Aiming for progress, not perfection.

"...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6

Saturday, October 23, 2010

sonlight apple orchard: you-pick pink ladies.

i was reading blogs this morning as thunderstorms were raging outside. i came across a recipe for homemade applesauce, which my family often made when i was a child. (they still do.) the recipe got me thinking about other blog posts i've read recently of people taking their children to you-pick apple orchards on the weekend. that thought led me to wonder whether such a thing existed in texas. (the blogs i was thinking of belong to people who live in indiana and canada.) so, i googled. and i found sonlight apple orchard in mason, 2 hours southeast of san angelo. i checked the weather in mason to be sure it wasn't raining there. we were off with bedhead and sweatshirts 30 minutes later.

the sonlight sign.

the apple barn, built in 1860.

after a quick lesson on how not to ruin the trees from johnny applesmith (aka the owner, don), we were off to find some apples for picking.

"these look good!"

sonlight grows nine types of apples that all ripen at 10 day intervals between august and october.

we made it for the last harvest, pink lady.

the owners planted their first trees (mcintosh) in 1984.

the pink lady trees were planted in 2000.

pretty, no? i love how imperfect they are. real. not picked so early (in order to be shipped thousands of miles) that they have no time to develop blemishes. despite blemishes, Texas tree-ripened apples are said to be sweeter than others because of the long, warm growing season. there is more time for the carbohydrates to convert completely to natural sugar. this is also what allows the apples to last longer after they're picked since sugar is a preservative.

the proper way to pick an apple involves spinning the apple while holding its branch steady until it pops off. if you pull, you could pull of a part of the branch which usually includes the fruit bud for next year's crop. i was nervous the kids wouldn't be able to do it.

they did a great job.

for a time, i got very focused on taking photos of apples in baby hands.
you'll see more of these.

the rows were fun to run down.

we had to go back to the barn to get another bucket.

has there ever been a cuter apple picker?

see? told ya.

gray's biggest challenge was placing the apples gently in the bucket.
pitching them fast-ball style seemed much more appealing.

gentle is not typically his m.o.

pleased with her leaf-on pick.

if i hadn't cut her off, ellie would've picked 100 pounds of apples.

there were several tractors on the premises.

gray loved them more than the apples. he wanted to drive them.

we picked and purchased 23 pounds.
fresh-picked pink lady apples keep for a minimum of 28 weeks when stored properly.
johnny applesmith told me he's successfully kept pink ladies for up to 16 months.
homemade applesauce, apple butter and apple pies are on the to-do list.

by harvey the harvester in the apple barn.
my kids are so great at posed photos.

apple picking is hard work.

real hard work.

but so worth it! you should go!

on the way there, i was fantasizing that the trip to the orchard was a homeschool field trip. the list of lessons i could create from it was vast. a few ideas:

math: counting apples (in ones or piling in groups of 5s, 10s, etc.); paying for apples; weighing apples
science: plant parts; how plants grow; seasons; where food comes from
reading: reading books about apples before and after the trip
writing: writing short, easy, trip-related words (apple, tree, dirt, etc.); writing letters to relatives about our trip; writing a short book about our trip
art: illustrating our book; apple prints
homemaking: storing apples; preserving apples; cooking with apples (also math-oriented in the measurement phase/science-oriented in the how-it-cooks phase)

'twas a lovely day, indeed. i love fall.


Alicia said...

What a wonderful memory you created today! For you and the kids. Micheal's absolute favorite is apple pie and apple butter. We will have to be sure to go next year. There's a good chance Micah and Brandon will be stationed at Ft. Hood by then and maybe the trip can include them. That is a memory I'd like to make. Thanks for sharing!

marme said...

while looking at the pics and reading the captions, dad and I decided in unison, that this little outing would make a perfect children's book! let's get going on that! k?

JAC said...

I know this was a most wonderful day for you and your two little angels. I love having apples and always want more recipes for using them. Love Apple Dumplings!!!! Yummy! Have fun.

crys said...

sounds glorious! you should also make apple cider. and when you do, you should make these... ...and i'll be your taste-tester. :)

Meems said...

That looks like so much fun. Our homeschool group just took a two day trip to Lubbock. We went to the Maize(hay rides, pumpkin picking,cowtrain rides and on and on.) I am sure Wendy would love to have you as a part of the group next year. Also, I love SALT coop. You would have a blast homeschooling, and not regret it for a second.

FairyLover said...

We also went apple picking last week. I made apple butter, applsauce, apple muffins, and french apple dessert.