Monday, October 8, 2012

Crazy apple farmers.

When you think about it, us farmers really are a crazy crew. With Mother Nature as our boss and our pay-clerk, the seasons as our guide and our timetable, and a gazillion variables that have to work in our favour in order to get a successful harvest, this really is a crazy adventure.

At the moment we are thinking a lot about apples.

Our 1,000 trees made up of 50 heritage varieties are finally awake after the long winter and this year, so far, they are filled with fruit buds.

So far, this early in the season, everything is pointing to a wonderful apple crop. But in order for this dream to become a reality EVERYTHING has to go right for the next six months. SIX MONTHS!!!


Right now, in the second week in October, we are watching the weather very, very carefully, crossing our fingers that the trees will blossom after this Sunday when the rains finish. And that blossom time will hopefully be sunny, 14+, with no wind or rain in order for the bees to get out of their hives and pollinate healthy flowers.

After pollination we will be hoping for a great fruit set. For no damaging frosts. For no disease. For no black spot or powdery mildew. For no fruit damaging hail. And no humidity.

And then, if everything goes our way and we have an orchard-full of delicious apples, we have to hope with everything we have that the birds leave us alone.

Crazy huh!!

We are as nervous as anything. But dreams of gorgeous market tables groaning under the weight of baskets of so many apple varieties makes it worth it and keep us going. 

Dorset Glodens, Isaac Newtons, Esopus Spitzenburgs, Vista Bellas, Annas, Wandin Glorys, Jersey Macs, Golden Harveys, Primas, Galas, Coxs Orange Pippins, Sturmer Pippins, Peasgood Nonsuchs, Mutzus, Bonzas, Golden Delicious, Gravensteins, Ribston Pippins, Kid's Orange Reds, Somerset Redstreaks, King Davids, Akanes, McnTosh, Catsheads, Stewart's Seedlings, Idareds, Stoke Reds, Frequin Rouges, Kingston Blacks, Brown Snouts, Bulmar's Norman, Stoke Red, Eggleton Styre, Improved Foxhelp, Reine Des Natives, Dabinett.....and that's just one of our four orchards...

So for the next few months think of us walking hopefully through our orchards, waking up at crazy-town hours to spray fish and seaweed, watching the air for bees and hunting for four leaf clovers for good apple luck.

And then, if Mother Nature is kind and everything goes to plan, we'll see you at a farmers' market with baskets filled with apples of every variety in six months time. Finally we'll have the confidence to call ourselves apple farmers again. We will eat oh so many apples, and apple pies and apple cakes. And we'll make apple cider. Yes we will. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Fingers tightly crossed eh.

Do you have a favourite apple?
Has the season been kind to you?
Are you a weather watcher?
Do you remember the name of the movie where the people made a fire to protect the orchard from frost and waved it around with some kind of wings??

Happy, calm, wonderful week to you.
x

58 comments:

  1. Umm...I think it's "A Walk to Remember" (with Keanu Reeves) and they were protecting their grapes from the frost.
    I only just came across your blog via the giveaway and am enjoying reading about you and your little family!

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  2. I cant wait to see you dudes at farmers markets again.I remember one day I was at the lakeside farmers markets and I bought some of your gorgeous carrots....and it was only later that day that I realised I had inadverdently met one of my favourite bloggers....and had not even realised it! Next time I will say Hi. :)

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  3. Farming is so unpredictable, fingers crossed for you. I haven't grown my own apples yet, but will when I move to my own property not too far from Batlow - NSW apple growing country. I kind of want to try some cider apples as well as eating ones and want to grow crab apples for jelly and cause I like eating them (odd I know but I like tart fruit). Do you have any ciders? And a recommended crab?

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    1. Yep, we have a whole row dedicated to cider apples.
      I'll get the apple map out later and write them down for you.
      I love tart fruit too and I LOVE your plan.

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    2. Oh thanks Kate, I'd really appreciate that. I cant wait to move to the property.

