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!