Farmer Glenn checking back in from the field. It always amazes me how quickly the end of the growing season rushes upon us as soon as we get to apple season. The days feel so long in the summer, but the season seems to go by faster every year. Maybe that is because I just turned 60, but swear I feel 40!
We had quite a battle with the drought this year, but ended up losing very little due to a very impressive effort by our field crew keeping our sources of water moving 24 hours a day. This required incredible attention to detail, and a lot of pipe moving, as well as miles of new irrigation lines laid throughout the farm. We are fortunate to have 2 very good wells, and a pond that holds a million gallons of water. As a result, we only lost 1 corn planting in August on a field with no access to water, but all other crops made it to harvest and on your tables.
The apple crop is still impressive, with very heavy picking in all blocks. These varieties include the regulars such as Macs, Cortland, Gala, Macoun, Empire and Early Fuji, but also includes more exotic varieties such as Corail, Jonamac, Spigold, Fortune, Melrouge, Staybrite, Jonaprince, Querina, Mutsu to name just a handful. We are also expecting to harvest some of the first apples we planted 5 years ago for our latest enterprise, Cider Hill Cellars. These trees have been very challenging to cultivate as they have very different growth habits than most dessert apples we are used to growing, but I have to say that I love the challenge they present to my horticultural skills!
We will begin fermentation this Fall, and will have our first bottles ready for opening next season. Some of these varieties include Ashmeads Kernel, Spitzenberg, Wickson Crab, Kingston Black, Golden Russet, Dabinett, Harrison and Yarlington Mill. Stay tuned. This is very exciting for us and has been a wonderful way to incorporate our son, Chadd, into the business. He and our fantastic crew provide continuity we need now to insure Cider Hill Farm will flourish long past the aging pioneers of this beautiful farm.
Also, if you look out towards the big hill, and then to the left where the large solar array field sits, you will soon notice one more solar installation on pedestals which are controlled by computer to track the sun perfectly so that the panels are perpendicular to the sun every minute of every day of the year. This latest system is being built to run the cidery and bring us to a position where we produce nearly all the electricity to run our farm and homes. Pretty cool.
Karen and I are grateful for all of you who come to our farm. You are part of our family. Your support over the years has allowed us to get our roots in deep where the farm is stable and strong. Even a “25 year” drought and a peach crop failure did not doom us, though I do admit we have been highly challenged.
To close, we are keeping a close eye on the weather for this weekend, and hoping the storm causing so much damage to our south will quietly pass out to sea before the weekend. In any case, we are here, rain or shine, and we invite you to come enjoy a day picking apples with your family and friends.