4 Farming Successes I’m Thankful For In 2023

Since we can never spend too much time counting our blessings, I'm sharing a handful of the farming-related successes I’m thankful for in 2023.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: DanielJohnson

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year since 2016, I’ve taken the week before Thanksgiving Day to look back on a year of farming and count a few things I’m thankful for. Since we can never spend too much time counting our blessings, I’m keeping the trend rolling for an eighth straight year, sharing a handful of the farming-related successes I’m thankful for in 2023.

If you feel like joining in, please do so and share your lists with us online!

To kick things off, I’m thankful for…

Welded Wire to Keep Out Deer

It’s been a challenge to keep deer out of my orchard this year. One stubborn deer has learned how to nose underneath the black plastic fence that surrounds the orchard on three sides. And when I tried to pin down the bottom of the fence more securely, the deer learned how to break holes in the plastic and climb right through.

Fortunately, the fourth side of my orchard—the front side—is protected by an impenetrable barrier of wood and welded wire. There’s no pushing through or underneath welded wire, so I spent much of autumn adding welded wire to the other three sides of my orchard fence.

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It’s a time-consuming project, but well worth the effort. I haven’t finished yet (there’s a lot of ground to cover), but by focusing on fence sections where deer were repeatedly entering and exiting, I’ve dramatically reduced instances of deer infiltrating my orchard. And for that, I’m very thankful.

Hoses for Watering Distant Garden Beds

My orchard is located about 600 feet away from the nearest water source, which makes getting large quantities of water to the orchard a bit tricky. A 35-gallon leg tank has taken good care of my trees for years (once they’re established, they don’t need much water), but my raised garden beds filled with corn and pumpkins are another matter entirely.

This year, I purchased enough garden hoses to span the 600 feet and deliver all the water I need to my orchard garden beds. Since the orchard is located downhill from the water source, water pressure is excellent, even over such a lengthy distance. With more water than in the past, my corn beds produced abundantly and my pumpkins enjoyed their best year ever. I only wish I’d invested in hoses sooner.

Planting New Fruit & Nut Tree Varieties

After a couple of quiet planting years, I added several new varieties of fruit and nut trees to my orchard. Two hazelnut trees. Gala, Fireside and SnowSweet apples. A Sweet Cherry Pie cherry. Plus more Hazen and Prairie Magic apple trees, which are two of my favorite varieties.

I purchased the Fireside apple in a hefty 25-gallon pot, and it was such a large tree it already had an apple—which tasted excellent, by the way. I won’t be surprised if it fruits again next year, and down the road I’m excited to enjoyed fruit and nuts from all these new varieties.

An Awesome Apple Tasting Party

My Fireside apple wasn’t the only tree that fruited this year. Many of the older trees in my orchard had their best years to date, so my apple harvest was memorable.

To celebrate, I invited family and friends to an apple tasting party in my orchard. We took a hay ride to the entrance, enjoyed a pleasant walk to visit each tree, and then settled down at a picnic table to rank the taste of a dozen different apple varieties. It made for a wonderful afternoon.

What farming experiences are you thankful for this year?

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