The late apples are large and juicy this year even though it was not a good apple crop overall.
All the spring rain kept bees from pollinating the soaked blossoms that fell as soon as they formed, but it seems that the later fruit that we refer to as winter apples seemed to have had a better chance of forming than the early varieties. The crop is still fairly sparse but the size of the apples are larger than normal.
These apples are the best after a frost or two condenses the sugar inside to clear pockets of sweetness in the flesh of the apple. Some refer to them as ice apples. They are good apples for fresh eating and make delicious pies and applesauce.
I will be harvesting this tree in a week or two and will fill the cooler with the crop, unless hard freezing speeds up the need to pick sooner.
When I go out into the garden, pairs of eyes appear at the fence line. The show cows line up and try to act like they are just waiting for a cross-town bus to show up, but what they are waiting for is someone to throw a squashed apple their direction…
…Or a handful of freshly pulled weeds, or a basketfull of grass clippings, or a torpedo zucchini.
Today I was picking up a bucket of wind-fall apples from under one of the trees. The fruit is still hard and small so it would be easy for them to choke. Instead of lobbing a few over the fence to these cows, the full bucket will be taken to the barn so the apples can be sliced in half before feeding.
Until dinner time, these two youngsters will just have to continue to wait before getting a taste of the apples that filled the bucket.
We were spoiled by having fresh strawberries for breakfast for almost 2 months, the latest stretch of warm weather did them in for the year.
We have Logan Berries and Raspberries but it looks like they will only be around for a short while. They are smaller than usual and new blooms could not establish themselves during the 100 degree days.
It doesn’t look like there will be enough to put in the freezer this year. We will have to be content with the small crop this year and hope that the first of the apple are ripe soon. First up for them will be the Yellow Transparent variety.
Finally, the last of the fruit trees in the garden have been pruned, and not a moment too soon. Some of the trees have buds that are starting to swell.
A few weeks of warm weather will force the buds to spring out of hibernation (dormancy) and begin flowering.
It is common to see a few blooms around Easter time, but this year may be delayed a week or more since the ground has not warmed up yet.
It is a waiting game for us to see when the first blooms will appear. In the meantime, I will be snacking on dried apples, prunes and pears while I dream about the abundance of fresh tree fruit that is only a few months away.
Fall is the winding down season. Cooler weather means anything left in the garden and orchard slow and decay. The copious amounts of rain have helped with the melting process.
Picking an apple or pear off the tree before heading out to do chores has become a habit.
Today I picked the last Asian pear off the young tree. This is only the second year of producing for this newly acquired variety and I was very pleased with the crisp, sweet taste of this planting as well as the quantity.
The Golden Delicious apple tree is not far behind and I will be picking the last of those sometime later this week.
It has been a good year for tree fruits this year as well as the filberts. I have a freezer full of dried nuts, apple and pear bread, along with apple and pear chunks (for making pies).
The dehydrator had been busy most of the summer.
A couple of the kittens insist on helping while I cut up the apples for the feedings in the barn.
Today it happened to be Tobias inside the garden cart while Asher was outside poking at him.
Most of the time I have to shoo the cats away so I can sit and cut the apples, then I have to shoo them out of the bucket that I want to cut the apples into, and again, I have to shoo them out of the way so I can pick up the bucket to feed the apples to the cows.
The good news is that the kittens have been busy learning how to hunt. They started with bugs and are now actively hunting shrews. One kitten even caught a mouse a other day. It is worth all the distraction of having them into everything if they keep up the good work at hunting.
Buckets and buckets full of windfall fruit are doled out in small doses to the critters in the show barn and in the bull pen.
The cows love the fruit and every one of them stop eating the food in front of them when they see me set down to begin cutting the apples and pears in half. They try to wait patiently for the sweet treat, but are unsuccessful and they stand there drooling, mooing and tossing their heads while they are sliced. The damaged fruit is beyond being edible for humans but the cattle enjoy every bite and would even fight over it if they have the chance.
If given the opportunity to gorge on the fruit, they will be uncomfortable and could go off their feed completely. Keeping the fruit picked up helps to keep the hornet population under control.