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The Last Windrow: Johnny Appleseed lived under our roof

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Not all farming was blood, guts, sweat and grime. Sometimes I think the general public got that picture of how farmers always lived in years past.

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I've found over the years that many farmers were actually very sensitive and caring creatures. They just had a hard time showing those attributes at times. You know, the strong, silent, endure any pain types?

I've heard that the 2014 apple crop is beginning to come in. That time occurs at this time of year as the leaves begin to turn shades of orange and red and a cool front from Canada arrives randomly on our doorsteps early in the morning to freshen the once stale summer air.

The apple crop came to our small farm around the first days of the school year. The orchard of apple and cherry and pear trees that grew just below our farmhouse were the product of a caring farmer, my grandfather, John.

Rearing those trees to be fruitful was his pride. The task was not looked on as work, but as the dessert of the farm. The fruit was not raised to feed livestock or sell on the grain market, but the apples were there to provide enjoyment for any of the family who lived under that roof.

Grandpa John was a "tree grafter." He knew how to blend two apple trees together with wax and twine to make a hybrid tree that sported fruit that provided for different dishes. In that orchard of trees he raised red and yellow Delicious apples, Johnathans, crab apples and what we called "greenings."

I never got to witness Grandpa's graftings, but I know that he traveled to different nearby farmsteads and started apple groves for many area farmers. I heard some of them call him "Johnny Appleseed" more than once.

Our grove of apple trees was known by just about everyone who traveled that rural road. The orchard sat adjacent to the gravel and later tar road, and more than once we spied a car pull to a screeching stop and watched as the driver hurried out and "stole" a few apples.

We really didn't care because we had all we could use and we would have eagerly given the driver even more if he or she would have asked, but they

seldom did. There must have been some "thrill" to be had by that exercise.

My mother made apple jelly and applesauce, froze apples for pies and pickled some of the crab apples. I remember the "greenings" as being huge apples that never turned any color but green and they were hard as rocks if you tried to slice them.

They were the prime apple for pies, as I remember. And, they kept in our cellar through most of the

winter.

As we kids headed for the school bus stop at the end of the lane each morning, one of us would usually be found climbing the branches of the red Delicious tree and tossing down an apple apiece to stow in our school lunch sacks. If the old saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," is true, we kids should all live to be 125.

I remember that apple orchard at this time of year when I hear the reports of new apples arriving at farmer's markets across the landscape. It served us well over the years and taught me that all is not weary work and labor on the farm.

Not if you had an apple orchard like ours. Not if you had a "Johnny Appleseed" living under your roof! We had one.

See you next time. Okay?

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