October 27, 2012
I needed to do a little blog “catch-up.” As was pointed out to me, “You never got home.” I mean to write, but somehow, I’m like the baby that only falls asleep when taken for a car ride. I feel as though I need to be sitting in the Hag, pecking out pearls at 60mph. But, alas, I am home, at the farm, on solid terra firma, with many other things to occupy my not so idle hands. Things such as…….apples.
Ah yes, life was a little hectic these past two weeks. We are a group that stays busy.
ALL. THE. TIME. Busy, busy, busy…….
I swabbed out the Hag, dragging laundry back and forth. I removed all the things that came from the house and traveled with us. And then, I made daily trips back up to get the things I forgot. It is an endless process and a 3-week time lapse on what came from where and what stays put, doesn’t help. I like to think that I had a pretty good handle on the organization of “things,” but maybe not. I think the answer is: duplicates…..of everything, or, just never come home! Unfortunately, neither option is going to happen, so I will resign myself to a lot of walking – and carrying.
Upon arriving back at the farm, Dad immediatelybegan assembling the apple press. Craig had a painting job to finish. It rained. It stopped raining. And then, we began to pick apples, and more apples.
We picked about 1000 (yes, one thousand) pounds of apples – Jonathan, Gala, Yellow Delicious, and Braeburn. (fyi – before we left on the amazing trip, we picked about 1000 pounds of Gravenstein apples) I made more applesauce, and apple jelly, and apple stock, and I froze apple slices for God-knows-what.
With the press lovingly assembled, the next step was to bring it down to the patio and start the process of making cider. I called Judy, our wonderful neighbor and veteran cider & wine maker, and invited her over to “help.” Her expertise at all things has always been invaluable to me. As an added bonus, I knew that her former life’s work would serve us well in the areas of crowd control, negotiation, and dispute resolution. So, last Monday, Judy came over, we all ate lunch together, figured out what we were doing, who would do what, and began the task.
After wrangling with a few apple press belt-related issues, we were off. Judy and I decided on the mix of apples to use, washed them in a BIG bucket, and put them in colanders to drain. Dad fed the apples into the hopper of the grinder, and Craig ran the press – a job requiring Herculean strength. (which he just so happens to have) We sipped the first pressing, and it was wonderful – like drinking an apple.
After filling 6 gallon jugs we realized that we had barely made a dent in the apple crop. I failed to mention that it was raining off and on, and the outside temperature was hovering around 44 degrees. We were too cold to continue, so at 4:00, we stopped for the day. Maybe it was too much. Dad was freezing. We went inside to a roaring fire, ate dinner and collapsed.
Tuesday around 10:30, as the rain fell and the temperature again hovered around 44 degrees, we resumed the process. After a couple of hours, we admired our work, and stopped for lunch. The plan was to put in another 3-4 hours after lunch. At this point, Dad didn’t look very good; he was cold and tired. We encouraged him to let us finish up. He (fortunately) opted to stay inside and supervise from his recliner, in front of the fireplace. I covered him with a blanket, and worried. We went back to apple pressing and, again, we were COLD, so we called it quits around 4:00, having filled 10 + gallon jugs. And still……..there were boxes of apples left, just waiting to be dealt with. The plan was to soldier on the next day and work until there were no more apples.
One of the highlights of this entire process is dealing with the apple pressings. Judy has lamas and they love the apple peelings, cores, etc. Craig and I fill the wheelbarrow with the remains, wheel it down the road, and dump it in their pasture. They know us, and come running when they see us walking down the road. Her lamas are gentle and somewhat shy, but have warmed up to our presence. I can hand feed apples to a couple of them. It really completes the cycle of living on a “farm.” Nothing goes to waste, and everything is a part of the process.
The next day dawned with Dad sick. I took him to the doctor, and continued to worry. (I do “worry” pretty well) In addition, my sinus’s began to ache, my nose ran, and I, too, felt miserable. And so, the apple pressing went on hold as Dad and I sneezed, cursed our running noses, held our throbbing heads, and coughed the days away. We were commiserating that these ailments tend to hang on. I mentioned that it usually took me a couple of weeks to feel better, and he said it was a month for him. Damn.
As it stands, we plan to resume our apple pressing on Wednesday. We helped Judy pick her Asian Pears, so we now have even more fruit to press. The pears add a lovely light flavor to the juice, and we all agreed that it was something that we needed to do, regardless of the added work. I am sure we will all have a renewed spirit come Wednesday, for phase 2 of the cider making. I think that even though rain is predicted, the temperature should be at least 10 degrees warmer than last week. Fifty degree weather sounds better than 40 degree weather!