12147 Corey Lake Road, Three Rivers, Michigan (269) 244-5690

Corey Lake Orchards

March Madness, and Not Just in Basketball!

“Bad weather always looks worse through a window.” –Thomas Andrew, retired American singer-songwriter, satirist, and mathematician. 

This year’s weather continues to be a popular conversation item. Those who don’t like the winter cold seem to be ecstatic, winter snow-lovers feel like they didn’t get their fill but were elated to see the ground covered this morning. And what about that wind last week?  We worried incessantly about our greenhouse structures blowing away….but they held their ground.

Wherever we are lately, everyone is asking, “Aren’t you worried about this weather?” We have looked out our farm windows this winter, checked on-line forecasts frequently and even looked at old fashioned thermometers all over the farm, but not any more than normal. Being aware of the weather and its consequences comes with the territory and we have learned to “weather” the storms. We are thankful for all of you who are worrying for us and sending positive thoughts our way. So while the weather has been unusual for sure, there is nothing to be concerned about yet. The fruit trees and vines are coming out of their winter’s rest, but they are getting another good nap in this week for sure. We aren’t putting our snow shovels away or changing the snowplow for a regular plow yet!

The big bird was one of the first things to fall down in the extreme winds

Our greenhouse is thriving due to the unusually warm and sunny February days (and we were grateful to save heating costs). The tomato plants are planted and growing well, and what has been seeded for the hoophouse and fields is sprouting quickly. The UPS man is again a regular in our driveway delivering seeds and farm supplies. We are buckled down in some detailed planning as we gear up for another season, so already we find ourselves busy with nearly no time to look out the window at the weather!

See how much the tomato plants and grand daughter Emma Grace are growing.

As a reminder, you can still purchase fresh organic spinach, carrots, kale, lettuce, and arugula at World Fare in downtown Three Rivers. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday, call before you go to make sure we’ve stocked what you want! We just restocked yesterday!! Their number is (269) 273-1253. You can also call us at (269) 244-5690 and we’ll harvest it for you and set aside your order to pick up at the farm or at World Fare (you may have to leave a message but we check our voicemail).

Carrot overload!  What to do when the hoop house produces too many sweet carrots?  Process and put them away for a spring bakery debut!

Becca and Michaela processing fresh carrots–stay tuned this spring for something tasty to be baked with them!

One of the things we like to do when we are traveling about is to check out our competition. In particular we like to look at labels and pricing, but also do some taste testing. Becca recently tasted 30 different regional ciders on a trip to Oregon.  When in Lansing last week, I was amazed at the number of hard ciders carried at Horrock’s, including our own. It was fun to talk to hard cider enthusiasts who were shopping that day and sample what they had at their tasting bar on tap. It’s hard for us to say this, but from a humble perspective–we really believe the taste of our hard ciders is up there with the best of the best.

Two aisles of hard ciders at Horrock’s in Lansing!

Four of our hard ciders standing tall at Horrock’s large display.

From Becca: I tried another 20-30 ciders when she went to CiderCon in Chicago in February. It was such a nice event this year and I love the professional development the United States Cider Association does. Of course, it also encouraged me to get in gear for a lot of production. I’m really excited for a Maple/Vanilla cider that I’ll bottle up in a few weeks for sale during asparagus season, as well as for sale at a few local bars and stores. We’re also going to do some of our most popular ciders (Preach, Blueberry, Hometown Hero) in cans this year. People have been asking, so, we’ll certainly try it.

Here’s hoping your winter (or spring) is going well and we can’t wait for another season to begin–everyone at Corey Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Love You! Thank You for Loving Us!

We were so pleased and grateful to have our customers vote us as “The Best Place to Buy Fruits and Vegetables” in this year’s Reader’s Choice Competition in the Three Rivers Commercial. It is an honor to receive this because it comes from you! Please know we will continue to work hard to keep your trust and loyalty and are looking forward to our 2017 season, our 56th year as a family business.  Thank you! We really do love making you happy with fresh produce.

 

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As a reminder, you can still purchase fresh organic spinach, carrots, kale, lettuce, and arugula at World Fare in downtown Three Rivers. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday, call before you go to make sure we’ve stocked what you want! Their number is (269) 273-1253. You can also call us at (269) 244-5690 and we’ll harvest it for you and set aside your order to pick up at the farm or at World Fare (you may have to leave a message but we check our voicemail).

Robin Sighting! Thursday was one of the coldest days here on the farm, even our winter-hardy grape pruning crew decided it was too bad to be out. So imagine our surprise to find the farm’s yard full of robins. Since robins are a harbinger of spring, my seasonal alarm bell went off. Being the second year to witness this phenomena, a little research was in order and here’s what we found out:

“As with many birds, the wintering range of American Robins is affected by weather and natural food supply, but as long as food is available, these birds are able to do well for themselves by staying up north. One reason why they seem to disappear every winter is that their behavior changes. In winter robins form nomadic flocks, which can consist of hundreds to thousands of birds. Usually these flocks appear where there are plentiful fruits on trees and shrubs, such as crabapples, hawthorns, holly, juniper, and others. When spring rolls around, these flocks split up. Suddenly we start seeing American Robins yanking worms out of our yards again, and it’s easy to assume they’ve “returned” from migration. But what we’re seeing is the switch from being nonterritorial in the winter time to aggressively defending a territory in advance of courting and raising chicks. This behavioral switch is quite common in birds.”    Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Exploring and Conserving Nature

 

So of course it makes perfect sense that they too found our farm to be “the best place to get fruits!”  After enjoying grapes still hanging on the fine, the occasional apple in a tree and the many wild berries growing, they were gone. 

