I'm excited to report that the first (of many) steps in converting our field into an orchard has been completed! A nice fellow named Mike answered my ad on Craigslist for someome with a tractor, disc, and plow. He came out and met with me last Saturday morning and we talked about what I wanted done. He thought the earliest he'd be able to get to it would be next tuedsay, so I was really surprised to find he'd been here yesterday afternoon and done the job already!
The ground was a little wet still, but it went pretty well, about 70% of the sod has been cut loose in most areas. Discing is always a multi-step process, so Mike will come back in about 2 weeks and go over this again, then it will really be broken up and I will hopefully be able to rake in a cover crop to grow over the summer. Then he'll come back in the fall and disc in that crop, and probably also plow up the planting rows where the trees will go. I'm thinking 10 foot aisles between 5 foot planting strips. It's a big field - here's a shot fromt he bottom (house end) of the field looking up the driveway towards the neighbor's place.
There's room for a lot of trees & bushes here! I want to plant a variety of things. Half a dozen apples, a couple pears, asian pears, plums, pluots, hazelnuts and cherries should get us started this year, then we'll keep filling in more trees every year in the planting rows until we run out of space. I want to get some more exotic fruits and berries going over there too: Goumi, Aronia, Sea Buckthorn, Mulberry, Pawpaw, Quince, Shipova, and even some Elderberries that have been bred for fruit size, flavor and quality in Eastern Europe. (I spend way too much time reading the RainTree catalog.)
Also, we are now officially licenced as the sole proprietors of Four Cats Farm! I got some good advice from my boss Luis, that we should get a business licence now, before we lay out any capital for this project, so we can deduct all our expenses from our taxes. The business is certain to lose money for the first several years, and who knows if will ever be more than a hobby, but I have daydreamed about selling produce at the farmers market someday. I wouldn't have thought to get a business lincense until I actually had some product to sell, but luckily Luis talked me through it - it really does make sense.