Summer has arrived in the Pacific Northwest and with it has come all sorts of projects on the farm. But it wouldn't be fair to blame it all on the season as a lot of our time is wrapped up in the business end getting ready for our first commercial pressing season this fall. From regulation to orchard projects to building improvements, our to do list continues to grow by the day. But we're right where we want to be and continue to make progress every day. Here's a look at some of the bigger projects we're working on now and a look ahead of what's to come.
On the Farm
We planted 1,000 cider apple trees on our property last winter. So far, it's been a smashing success. Assisted by favorable weather, the trees have taken very nicely and are showing considerable growth. We have been fortunate to be pest and blight free without treatment, but managing the orchard hasn't been without its challenges. Working the orchards with the tractor has proven to be the biggest threat to tree health. We've learned to stay on top of the mowing or risk losing sight of the trees, and that establishing a smooth orchard floor needs to be done before the trees are planted. Looking Ahead: We're beginning to ready the fields we will be planting in this fall and winter. Our 2016 apple varietals will include Brown's, Somerset Redstreak, Porter's Perfection and Stoke Red.
The Cider Barn
The Cider Barn is still a diamond in the rough. Having been utilized for various purposes throughout it 70+ year history, it's accumulated all sorts of junk and treasures. With the help of John's father who came over from England, we've worked through most of the barn and sorted out the scrap. We're currently addressing any structural concerns and making our plans to convert it into a great venue to enjoy cider in. It won't look brand new when we're done; we want to stay true to its history and keep the barn as original as possible. Looking Ahead: Later this summer we'll begin landscaping the area around the barn. We want to create a grassy park-type atmosphere around the barn for people to enjoy.
Stone Circle Farms
We've begun construction of raised beds for growing fruits and veggies that will be for sale in the Cider Barn. We'll be putting together 16 raised beds where we'll be planting Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, herbs, and a variety of other fruits and veggies this fall. Looking Ahead: We intend to expand this endeavor so we are able to consistently provide visitors to the farm a selection of fresh produce, in addition to a variety of jams, chutneys, and pickled products.
The Cider Room
We'll be pressing our cider this year in a 4 stall garage space located in our outbuilding adjacent to the pond. This will serve as more than enough space for us to press and ferment our cider for the season. Fortunately, the conversion is manageable. Once we install a floor drain, plumbing, and a walk-in cooler for storage and carbonation, we'll be ready to rock.
It's not enough to have the space to make cider, you have to fill the room with the equipment to accomplish it as well. The equipment is pretty straightforward, you need a mill to crush the apples, a press to squeeze the juice from them, and tanks to ferment them in. Our tanks are lined up and we're still finalizing our plan for the mill and press.
We've still got a ways to go, but we continue to learn every day and make progress towards our goals. We're very pleased with where we're at and very optimistic about what the future has in store. Follow the website or connect with us on social media to continue following our progress!