The sanctuary is located on the site of an old homestead. While the original house is long gone, many of the barns and outbuildings remain, as does the orchard. These trees produce Rainier, Bing, and pie cherries, as well as apples, Italian plums, and enough pears to feed a hundred chimpanzees. At one time there was actually a railroad stop here in the canyon, and the extra fruit from this orchard would likely have been sold in a bustling farmer’s market. There was even a saloon and dance hall in what is now our lower pasture, shown on an early 20th century map as being nestled between a barn and a chicken shed.
These days the orchard is the domain of our dogs, Wilson and Abbey, but they are kind enough to let the staff and volunteers go in and pick fruit for the chimps from time to time.
Yesterday we picked pears and plums from the old trees, and the chimps had them for breakfast this morning. They were a huge hit. Luckily there are a few hundred more pounds where that came from.
The onset of fall is a welcome change around here. In addition to the orchard’s harvest, it also brings relief from the intense heat and relentless sun of Central Washington summers. The chimps choose where to spend their time, and during the summer much of their time is spent indoors. Now we are more likely to find them relaxing on the play structures, walking through the tall grass, and otherwise enjoying the space and relative freedom of Young’s Hill, their two-acre enclosure.
You could argue that Jamie gets the most out of Young’s Hill, the way she patrols its boundaries throughout the day. But no one exploits every swing, structure, and tight rope like Missy. Now that fall is upon us, I expect to see a lot more of her outdoor antics. If only we could resurrect that old dance hall for her; I think she’d fit right in.