New baby, many learnings and best wishes!

Exciting news! The fourth farm generation came into the world on December 11th, born to Michaela (my daughter-in-law and bakery manager) and Jay (my son, whom many of you know as a fixture at the farm). Emma-Grace Ann Kitzinger, 8 lbs and 7.1 ounces, is doing great along with her two tired parents. But with both sets of grandparents living on the same road within walking distance, we’ll all be helping to make those first few days at home a bit easier. Congratulations Michaela and Jay!

Welcome home, Emma-Grace.

Welcome home, Emma-Grace. We’re so excited you’re here.

We’re a bit behind getting an update out to you so this is a late thank you to all of you who came out for Thanksgiving pies and especially those that purchased Becca’s new hard cider. She could hardly keep it bottled and labeled fast enough. We’re looking forward to a wider variety of ciders and wines when we open next year. She’s got a ruby-red cherry cider that’s absolutely delicious, so look forward to that.

While we are closed for the season, we are happy to make appointments for those of you who want to get our brandy, polecat wines, or hard cider for gifts or just for yourself.  We still have plenty. We also have some frozen take-and-bake apple pies if you’re looking for a nice easy treat. Either email us (coreylakeorchards@gmail.com) or call us at 269-244-5690.

Learn, think, grow, improve…..This past week, four of us from the farm spent three long days of learning at the annual Great Lakes Expo held in Grand Rapids. Patti spent her time in the baking workshops so we can’t wait to see what new things the bakery will be trying next year. My cousin David covered the apple, cherry, grape and plum workshops to understand what’s new and where potential problems could be occurring, Becca ran frantically between hard cider, organic growing, and food safety sessions, and I spent my time in the agritourism/direct marketing track, coming home quite giddy about some things we hope to put in place here to make your experience even better. One of our favorite things about this week is connecting with all of our fellow farmers to share experiences, both good and bad, which keep us all inspired to continue to do what we all love doing. Even better when you can share all of this during wine and cider tasting.

Happenings on the farm:  The unexpected fall-like weather is allowing us to get at things we couldn’t with the early snow fall. So finally we are getting everything put away for the winter and making really good progress with pruning our Concord grapes. We’re also about to start construction on a new high tunnel. Also called a hoophouse, this is an unheated greenhouse-like structure that will allow us to extend our season so we can have vegetables mostly year round. We’re hoping to get it up before the ground freezes so that we can have plenty of lettuce, spinach, turnips, radishes, and other goodies ready in time for asparagus season.

Here’s wishing all of you a wonderful, restful, safe holiday season!

-Beth and everyone at Corey Lake Orchards

 

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Thanksgiving Pies, Hard Cider, and Early Winter

Happenings on the farm: We finished getting apples trimmed and pruned for the season today, which means we’re now moving full speed ahead on Concord grape trimming (Niagara grape trimming begins in January when the vines have gone truly dormant). This will take most of the next month, and if you drive by, you’ll see us hard at work, snow, rain, or shine.

Thanksgiving pie pick up: Pick up day is Wednesday, 11/26, from 8am to 4pm. If you still need to order Thanksgiving pies, please contact us ASAP and we’ll fit you in! Your pies will be ready for you with friendly smiles from our bakery staff (we have missed you!). You are also welcome to buy brandy, wine, and hard cider while the bakery is open on 11/26 (or by appointment any day, just call us at 269 244 5690 to set up a time).

Hard cider? Becca has brought her homebrewing experience to our winery and distillery, making 400+ gallons of hard cider, mead, cyser (a mead/hard cider blend), apple wine, and cider vinegar to add to our market. She’s made two brews ready for this winter, both of which will be available starting Wednesday:

owlsomen   snowlinepreview

-Owl’s Omen, a traditional dry hard cider, made without any added sulfites
-Snowline Cider, a semi-dry hard cider with light spicing

Read more here. Both ciders come in standard 12oz bottles, $2.50 each or $13/6 pack. There’s a growing interest in hard cider, so for those of you who are new to it, Becca offers this primer:

Hard cider was the beverage of choice of Western European settlers, and was an immensely popular table beverage across the United States until the 1800s, at which point it slowly declined in popularity, finally nearly disappearing with Prohibition.

Hard cider is to apples what wine is to grapes: if you expect it to taste like apples, you may be in for some news! Newcomers to craft cider are often surprised that it doesn’t taste exactly like alcoholic apple juice. A lot of the misconception comes from the flavor profiles offered by big hard cider brands, which nearly universally utilize chemical flavorings, sugar, artificial carbonation, and other stuff to ensure an apple juice flavor and a perfectly clear product. Craft ciders, like craft beers and wines, are made differently, and vary immensely in flavor and style.

