Small Farmer's Journal

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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar
Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Russell, our daughter Sarah, and Chestnut (Sarah’s pony) picking up apples for cider making.

Apple Cider, Autumn’s Nectar

by Elizabeth Biggs of Quebec

I have often thought that I would not care to live where seasons do not change. My mind and body seem geared to our climate; the reawakening of spring, the blossoming of summer, the ripeness of autumn, the expectancy of winter. This past fall season has been a particularly beautiful one in our country-side of south eastern Quebec. We were blessed with day after day of warm sunshine. The memory of those warm summer like days and the vision of the brilliance of the autumn colours will shelter and comfort us in the long winter days ahead.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Sarah and Chestnut arriving at cider mill with a load of apples.

While autumn’s beauty is food for our souls, autumn’s harvest provides food for our tables. Along with the many hours and days of canning and freezing our garden produce, harvest time also means apple cider making for our family. We have been making apple cider or sweet cider as it is commonly called for six years. At an off season for cattle hoof trimming which provides the main source of income for our livelihood, cider making sees us through those lean months. That same possibility exists for anyone living in an area where apples are plentiful. Beginning slowly, the demand for our juice has resulted in a production of over six hundred gallons this year, providing a source of that scarce and illusive commodity for most small farmers, CASH!

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Apples being fed into grinder.

We live in an important apple producing area of our province; in fact we are surrounded by large commercial orchards in our neighborhood. Our own small orchard of twenty trees of MacIntosh, Melba, Lobo, and Cortland apples cannot begin to furnish enough apples for our cider making. The rest we buy from these large commercial orchards. By buying ground apples and doing our own picking and transporting, the cost of two dollars per bushel is quickly multiplied in the finished product. Our yield usually averages three gallons of cider for one bushel of fully ripened ground apples.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

View of slatted rack and shaping frame.

We bought our cider mill from an old-timer who had built it some twenty years ago and we still admire the simplicity and ingenuity of it’s design. Unfortunately, poor health ended Mr. Clough’s cider making days, but he seemed glad to know the mill would still be in use. Anyone with some basic carpentry skills could build his own mill as well. The mill consists of two parts; the grinder and the press. (see diagram). The grinder consists of a wooden cylinder studded with nail heads which is mounted on a long narrow box. Apples are fed gradually into the grinder powered by a half-horse power electric motor and the resulting apple pulp is collected in the wooden box.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

As you can see from the diagram the press is basically a sturdy wooden frame and a mounted screw. The idea is to build up layers of crushed apples in order to press out the juice. Wooden slatted racks are placed between the layers to provide space for the juice to run out of the press into a collecting barrel. A wooden shaping frame is placed on the first rack, a burlap liner is arranged over the frame, to which is added the crushed apples. As each layer is filled, the process begins again, rack, frame, liner, apples. Approximately twenty-five bushels of apples and five layers fill our press. Now the actual pressing can begin. A piece of plywood is placed over the last layer of apples, some wooden blocks are used to fill in the empty space between apples and pressing board, a metal bar is placed in the screw head, a couple of turns and voila! Sweet autumn nectar – fresh apple juice. This is apple juice like no other you’ve ever tasted.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Arranging burlap over frame in preparation for apple pulp.

We filter our juice through one layer of clean white cotton (I use old flour bags) into milk cans. The cider is ready to be bottled.

Old timers say that only wood should come in contact with apples. The corrosive quality of apple juice will quickly pick up a metallic taste, so bottle up that juice quickly. We use old wine jugs salvaged from our wine drinking friends garbage that have been thoroughly washed and scalded. Sweet cider is a short life product. In warm temperatures and even in the back of the refrigerator it will quickly start to ferment. But then many of our customers say they like their juice a little picky. Just be sure to loosen the cap or you might lose an eye when you come to sample that rare vintage of week old cider. We try to bottle all our juice and peddle it the same day. We have built up a reliable clientele who are more than anxious to buy fresh apple juice delivered to their door.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Face view of cider press with first layer of apples being filled (note cider already running out of press).

Always remember, if you want to make good cider, be clean, right from the beginning with the apples (no I don’t agree a few slugs add body to the flavour) to the grinder and press which receives a thorough scrub down after each batch is made. I made our burlap liners from cattle feed bags taken apart in the seams and sewn together on my sewing machine, four bags for one liner. Be sure to boil the bags first, followed by several washes and rinses in the washing machine. Don’t make my mistake and omit the boiling. Our first batch of cider had a decided flavour of cattle feed. That batch of cider watered my tomatoes.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Leveling out apple layer.

