Orchard Update, October 28-29

It's our last day of picking before the temperature drops down to 25 tonight and turns the apples left on the trees into applesauce. True, it is late to be picking, but a bumper crop means that we'll take every moment that Mother Nature lets us have. 

In addition to the apple line-up this weekend, we've got Pumpkin Whippersnapper. For the uninitiated, that's pumpkin -- no spice.

From left to right: Haralson, Northwest Greening, Bonnie Best, Prairie Spy, Ruby Jon, Macoun, Fireside, Honeygold, Honeycrisp, Keepsake

From left to right: Haralson, Northwest Greening, Bonnie Best, Prairie Spy, Ruby Jon, Macoun, Fireside, Honeygold, Honeycrisp, Keepsake

Picking in 32 Degrees and Snow: An Annotated Photograph

We had a bumper crop of apples this year and, thankfully, we had an extended season to harvest them. But Mother Nature put us on notice that today was going to be the end of our apple-picking season.

We keep pretty busy around here, so our time to pick was limited. Mike's mom has been doing a ton of picking for us, but cleaning out the trees was too much for her to do all at once. As it turned out, our big day to pick was freezing cold with snow and wind. These aren't our usual picking conditions and we learned a few obscure tips along the way.

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We went out to pick with regular gloves and within minutes, our fingers were numb. The solution was a layer for warmth underneath a waterproof layer. Dishwashing gloves did the trick.

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The biggest trick was to stay warm, which was tough to do with so much wet snow. We used a total of four picking bags because as we picked snow-covered apples, our picking bags got wet and then made our legs wet. We'd come in with a load of apples, throw our picking bags into the dryer, and take two dry bags out with us again. It worked so well, we started throwing everything in the dryer every time we came back with a new load.

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Once our pants got wet, water accumulated in our boots. Is there anything  more miserable than wet feet?!? Rubber boots weren't quite dry enough, so I pulled out the old, cracked Sorels. Duct tape sealed the cracks, at least for an hour at a time.

Warm underneath, waterproof on top, plus a balaclava for the cold wind at our necks -- plus lots of coffee -- helped us finish the day.  

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Orchard Update, October 14-15

In another dozen-variety week, we've got a few varieties worth highlighting:

  • The Macoun harvest was great this year. This variety is usually available for only a few hours, but I think it might last us the entire weekend this year.
  • The same can be said for SnowSweet. Great harvest this year and so far this morning in the barn, folks seem to really like it.
  • Finally, Prairie Spy. This apple variety isn't for everyone, but it seems as if the folks who prefer this apple like *only* this apple, and no substitute will do. 

Additional varieties include Haralson, Regent, Liberty, Ruby Jon, Honeygold, Fireside/Connell Red, and Honeycrisp. 

This weekend's apples: Prairie Spy, Haralson, Regent, Liberty, Macoun, Cortland, Ruby Jon, SnowSweet, Honeygold, Connell Red/Fireside, Honeycrisp.

This weekend's apples: Prairie Spy, Haralson, Regent, Liberty, Macoun, Cortland, Ruby Jon, SnowSweet, Honeygold, Connell Red/Fireside, Honeycrisp.

Orchard Update, October 7-8

This weekend we have 12 varieties available for tasting. Ruby Jon, Bonnie Best, and Fireside are available for the first of the season. It will definitely be the last week for Sweet Sixteen and Wolf River. 

Left to right: Liberty, Regent, Haralson, Wolf River, Cortland, Bonnie Best, Shamrock, Ruby Jon, Fireside, Honeygold, Sweet Sixteen, Honeycrisp.

Left to right: Liberty, Regent, Haralson, Wolf River, Cortland, Bonnie Best, Shamrock, Ruby Jon, Fireside, Honeygold, Sweet Sixteen, Honeycrisp.