Having enjoyed craft and commercial cider from the USA, Spain, England, Wales, France, Austria, Argentina, and Chile, I really like the variation and hope to offer that at our market. Cider comes in the full range of sweet, semi-dry, or dry, and sparkling or still. Try what you can, here and at other small cideries, and get a sense of what you like. If you’re worried about sugar, it’s best to go for a semi-dry or dry cider, since sweet cider often has a full tablespoon (or two) of residual sugar. Like commerical wines, craft cider usually has added sulfites, though this depends on the cidermaker or cider variety.

Like craft beer, craft cider can be bottle conditioned, meaning some carbonation or intentional aging occurs in the bottle. It is often unpasteurized and should be kept in a dark cool place. When you buy a bottle or a six-pack of hard cider from us, Becca will send along a little information on the variety you bought so you know what considerations you should have. All of the ingredients are clearly listed on our labels.

Stay tuned for cherry, pear, plum, and peach ciders – made with Corey Lake Orchards produce! – which we will offer next year.

From all of us here at the farm, we’re hoping you are staying warm and keeping up with the snow shoveling!

Isn't it a little too early for this?

Isn’t it a little too early for this?!

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Happy November

Since we closed on October 24th we have seen it all: a few beautiful summer days last weekend followed by Friday’s snow! With this year’s strange weather (and Michigan’s climate in general) pretty much nothing surprises us.

It's hard to get used to the closed sign being up every day....we miss our customers

It’s hard to get used to the closed sign being up every day….we miss our customers

Just a reminder that even though the market is closed, you are welcome to call us at (269) 244-5690 if you’d like to place Thanksgiving pie orders or purchase brandy and wine.

How did we spend our first few days off? Taking advantage of the weather to work outdoors of course! With un-harvested mums still in the field, my “can’t waste” mindset overcame me and before I knew it, I has transplanted mums in front of the parking lot! They look pretty! Too bad none of you are here to see them…

Bringing in a load of freshly dug mums from the field

Bringing in a load of freshly dug mums from the field

Raking, sweeping, cleaning, stacking, and organizing overtook everyone as we attacked the market, barns, back buildings, and the cold storage, putting baskets, boxes, signs and pretty much a little of everything away that had gotten tossed aside during our busy season.

Becca raked leaves into a pile at the surface of the slide....but with no little customers around there was no one to jump into them!!

Becca raked leaves into a pile at the bottom of the slide….but with no little customers around there was no one to jump into them!!

As the weather was predicting the first real freeze for the year on Halloween —it took a small crew to scramble and get everything winterized: the irrigation system, shut off wells not being used during the winter, and blow out all of the water lines we have at the market, gardens, cider mill, etc. A big thanks to Jay for walking us one more time through the maze of waterlines we have to get through to get the job done.

Apple orchard pruning continued–making great progress and the Northern Spy orchard is now complete.

Brush piled neatly between the trimmed rows ready to be moved.

Brush piled neatly between the trimmed rows ready to be moved.

The grapes are so easy to see now that the frost has hit the leaves and they have fallen….plus another job almost complete–picking up all of the cones we use to mark the grapes for U-Pick….thanks, George.

Uh--now we can see where someone missed picking a bunch of grapes!

Uh–now we can see where someone missed picking a bunch of grapes!

On Tuesday, nine of us went to visit farms and markets in the Grand Rapids area. Our early closing this year allowed us a rare opportunity to get out and visit other farm operations while they were still open. Our mission was to stop at as many places as possible, shamelessly steal good ideas, and of course, indulge in the edible delights of their farm (cider, fudge, bread, cookies, donuts and wine tasting, oh my!). We thank all of our gracious hosts who stepped away from their busy farms for a bit to show us around and share their experiences. We came back enthusiastic about some things we saw that we may want to try out at Corey Lake Orchards and felt good knowing we had further stimulated the Michigan farm economy as our two cars laden with fresh produce, baked goods and gifts arrived back in Three Rivers.

Cathy buying produce at Brechting Farms

Cathy buying produce at Brechting Farms

 

Jan with the big pumpkin

Jan with the big pumpkin

 

Sandy found some nice sized carrots

Sandy found some nice sized carrots

Teri practically brought them out of these beautiful brussel sprouts

Teri practically bought them out of these beautiful brussel sprouts

We had a delightful lunch following our tour of Robinette's

We had a delightful lunch following our tour of Robinette’s

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Our last day is Friday, October 24th for the year….