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Other happenings on the farm:  We are on pace with our grape pruning and will actually start tying the vines to the wire trellis earlier than usual, on every day that is above 40 degrees, which seems to be the new normal for February. The greenhouse is ready to go, with all of the supplies coming in next week, including the little tomato plants. We would sure like to see more days with some sun once they arrive as would most of you. We’ve been taking advantage of the winter’s slower pace to get away and update our knowledge.  Beth is back from 3 days of Tree Fruit School, Becca is back from 3 days of hard cider school, and Brenda is attending the update on the new Food Safety laws that come out in 2018. Our brains and notebooks are full!

Tomato plants which are growing nicely in Shram's greenhouse in Portage

Tomato plants which are growing nicely in Shram’s greenhouse in Portage

Happy February and thanks as always for buying local!

 

 

 

Does Agritourism ever sleep?

Many of you know I sometimes take off my Corey Lake Orchard’s hat and put on my Michigan Agritourism hat,  where I serve as President on their Board of Directors.  We have close to 300 members in this great state where agriculture thrives.  This role has allowed me to meet so many of my peers, visit their farms and learn so much from them.  I am amazed at the unique and incredibly fun things these folks do in their agritourism operations.  So I thought I would share something I recently wrote for their website about my winter activities. So click on this link below, and while you are there, check out the Michigan Agritourism website and you may find other places you wish to visit!

http://www.michiganfarmfun.com/article.asp?ait=nv&nid=15

PS, thanks to my sister Charlotte, our farm’s beekeeper,  for helping me to edit this–as many of you know from the books she has at our market, she is a very talented writer!    Happy winter to all, Beth

Another Year, Another BLT Countdown Begins

Well, winter was here, then it went, then it came again, then there was a lightning storm, and as of today it looks like winter will be returning tomorrow! With the rainstorms, the farm is as muddy as it is in March and we’re actually looking forward to the return of snow.

As a reminder, you can still purchase fresh spinach, carrots, lettuce, and arugula at World Fare in downtown Three Rivers. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday, call before you go to make sure we’ve stocked what you want! Their number is (269) 273-1253. You can also call us at (269) 244-5690 and we’ll harvest it for you and set aside your order to pick up at the farm or at World Fare (you may have to leave a message but we check our voicemail).

If you’d like to purchase brandy or hard cider, you can call us to set up an appointment to do that. We also have hard cider on the menu at The Local in Centreville. This is a really great restaurant for those of you in the area who are locally-minded. We’re so impressed with their menu and how nice it is working with them, and we appreciate their commitment to sourcing so much of their food from local farms.

2017 has us all in motion, pruning grapes, finishing getting the pruned branches out of the apple orchard and when the rains kept us in this week, we might have spent more time than normal perusing seed catalogs.  Tomato lovers, rest assured, the greenhouse tomato plants have been started and  we’re about 117 days from the first BLT! So we leave you with that image rather than a picture of the grey day here at the farm!

We hope your new year is off to a great start and we thank you for buying local.

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Some Cheer for You!

We are now closed for the season, however, we still have the following items available and are happy to set up an appointment with you to get.  Just call us at 269-244-5690.

  • Apples:  All bags of apples are Buy Two bags, Get One Free of any size.  We have Cameo and Golden Delicious apples still available.
  • Onions—2 bags for $10 (normally $8 bag)
  • Winter squash, $1 each
  • Becca’s organic produce. Fresh spinach, lettuce, kale, carrots, arugula, and garlic.
  • Brandy, wine and our vast selection of hard ciders.
  • Baked goods: Frozen” take and bake pies” and “take and bake muffins” in the bakery freezer–sorry but we only have apple pies left — but it is our famous Northern Spy pie!
  • Maple Syrup and Honey
  • Meat
No time for us to swing in the snow!

No time for us to swing in the snow!

‘Twas days before Christmas and all thru the farm,
Many creatures were stirring, especially cute deer in the apple orchard ready to do great harm…
The baskets and bushels were put away for the year
And the thought of filling them again fills us with cheer.

Customers which had come, are gone for this season,
After all, why come to the farm in winter they reason?
Aaahhh, if only they knew how much fun (work) there is still,
So much to be done, despite the wind chill.

Pruning grapevines, readying the greenhouse and moving snow,
Tending the hoop house where greens and carrots (and weeds) now grow.
Making batches of hard cider, bottling, labeling and more
And tackling the office work, our least favorite chore.

End of year inventory has to be done,
Counting flour, now sugar, and spices, what fun!
Oh gosh, no apple bags, out of wine bags—all gone from the store,
And looking through seed catalogs makes us want to do more.

But we pause to take a minute to send out our cheer,
To our many cherished customers far and near:
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Good Solstice, hear, hear!
And our very best hope for a wonderful New Year!

 

Everyone at Corey Lake Orchards hopes you have a great season. Thanks as always for buying local.