Eve's Orchard

  (Cleveland, Minnesota)
Apples so good they're sinful
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Spring activities 2013--no more drought

We are definitely out of the drought status, which is a wonderful thing.  After losing areas of pasture last year, we are currently working on seeding in new areas of pasture seed to replace what was lost.  On the negative side of the never ending rain, we have not been able to till the soil and start planting.  I have planted over 500 tomatoes and several peppers, which are now overcrowded in the greenhouse and disease is setting in.  I'm going crazy waiting to plant them out, especially since it is going to be June before I get started.  I'm hoping we have a long enough season for squash and melons to reach maturity.  I have over 50 varieties of tomatoes this year and I'm planning on starting some breeding projects.  

The apple blossom was as late as I'd ever seen it.  With the cool, wet weather, I am very concerned about lack of pollination.  I still can't believe we had a snow storm in May!  I have 9 new fruit trees to plant soon.  One cherry tree and eight apples.  Variety is the spice of life.

Two healthy, ram lambs were born in early April. 

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Winter

Apple tree pruning will commence whenever the temperatures can maintain the 30's.  I'm really praying that we get some Spring rains and get out of this drought.  Planning has begun for the upcoming gardening season.  I will be starting some plant breeding with tomatoes.  Our chickens are still laying eggs this Winter, but Spring will be a flood of eggs.  We are now Animal Welfare Approved.  We still have honey for sale.  Lambing is anticipated in early April.  
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End of Summer Update

The drought this year has affected everything.  We still have apples and honey, but at a smaller quantity than a good year would bring.  Squash didn't pan out this year (a few gourds and pumpkins survived).  The popular "Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato" did not produce.  We do, ironically, have watermelons!  The grass has been dead most of the year and the sheep are really running low on food.  I'm experimenting with some new beeswax cosmetics this season.  We are expecting a lamb any time this month.  Please excuse the mess of boards lying around, as we tore down a large barn and other buildings this Spring.  Much of the boards we will use as firewood over the upcoming Winter season, until then it will be sitting in our yard.  
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Spring Update 2012

Our 25 hens and 2 roosters are doing good.  All of the sheep are sheared (whew, that was hard work).  We have 5 lambs this year.  The old barns are torn down and we are in the process of building a new sheep shed.  We're going to try our hand at queen rearing some of our honeybees.  The gardens are not fully planted yet, but hoping for a good year.  We are planting a lot of squash.  
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New chickens are here

Our new chicks have arrived and all 27 are alive and thriving.  Hopefully we will have eggs for sale this Fall.  The heritage breeds can be slow to mature.  We have Easter Eggers, Light Brahmas, Black Australorps, and one mystery chick, possibly a Blue Andalusian.  It will be lots of fun with the colored eggs, feathered feet, and variety of feather colorings.  Our baby lambs are due in a couple weeks!  We are also currently in the process of tearing down old barns and building a new sheep shed.  More reasons to stop by the farm this year and visit the animals (and buy stuff of course)!  I'm always up for chatting about hobby farm stuff.
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Chickens will be added

We've been busy building a coop for chickens next Spring.  We will be getting a variety of breeds with a colorful egg basket.  The chickens will be free range once they are old enough.  In the next year or two, we will have farm fresh, free range eggs for sale.  Breeds will include: Australorp, Easter Egger, Brahma, Sussex, Orpington, Maran, Polish, Silkie, and frizzle Cochin.  The chickens will be able to free range in the orchard and (hopefully) eat the bugs that affect apples.  They can also contribute to fertilizing the soil!  

Apple picking is still going full force this weekend.  We will be making more cider and a new batch of lip balms.  

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Store Open

The store is open now.  We have Vikings, apple cider, and the usual honey and beeswax products.  The Redfrees, Paula Reds, and Stellas are ready about now and we are starting to pick those today.  We are still waiting on tomatoes.  Due to the wet and cold Spring, we won't have much for pumpkins this year.  
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Sheep Shearing

When we reached a record breaking 90 degrees earlier this week, we decided it was time to start shearing the sheep!  They were laying around and panting.  We only have one more sheep to go yet.  Of course, now that we have them nearly naked, the weather has turned wet and cold.  They look unrecognizable and it seemed they did not recognize each other after their haircuts.  We are anticipating getting some new sheep added to the flock.  We also had two births this Spring.  One born 3/3 and the other 4/4.  I'm looking forward to having them all Summer long now.  