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    3. Ok here we go...
      Somersett Redstreak, Frequin Rouge, Kingston Black, Brown Snout, Bulmer's Norman, Stoke Red, Eggleton Styre, Improved Foxhelp, Reine Des Hatives, Dabinett.
      And we don't have any crabs so I can't help you there.

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    4. That is a great list of wild names. Thanks so much! Cider apples here we come.

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  4. Fingers crossed for Mother Nature. I grow a very small amount of veg ( in the uk) and this year has been awful. I have my fingers crossed now for next year. Come on Mother Nature, please!! At least it's a family activity, nice to see you all out together. Sarah

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  5. Oh Kate..I've never even heard of most of those varieties! My favourites are a fresh semi green golden delicious or a crunchy pink lady. I think if it were me I'd start praying now...six months IS a long time for things to go right to get a good crop!

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  6. Your photos are very inspiring! I have just planted my first round of apple trees in Heathcote - Forfar Pippin, Belle De Boskoop, Ida Red, Mutsu, Stokes Red, Brown Snout, Beauty Of Bath, Vista Bela (which theoretically should see us in apples for quite a while). If nature is kind, and we get some decent apples, then I'll expand the range and volume!

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  7. I'll have everything crossed for you too, Kate! x

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  8. I'm hoping like crazy it goes smoothly for you. Apple farmer sounds like an idyllic how description.

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  9. I am a crazy weather watcher, always hoping for raqin when I know it's not coming. Perth does that to you. The summer's are looooooong, hot & dry & I dream of rain.....

    Good luck with your weather & here's hoping to a bumper apple season for you & your clan xx

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  10. I am in love with those names, aren't they fantastic!
    Heritage roses have wonderful names too, I love reading through the catalogues, a favourite is 'Tipsy Imperial Concubine'.
    Crossing my fingers that all those apples prosper. Would love to see photos of all the different varieties when you harvest.

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  11. Yes we are weather watches. At the moment we are watching for rain to soak all of our newly planted crops. Fingers crossed it comes soon. I understand your nervousness. It's also where we live! Good luck with your orchard. I pray it all goes well.

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  12. I am in love with those names, aren't they fantastic!
    Heritage roses have wonderful names too, I love reading through the catalogues, a favourite is 'Tipsy Imperial Concubine'.
    Crossing my fingers that all those apples prosper. Would love to see photos of all the different varieties when you harvest.

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  14. Yes we are weather watches. At the moment we are watching for rain to soak all of our newly planted crops. Fingers crossed it comes soon. I understand your nervousness. It's also where we live! Good luck with your orchard. I pray it all goes well.

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  15. MOVIE = A WALK IN THE CLOUDS! It was Keanu. xx

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  16. I like granny smith because it is sweet, sour and crispy. I am into sour fruit. By the way, I love your blog.

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  17. Wow so many varieties I've never heard of. My favorite is Pink Lady but there are many I haven't tried obviously.
    I am a weather watcher, a habit of growing up on the land where EVERYTHING depended on the weather!

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  18. What a lovely orchard hope all those variables work together in perfectbharmony natures pretty incredible hey. Love your new header too btw

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  19. I cross my fingers, too!!! Hope it will help!!!
    xxxx Alessandra

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  20. Wow Kate, all those amazing varieties! Yes, farmer and weather watcher too! I am hoping to get apples from our young apples trees this year for the first time so I will be paying close attention to any further apple information that you share :)

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  21. No humidity. Want. Isaac Newtons. Want. You at my farmers market. Want.

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  22. Lock me in for a flagon of cider - after the bubba has appeared of course ...and I've finished breastfeeding. Okay, so I can't drink it until late 2014 but damn it'll be good :-)
    Wishing you appley goodness.
    Ab x

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  23. Good luck Kate! We are the same owning an indigenous plant nursery and we watch the weather. We have a fuji and a pink lady but they don't seem to blossum at the same time, sadly

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  24. I nearly fainted when you said 100 apple trees when i have such rollercoaster feelings about my one, ancient apple tree a 'cooker' with big burgandy fruit (we've had very little fruit for 3 years). But it has masses of blossom now, the bees are busy and i'm holding my breath to stave off frost...
    Is the bulmers a cider apple? I remember drinking a cider called bulmers in england, very tart and refreshing x

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    1. We have 1000 apple trees and we have one up near the house that sounds a lot like yours but yellow fruit.
      And yep, the bulmers is a cider apple.
      Tart and refreshing sounds perfect.

