Thursday, 15 September 2011

Let's go Apple Picking!

Although we do have a bunch of apple trees in the bee yard which is a 5 minute walk from the house, the majority of the apple trees are in the very back of our land where there is an old farmhouse. We can only get to that part of our land by hiking through a thick forest through which Hubbie is making a trail. This is a huge endeavour and nature will not be contained so this year we were pretty surprised at how overgrown the trail was from when it had been cut last fall. Hubbie has since tackled the trail again and it is (I am told) even better than ever with many stumps removed that rotted over the past few seasons. 

Here we are just departing from the back Honeybee yard into the open field which we hope to plough and cultivate. The apple-picking tool Hubbie is carrying is a PVC pipe onto which we duct-taped a potato masher. It makes the perfect tool for yanking apples off the branches. Our apple trees are wild and huge so picking apples means a lot of looking up and yanking (and chuckling when an apple hits me in the noggin).

The Goldenrod is blooming as are the wild Asters- these flowers mean more to me this year than they have in any other year because I know they are the last hope for my Bee-girls to collect much needed nectar and pollen before the long winter.

As much as possible, I bring out little Peanut with us on these walks. She is a Terrier and she thrives in these conditions - she is also very obedient (unlike a little Puglet I know) and follows us everywhere - though we do always keep a close eye on her. The Greyhounds cannot possibly make this walk as they must be kept on a leash and little Angie cannot be trusted to keep-up, she is too curious and wanders. Her vision is not good due to eye problems which plague big-eyed dogs - and so we are afraid of losing her in the brush.

This time however, the path was so very overgrown and the weeds in the fields so very tall, that we had to carry little Peanut most of the way - she doesn't mind one bit and I love carrying her but this was a long, hot and precarious trek through vines and stumps - but we shared the 'load' (a little furry bundle of love) and really, we didn't mind one bit.

At this point, Hubbie and I are in complete disbelief - last fall this trail was completely cleared as Hubbie had cut a trail through to the other end of our land. This year, nature has taken-back control. All the photos you see where Hubbie is not holding Peanut? Yep, I'm holding a Rat Terrier while taking photos.

Since this walk, Hubbie has rolled-up his sleeves and headed out with his tractor and I am told that the stumps are coming-up easily and that he his almost all the way to the other end. Peanut and I will be very pleased as we are due for another Apple-Picking trip!

See that opening? We're at the end of the forest and have arrived at the back acreage where there is the old farmhouse and all the apple trees.

Peanut 'trying' to forge ahead but really, the brush got as tall as me and later that night I found loads of burs in my ponytail!

The photo below is from last Fall. Before we moved-into the house we allowed a local farmer to graze his cattle on our land - hence the electric fence. The cows kept the wild growth under control so in this photo you see more due to the lower level of weeds. This spot is our special spot on our land and I would love to have a secret cabin here. Hubbie is standing on the top of the slope which looks down onto the open pasture - it's perfect. The cows no longer graze on our land because the farmer was irresponsible and allowed them too close to our house where they munched on our new sod-grass (most annoying!). Anyway, it's time for us to reclaim this land, it's ours and we love it.

Our favourite spot on our land - this is where we plan to place a bench and inhale the beauty.

You can see the electric fence behind hubbie (not powered anymore, of course) and the tire tracks from when the farmer used our land. The trail leads to the old farmhouse and all the apple trees. 

This trail leads to apple trees and the old farmhouse

Believe it or not, there's apples in here amongst the pine trees...

See?! Amidst the red pines we found these apples.  The trees are in many unexpected places so we have to hike through the trees and brush to find the best apple trees.

 Here it is...the old farmhouse...

I have salvaged some beautiful wood planks from the interior of this house - I've made stools, benches, Christmas Trees, and picture frames from this wood. I made special (deep) backpacks so we could trek through the woods with all these boards strapped to our backs...Hubbie is so good to humour me.

Here is one of the apple trees...there are so many, we keep finding more as we wander the land.

This year we could not miss the was everywhere and it was loud...honeybees all over the place!  In fact, we had to walk around clusters of Asters so as not to disturb them. It was magnificent to hear so many happy, healthy Honeybees. Of those I photographed, none were my little Russian Girls but surely they are back here too - they wander up to 5 miles from their hives.

See the proboscis (tongue) poking into the flower?

This little girl has pollen gathered in her pollen baskets on her hind  legs

Last Fall Hubbie cut this trail through the thick woods. This year he tells me all these stumps are coming-up easily. As you can imagine, this makes for an interesting trek and we are nicely exhausted at the end. We love these walks.

Home Sweet Home

This walk was a bit more than we expected - it was hot, the weeds were tall and we had a little bundle to carry - the weeds scratched us, the heat wore us out and the sight of that back yard was most welcome! Of course, Peanut was ready for more, she barely walked! 

Now that we have them, what do we do with them?

Last Fall I made Apple Sauce, Apple Butter, Apple Pie filling and dried apples. We didn't eat the apple sauce or apple butter much so this year I am only making Apple Pie filling and dried apples for our granola.

The Assembly Line method...

I've been make frozen apple pie filling for many years - I used to go to our local orchard to buy the apples but aside from that, nothing has changed. 

You will need....
  • lemons, juiced
  • brown sugar
  • flour
  • cinnamon
  • salt
  • lots and lots of apples
  • freezer bags
How to...

I chop the apples (I do not peel) and plunk them into the turquoise bowl (the silver bowl is for the apple cores for the compost). Once the bowl is full I add brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and lemon juice. I eyeball it all - if the apples are nicely coated I feel they are ready to bag - after all, I can add more seasonings at the time of making the pie. 

We so very much enjoyed these apple pies all winter long. I pulled-out the frozen filling and let them thaw (out of the plastic bag) on the mantle shelf then I baked the pie later in the day. I also make a delicious apple cake with these fillings - they can also be used to make apple crisp, apple loaf...yum!

Here they are, ready for the freezer

Peanut and I are ready for another Apple Picking Hike, this time I'll take a little more time to sit and munch on an apple or two...


  1. I've been a bit jealous of our neighbor's apple trees this year as a good apple is hard to come by. The shops never have one worth biting into. It looks like I'll either have to steal a few or head up to the mountains for a bushel in the next few weeks!
    Love the idea of freezing them. I never thought of that....

  2. What beautiful land and it's all yours! It's wonderful. I would be spooked by the derelict farmhouse but then I get spooked easily anyway :). The sight of those apples and the thought of apple cake and apple pies - I'm drooooooling! x

  3. Reply from Pinney:

    Debbie, it's so beautiful in the mountains, what a great way to get a bunch of fresh apples and if you freeze a bunch too- totally worth the trip :-)

    Lizzy, until I saw the house (Kyle kept telling me about it) I too was a bit wary of it but it's not spooky inside - just a bunch of wood and concrete (and one old spooky armchair, heh heh..)