Due to the wet "Spring" we have had, if you want to call it that, we have not been able to transplant many apple trees.  Apple blossom is also delayed.  It usually occurs during Mother's Day week.  I'm expecting it in the next couple of weeks.  Another delay was our honey bees.  We got the bees started later this year too.  The greenhouse is up and running.  Lots of tomatoes and purple coneflowers.

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Winter--a time for some R&R (and planning for Spring)

It is a frozen orchard out here!  I am definitely tired of Winter already.  On the other hand, this is the only time of year that I rest.  Since I am unable to be a busy bee right now, I am planning my Spring activities.  Most of my gardening choices have been purchased or seeds have been saved from my hand pollinating efforts.  I will be growing the Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squash again, as well as the Turk's Cap, since both were popular.  I have some other new ones to look forward too as well.  We have been eating a whole lot of pumpkin the past few months...pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, baked squash.  I am planning on at least 26 varieties of tomatoes this year.  Pruning has not yet begun in the orchard.  The weather is a bit too cold right now.  The snow usually doesn't stop me.  Last year I drug ladders out into several feet of snow (don't try this at home).  We checked on the bees recently.  They are still alive.  Some have died returning to their hives after a cleansing flight.  It is going to be a long winter for them too.  We still have some honey left for sale and a few hand butters.  If anyone is interested, call us.  Thanks for your purchases in 2010.  Here's to a good new year ahead.    
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First Freeze

After the first freeze, we are now in panic mode.  We are scrambling to pick the last of the apples and carry all of our squash/pumpkins into the house.  We still have lots of squash for sale if you want any for Halloween.  It had to be moved into the house.  We are making apple cider as we finish up the apple harvest.  Our last apple of the year is Enterprise.  We have limited quantities available now.  I believe we are the only orchard around here with this variety.  It is hard skinned and keeps long.  We should have honey and bee products year round, so feel free to contact us when the building is closed.  They make cool Christmas gifts.  Our new sheep have all received their "hair cuts" and are getting settled in better.  The male sheep ramed me pretty good last weekend, so I am walking with a bit of a limp right now.  They are helping to eat up the dropped apples, meanwhile fertilizing the soil.  It's all part of the organic cycle.  We expect the orchard soil to become more balanced over the years.  This is season #2 for us here.  Thank you to everyone who has come out this year and for meeting new people. 
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New Sheep on the farm

We have four new additions to the farm.  Three Old English "Babydoll" Sheep and one Welsh Mountain Sheep.  We're still working on additional fencing.  I am home sick with a bad virus, so work is not getting done too fast around here.  We anticipate opening the store very soon.  The sheep each have their own personalities.  The babydolls keep their heads to the ground and like to eat the dropped apples too.  The mountain sheep likes to eat the branches of the trees and be the "guard" sheep.  She is a feisty one.  She will stomp her feet at you because (I suspect) she wants attention.  She likes to be the boss.  She is very observant and will watch every movement and noise (including the kitchen light turning on in the house).  The sheep liked my zinnias too!  My cats don't know what to think.  They get scared and then run away.  Okie likes to grunt and snort when eating the apples on the ground.  But if you run away from them, then they will come following you like a puppy.  It is lots of fun to have them follow.  Matt was picking some apples and they mowed the ground below him.  We have way more than they can possibly eat.  Their new names are Okie, Bocefus, Darla, and Mow.  We're working on their haircuts.  If you stop by, make sure you don't open our gates.  
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Honey harvest

We recently had our first honey harvest.  After getting honey all over the kitchen and a couple bee stings, it was worth it.  The honey is much sweeter and thicker than what I'm used to in the grocery stores.  The ucappings wax was refined and we now have beeswax lip balms.  Two flavors to start with: honey vanilla and honey peppermint.  I had no idea how much work it involves to refine the honey and to use the beeswax to make the lip balms.  It was really a neat experience though.  We took some pictures of the honey extracting process.  At this point in the year, just standing near the hives entails a sting!  Each morning the honey bees are pollinating the pumpkins and winter squash. 

Our apple crop is coming along.  The August varieties are getting bigger and look tasty.  Our heirloom tomatoes are starting, but coming slowly.   

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