Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pick Your Own Apples!

Yes! Fall is here!

Haha, I'm such a goober. I recognize that one day doesn't really make a difference from the day before, but I love having an official start to fall every year. It gives me something to celebrate! I love autumn. From here to the end of the year is nothing but fun. We get to go up to the mountains to see the changing aspens, we get to go to a pumpkin patch, we celebrate the kiddos' birthdays, we celebrate Halloween, we celebrate Thanksgiving, we celebrate my birthday, and then we decorate for the holiday season. The air gets cool and crisp, we bake everything with cinnamon, it's chilly enough to let the slow cooker run all day for dinner. It's just the best.

Today is actually our annual Shattuck Kids' Day. We have more adventures planned for this afternoon, but we spent the morning on a farm!

Last year, I searched for an orchard in the Denver area that would let us pick our own apples. I found just one place--Ya Ya Farm and Orchard in Longmont. I contacted them in August to see when apple picking would start for the season. They told me that they have huge waiting lists to get in because sign-up begins in  early spring! I waited until April and contacted them again. They kindly told me my name was added to the list, and I'd find out this summer if we made the cut. I'm serious.

Well, we made it! Last month, I received a confirmation email that we could come on down today. The drive was a solid hour, and I wasn't sure what to expect. They said they limit each party (no groups!) to one bag of apples. So, I worried it would be a waste of a drive. Let me tell you now--it was an awesome experience. Seriously, it was easily the best thing we've ever done with the kids.

Grandma Judy came with. Jo wasn't up for apple picking, but she loved watching everyone else do it. 

Oliver was all about the apples!

He decided the needed a taste test. They passed.

It doesn't get much better than running around the orchard with Grandma and picking apples from the trees.

 Once the apples were in our bag, Jo decided they were pretty OK.

We went to their little barn store to pay for our bag of apples. My mom bought a box of apple cider donuts (out of this world), and even got us a jar of apple blossom honey.

They were setting up for their annual apple festival today. They do a big barbeque and hay rides, but that wasn't until later. We weren't going to hang around for long enough to join in those festivities, but we did decide to spend some time exploring the farm.


The chickens were fat and happy and seriously roamed around clucking, "Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk." Oliver loved them, and Jo frantically tried to propel herself to the chicken enclosure. Here she is desperately pointing, wanting so badly for Grandma to let her play with the chickens.

Jo got to meet a horse. Well, she didn't get too close obviously. She laughed and laughed at the horse. Then, she asked Daddy for a pony.

We also visited the turkeys.

And we pet the farm cat. Oliver was afraid of the old farm lab, Betty, but he loved the cat.

She's hunting for something!

In addition to a pony, Jo wants a pet kitty.

We went back to the shop and bought a basket of carrots and apples to feed the horses ($1).

Oliver was too afraid to feed the horses himself, but he excitedly told Andrew which horses to feed and what to feed them. Jo gleefully laughed and squealed every time a horse took one of the fruits or vegetables.

We spent a couple hours enjoying the farm. The kids had a blast, and when we finally decided it was time to go, Andrew told me we should come back and do this "a few times a year!" This farm only does apple picking, but I am going to check out a few places closer to our home that let people come to pick their own berries and other produce.

Once we got home, Oliver and I immediately got busy making applesauce. He loves our apple peeler (Thanks, Grandma Colleen!).

Here are our peeled apples. We split our bag with Grandma Judy, and we still ended up with a good amount.

If you've never made your own applesauce before, it's so simple. It's easier than mashed potatoes! Just peel and chop your apples and put them in a pot. Add enough water to just cover the apples, put a lid on your pot, and simmer the apples for about 30 minutes (maybe just 20 minutes at lower altitude). Once the apples are fairly soft, take the lid off and mash them. Cook your applesauce until the water mostly cooks away, and you're done!

Our homemade applesauce:

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