Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Autumnal Equinox means time for apple picking

In our family, the Autumnal Equinox has become synonymous with fall apple picking. Lucky are the suburbanites who have several orchards within a short driving distance from home! Last weekend, we visited Homestead Farms in nearby Poolesville, MD. Though the tradition is a fairly new one (ok, to be truthful, last weekend was our first time...), the day was perfect for apple picking. We had the kind of weather that's cool enough to keep kids from whining about being hot - no one needed to be carried - yet warm enough to dress in t-shirts and enjoy being under the sun all day. We were also smack in the middle of the season for several types of apples.

Homestead Farms is a working farm that has been in the Allnut family since 1763. Hayrides are provided on some weekends to the fields where you can pick your own pumpkins, apples, cherries, berries, peaches, beans, etc. In the distance, you can see the light green strip of the pumpkin field just behind a few rows of apple trees. In the winter, visitors can cut their own Christmas trees as well.

Though most visitors at this time of year are prepared with wheelbarrow standing at attention and large bucket in hand ready for a short walk to the fields, it's impossible not to be distracted by the farm animals to the left of the farm. The farm owners have built these amazing lookouts and bridges for their goats to show off their daredevil climbing abilities. Just beyond the right of this photo below, another lookout stands with a pulley system by which visitors can give treats to the happy animals. The bridge passes right over the visitors.

This goat goes to great lengths for attention. Check out the personality!

Contrary to how it may appear by the quantity of my posts that involve ducks, geese, or other birds, I am not obsessed with poultry. I do not even have any particular fondness for them. But one's got to see the cuteness in the fluffy white feathers and stately stance of this lady below...

Guess what he's saying? Er, er-er, er-errrrrr!!!

All the birds at home at the Rhode Island Ladies Club - hens, a rooster...and a turkey.

After a short visit with Elmo the baby cow and a few of her friends, we moved on to the fields where the red delicious, rome, empire, and jonagold trees awaited us with limbs full of cool, crisp apples ripe for the picking.

In almost every tree - a special surprise to search for.

Red delicious apples - you can't stop a four year old from taking a bite! We'll pay you back next time, Mr. Allnut...

Above, standing tall in front of the apple orchard, colorful zinnias to choose, cut yourself, and purchase.

Below, undeniable proof that it is autumn, and undeniable proof that autumn is bountiful and beautiful.

And to top off a simple, fun, cheap, end of summer/beginning of autumn day, caramel apple pie a la mode and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. It does not get better than this.


  1. Looks like so much fun! Those pies and apples look scrumptious! Me likey.

  2. Going by your photos and descriptons, I think that this farm may be what heaven is like.
    That and 70 degrees year round with an occasional rain shower.
    I enjoyed my vicarious visit, and I owned an apple farm a while ago, with lots of old timey apples like Black Twig.
    Our trees were famous and folks would drive up to our house and ask "are the Black Twigs ready?"
    I take no credit, the farmer who planted the trees 20 years before is to be thanked.

  3. Those animals, those pies (especially the caramel apple on the left), those apples... what a great way to spend the day.
    There really is nothing like a freshly picked apple, is there?
    These are the days we remember in the dead of winter.

  4. Yummy, those pies look great.
    I'm glad you had a good time apple picking Wendy, I grew up in Niagara, which is the fruitbelt in Canada. Every summer, I earned money picking cherries, then peaches, pears and apples. Lots of experience going up and down a ladder. It was a great way to earn some cash when you were a teenager!

  5. Terra - it must have been great to run an apple orchard. I'd love to run a farm like Homestead Farms. There's another larger orchard nearby, but there's a very strong commercial feel to it (i.e. you feel like you're being ripped off!). I love the pick your own. It's sooo fun and a nice way to while away a beautiful Sunday.

    Cynthia - The photo does not do the apple pie any justice. If you could see the flaky crust, the medium-thin layers of apple, with the caramel layer just beneath the top...

    Deborah, it must have been beautiful up there. My spinning class instructor talks about working summers on farms in that area as well. His talks always end up being about the biting flies though...

    Anonymous person - if you likey the apples, then please eat them up. THere are about 20 pounds on the piano calling for you...

  6. I would love to have those pumpkin pies... look so yummy! Such a nice farm. Oh the apples are wonderful! Who can resist a bite so fresh and crunchy right?

  7. Well, a tradition HAS to start somewhere! I love that b/w goat! There's a farm stand near us with goats and they actually have a huge platic playground for their antics! A draw for the kids for sure! Okay, girl, I see a post on 'how to make applesauce' in the near future..hint, hint. lol!

  8. Oh, goats have personality, all right. Which manifests itself in devilment and escape maneuvers. And THAT is why we don't have goats.

    I wish I liked apples more, seeing as I live in one of the most prolific apple-producing states in the country. Sadly, I'm more of a citrus person. And citrus does not dig our winters. Boo.

  9. Before I join Blotanical, I don't know what homestead means. Apple trees and pumpkin pies, everything looks so nice! That B&W goat and white chicken looks so clean. I really miss the sound of goats bleating and the rooster's morning wake-up call.

  10. Quite a sight to see rows of apple trees.... we have similar rows everywhere here too... oil palms!! ~bangchik

  11. Well, since I made my own babyfood, I have ruined applesauce as an adult food forever. It will always be for babies in my mind!

    I'm not huge on apples - they're OK, well, a nice crisp fuji is probably more than ok. But sliced and baked in a pie with a buttery crust? Who could deny that?

    Oil palm? I learn so much from you Bangchik!

    Autumn - The rooster's crow is soooo funny. living in the burbs, when we hear them crow on a farm, it's like, wow! it sounds like like it does in cartoons! I'm not sure I would enjoy the crow on a daily basis though. Don't they start waking their animal friends up at 4am?

  12. I look forward to apple picking every year. It's something that every child should get to do. It looks like you had a very nice time.

  13. Hey Wendy - its Kathy J, former docent at Discovery Room and known to your husband, Scott, and editor of Washington Gardener Magazine. Love to see the aplle piece - just sent our fall issue to the printer and apple growing here in our area is our cover story.
    Love Homestead too - very kid-friendly (goats and humans!) -- also a big fan of Larriland, they are a drive but worth it for a great day trip with the family.
    C'mon over to to say "hi"

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