One of my friends in the local area rented an old orchard against my advice. I had taken a look at it for him when he was considering the deal and seeing the old, gnarled trees I thought surely that it would never produce anything worthwhile.
He and his business partner decided otherwise and plunked down the money. They worked hard and constantly to reform this neglected orchard. All through the spring and summer you could see them out there and the pile of pruned branches grew taller and taller. Some trees were culled and others were brought back into line with a more studious eye. I watched their progress intently week by week as I passed by the orchard.
A few days ago, the big Swede showed me the harvest they'd brought in. Many bushels of small but very sweet apples and most of them were in good enough condition to be sold in stores. They borrowed a cider press from another agrarian friend and pressed out quite a bit of cider before breaking the press (oops). I think they may even break even financially on the deal this year and certainly in the years to come they should exceed all my expectations.
How many of what we consider "lost causes" are really just waiting for a diligent hand to come along and return them to fruitfulness? And I'm not just talking about apples there.