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!
Looks like the fall type weather is going to continue and thats a great thing if you like to pick apples! We will be picking the last of the State Fair and Zestar this weekend. We will also have Chestnut Crab available if you like smaller apples for jelly. If you like tart apples, then you will like McIntosh. They will probably be ready next weekend. The one that everyone is asking about is the Honey Crisp. They are 2-3 weeks out yet. They need to sweeten up a bit. Just check back here and I'll let you know whats up! This will be the last weekend for both Zestar and State Fair, so if you like either one, then dont wait.
Ok, here we go! The orchard will open for the season this Saturday, August 31 from 10-3 and Sunday, September 1, from 12-3. If we sell out for the day, we may close earlier. I have said for awhile now that the season for us will be a short one, so if you want fresh apples, then dont wait too long. We will be picking State Fair and Zestar this weekend. State Fair is more of a tart apple and the Zestar is alittle more sweet. Both are great on their own and are good for eating or making just about anything you like.
With alittle over a week to go, things are starting to ripen up. I tried a State Fair this morning and its still tart, but the seeds are beginning to turn. When the seeds turn brown to dark black, thats means its time. That and the taste. The Zestar need alittle more time, so lets hope they will be ready by next weekend. Early on we are going to try and be open on Sunday and see how the supply holds out. We may have to close early depending on how busy we are. If you are thinking about it, dont wait too long.
We also finished extracting our first batch of honey today and it looks and taste great! There is nothing better than fresh local honey. Last year, we ran out about the end of September, so again, if you like fresh honey then dont wait. I will be keeping the website up to date on a weekly basis or more often if need be, so if you are thinking about coming to the orchard this fall, just check in here. See you soon!