The Season For Reflection
We hope your holidays were bright! We spent the Christmas season restocking displays, filling Christmas pie orders, and launching our first round of Gift Crates complete with our farm-fresh products and award-winning apple pies. I can't think of anything better as a gift than a super fresh Dutch Apple Pie - it hits the spot on a chilly Winter Day! Here at the farm, we are still waiting for our first permanent blanket of snow. Rain totals are near average but the snow has been an elusive creature thus far! When our Fall Farm Tours were made interesting with early season snow, we were certain Winter wasn't far behind - and yet we wait. We've spent the time cleaning storm debris in the orchard, and finally making headway on our 3rd orchard installment I call the Apple Hill. It will be a terraced orchard, easily accessible from the bottom. This will make our future u-pick a definite adventure! Stay warm friends, I will spend this cozy slightly slower time planning orchard expansion for the Spring!
Happy New Year!
Planning An Apple Nursery
One of our biggest goals for 202o is to begin propagating both named and un-named varieties here at Athol Orchards. 2019's Maine Apple Camp was an inspiring time spent with apple enthusiasts who not only work to preserve historic apples, but also see the incredible worth in "feral" apple varieties. These are your roadside, railroad, forest apples that you happen across by chance and may not even stop to think why it's there or how it came to be. In simplest terms, a core may have been tossed out a car or engine window, a bird or animal pooped out a seed, Mother Nature does her job and an apple tree grows. The genetics inherited through cross-pollination is anyone's guess! It is worthy to note that ALL apple varieties once began as feral unknown apples until they were discovered, propagated for their characteristics, and then shared through nurseries and commercial growers. In addition to exploring our region for feral varieties, many customers and friends have shared historic homestead locations where century- old trees still stand. Collecting and identifying these old and potentially "lost" apples will be an exciting and worthy cause!
Take Two: Nigerian Goat Breeding Season
It is now 2020 on our farm, which means Bray, the beautiful blue-eyed Sire will be returning from Grace Ridge Nigerians. Our good friend Laurie will assist in blood testing post breeding to ensure that our does are successfully bred for Springtime babies!
As a quick re-cap, our four does coming from Almar Acres were bred to Grace Ridge Nigerian's Sire Bray. He arrived late January of 2019 and was here through the month of February. Being new to breeding Nigerians we had not taken the simple step of sending in blood samples to test for successful breeding. Late June came around, and of four of our does, only one gave birth to three gorgeous brown and white kids. We lost one precious little doeling, but were blessed with Pip ( Pippin) and Pearl his little sister ( think Pink Pearl). They have been an absolute joy to have here on our farm, and our girls are excited to begin training them for a life of Showmanship in the ring! We are even encouraging our older daughter Mackenzie to try her hand showing at the ADGA shows. They provide great experience but even more, appraisals that tell us how our breeding program is going. We want to keep our focus on superior breed qualities.