Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Life Lessons from the Farm - Grafting

I walked the orchard this morning while the children rode bikes and played.  The sun was coming in and out and it was chilly.  I slowly and carefully checked each tree as I passed.  I looked for signs of growth and leaves.  I was happy to note that most trees were showing excellent spring foliage and even some blooms to brighten the farm.
Unfortunately I did notice that even today about 5 trees have no leaves.  3 are plums trees, from the batch of 50 we got on freecycle last fall.  From the beating during transporting and replanting, I am not terribly surprised by this.  However the others only JUST got their leaves and perhaps these too will perk up and start showing their spring smiles also.  2 of those without leaves are my two fig trees.  Knowing this i did a couple of google searches and found a test to see if my tree is alive (might work with the plums too) by scratching off a tiny bit of bark and looking for green underneath.  I also see that some northern figs when transplanted can die back to ground level and still be alive and grow a new shoot from the roots.  This makes me hopeful!
So I continued my trek around to all my trees, some of which are scattered about the property.
And I was stopped short and floored.
One tree, one little peach tree, had been barked. 

There were some small bark shreds around on the dirt underneath, and long shreds hanging from a 5" bare strip, encircling the entire tree.  When my brain started working again, I thought perhaps the children might have been involved.  I called them to me.
But then I saw the little chew marks on the tree's tag which was still attached.
It was my beautiful goat girlies. :(
Since I rebuilt their house, they have been kindly doing some 'beta' testing for me on its structural soundness.  They have escaped three days in the last week.  They are always right outside waiting for me.  I find their escape route, repair it, strengthen it as best I can, and coax them back inside.
But apparently, while they have turned their noses up at strawberry plants and my field of wheat..... they found a lone peach tree to chew on.
Initially, I knew only that this was BAD.  And to give me some sense of 'helping' I wrapped the tree and then hit google for a permanent fix.

How sad I was to read..... "Complete girdling (the bark removed from a band completely encircling the tree) will certainly kill the tree." - NMSU Extension Office
Of course, you know I don't stop there!
Why?  Why waste so much effort and time on one peach tree when I have a full orchard?
To be honest, I am not sure what the answer is to this question.  I wondered it myself.  But it did not assuage my sense of duty to try everything to save this tree.  This one lone tree.  I often remind myself, and my children, that we are to be good stewards.
If there is good to do, we must do it.
So I continued reading, reading, reading... WAIT!
There was a possible fix.
My heart sank a little.  I am barely a gardener.  I barely know how to PLANT or PRUNE a tree.
But to graft?  I have no knowledge, no skill, no training.
But, I google.

I considered my options.....
Try it, and maybe fail = The tree dies.
Don't try it, and definitely = The tree dies.
I had to try.
So I began to gather my tools.  Pruning shears, sharp knives, melted beeswax.

I considered what "grafting" meant.

Romans 11 tells us that Gentiles who believe in Christ are grafted in to the olive tree that is Israel.

Why does my tree need to be grafted?
My tree is damaged and dead.  It cannot get sustenance from the root.
Why do we need to be grafted?
We are damaged and dead spiritually.  We cannot get direct sustenance from our root, Yahveh.

What must be done to repair this damage and death?
The tree must be cut down and killed.  Then with skilled hands reformed and sealed.
What must be done to repair our damage and death?
We must die spiritually by accepting the sacrificial death of Yeshua.  Then the Lord can renew us, and seal us.

Now I have no 'skilled hand'.  But I pray that the Lord guided me.

Psalm 127:1 tells us ...
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.

It will be the same here.  If the tree lives, it will be only by His will and grace.  If not, I can know that I tried to be a good steward, and at least braved another test on the homestead.

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