It is no luxury eye-level wood-fired oven, the oven we have built in the orchard. It is a repurposed, get down on your knees wood-fired oven. Here’s the story of how we built it, starting in the summer of 2020.
Just days after our “Ode to Summer” came the first of the autumn storms, and the Kaiser was down:
Of the variety “Kaiser Wilhelm”, a chance discovery on an estate in Germany in 1864 and named after the German Kaiser Wilhelm 1, this was one of our three “Kaiser Wilhems” and one of the most prominent trees in our orchard.
A prevailing feature in our orchard landscape whatever the season:
He was also one of our high performance trees – 360 kg of apples in any given year was the norm, as was the case this year in what was to be his last harvest, and despite his age:
A variety known for its longevity, we estimate that our fallen Kaiser was heading for a hundred years old when the Beaufort 10, 11 and 12 gales on the evening of 23 September 2018 proved too much, and down he went:
The changed view with the fallen Kaiser will take some getting used to and for now he lies in peace where he fell, letting himself be explored by young hands and feet clambering over his now fallen heights: the future running its young hands over his otherwise lofty leaves and lichens.
A part of the circle of life he will remain, as his wood goes on to house and feed the myriad of other little beings that lived alongside him in the orchard.
Our dead wood hedge in the orchard is part of the circle of life in the micro-ecosystem that a traditional meadow orchard is.
Pruning and clearing (of invaders and insurgents from the surrounding forest and farmland that then compete with the fruit trees for space and resources if left unchecked – pines and poplars are the main offenders) ensure regular replenishment:
And so the hedge grows with the years,
providing a home to many a feathered and furry orchard resident
as the wood ages further,
turning into a veritable treasure trove of lichens and moss: