Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Grand Duchess

The Duchess of Oldenburg
significant because it's the first fruit of our tree grafting efforts
Development of our apple orchards includes a grafting program. For the past few springs, Arthur has set up shop in "the shop", surrounded by buckets of grafting sticks and root stocks. The rusty one-burner propane stove (used to heat water for morning coffee on long-ago camping trips) sits on the workbench to warm up the grafting wax concoction he uses.
One major goal of his grafting program is to identify and save trees that populate the back yards and fields of our neighbors.  These old trees have been bearing fruit that has been finding its way into pantries and pie crusts for generations.
Some of these trees are varieties that are not identified by names, such as the one we've tagged as "Snyder Milk House Apple." This early apple grows on a gnarly tree in the pasture of Paul and Cathy Snyder down the Dingman Run Road from us. Paul's father, Steven, referred to it as "common fruit" and the family has used it for applesauce for generations.
Our fledgling nursery has grafts for the Snyder Milk House Apple as well as the Tucker apple from Colesburg, Kenyon's Sweet Apple and Strawberry Apples from the Kidney farm and many more.
In the picture above, Arthur holds the first fruit of a tree he grafted three years ago. It's an old variety called Duchess of Oldenburg. The scion for the graft came from the Sunset Valley Farm of John and Karlene Peet.
The Oldenburg “kept up the hope of prairie orchardists in times of great discouragement,” according to The Apples of New York, Volume II, by S. A. Beach (J. B. Lyon Co., 1905).
And so today, the Oldenburg is keeping up the hopes of the Metzgers on our heritage farm on Crandall Hill, Potter County, Pennsylvania.


Leslie said...

Great story of a great apple. There is Duchess of Oldenburg tree in the old orchard that came with this farm we purchased 10 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Wooleylot says....Heard much about Uncle Steven's sauerkraut made in the very traditional way, probably served with applesauce on New Year's Day.

Arthur Metzger/Metzger Heritage Farm said...

Every year for decades there was a knock on our door around Christmas time. It was Steven Snyder with his homemade sauerkraut, delivered in time for first day of the new year enjoyment. And there was always a friendly trade. Steven would go home with a bag of Northern Spy apples brought up from the cold cellar. He'd also come around with parsnips in the spring.