While our “official” last day for the market and bakery was Sunday, October 19th, we have remained open this week to sell remaining produce, with reduced hours of 9 to 5. Below you will find listed what is still available, we will be open until 5 pm on Friday October 24th, which will really be our last day for the year.  (We are closing early this year due to such a small apple crop.)

Here’s what is what we still have:

Butternut squash

Fall Ornamentals: rainbow corn, small hay bale sand Diane’s famous painted pumpkins

Bagged onions: Our sweet candy onions (red and yellow),  Special cipollini cooking onions are also available.

Kale (multiple kinds), potatoes, and dried sage

Bakery:  The bakery is closed for the year, but still taking orders for pies for Thanksgiving. If you’d like to place an order you can call us at 269-244-5690 until the Friday before Thanksgiving (November 19th). The pick up date for Thanksgiving pies will be on Wednesday November 26th.

Picked grapes: We still have picked grapes available (white Niagara and the purple Concord)- $20 a bushel. Please call the market at 269-244-5690 to order them.

U-Pick grapes: We are still open for purple Concord. The frost has killed off most of the leaves making them easier to pick for sure.  However, you need to come out very soon as  the grapes will start changing in texture. They are 25 cents a pound to pick, or 20 cents a pound if you pick over 100 pounds.

U-Pick apples:  We have completed the apple harvest and we are now open for end of year “apple gleaning”–you may pick apples left on the tree or off the ground for $5/bushel. However, please be aware that there are very few left….so some work and effort is required to find them.

Picked Apples on the market–we have some of the following left, but going fast.  It is best to call ahead and have us save what you want since we have so few left.

  • Honeycrisp: This seems to be many people’s favorite, it is crisp with an excellent sweet flavor and a “bite” to it. Great for eating fresh or using in salads
  • Northern Spy: This is an antique apple that cooks up well in applesauce, pie and other dishes…..very popular for apple pie
  • Golden Delicious: A gingery-smooth, sweet taste lies under a thin skin. Great for applesauce, cider, pies or other desserts
  • Red Rome: Bright red, tart apple for eating or cooking with a pink tinge when you bite into it…makes a nice looking applesauce
  • Mutsu: A large green very tart apple for eating or cooking, the closest thing we have to a Granny Smith

Apple pricing for the year:  With the exception of Honeycrisp, apples are: $24 a bushel, $13 a half-bushel, $7 a peck (1/4 of a bushel), $4 a half-peck, $2 a 1/4 peck and $1.00 a pound.

Pumpkins: We no longer have pumpkins, sorry.  You might find some at Riley Pumpkin Farm which is located in Three Rivers, follow the signs to Ferguson Road off of Broadway.

Happenings on the farm this week:

We were surprised to find how busy we were on the market this week. After last year’s bumper crop of apples that went on through November, nobody believes that we really are closing! So thanks to everyone that came out to get our remaining produce this week. We have started pruning the apple orchards and making great progress with the good weather - if you drive along AL Jones Road you will see how far along we have already come. As soon as the Concord vines completely die off from the frost, we will start pruning the grapes, which is one of our most labor intensive annual farm tasks.

The reduced market hours this week allowed me to get into the office and start through the mountain of paperwork that piled up during our busy season (definitely not my favorite thing). Becca has been busy brewing hard cider, preparing her garden for the frosts, and helping Bruce to start some Concord grape brandy.

We were notified this week that we were selected to be this year’s recipient of Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes’ annual FISH (Food Industry Supply Hero) award.  They are one of several food pantries we work with to ensure none of our excess produce goes to waste and we really appreciate our partnership with them, which has allowed us to donate over 35,000 pounds of produce in the past five years.

It is supposed to be an absolutely beautiful fall weekend coming up and we are truly sorry that we will not have the traditional farm experience to offer you since we are closing. It will be great weather to be out in orchards and pumpkin patches. So for those of you looking for pick your own apples, pumpkins, and the cider and donut experience, I would direct you to the following website to find other places in Michigan:  http://michiganfarmfun.com/. All of the farms you will find here belong to the Michigan Agritourism Association which I am proud to serve as the President of. I can wholeheartedly recommend these as options for you to take advantage of fall fun on a Michigan farm.

Finally, we would like to give our condolences to the friends and family of Lee Hawkins. Lee passed away this week at the age of 94 and was a well-loved member of the Three Rivers community, working at the high school for many years. He also worked at Corey Lake Orchards for over 40 years and was a common face around the market even after he retired. He was a wonderful friend to our family and he will be missed.

So, we thank you again for a  great season, for being such loyal customers and buying local, Beth and everyone else at Corey Lake Orchard

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Beautiful colors at the market, open just a few more days.

