Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cidering Weekend is HERE!

It is Cidering Weekend! Time to get out those wool sweaters, dusty scarves, and fingerless mittens. Time to tune the fiddles and guitars. Time to gather wood for a bonfire and start collecting your gear for some stout beers and slow cooked stews. It's time for soup, and time the knitting needles. It's time to get serious about stacking wood and cleaning your gun. It is autumn!

Yes my darlings, the best time of the year has arrived, if a bit early. We are kicking it off here in Yervork with a tradition that has only grown since it started four years ago: a group apple harvest and processing. A whole weekend dedicated to picking, pressing, community and good food. Now, I know some people make pies, or apple butter, or sauce. There are plenty of wholesome and sensible things to be done with apples of any sort, be them orchard, feral, or wild. I do not judge those lifestyle choices—but around here we are in it for the free booze. Hard Cider. Bless and pity those who shake their heads because this is a tradition that is only getting better and better (along with our home brewing skills).

Usually apple harvest happens in early October but due to this year's bumper crop and all the rain and heat of summer - it's been moved up a bit. Yesterday was the day to pick and it was blessedly fruitful. Folks came from all around New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont to help rattle, shake, pick and gather apples from just a few of the farm's trees. I had plans to spend the entire day walking around the farm with horses laden with carts and baskets, nothing short of agricultural pornography, but that didn't happen. Tyler climbed one tree and shook the daylights out of it and in under an hour the truck was bursting. What you see in that picture is mostly Cold Antler Apples, but not entirely. The Hoff family came over Thursday night and dropped off two bushels to add to the coffer. I told anyone that helped I would repay them in a bottle of of scrumpy and it sure is worth an hour of shucking and jiving under some trees. We hit a few more trees and by 4:45 or so the truck bed was neraly spilling over and folks left with as many apples as they wanted. Some left with growlers, asking if they could have them filled with cider. I will do my best to oblige, too. Good work deserves a sweet reward!

While picking (mostly off the ground) apples Tara told me about this concert happening later that night in Arlington. It was a small house concert, just a musical potluck with a sugested donationf or the band. She told me it was a Scottish trio of a fiddler, piper, and guitarist and my mind was practically made up. Sometimes it is hard to get me away from the farm, mostly because by 7pm I am ready for bed, much less a night out, but this was twenty minutes away and the farm chores were already done - fit in between apple trees. So I got cleaned up, put on my favorite kilt, and hit the road. What followed was a magical night of beautiful music, and I had a front-row seat. The band was called Cantrip, a Scottish word that means a "bit of mischief" and it suited them. They played traditional music along with some of their own tunes and the beer was free. I wanted to invite them all over for cider pressing tomorrow, but found myself in that awkward place of knowing you'd get along with new people but too nervous or star-struck to dare ask for more time. I hope to run into them again, as they are pretty local and the piper's wife wants to raise goats and pigs. Time will tell, but for now I am off to finally make my morning coffee and start a crock pot of venison chili for the pressing party this afternoon. But I'll leave you with a little taste of last night!

P.S. On an unrelated note, the Game Warden never showed up Friday. I must have confused the date with next Friday, but I am happy to say the entire Falconry project is ready for inspection and soon as I get my sign off from the Warden I will be mailing my application and fervently checking the mailbox to see if it was accepted!