We put up about forty gallons of cider for the winter by bringing the juice just to the boil and putting it in scalded bottles. Be sure to boil the caps too. If there is room in the freezer, that’s the best place to keep cider. My freezer is usually so full of meat and vegetables there isn’t room. Pasturizing does alter the flavour a little, but it’s still good drinking.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Press filled, Russell getting ready to press out juice.

I’ve added two recipes that I use every cider season. If you are ever up our way some crisp October day drop in. If there is nobody home, just head on up the hill to the cider mill. We’re probably there knee deep in apples and cider. Bring along a glass. I’ve got a bottle of the good stuff set aside for you.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Tightening press.

HOT SPICED APPLE CIDER

  • 1 gal. fresh apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 lemon thinly sliced
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

To 1 gallon of juice add other ingredients. Bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy!

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Jug rack and bottling headquarters (otherwise known as summer picnic table).

APPLE BUTTER

  • 13 sliced and cored unpeeled apples
  • 2 cups fresh apple cider
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice

Cook apples and cider together uncovered until apples are soft. Put this pulp through a sieve. Add sugar and spices to this pulp and cook over low heat until thickened stirring occasionally. (Approximately 20 min.) Ladle into hot sterilized jars and seal. Delicious on hot homemade bread.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Ma lugging up all that water for scrubbing and washing.

Spotlight On: Livestock

Fjordworks: Zen and the Art of Training the Novice Teamster Part 2

Fjordworks: Zen and the Art of Training the Novice Teamster Part 2

In the practice of Zen sitting meditation, a special emphasis is placed on maintaining a relaxed but upright sitting posture, in which the vertical and horizontal axis of the body meet at a center point. Finding this core of gravity within can restore a sense of well-being and ease to the practitioner. This balanced seat of ease is not all that different from the state of relaxed concentration we need to achieve to effectively ride or drive horses.

Sheep A Logical Choice

Sheep: A Logical Choice

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from issue:

Sheep have numerous uses on a smallholding. They are excellent grazers and are ideal at revitalizing old pastures as well as an excellent follower of the cows in a rotational grazing system. Cropping the grass at 2-3 inches that the cows have left at 8 inches encourages new growth in the spring. Their manure is usually in pellet form and is spread throughout a pasture as they graze. A sheep shares a ton a year of fertilizer with the earth.

Developing Draft Colts

Developing Draft Colts

During October, 1910, The Pennsylvania State College and Experiment Station purchased a group of ten grade Belgian and Percheron colts and one pure bred Percheron for use in live stock judging classes. An accurate record of the initial cost, feeds consumed and changes in form has been kept in order that some definite information as to the cost of developing draft colts from weaning to maturity might be available for farmers, investigators and students.

Camel Power in Georgia

Camel Power in Georgia

by:
from issue:

Last spring we got the bright idea to plow some corn with one of the camels, so we went to the shed and drug out the “Planet Jr. one camel cultivating plow”. My 86 year old Grandfather said “Son, don’t worry about thinning that corn, those camels are going to do a fine job of it, for you!” We plowed corn and I have some video to prove it, and as soon as I quit running over the corn and learned how to “drive the plow” we didn’t lose any more corn!

Walsh No Buckle Harness

from issue:

When first you become familiar with North American working harness you might come to the erroneous conclusion that, except for minor style variations, all harnesses are much the same. While quality and material issues are accounting for substantive differences in the modern harness, there were also interesting and important variations back in the early twentieth century which many of us today either have forgotten or never knew about. Perhaps the most significant example is the Walsh No Buckle Harness.

Horseshoeing Part 1B

Horseshoeing Part 1B

Since the horse is useful to man only by reason of his movements, his foot deserves the most careful attention. The horse-shoer should be familiar with all its parts. Fig. 3 shows the osseous framework of the foot, consisting of the lower end of the cannon bone, the long pastern, the two sesamoid bones, the short pastern, and the pedal bone.

Horseshoeing Part 3B

Horseshoeing Part 3B

Besides good, tough iron for the shoe, we need an anvil with a round horn and a small hole at one end, a round-headed turning-hammer, a round sledge, a stamping hammer, a pritchel of good steel, and, if a fullered shoe is to be made, a round fuller. Bodily activity and, above all else, a good eye for measurement are not only desirable, but necessary. A shoe should be made thoughtfully, but yet quickly enough to make the most of the heat.