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  25. Man you guys work hard, Kate. And my fave apple is the humble granny smith. And, yes, I am absolutely a season watcher and my fave season is every season. I love em all! x

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  26. Swoon! Heaven! All those apples. I might have to come over and help pick them come harvest time!

    Coxs Golden Pippin is my very favourite apples.

    xx

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  27. Green - as long as my apple is green I am happy.

    My kids will always prefer a Jonny, so I always buy both.

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  28. I love the names of the varieties. How do you tell them all apart once they're off the trees?

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  29. kate i just want to move into your place! first chickens, the esse cooker, veggies and a dam full of baby trout and now the apples! i am so damn envious. i NEED to be a farmer!
    seriously though fingers and toes are crossed its a good apple year.

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  30. I think the craziness is part of what makes what you do so special. so wonderful and magical and well amazing.
    And i'll have my fingers crossed for you too xo
    PS my favourite kind of apple is Jazz apples

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  31. I love that your posts make people think about where their food comes from and the variables that the wonderful folk in agriculture go though to actually have a harvest and an income.
    I watch the weather because I grew up on a farm and every morning my Dad would look out the window to see what the day would bring. He still does that every morning even now as an 84 year old retired farmer.
    My favourite apple is the Pink Lady. Sweet, crisp and simply delicious.

    Anne xx

    P.S. Good luck with the weather!! :)

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    1. Hello **Anne**, I love your comment, it strikes a chord with me about how wonderful Kate's posts are, the way they make you think about where our food comes from. I especially was moved about your Dad comment, I am obsessed with the weather too thanks to my Dad. He's a 'bloke from the bush', that's how he describes himself, and he's a builder. He's in the weather all day everyday. Still. In his 70s. We alway chat about how many points of rain we got and what's going on in the farms about town.
      PS I love a Pink Lady, too!

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  32. I hope Mother Nature is kind. It must be such a rewarding feeling when she is.

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  33. It is our apple season here..fall is upon us..its very cold and crisp out today...I am waiting for my car to be serviced, but on the way home, I just might have to stop at one of the local farmers and pick up some apples......and we had our wedding pictures taken in an apple orchard

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  34. . My favourite apple is a Cox's orange pippin. A little bit sharp and not too big. I do watch the weather because I have a veggie patch here in the UK and unfortunately, the rain has made everything a wash out. Although, I still have parsnips in the ground and I am hoping the foliage on the top is an indication of what's underneath! I hope that the weather is good to you and your apples grow successfully, Kate. I will enjoy reading your blog to find out how you get on.

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  35. Yes, A Walk In The Clouds...
    I love red delicious and in Victoria we came across a yummy 'snow' apple? The delicious you buy in the shops are not very nice any more so now I buy red gala from our farmers market when they're in season. Bonzas are not bad either. May the apple growing fairies look down on your orchards and ensure all goes to making a successful apple producing season.

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  36. 1000 trees...sigh! That amount of blossom would make me giddy!

    I love Akane apples. They're an early variety. Sadly, I didn't plant one in my mini, mini orchard of 10 trees, decided it was my favourite after said orchard was planted! Weather watcher, hand wringer and general garden obsessive. Our two year son, makes a piercing shriek if we discuss the garden for too long!

    Wishing you the very best for the upcoming seasons!

