Apple Pickin' in Orchard County
We had a bit of a poorly boy on our hands this weekend. Nothing a bit of rest, essential oils on the soles of the feet and some tlc can't shake but he was a little under the weather none-the-less. It happens this time of year, doesn't it? The seasons change, the temperature drops and the combo of those things plus the unavoidable onslaught of school germs make it difficult to escape somebody in the house getting the lurgy. We kept Levi off school on Friday, off from a soft play birthday party on Saturday (again with the germs) and instead took him over to my friends house to pick apples. It was just the right dose of fresh air, activity and relaxation for both of us.
Where we live, Co. Armagh is also known as Orchard County here in Northern Ireland - a place completely thriving in the apple industry, producing around 35 million apples per year (about 40 000 tonnes)! The apple legacy of this area can be traced back as far as Saint Patrick, with legend having it that he planted an apple tree at the ancient settlement of Ceangoba, east of the City of Armagh.
Regardless of fables, our apples really are the best and I love taking drives out to the countryside nearby when the apple trees blossom so delicately in the Spring and are heaving with fruit in the Autumn. It is quite a sight to behold. My dad used to take a weeks annual leave in September/October every year to go apple picking with his friends to make some extra money.
Levi was pretty stoked to be able to pick his own, having spent a couple of afternoons on Orchards during Open Farm Weekend where he got to see how a big orchard worked. This time he had the trees all to himself, thanks to my lovely friend who has had a few big apple trees on her family land for decades.
*Flashback to 2011 when little baby Levi and I first started going to Stephs to pick apples coming.....now!*
Look at that tiny babe! It makes me feel both warm-hearted and sweaty-handed thinking about doing it all again and having a wee one that small in a few short months from now. Anyway, more on all the feels about having another kid on a hormone-driven post coming soon. For now, we'll just coo and say "bless" at how much photography has come on since then.
We had such a blast trying to coax the biggest and best apples down from the top of the tree with a few big digs of the ladder. Levi loved when the apples fell to the ground and he could scurry under the canopy of the craggy branches to collect them and add them to our stash. He felt like such a big boy getting to climb up himself and pick them with his own fair hands.
So we came home with a supply of apples that will keep us going in crumbles and sponges well into 2016, I imagine! I intend on cooking and bagging a big batch ready for the freezer so I can have them handy to make stuff with all winter long.
I heard on Radio 2 this morning that Autumn is such a breath of hope when the dying off of nature looms with Winter's approach - I thought it was a lovely analogy about the seasons and just another reason for this time of year to be held dearly. Did you know there is even a National Apple Day - October 21st? A whole day dedicated to the celebration of a fruit! Bonkers, but I love it.
Other lovely bloggers have shared their apple recipes lately so do check out The Linen Cloud's Apple Butterscotch Pudding and Gemma's Spiced Apple Cake! Do you have any fun cooking apple recipes, sweet or savoury? Send them to this gal - we have our peelers at the ready! I'd also love to know - is your area known for a speciality produce of any kind? Maybe it would be fun to do some looking into it?!