We’re getting a crisp taste of fall here at the Half-Acre Homestead. We swung from the century mark down to about 60-degrees and all within a few hours this past weekend. We’re now donning light jackets to sneak out and take our evening stroll through the garden and I definitely am having to zip up when I go out and make the nightly rounds with our crazy menagerie of animals outside.
Looking for a break from the daily routine with our toddler and newborn, Homestead Hottie and I decided we wanted to get out and enjoy one of the fall activities we’ve come to really enjoy: picking apples. The first year we moved here we went to a u-pick apple orchard located in the middle of town. It was the staple of many family traditions in the area. We pulled up into the dusty parking pad to find three children and a horse hanging out in a small plywood shelter. After paying our money we were handed our two picking bags and off we went.
At some point during this excursion, walking up and down row upon row of this apple orchard, we came to the conclusion Homestead Hottie was pregnant with our first Darling Daughter. She looked greener and greener around the gills with each passing moment and at one point thought she was going to pass out. Needless to say, this apple picking excursion was the beginning of our realization we were headed down the path to parenthood. Memories were made and so was a lot of applesauce.
Fast forward three years and we’ve been super stoked to see our friend Joe Engelbrecht working on getting his fourth generation orchard up and running. While we couldn’t u-pick at his orchard last year, we bought plenty and plenty of apples from his farm store and turned them into preserved apple slices and several canning jars full of apple butter. In my opinion, they are some quintessential treats of fall.
This year, Joe’s u-pick orchard is up and running and we didn’t hesitate to jump in the first weekend we could. We know the longer you wait in the season to pick, the harder it is to find some good quality fruit so we didn’t want to drag our feet. After purchasing our picking bags at Joe’s store (he was charging $1 per pound and you got to decide between 5 or 10 pound bags), we were given directions on how to access the gravel trail meandering through adjacent corn fields and to the orchard laid out nicely on the slope above the store.
Pulling up to the rustic red barn marking the entrance to the orchard, you could begin reading the signs marking each row of apple trees. Much to Homestead Hottie’s excitement were a row or two of Jonagold apples. These are her favorite “everyday” eating apples and a variety our family chiropractor turned us onto when he discovered Talina didn’t like the texture or taste of most apples.
We quickly filled up a 5-pound bag of Jonagold apples after walking just one or two trees deep down the row. I wanted to get a mixed bag of a few of the other varieties Joe has to offer including Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Braeburn. These three varieties aren’t quite at their peak of ripeness yet but I’m sure several days on the counter will help them get there.
Everly had a blast sprinting from tree to tree and gazing at the trees, overloaded with one of her favorite fruits to snack on. She even had a few apples that were within her short reach that she was able to pick and this made her quite proud. In fact, one of those apples didn’t even make it into the bag but instead landed firmly in her mouth. It was her picking fuel and the ultimate test of the quality of Joe’s apple crop. Everly definitely approved because aside from a shared bite or two, she downed that thing. Baby Adalyn slept the entire time we off-roaded her stroller up and down the orchard rows so she must have been enjoying herself too.
If you’re looking for a fun family activity to do one of these fall weekends, I would definitely recommend heading to Joe Engelbrecth’s Fourth Generation Orchard to pick some fresh apples. Not only are you supporting a local farmer by doing so, you’re supporting a unique local business. Joe and his wife are carving a very unique niche for themselves in the Evansville area and hopefully will find further prosperity here in the future. Happy picking!
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