Making Apple Cider

Apple cider and fall – is there a better drink on a cool fall evening than a cup of warm apple cider flavored with cinnamon?

My husband’s family has a long tradition of making apple cider each fall.  His aunt and uncle have apple trees.  This year, they picked 11 bushels of apples which made 20 gallons of cider deliciousness.

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This is the cider making operation.  The two on the left are my husband’s aunt and uncle AKA Extraordinaire Apple Cider Makers!

Once the apples are picked, they must be washed and any bad spots are cut out.  These side by side tubs worked great to put sweet apples on one side and tart on the other.  The water was changed out every couple of batches.

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My mother-in-law preparing the apples to be made into cider.  The sweet apples were in the tub on the left and the tart apples on the right.  We used 2 sweet apples and 1 tart apple for just the right flavor.

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Little ones are good at cleaning apples 🙂

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Any guesses on how many apples got eaten?

The mixture is two sweet apples with one tart apple – that’s it!  The tart apples are Jonathan and the sweet apples are Red and Yellow Delicious.

After being washed, the entire apple goes in to be shredded – seeds, stems, peel, and all.  Once there are enough apples, a lid is put on and the apple mash is pressed for the cider to run out.  As the liquid flows out, the mash can be pressed down further.  It takes a little time to release the juice.  We got about one gallon of cider per batch of pressed apples.

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Pressing the apple mash

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There’s a net bag inside the bucket that keeps the apple mash contained.  Once all the juices flow out, the mash was removed, and we’d start a new batch.

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The apple mash was fed to the cattle.

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Apple cider flowing

As the cider flowed from the apple mash, we would alternate pitchers to collect the cider.  Then the cider is strained through a thin fabric, such as a tea towel. The straining collects any small chucks of apple that came through the press.

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We yielded 20 gallons of cider from 11 bushels of apples.  It took 4 hours, lots of laughter and precious family time.

The cider is good for 2-3 weeks stored in the refrigerator or can be frozen to enjoy later.

This year making apple cider was bittersweet.  My hubby’s grandma always enjoyed making cider.  She passed away last winter so it was the first year without her there to strain the cider.  Our family gathered in the evening to enjoy supper together.

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2015 Soybeans

I’ve been taking pictures of the soybean crop all season and look forward to sharing the entire growing season with you soon.

Soybeans 9/3/15

There are no more blooms on the soybeans, and pods have replaced where the blooms were.

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Look at all those pods!

These soybeans are 46″ tall – which is pretty tall.  Did you know that tall soybeans don’t necessarily indicate a good yield?  Sometimes shorter beans produce better.

We’re starting to see some insect pressure.  Notice there are some holes in the leaves – that is where the insects have been munching.  The insect pressure is not bad, and we don’t anticipate needing to treat for them.

 

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Tall soybeans with some insect pressure

The soybean pods look a little bit like garden peas in their pods.  It’s typical to find 2-4 beans per pod, 3 beans in a pod is most common for our area.

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Baby soybeans

 

We would like to get another rain to help filling the soybeans out.  Without a rain soon, we have some risk that some pods may abort and the beans will be small.  Small beans mean it takes a lot more to beans to make a bushel.

Did you know that it takes 60 pounds of soybeans to make one bushel?

 

Moms! You’re Needed – At All Stages

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how important moms are.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m approaching a tipping point in my life where I’ve been a mom for more than half of my life.  Maybe it’s because my oldest is in college and I get giddy when he “needs” me or calls for advice.  Maybe it’s the fact that my youngest will soon be off to kindergarten, and is growing up way too quickly.  I’m not sure, but the importance of moms has been on my mind lately.

I’ve always thought of children as resilient. But I’m realizing more how fragile children are and how important it is to be careful with our words and actions with our children all ages and stages.

We know how important moms are to young children.  It’s clear that bonding with our babies is so very important – even to the child’s development.  The days when they are little can be so tedious.  Then as if in the blink of an eye, they’re self-sufficient in most ways.

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In my journey of motherhood, I’m finding that parenting a young adult is more challenging than any other stage.  When children are at home, there are fairly easy consequences that you can help them understand for their actions.  As they move out and start their own journey some of the consequences cost real money or take an emotional toll.  Lessons we all have to learn, but agonizing to watch as the mom.

What I don’t see talked about often is the importance of mothers to adult children. It’s been impressed upon me recently that relationship is of great importance.

I know adults who have had their confidence shaken by the critical words of their mother.

Many farms are multigenerational, and moms are critically important to their success.  Moms do so many things that no one sees or are aware of – taking food to the field, always having water bottles, paperwork, picking up parts while running errands in town.  There are just a lot of important things that moms do that others may not be able to easily place a value on.

Most importantly, moms are usually the one that everyone goes to with their problems.  Often farm moms are the great confidante, they keep the peace between siblings and dad.  Recently, a farmer friend spoke of his mom being the glue to their farm, ‘she just did what moms do!’

As was the theme of an agriculture conference that I recently attended, moms are the “unsung heroes” of many farms.

I’m blessed to have a strong mom and mother-in-law.  Each a farm mom who cares for their kids, husband, and farms more than most can understand.

A mother’s most important crop just might be her kids!

Fifty Years and Counting!

This has been a very busy week, but mostly because we made a quick trip to my home state of Colorado to celebrate my parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary.  It was so much fun to see family and friends that we haven’t seen in years.  And, it was wonderful to see how many people turned out to celebrate with my parents.  The challenges over 50 years have to be immeasurable.  Married at 21 and 19 in 1961.  Ahh – their wedding pictures look so young.

–          50 Years of Marriage with ups and downs

–          6 Kids, each presenting their own set of challenges

–          4 son-in-laws, see the comments above 🙂

–          Soon to be 1 daughter-in-law who will be formally welcomed into the family this summer

–          7 grandkids and counting!

–          32 years of Dad working full time in the city, commuting 45 miles each way once we moved to the farm

–          15 years of working full time in the city and farming full time (I don’t know how they did it!)

–          34 years of farming

One time my mom told me that you’ll hear advice about marriage that each partner has to give 50-50, but she said that most of the time, it will feel like you are giving 90-95%.  One of my first professional mentors asked a group of us if we thought marriage was more a decision or an emotion.  My observation of marriage is that there certainly are times that you have to make the decision that you’re going to work through the hard times together.

I remember when my grandparents celebrated their 50th anniversary, it was the summer I turned 14, and their celebration had a huge impact on my life.  At that moment, I thought, celebrating 50 years of marriage is a worthy goal.  My oldest is 16, and I hope that seeing his grandparents celebrate the Golden Anniversary has that type of impact on him.