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    Week 26, Orchard Cider Year ’17: Solstice Update

    It’s the longest day of ’17 and over A MONTH has passed since last Orchard Cider Year post ( #orchardcideryear on Instagram/Twitter), so here’s a  highlight reel of what’s been happening on Farnum Hill and Black Hill. (More photos soon in gallery. Uploading so slow.) In May: Such a bloom. Also HAIL! Both kinds! First, […]

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    Week 21’17, Orchard Cider Year

    May 11, OUTDOORS: Touching base with those rows of Wickson and Yarlington snapped last week (OCY 20’17, seen from the other direction.) It’s been cool/cold since, all buds unfurling in slo-mo, Wickson still far ahead of Yarlington. If the temperature pops up we’ll get a bloom boom. It will be interesting to see if YM […]

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    Week 20 ’17, Orchard Cider Year

    May 3’17, OUTDOORS: Here are hurryup Wickson and go-slow Yarlington Mill under a changeable sky.  (Wickson was bred for cider in California, Yarlington in England. They originated six-plus thousand miles  and many years apart. Wonderful that they both prosper here.)   Months from now, their juices may meet up in FH fermentation batches marked “Wick-YM.” Fingers […]

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    Week 18’17, Orchard Cider Year

    April 24, OUTDOORS: Upper pic, early-bird Wickson always leads off on Farnum Hill. Below, same evening, Dabinett and Major just barely swelling, still tightly rolled.  All the apple buds here have been pushed along early by few hyper-warm days in earlier weeks. Time to start hoping no hard frosts roll in to bite them this […]

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    Week 12’17, Orchard Cider Year

    March 22, OUTDOORS: Live and learn? Live and feel less learned! This past crazy warm Wednesday, there’s Jacques leaving a scalloping trail as he prunes an Esopus Spitzenberg block. These trees lost virtually all their fruit buds in last year’s freeze. Note: one extra reason growers complain about losing an apple crop is the tendency […]

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    Week 9 ’17, Orchard Cider Year

    February 27 ’17, OUTDOORS: Clockwise, see Steve and Fitz admiring future rows of Ellis Bitter, Major, and Somerset Redstreak in the wide open spaces of Three Below the Barn (where once grew gorgeous wholesale McIntosh & Cortland, which long ago stopped earning their keep up here.) They measure. They discuss. We can’t see that bittersweet […]

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    Week 8 ’17, Orchard Cider Year

    February 22, OUTDOORS:  Last week’s fluffy snow has collapsed but still covers the ground. Fitz is back to pruning! His back went out, but now it’s in! There’s a pruning video HERE for anyone who’d like to see him in action. Throughout #orchardcideryear ’16 he shows up in dozens of posts – not to mention […]

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    Week 7 ’17, Orchard Cider Year

    February 15, INDOORS: Jeff, Wanda, Ben & Ryan, prepared to bottle Semi-Dry: machines lined up, first sparged bottles inverted into the turntable, counterpressure filler rinsed out with cider, corks & wire hoods loaded in the corker, music turned up, and – ten little seconds sacrificed for a blog photo. Because faces don’t show once the […]

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    Week 5 ’17, Orchard Cider Year

    February 2, OUTDOORS:  Fallen cuttings behind Jacques, row after row, day after day. He looks small but the wood falls! These gray photos misrepresent today’s nice pearly light. Fitz is on hiatus, will be back in three weeks. (Fitz immediately centers up his cuttings for the chopper, leaving tidy lines.  See Week 18,  #orchardcideryear  ’16. […]

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    Week 3 ’17 Orchard Cider Year

    Martin Luther King Day ’17, OUTDOORS:  No Week 1 or 2 OCY posts in 2017 because we took a staycation and a vacation.  But Jacques went out pruning that whole time, weather permitting.  Last year, he, Harry & Otis started with pole saws in big trees (small photo.) This January Jacques alone started in  dwarf […]

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    Week 52, Orchard Cider Year

    December 29, INDOORS: It’s all bright steel & loud bubbles in here, yeast busily fermenting cider without attention from people. For all our year-rounders, this is the idlest week of an #orchardcideryear. Only Brenda, who snapped the scene, came in today.  And yes, we skipped any Week 51 post, just because. But Brenda put a […]

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    Week 48, Orchard Cider Year

    December 7, OUTDOORS: So it’s our Jacques and our Steve with  Shacksbury’s Colin and Shacksbury’s David, standing still for the pic but thinking about the stuck forklift over to their right.  That little orange machine was supposed to load David & Colin’s trailer with bins of spectacular cider apples heading from here into their cider.  […]

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    Week 46, Orchard Cider Year

    November 16, INDOORS: More pressing pressing pressing pressing. These days Jacques is making small high-acid fermentation batches of one or two varieties each. (Here, 100% Esopus Spitzenberg.)  After dark the press-room fills with fog during hot-water cleanup.     November 16, OUTDOORS: This year our Dabinett abounded, unlike most other varieties here. So say hi […]

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    Week 45, Orchard Cider Year

    November 7, INDOORS:  Scenes from the 2016 harvest party.  Missing: Otis, Lucille, Megan, Anna, Ashley.  These parties come in two shades: quiet/low-key and loud/dancey. Even at this low-key gala, your reporter finds good pictures of celebrities very hard to get. Names in parentheses are also celebrities but not harvest crew.     November 8 & […]

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    Week 44, Orchard Cider Year

    November 3, OUTDOORS: Last day of apple harvest! Finding the crew by following wagon tracks across ground-frost, hearing fast&gentle thumping of apples scooped into buckets, spotting guys powering through the last odds & ends, snapping pics & getting out of the way!  There are field chores left to do but maybe a week left before […]

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    Week 43, Orchard Cider Year

    October 24, OUTDOORS: Here’s William demo-ing a shaker-pole.  But the bucket for picking up what comes down is  back in the barn. Today is all shaking, fast as the crew can move.  A possible hard freeze is predicted for tonight – low 20’sF.  The slow-cooling ground will save apples from the icy ruin that threatens […]

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    Week 42, Orchard Cider Year

    October 18, INDOORS: Tasting in the cider-room with Bertrand, a perfume specialist trained (for one example) to detect by the scent of a rose the region where it grew.  Thank goodness we only learned this after our tasting – no time to be humbled!  Because this sensory chore had to get done pronto. Next Tuesday […]

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    Week 41, Orchard Cider Year

    October 12, OUTDOORS: Now the morning fog lasts till after 8.  In Wednesday’s fog the crew starts a second day in those loaded Dabinett rows, where the trees have dropped a third to a half of their burden. Under the trees behind the tractor – it’s Disney tidy!  So scenic. Then we see the guys […]

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    Week 40, Orchard Cider Year

    October 5, OUTDOORS: Yarlington Mill do their best bittersweet work if they drop before they’re pressed.  On Black Hill, some have dropped but most have not.  Often it’s possible to save time and effort by shaking trees just hard enough to bring down a lot more press-ready apples, leaving the unready ones to ripen further.  […]

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    Week 39, Orchard Cider Year

    September 28, OUTDOORS: 8AM,  clockwise from BL, a trailer of Harry Masters’ Jersey waiting to go into storage, Luke unloading bins fast because the trailer needs an outgoing load of empties pronto. Right now these little HMJ apples taste like watery fruit salad & sugar with strong notes of aspirin & licking-a-lamppost. But their juice […]

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    Week 38, Orchard Cider Year

    September 22, INDOORS: It’s hard to photograph Wanda because she moves so fast but Brenda caught her at each end of a siphon hose, racking barrel batches into a cube tank.  She seems to have noticed the camera.  BTW that word “ACID” looks kind of sinister but really it means “wicked acidic juice for balancing […]

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    Week 37, Orchard Cider Year

    September 15 OUTDOORS: Still the harvest is starting so slowly  that Vivien, Willie, Brown and James (LR corner), in our Back Tourville block, wait for empty bins while Fitz, who’s bringing them, talks to Steve about what other apples should come in today. Once harvest speeds up, nobody waits for bins if we can help […]

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    Week 36, Orchard Cider Year

    September 8, OUTDOORS: Well this year the harvest hasn’t cranked up yet because apples are ripening a bit late — but the crew is here to work!  John & Brown are cutting root suckers, which spring up around the bases of some trees when their rootstocks put out wood and foliage. Why? Because the above-ground […]

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    Week 35, Orchard Cider Year

    August 29 INDOORS: Our safety meeting isn’t putting smiles on faces, not even with pizza. Steve talks about preventive procedures and protective gear, stressing that no matter how pressured, or hot, cold, hungry/thirsty or tired people get during harvest — all safety procedures must be followed, all relevant safety gear worn.  Everyone strains to concentrate.  […]

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    Week 34, Orchard Cider Year

    OUTDOORS, August 24:  Back in Week 19 we planted those little leftward trees in the top pic – in May 2015, the rightward rows.  See the trellising in the ’15 planting? Lower pics show Fitz & Brown today in the new rows, using another old & effective device (also borrowed). This post-pounder (a mini-piledriver) first hammers […]