[NAFEX] Francis Fenton

Richard MURPHY murphman108 at msn.com
Tue Nov 1 20:41:35 EST 2005

Hi Guys;

I have a young orchard in New Sharon, Maine. In the town next to me lives this man named Francis Fenton. He owns an orchard called Sandy River Apples. Some of you may already know this guy............................

I first met Francis in 2003, right after I bought my land in Maine. My wife and I were going around to local orchards to snoop, to be honest. When we got to the farm, Francis was talking to a couple of customers that were buying apples. We went into his barn, and started picking out some various apples he had on display on wooden boxes that were older that I am, probably. Wealthy, Mollies, Spys, and some other older ones. Some were pretty scabby, but they were all OK to eat. He took us for a short tour of some of his orchard and brought along his pole picker. Looking up into some tree branch loaded with apples. he muttered something about the fact that he hadn't thinned enough, and began whacking at a clump of apples. A big one came down and bonked his dog on the head. It yiped a little, and I heard Francis giggle a bit.
    Last year I went back to see what he had for sale, and talk about tree culture a little. I could tell he needed some help pruning because he runs the place by himself, so I asked him if he wanted me to come by some day and help him prune. He politely declined, and changed the subject. Probably didn't want me hacking up his trees..?? Oh well...
    Man can this guy talk. He seems to know a little about a lot of things, and if you'll listen, you will too. I enjoy chatting with Francis because he actually listens to what I say, and gives candid answers without reservation. He knows apples as good as anyone I've ever (personally) met, and if I end up with an orchard half as good as his, I'll be delighted.

Why am I impressed with any of this ??

Mr. Francis Fenton just turned 90 years old this year. He reminds me a lot of my mother's father. An old Yankee that loved doing his thing, and is lucky enough to do it. His existence seems to be a fairly meager one, but he has everything he needs. So, we were talking and Francis began to complain about the rain and scab and a poor crop and the government' interference with the making of cider and on and on and then I interrupted him and said, "bla bla bla Francis; you love your job, don't you". He said "Yeah, I suppose I do, huh". We started laughing. 

If you go up to Maine, Francis' place is about 35 minutes NW of Augusta.
Go look at Mr. Fenton's farm, Sandy River Apples.
Say hi to Francis.
Watch out for the dog; it's still alive, but deaf.
(Probably after a couple hundred apples off the brow and you'd be deaf, too.)

I paid for my peck of 20 ounce Pippins, and left.

Richard Murphy

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