Completely new to the site, and have never had more than a small garden in my yard, but I'm about to move to a decent plot of land (~40 acres) in northern Alabama. Near the house are a couple of apple trees my great-grandfather planted that are looking like they are in pretty rough shape. I'm hoping to do what I can on the place, including hopefully getting the apple trees to pull through. Does anyone know of any resources available for learning about caring for fruit trees (or for that matter, bees, bats and any permaculture tips)?
First, go here: Alabama Extension. This site contains information specific to your state. Review the tree pruning and orchard links for help with your great-grandfather's trees, but you should be aware that they may be at or near the end of their normal lifespans. You should also check for information on grafting - it's possible that you could graft twigs from your family's trees onto a different root stock and propagate them for the next generation.
Next, you might want to go here: Alabama Master Gardeners. You could become a Master Gardener - or at least take the coursework. This should provide you with some of the basic information you're looking for.
Watch for deer activity. If you have deer you will need a fence that is 9ft tall above ground, and extends 1 foot below ground to keep out burrowing animals like rabbits, woodchucks, etc.
Deer can easily jump a 5-6ft fence, get a 9ft fence. Even with a 6ft fence my friend would find deer trapped in his little fenced in orchard as the deer did not have enough room to get a running start to jump back out.