Between trips to various supermarkets to stock up on food in preparation for hurricane Sandy, we were able to make a detour to Honey Pot Orchard in Stow, Massachusetts.
We try to go to Honey Pot at least once a year, they seem to have the best apples around. It’s always a mad house there on the weekends. It’s interesting seeing how local farms and orchards are able to stay in business here in New England. The farms are usually too small to compete with the huge farms out in the middle of the US. So some try to go the organic route, sell farm shares, open a retail market, try to go entirely wholesale, open a gifty crafty type store, open a bed and breakfast, or do what Honey Pot does which is become the Disneyland of Apples.
Anything activity that is remotely related to apple orchards, they will have it here. Usually the place is packed with people on a nice weekend, but considering that there was a huge storm approaching, the place was relatively quiet.
Above is the line to get cider donuts. Usually on a nice weekend the line will go out to where I’m standing to take the picture. Last year, we went on an especially nice day and was informed that the donut line was at least an hour long. Considering that we had a barely awake and very cranky 2 year old with us last year, I had to reluctantly give up on my annual plan of stuffing my fat face with cider donuts.
But not this year! The line was barely three people long. I happily ordered two bags of delicious cider donuts, baked on the spot. Still warm. I could smell them. Ms. J and Mr. C were on their way back from the bathroom. Should I wait ? Or do I start in before they get back ?
Jump into my mouth Mr. Donut!
How could anyone resist a hot cider donut. If they get cold they are no good to anyone, cold and bland, almost inedible. But when they are warm, crispy on the outside, fluffy inside, emitting the hot apple smell, no wonder the line was an hour long last year. Besides there were 12 donuts, make that 11 donuts, 10 donuts, still plenty for Ms. J and Mr. C.
When they got back from the bathroom, we continued on with the donuts, washing them down with fresh apple cider. Mr. C could not be delayed with donuts for too long though, since they do have the goat feeding pen nearby. Belts powered by the arm cranking of sugar crazed two through ten year olds bring cups filled with goat food up to various levels of a goat maze. They then climb up the planks to get their food. On busy days, the goats are so full they just stand around on the lowest level and wait for people to just hand them the food. Today though, there was some activity as the goats had to work for their food with fewer people to beg for handouts.
Here’s Mr. C below feeding one of the smaller goats. Maybe they should rotate them out. Have two or more groups of goats so that they don’t get too fat. Nearby was a pig pen with a group of enthusiastic pigs hoping to get a free apple, very vocal chickens and roosters, and rabbits in pens who seemed happy with all the attention they were getting.
We go there to get their Honey Crisp apples, usually only available for about two weeks. I saw just 2 big 1/2 bushel bags left , one disappeared as I was taking this picture. I got the last one. $22 for a 1/2 bushel.
A delicious eating apple, crisp and sweet.
‘This apple is as big as my head, Dada!’
We also got a smaller bag of Spartan apples, primarily for baking, though they aren’t too bad for eating. A half gallon of cider, and of course the donuts.
Lots of varieties of apples, not as wide a selection as Poverty Lane Orchards in Lebanon, New Hampshire, but I’d say they have at least 20 varieties. The retail store is very basic, nothing cutesy about it, no cute little apple theme figures or toys, just big bags of apples, pears, honey, jams, cider, some squashes and pumpkins, lots of pumpkins.
Looks like my finger made it’s way into this picture. I really should crop these photos before posting, oh well.
Everybody asks us if the “C” on the back of his jacket is supposed to stand for his initial. It’s just the brand of the jacket, Catmini. At least I think that’s how it’s spelled.
Honey Pot also offers a continuous hay ride with various stops throughout the orchard. C was thrilled to be on the back of the large farm cart with a tractor pulling us along.
The hedge maze will have to wait until at least next year. C is still a little too small of that, and he can easily run away from us in something like that. I imagine him running around and us getting very seriously lost in the maze looking for him, is that paranoid or what ? It’s supposed to be the largest hedge maze in New England, or something. Maybe the sign said it was the largest in the US. Or maybe it was the “largest hedge maze in an apple orchard in the world”, who knows? It’s a big hedge maze.
We’re not doing pick your own apples with C yet. Blueberries and strawberries are easy, his patience for apple picking is not there yet. Probably next year.
Luckily, we were far enough north that we were not hit too hard by the hurricane. Lots of wind and rain, some tree branches down, but not at lot of damage in the area.
And thankfully, we did not loose power too. Both Mr. C and Ms. J came down with a cold just as the hurricane hit. So we were stuck in the house for two days with a very sick and cranky little boy who had trouble sleeping through all the wind and rain. It would have been much worse if we were stuck in the house with no lights and a refrigerator filled with food slowly going bad. J’s mom down in New Jersey is still without power, might be a week until it’s back.
Our refrigerator is stuffed with apples, and the way C goes through them, eating at least two a day, it’s possible that we might be going back to Honey Pot before the season is over.
Hopefully you were not hurt by the storm either!!