I have not given up on having a permaculture orchard here in Wyoming. I planted several experimental trees this year I have much hope for. I have not planted as much as usual though. Part of that is I really need to adapt my strategy to fit my reality.
A percentage of my trees do survive through the first rough year after being planted. I have been happy with this survival rate as it is better than what most people would expect from this area anyway. However, the growth rate is as low as the water they receive and they are so susceptible to animal death. My favorite and oldest apple tree was attacked by ground animals this year. I did go plant a ring of daffodils around it and it is not completely dead. Still, To see years of growth abolished so quickly is quite depressing. I believe with minor irrigation in the starting years I can really change the growth and survivability of my trees.
Now, I have limits on what I can water with my well. As such watering is going to be a scientific endeavor. We will be drip irrigating only the newest trees and only for the first few years. As such I will have time to execute and cover crop my earthworks while I wait for irrigation to become available to a new line of trees. We plan to start this in the spring and I will keep you updated on whether it makes a noticeable difference or not.
I have planted some experimental trees this year. We have 3 paw paw trees planted in the pig run next to the pond. I planted 2 almond trees, 2 hazelnut and 2 medlar trees in the yard. Those I have been watering. I’ve had some almond problems. Mostly that our dog appears to be convinced he is required to dig one of them up. We shall see if that tree survives to the spring.
As far as animals go this year we killed nearly everything in the fall. We no longer have any chickens or ducks. The simple reason being that I wasn’t getting any eggs anyway. The ducks were laying all of theirs directly into the pond and the chickens were eating theirs. The turkey, of course, went to Thanksgiving heaven. All we currently have is the two pigs and two peacocks (male and female). Hopefully we will have babies soon, from both.
I do intend to get more chickens in the spring but I am going to keep things under control now. No more babies, no more roosters. Just six sex-linked hens that will be replaced every other year. It was getting a bit ridiculous the other way. Who needs 25 chickens anyway?
Things are slowly marching on here. Spring should be interesting for me, discovering what has made it and what has not.