Orchard Cider Year

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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 50, Orchard Cider Year

    December 18, INDOORS:  After a long season of hard work everyone slows down as the holidays come on.  But pruning will start in January and Jacques is taking the tools apart to sharpen all the blades. Both trees and humans do better with smooth, clean cuts.         December 21, OUTDOORS: Late afternoon […]

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    Week 49, Orchard Cider Year

    December 12, OUTDOORS: Dabinett trees snug in a winter slumberland, not one gleam or sparkle in the new snow this grey AM.  It’s hard to tell when trees have reached full dormancy but they’re close.  Newton takes another approach: roll in, wriggle in, plow face into powder.  Happy group shot.       December 13, INDOORS: […]

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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 47, Orchard Cider Year

    November 29, OUTDOORS: November is the cloudiest, darkest month around here. But pearl-diamond hybrids hang all over the orchards. Trees move quietly into full dormancy in the next several weeks. We’re starting to beg out loud for a solidly cold snowy winter that lasts till March. And a slow spring.     November 29, INDOORS: […]

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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 […]

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    Week 33, Orchard Cider Year

    OUTDOORS, August 15: Pest monitoring chore: Luke treks  to 34 sticky traps, scrapes off the old bugs and puts on new TangleTrap. Mustn’t confuse old bugs with new on the next monitoring round. Also: 5-6 feet of sorghum sudan grass, seeded late June!  Note also hard evidence that thunderstorms, bringers of welcome rain, also enjoy […]

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    Week 32, Orchard Cider Year

    INDOORS, August 10: Bottling bottling bottling bottling. Semi-Dry last week, Extra Dry this week, Farmhouse ASAP! Recall that these new ciders come from 2015 fruit… We need stacks of finished cases to fill orders during the fall ahead, while we’re picking and pressing this year’s harvest.  Brown sparges empty bottles, John fills, Wanda corks and […]

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    Week 31, Orchard Cider Year

    INDOORS, August 3: We bottle Farnum Hill SemiDry, with interim steps from top left, going clockwise: Wire Hoods awaiting their turn in the machine with our labeling system on cards below. (BB5 is the vessel the batch came out of; 1604B the batch number; SemiDry the finished cider.) Finished bottles are staged on a wooden […]

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    Week 30, Orchard Cider Year

    OUTDOORS: Updates! Top right, John & Brown are replacing those battered white temporary mouse-guards, (rapidly wrapped round the newly planted trees back in May, top left) with dug-in black mesh for the long run.  As usual, John & Brown got here from Jamaica in time to kick up the pace of work as everything grows.  […]

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    Week 29, Orchard Cider Year

    July 18, OUTDOORS: Helping out with research mentioned last week: here’s Luke gathering berry samples needed to determine the effect on Spotted-Wing Drosophila of these round red “attracticidal” traps (made originally to stop apple maggot flies.  “Attracticidal” is a word that deserves to get out more, no?)  Year 1 of this experiment, 2015, gave encouraging […]

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    WEEK 28, Orchard Cider Year

    July 13, INDOORS: Well, nearly indoors. This is a typical “twilight meeting,” organized for fruit-grower education. Here you see a dynamic entomologist, Kevin Rice, explaining how his team are working to find out whether the red anti-apple-maggot spheres you saw last week (remember?) can also be used to stop Spotted-Wing Drosophila. SWD is a tiny […]

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    Week 27, Orchard Cider Year

    July 8, OUTDOORS:  Luke, seen putting fatal bait onto traps for apple maggot flies. We’d have nothing against those flies if they didn’t plan on punching their tiny eggs into our tiny green apples. Each egg hatches the traditional “worm in the apple” aka maggot aka larva that precedes a new fly. Apple maggot flies […]