Horse Labor Instead of Tractors

Horse Labor Instead of Tractors

by:
from issue:

Three different parcels of land were committed for a series of tests to directly compare the impact of tractors and horses on the land. One side of each parcel was worked only with horses and the other only with tractors. There were measurable differences between each side of the worked areas; the land’s capacity to hold water and greater aeration were up to 45cm higher in areas worked by horses as opposed to tractors.

Work Horse Handbook

The Work Horse Handbook

The decision to depend on horses or mules in harness for farm work, logging, or highway work is an important one and should not be taken lightly. Aside from romantic notions of involvement in a picturesque scene, most of the considerations are serious.

Fjordworks Horse Powered Potatoes Part 2

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes Part Two

These types of team implements for digging potatoes were the first big innovation in horse powered potato harvesting in the mid-19th century. Prior to the horse drawn digger the limitation on how many potatoes a farmer could plant was how many the farm crew could dig by hand. The basic design of these early diggers works so well that new models of this type of digger are once again being manufactured by contemporary horse drawn equipment suppliers.

Plant Poisoning in Horses & Cattle

Plant Poisoning in Horses & Cattle

by:
from issue:

There are hundreds of plants that can be toxic to livestock. Some grow in specific regions while others are more widespread. Some are always a serious danger and others only under certain conditions. Poisoning of livestock depends on several factors, including palatability of the plant, stage of development, conditions in which they grew, moisture content of the plant and the part eaten.

Feeding Elk Winter Work for the Belgians

Feeding Elk: Winter Work for the Belgians

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from issue:

Doug Strike of rural Sublette County is spending his second winter feeding wild elk in nearby Bondurant, Wyoming. Strike is supplementing his logging income as well as helping his team of Belgian draft horses to keep in shape for the coming season. From May to the end of November he uses his horses to skid logs out of the mountains of western Wyoming. I found the use of Doug’s beautiful Belgian team an exciting example of appropriate technology.

On The Anatomy of Thrift Fat & Slat

On the Anatomy of Thrift Part 3: Fat & Salt

On the Anatomy of Thrift is an instructional series Farmrun created with Farmstead Meatsmith. Their principal intention is instruction in the matters of traditional pork processing. In a broader and more honest context, OAT is a deeply philosophical manifesto on the subject of eating animals. Fat & Salt is the third and final video in the series. It is the conceptual conclusion to the illustrated, narrated story that weaves throughout the entire series, and deals instructionally in the matters of preserving pork.

Chicken

How To Cure Chicken Roup: Then and Now

How To Cure The Common (Chicken) Cold

Ask A Teamster Horse Don't Won't Can't Turn

Ask A Teamster: Horse Don’t, Won’t, Can’t Turn

After moving the drop ring on the other side down we went out to the round pen for a test drive. The difference in how she ground drove and turned was amazing – not perfect, but real sweet. With the lines at that level a right turn cue on the line obviously meant go right to her, and a left turn cue meant left. After we drove around for a while with me smiling I couldn’t resist moving the drop rings back up to the line rings – Bam, back to the old confusion.

The Best Kept Secret, Revisited

The Best Kept Secret, Revisited

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from issue:

At the same time that U.S. commercial beekeeping is circling down in a death spiral, hobby beekeeping is booming and almost every beekeeping club in the country has at least twice as many members as it did twenty years ago. What this means is that if you are fortunate enough to live in a place with relatively clean and varied sources of pollen and nectar, the potential for a successful family-sized commercial apiary is better now than it has been for many decades.

Ask A Teamster Tongue Length

Ask A Teamster: Tongue Length

My forecart pole is set up for draft horses. My husband thinks we should cut the pole off to permanently make it fit better to these smaller horses. What would be your opinion? Like your husband, my preference would be a shorter tongue for a small team like your Fjords. The dynamics and efficiency of draft are better if we have our horse(s) close to the load. A shorter tongue will also reduce the overall length of your outfit, thereby giving you better maneuverability and turning dynamics.

A Year of Contract Grazing

A Year of Contract Grazing

by:
from issue:

Contract grazing involves the use of livestock to control specific undesirable plants, primarily for ecological restoration and wildfire prevention purposes. The landowners we worked for saw grazing as an ecologically friendly alternative to mowing, mechanical brush removal, and herbicide application.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT