Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy 2011

We will be open for the season on
Friday, September 23rd.

As always, we will be open 7 days a week
from 10 am to 6pm.

On opening day we will have available
Honey Crisp
& Cortland apples
 as well as a good variety of
home baked pies!

2011 brought some weather challenges, but for the most part the crop is quite nice. You will see more marks on some of the apples this year. Last fall I had several requests for chemical free apples, so this year we tried to get by without doing any spraying. I will admit that I am not pleased with the results. Due to the frequent rains, and high humidity there is a percentage of the apples that have scab. Although it doesn't affect the quality of the fruit itself, the peeling isn't as pretty. We did use a variety of pheramone traps, but I still am finding a small percentage of fruit that have a little extra protein in them.(translate - worms) I apologise in advance if we miss any of those in the sorting process, and will gladly replace or refund if you aren't 100% happy with the apples that you buy.


This is the second year of our Harvest Festival, & this year we are a sponsor of the Art Meander.
The event will take place both Saturday & Sunday, and we have added many activities and vendors this year. Bring the family, and enjoy a wonderful day full of fall activities.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Better Late than never??

Okay, so I am really NOT a real blogger! Last spring when I was setting this up, I had visions of it being a great tool for my business, and a way to stay in touch with my customers. As it turns out I am sure of two things ... I enjoy playing with the graphics a lot more than I like posting, and it will never be a great resource for my customers if I don't keep it up to date .... That being said, let me give you an update on what's happening at the Apple Ranch.

We quietly opened for the season on September 20. The spring was not kind to apple trees this year, offering up frosts most nights during the blossom season. As I am still a novice in the business (this is my 6th year) I'm not sure if it was the blossoms that were damaged, or if it was just that it was too cold for bee activity. In any case, pollination was light, and the resulting apple crop is disappointing. There will be plenty of the old favorites like Haralson, Fireside and Cortland to go around, but fans of the Honey Crisp and Honey Gold will be disappointed. Only a few of the Honey Crisp trees produced apples this year, and since all of my mature Honey Crisp trees are adjacent to a state highway, a good share of those apples disappeared before they were mature. ( I will risk being rude here, and mention that even though I don't have no trespassing signs posted, it is not okay to just help yourself to my fruit ... I'm really trying to make a living here)

We are open 7 days a week, from 10 am to 6pm. As always, we also have a wonderful variety of amazing canned goods from the Lismore Colony available, and will have their pumpkins and squash soon.

On the shelf today you will find Haralsons, and Cortlands. If you enjoy Cortlands as an eating apple, they are perfection - sweet and very crispy. If you prefer them for your baking needs I would suggest giving them another week or so ... a light frost will give them a bit more juice. The extra pectin in the Cortlands also makes them the perfect apple for salads and slices, since they will not brown as quickly as other varieties after peeling. The Haralsons are beautiful this year, although not as large as most seasons. If you're a fan of a good firm, tart apple, come and get them. As the season progresses, and the evenings get colder they will progressively get sweeter.

I have been picking a few Firesides for people that can't wait, but if you're not in a rush they should  be prime in about 2 more weeks.

We're trying something new this year. My friend Peg Daluge, formerly of Village Crafts came up with the idea for a fall Harvest Festival. This years event was planned on short notice, but if people seem to enjoy it I'm sure we'll expand the idea next year.

We still have room for a few more vendors, if you have any interest in getting involved. A few things that aren't mentioned in the flier that will be available are maple syrup, homemade pies, toasty warm, hand sewn mittens that are created from recycled sweaters, mulling spices, and much more. There will be pumpkins for the kids to decorate, (no carving involved - think stickers and paint markers) and desserts to sample. Think about entering the dessert contest! Nothing is more satisfying than a hot from the oven dessert made with fresh, locally grown apples, and pumpkins. (Yes, we will also accept entries made with other local produce like squash and carrots ... surprise us ... be creative!)

A bit about the make your own cider ...  I would love to be able to add cider to my wares here at the ranch, but health department regulations make that an operation that I can't afford. The legal work- around is that I am able to sell apples to my customers, and then assist them in pressing their own cider. In the past this is an activity that I have only shared with friends and family, but we're going to give it a go on a larger scale. If it works out well, and I am able to keep up with the demand, perhaps it will become a daily activity here. If you're interested, please bring some containers ... until I know if this is something people will enjoy I can't invest in cases of bottles)

We are still offering home baked pies as a fund raiser for the Big Stone County Cancer Support Group's Walk of Hope. (If you want to see another neglected blog that I created take a look at
www.bigstonecountycancersupportgroup.blogspot.com) All of the proceeds go to help residents of our county with their cancer related expenses. Be a hero to someone in need, and eat some pie!

Check back, as I will be trying to keep up with reports of what I have in stock. If you have any interest in what goes on at the ranch the rest of the year take a peek at www.onthebanksofbigstonelake.blogspot.com.
If the rain continues as predicted I will be posting an update of what the summer brought, including our first ever Apple Ranch wedding!

Thanks for stopping by, and hope to see you at the orchard soon!

Monday, April 26, 2010

More Signs of Spring

Wow ... where does the time go? I've had " make a post on blog" for over a week now, but it just keeps rolling over to the next list! Spring has arrived full force, and it has made my schedule near to impossible!

I have a new toy! After a realistic evaluation of the orchard a couple of weeks ago I realized that nearly every tree I own has grown to a height that is beyond the 16' ladder range. Murphy's law, of course dictates that all the best apples will grow on those out of reach branches, so I invested in a pole chain saw. It is a lovely, lean, mean cutting machine! It is also very, let me repeat, VERY heavy piece of equipment, that can reach about 20' into the tree. After even more evaluation, I have hired a retired tree trimmer to help me a few hours a day to top cut all the trees. It's going fairly well, the only negative being that my arms and wrists are less than happy with this plan. It's not exactly what I had in mind for my tax return money, but hopefully it will pay for itself this fall!

After a hard days work, a body is doggone tired ...

and some days the help needs a little nap on the porch!
(Maizee & Beamer)

The past 2 days have been cool and rainy, but it will only take a day or so of warm sunshine to open the apple buds. There is nothing quite as magical as walking through the trees when they are in full bloom, and inhaling their sweet scent! My bees arrived last week, and seem to be adjusting from the long ride from Texas. I'm really fortunate that they are here. Bees are in short supply, and are trucked from region to region following the blossom season of the spring crops, but spring has arrived earlier than normal here, so many of the bees are still in Maine working on the blueberry crops.

I had a house full of company this past week. Granddaughter Kari was here helping for the first part of the week, then Shae, Kurt, Jim, Jan, and Kari all came for the fishing opener. There wasn't much fishing as it rained all weekend, but the men accomplished miracles around here! The dock is in the lake, a huge fire of driftwood, stumps and apple branches burned all weekend, the porch got wired, and plans were made to hopefully complete another bathroom before my daughter's August wedding. I am so blessed to have such a giving, hard working family! Thanks everyone!

I haven't downloaded the pictures from the weekend yet, but here's Pam the week before working on the same fire!

But at the end of the day, it's always a treat to sit back & enjoy the sunset with a cup of tea.

Yup ... life is good on the banks of Big Stone Lake!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The passing seasons ...

My mother would often ponder on the fact that the older you get, the faster time passes. At the time I thought that sounded rediculous, but like always, mom was right. The seasons seem to march by as quickly as turning pages in a good novel, and I have no power to slow them down. I am just forced to follow along, and take my part in the chapters.

If there was ever a perfect spot to watch these seasons unfold, I would have to think that it's here on the banks of Big Stone Lake. Minnesota is one of those states fortunate enough to experience all four seasons in all their glory ... although I'd guess most of us would prefer a bit more Spring and Fall, and a lot less winter.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring has sprung at the ranch!

Spring has finally arrived at the Apple Ranch ... the true sign being the number of wood ticks that both Maizee the dog and I have attracted! Many of my friends have sent pictures of their beautiful spring flowers, and I am envious! All I have to show so far is mud, wet leaves, and endless piles of driftwood and debris left from the flood. I anticipate many hours of clean up in my near future!

The design course that I have started begins with a section on blog design, and I thought it would be a good motivator for starting a blog for the ranch. I realize that for the most part what goes on here isn't of much interest to the outside world. But - come apple season, when people are judging if it's time to stock up on Honey Crisps, or the Firesides are finally ready, it might be of interest.  At the very least, perhaps it will save me some of the dozens of daily calls with questions.