apples when I snapped this picture of Stephen pruning the tree. We had picked out a good branch to prune. I stepped back to capture the moment as he cut the branch, and just as I was finished taking the picture, I realized that Stephen had cut a branch that I wanted to keeeeeep!!! All is not lost. The tree will grow another branch and, most importantly, it was a very good cut.