We are all set! The orchard will open tomorrow at 10am. We will have Zestar, State Fair, Hazen and 2 different crab apples. Both Chestnut Crab and Centennial Crab. We will also have cider and honey. This year will be different like most years. The first few weekends should be normal. The middle few weekends won't have as much available and the last few weekends will be pretty decent. As I have said before, the weather has played a huge role in all this and as usual we have to adjust. You can always look here for an update and I'll try to do that every week while we are open. Thanks for being patient and we will see you this weekend!
The orchard will open for the 2020 season on Saturday, August 29th at 10am. We will be picking State Fair and Hazen. The Zestar may also be ready by then. I think they need a little more time but we'll see. Once again, weather has played a big role in which apples we will haver this year. Because of another late frost, some varieties will not be available this year. They include McIntosh, Sweet Sixteen, Snow Sweet and a good chunk of our Honey Crisp crop. The beginning and the end of the season look to be the best this year and we will keep you posted as to which varieties we are picking each week. If you like to pick your own, we will have a couple different types in which you can pick this year. Both Zestar and Haralson have a good enough crop to allow that this year. The bees have also had a good season so if you like fresh raw honey, we have that as well. Keep checking back here and we'll keep you posted!
With about a month to go, things are starting to shape up. It seems like every year we have challenges of some sort. This year we had a late frost, a hail storm in June that did quite a bit more damage than we had thought and right now we have crows that for some reason decided that this year, they like apples! We always have bird damage but this year, it seems to be worse. On a brighter note, the bees are having a good season and one of the enclosed pictures shows a fully capped frame of honey. That is what it looks like before I extract it, which will be in a couple of weeks. What we could really use right now would be a little rain. Its been a weird season as far as the weather is concerned. Now that I think about it, the last few years have been different. You just keep adapting and adjusting.
Right now its mid-summer in the orchard and the apples are starting to take on a little color. They are about the size of a half-dollar or so. If we could get some rain, they could be bigger. The rain that we did get last week also gave us some hail! You can see in some of the pictures what kind of damage it can do. Unfortunately there is more damage than I would like to see. But don't worry, the damaged apples can either be used as seconds or made into cider. If they are really beat up, then the deer can have them. The bees are also having a good summer, at least right now they are. I had to put up a second electric fence because of the bears that I have seen on my cameras. They can smell that honey 2 miles away! They respect the fence once they know its there. If we could get some more rain then more flowers would bloom and the bees could take advantage of that so keep your fingers crossed. All in all I'd say its been a somewhat normal summer so far and with all that's going on in the world right now, I'll take this any day! I'm thankful to live in the woods and am able to take advantage of this and enjoy it!!
Just a quick update. The frost we had at the end of May did a little more damage than we had thought. Oh well, thats the way it is. 2 years in a row. The apples right now are about the size of a quarter and seem to be doing fine. Although we could use some rain and not just a drizzle but a couple of inches would be great! The first 2 pictures I've included are of Zestar and Haralson. Both varieties are doing fine at the moment. The third picture is of an osprey nest I put up a few years ago. This guy was watching me in the bee yard and didnt seem to mind me being so close to him. They started a nest a couple years ago but never finished it. now they just stop by and eat the fish they catch. I dont know where they go but they are catching some monster crappies! The bees are also doing fine and all the wild flowers are blooming about this time so life is good if your a bee. I'll keep you posted!
The fruit set is now underway! Things have started out better than last year for sure. We did have a frost in late May and that took apples off a few trees, but its nothing last what we had last year. The majority of the trees have set a pretty decent crop except for the McIntosh and the Sweet Sixteen. This is what they call farming! I cant imagine how farms with 10-20 thousand trees ever get through the springtime in one piece. Anyway, at this point, things are looking good, the apples are about the size of a nickel and the bees are bringing in lots of honey. The last picture is of one of my stronger hives. The top 5 boxes are honey, which when full, will be about 125#. Lets hope the rest catch up!
The orchard is now closed for the season. I want to thank all who came out this year and also say I'm sorry to those of you who came out only to find out that we were sold out already. Trust me when I tell you that this is not the season we had hoped for. Normally, we would make it to the 3rd week of October but this year it was not in the cards. I can already tell that the trees are looking good going onto winter. They have begun to set buds for next year and if we have a more normal winter and spring, we should have a very good crop. Time will tell. But now its time to put the trees and the bees to bed for the winter. Thanks again!
The orchard will be open Saturday the 21st at 10am. We will have Honey Crisp. At this point, we have a pretty decent supply but if we get busy like we have been in the past, we may sell out. If we get rained out or we dont sell out, then we will also be open on Sunday the 22nd. Unless its really pouring out on Saturday, we will be open. If in doubt, just give us a call.
The orchard will be open this Saturday, September 14th at 10am. We will have McIntosh and a smaller quantity of Prairie Magic. McIntosh is a very tart and crisp apple. For those who like it, you know what I mean. It makes an excellent pie among other things. Prairie Magic is alittle sweeter and not quite as hard but still a very good apple with a great taste! As I have said before this fall, the crop this year is quite small compared to other years. That being said, we have about 15 trees worth of McIntosh, so if thats what you like, then dont wait too long. We will be open Saturday until 3 or until we run out. If we dont run out, then we will be open Sunday at noon until we run out. For those of you that want to know, the Honey Crisp should be ready next weekend. I tried one and it still needs more time to sweeten up. I'll keep you posted!