    Ms Nada

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  37. Oh yes a long wait but such a worthwhile one. Mm apples...
    And being a farmer and having nature sign your paycheck is very vulnerable in a lot of ways yet I think the connection to earth, ourselves, creatures, each other, etc has a richness irreplaceable in this simple life. It is purposeful work with tangible rewards!
    Congrats on living your vision and thanks for sharing.
    Roselinde
    Oh yeah coxs pippin has been my utmost apple so far

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  38. Hi; I just found your blog and saw the picture with the lovely girl with her red hat...
    I read about appleblossems and looked again for the date...it sounds like spring, while I just had my ( little) appleharvest this week??!!!
    Then I saw you live just at the opposite of the world from me ( the netherlands!)
    Ha,Ha; We are full in spring here!
    I realy hope you will have good appleseason!
    greetings from Fleur

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  39. yum!!!!! when you make apple cider can you show us how to do this on a blog post

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  40. I love Miranda apples. My lovely friend's family have an orchard and sell there products at a local market> I get paid in apples when I go to help.
    My partner and I inherited a heap of fruit trees when we bought our house - cherries, pears, apples (golden delicious and granny smith), white peaches, yellow peaches, green gages, yellow drop plums and oranges, not to mention the huge and plump old fashioned raspberries and grapes. I usually find golden delicious apples too sweet but straight from the tree they are crisp and just sweet. Most of our trees are blossoming and at the moment the pear trees are laden with blossoms. I love it when the pear begin to take shape - such teeny perfect pears.
    Good luck with your apple season.

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  41. Who'd be a farmer eh? I am so glad that they have made this year "Year of the Farmer" - hoping that it might make people wake up to where their food comes from and how much blood,sweat and tears it takes to be a Farmer. Stand tall and proud with your beautiful farm girls!

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  43. Our heritage apples are in blossom as well. Fingers crossed for both of our orchards!

    Just a comment for your last post. Suzy Hausfrau is not the only Australian stockist of the Swans Island wool, you can get it from ZigoZago (http://www.zigozago.com.au/). You might like Alex's blog and shop and she lives in Central Victoria too!

    Love reading your blog and getting inspired. Thanks.

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    1. Oh thanks for that.
      I do love gorgeous Alex's blog and shop and I met her recently at the wool show too.
      I'll change that.

      And I hope you have a wonderful apple season too.

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  44. I love homegrown apples. My parents have a gravenstin in their backyard and the harvest so far has been fantastic! I'm in British Columbia Canada, so it's harvest season for us. I already have homemade apple sauce in the pantry, and honestly I am coveting some of the trees that grow off to the side of the roads. Lovely red apples, not doing anything! Good growing!

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  45. We're weather watchers in our house.
    I love the sound of all those different apples but sadly my boys wont eat anything other than pink lady. I'll have to try and convince them to eat something new/different.

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  46. wow.. if your harvest goes well I'd love to get to wherever you are selling them and try a cox's pippin or something that i would just never have had growing up or at the supermarket. an apple tasting! right on! Liz

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  47. I really really hope you have all the luck you need because I really really want to taste every one of those 53 varieties! Can I preorder a sampler box?! I'll have an apple tasting party! What an amazing thing that would be, eh? I will drive down to your farm and come and pick them myself ;-) what a wonderful place you have.

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  48. I too often have watched as my InLaws have lost everything to the weather gods, flood and fire. I heard him say that he is a gambler (not in the casino variety) but ever day is a gamble when you are a farmer.
    I wish you all the best for the season and hope that you get your dreams and many more.
    I am going to have to come for a drive and try some of these apples. I like a good pink lady (I know boring aren't I when you have so many to chose from)

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  49. What a wonderful hopeful post! I have a favourite apple. I tasted it at Petty's orchard apple festival: Kid's Orange! Never tasted a better apple!
    May all the Apple Luck be yours!

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  50. These photos are just incredibly beautiful. You should frame them!

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Thanks so much for stopping by...

I do read every single comment you leave and appreciate it very much, but I should let you know that I can be a wee bit on the useless side when replying to comments, that's just me, everyday life sometimes gets in the way....so I'll apologise now, just in case.

Kate XX

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