Black Mesa Ranch
Snowflake, Arizona, USA
Featured pages on this site
David's Culinary Blog
See our goats in action in this professionally done Whole Foods YouTube promo for our cheeses.
See BMR owner/cheese maker, David, make Pasta with Goat Cheese in just one minute.
But, wait, there's more!
Take a 4 minute "tour of the ranch" on YouTube .
4 Awards 2010 ADGA National Competition
2 Awards 2008 ADGA National Competition
4 Awards 2005 ADGA National Competition
3 Awards 2004 ADGA National Competition
1 Award 2010 ADGA National Competition
2 Awards 2005 ADGA National Competition
2 Awards 2004 ADGA National Competition
Click here to read the online version of Kathryn's booklet
This site last updated:
November 30, 2012
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Endorsed by more than 36 humane organizations, the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® program is nationally recognized as the Gold Standard for certifying animal welfare.
2001 was our first spring/summer on the Ranch and we had not intended to do any real gardening. Our hopes were to get an area fenced, get some irrigation infrastructure laid in and possibly start some perennials including rhubarb, asparagus and a few herbs.
To our great joy we were able to get that plus much more done and reaped some fine and tasty benefits in the process. Here's a photo report of the year's highlights...
Preparations and Plantings
When we purchased this property in late 2000 it had the remains of a 1-acre orchard in an area near the Barn. The neat rows with dozens of dead and skeletized fruit and nut trees gave silent testimony of a previous resident's ambitions. While there was an elaborate 120-head irrigation system in place on half of the plot, the 10-plus-year absence of anyone to turn on the flow of water was more than the young (most pre-bearing age) trees could have been expected to endure in this arid climate.
Re-building the orchard was an early priority for us. A philosopher once said something like "The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. The second best time is today". We were anxious to get new trees into the ground here as soon as possible and start them on their way to productivity. Fruit and nut trees cannot be expected to reach true production for 3 to 8 years from planting so this is an investment in the future for us.
Our plan was to greatly reduce the density of trees from the way it was originally laid out, planting 1 tree for every 4 irrigation heads. This spaces the trees about 24' apart with about the same space between the rows. This lay-out will give us room for 21 trees plus two 200 foot rows available for berries, cane fruits and fruit shrubs.
Our first project was to take the 200' by 125' irrigated section (25,000 sq ft), remove the dead trees with the tractor and till under the accumulated brush and undergrowth. Normally, tilling would be a job for the tractor and attachments but with the PVC irrigation heads every 15' (and the fact we don't have a disc for the tractor) we went ahead and did it with our 17" walk-behind roto-tiller. It took a few days but the results were good.
Next we took a day and worked on deciphering the dozens of valves, gauges, filters, etc for the irrigation system and actually got water running through all sections of the piping with only minor breaks to repair.
Then came preparing the soil. We were planning on planting only 13 trees this first season plus one row of bush fruits so we laid out their locations and using the tractor's backhoe dug 6' diameter holes 4' deep for each tree. We picked up 11,000 lbs. (15 cubic yards) of enriched mulch in town with our trailer (no mean feat) and divided most of it between the holes (reserving some for later use in the veggie garden), stirred it up well with the dirt and re-smoothed the whole thing out again. We then, again using the backhoe dug small planting holes in the enriched soil for the trees. You know the old saw about putting a $5 tree in a $10 hole? Well, our $20 trees each ended up in $100 holes.
The last steps were the actual planting of the trees and shrubs, fencing the whole area and then doing some final grading and raking work.
Here are some pictures of the work.