October 25, 1997 in Idaho

Orchard Offers View With Apples

Susan Saxton D'Aoust Correspond
 

Apples. Certified organic.

With nary a bug on them.

“Usually the scourge of growers is coddling moths,” said Carver Kearney, a man with a vision, “but I live so far up the mountains the moths haven’t found me. No one has ever found a worm in my apples.”

Twenty years ago, Carver met a retired apple farmer from Wenatchee.

“He lived down below,” Carver said, “and he told me he always thought you could grow apples up here. All he ever grew was two scrawny trees in his yard, but he had no sunlight.”

On Carver’s Talache hillside, with glorious views of Lake Pend Oreille, the Green Monarch and Cabinet mountains as well as distant Clark Fork, whatever sun there is streams onto the apples, turning them golden, or bright red, and always juicy.

“When I found this land, I was looking for two acres to build a log cabin,” Carver said. “The owner told me I had to buy all 50 acres. So I did.”

Carver built a log cabin, cleared 3-1/2 acres “with the best view,” and enclosed the area with a fence to keep deer out.

In 1980, he planted 710 apple trees, 10 cherry trees and 10 peach trees. The trees are his priority. He had lived without electricity until this year.

“The trees and I grew up together,” said Carver, who drove an 18-wheeler around the Western states and Canada while the trees grew big enough to produce a crop.

“When the trees were old enough to need me here full time, I sold my rig and I semi-retired,” Carver said, laughing.

Before his truck driving days, he was an Army captain for eight years.

“They stationed me in Fort Bliss, Texas, one too many times,” he said. So Carver quit the service, drove north from El Paso, found Idaho, and stopped.

He is a tall man, solid, with the ruddy coloring of a person who spends most of his life out-of-doors and the self-assurance and calm acceptance of one accustomed to adjusting his life to the rhythms of nature.

He works all aspects of the business himself.

“I do my own packing, sales, delivery and accounting,” he said. He occasionally hires folks to pick, but “it’s hard to keep pickers up here. In North Idaho, the window of growing is narrow and often we’re picking in the snow with rain gear and rubber gloves.”

During the winter, Carver wears snowshoes so he can get out to his orchard to free the lower limbs from heavy snow and to prune his trees.

Usually the snow is so deep, “I don’t have to use ladders,” he said. From March until July he fertilizes with manure and organic fish fertilizer and sprays the trees with soap to protect against aphids.

“In summer, I water and wait for the crop,” he said.

He also watches for bears.

“The small bears climb over the fence, and the big bears crawl under,” he said.

He finally learned how to deal with them.

“The bears own the orchard close to the forest, and I own the rest,” he said. “We coexist.”

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., both today and Sunday, Carver’s orchard is open for those who want to pick apples themselves. It’s the last weekend for picking.

“Even though I’m remote and live on a mountain, as I recall, Thoreau said, ‘Have something that the world wants, and tho’ you dwell in the midst of the forest, they will make a pathway to your door,”’ he said.

The path to Talache Orchard starts off U.S. Highway 95, six miles south of Sandpoint on the Garfield Bay (Sagle) Road.

Follow that road 1.3 miles to Talache Road, where there is a sign advertising the orchard.

Go right on Talache Road and follow it 5.5 miles.

At the second orchard sign there is a large white satellite dish on the right; take a right turn there. Take the right fork in the road and head up the mountain.

“Hang on. You’re almost there,” reads the sign on the tree before the final curve.

Take your own boxes and remember, there is no charge for the apples you eat while you pick.

Children are welcome.

, DataTimes MEMO: Susan Saxton D’Aoust is a free-lance writer and author who lives in Clark Fork. Panhandle Pieces appears every Saturday. The column is shared among several North Idaho writers.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Susan Saxton D’Aoust Correspondent

Susan Saxton D’Aoust is a free-lance writer and author who lives in Clark Fork. Panhandle Pieces appears every Saturday. The column is shared among several North Idaho writers.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Susan Saxton D’Aoust Correspondent


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