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All good things must come to an end….at least for 2014…

Thanks to everyone who came out this past weekend, especially Sunday for the special Fall Color Tour events. Based on the size of the crowds, we think that was just about everybody. It was great to see everyone having fun on the farm and enjoying the beautiful day. Even when the donut line got long….no one seemed to mind.

A few people out for the Fall Color Tour.

A few people out for the Fall Color Tour.

Once again, it is time for us to wrap up our season, and with the smaller apple crop, sooner than we would like. So our last “official” day for the market and bakery with our normal 8 to 6 hours will be this coming Sunday, October 19th. After the 19th, we will be around from 9 until 5 for a few more weeks, for those who might still be coming to pick grapes, do apple gleaning, buy brandy, or purchase what produce we still have available.

So….if you have not gotten your fall produce, now really is the time.  Here’s what is what we still have:

Fall squash: acorn, butternut, buttercup—these will keep for a few months yet if you can store them in a cool, dry spot.

Fall Ornamentals: Mums, pumpkins, gourds, specialty pumpkins, rainbow corn, and small hay bales are ready for your fall decorating. Diane’s famous painted pumpkins are on the market too. Great picture taking spots amongst all of these ornamentals.

Apple cider: We pressed cider for the last time on Monday, October 13th, and will have it till it runs out, hopefully through the weekend.

Bagged onions: Our sweet candy onions (red and yellow) and our white superstar onions have now been cleaned and bagged. They have been dried and cured and will keep for you through the winter–so stock up. Special cipollini cooking onions are also available.

And of course, kale (multiple kinds), potatoes, dried sage, rosemary, oregano, and other herbs. Basil is now gone for the year.

This weekend in the bakery we will have:

  • Pies: apple, blueberry, cherry, fresh pumpkin, pecan
  • Apple dumplings
  • Cookies: pumpkin shaped cut outs, monster (oatmeal, choc chips, m&m’s and peanut butter), caramel apple, and lemon
  • Bread: Whole wheat, cinnamon, vegetable
  • Cinnamon rolls and sticky buns
  • Pumpkin cupcakes
  • Donuts: Apple, buttermilk, pumpkin
  • Slushies: Apple cider and grape blend

If you would like to reserve any baked goods please call us at (269) 244-5690.

Reminder that we have our Northern Spy frozen apple pies on special since it is apple season….you can buy three large pies for $25.

Second reminder:  We will also be baking pies for Thanksgiving again by order only. You can pick up and fill out an order form for Thanksgiving in the bakery now through October 19th, or call us to fill one out for you (269-244-5690). The pick up date for Thanksgiving pies will be on Wednesday November 26th.

A note from the bakers: This is the final weekend the bakery will be open. With that being said, it is always bittersweet to see each season come to a close…on one side we will miss seeing all of our wonderful customers, on the other it will be nice to able sleep in past 4 am. Everyone in the bakery would like to thank you for the wonderful season and we look forward to seeing and serving all of you next year! See you this weekend!-The Bakers

Local Meat: The freezer still has some meat, but it’s going fast. If you want bacon, pork chops, or ground sausage before it sells out, give us a call and we’ll put it on hold for you. Thanks to local friends at Rolling Meadows Farms in Jones for helping us keep in stock this year.

Picked grapes: We are taking orders for bushels of picked grapes (white Niagara and the purple Concord)- $20 a bushel. Please call the market at 269-244-5690 to order them. We also sell pre-picked grapes in smaller quantities as well. Often folks ask us what to do with these grape varieties—they are primarily used for making juice, wine or jelly. However, if you don’t mind the seeds, they are great to eat just fresh. We have recipes at the market for how to use them.

U-Pick grapes: We are open for both the white Niagara and the purple Concord. We have plenty of Concord, though but the Niagara are not as plentiful.

Everyone is asking how much longer we will have grapes…..it is always hard to predict how many customers will come out and what the weather will do, but it seems like we will have the purple Concord grapes until the first hard frost.  With the rains, coming sooner than later is best.

  • Picking hours: Our picking hours are 8 am to 6 pm, we ask that you be finished and checked out by 6, except for Tuesday and Thursdays, where we will stay open until 8 pm (please check into the market by 6pm).
  • Please check in at the main market on Corey Lake Road before you start. You will be directed to the vineyard in which we are picking that day and be given rows to pick on.
  • Pricing: They are 25 cents/pound to pick or if you pick over 100 pounds, they are 20 cents/pound. A 5-gallon bucket filled to the top weighs approximately 20 pounds which is also equivalent to a half bushel.
  •  If you pick over 100 pounds of grapes, that is $4 a bucket (20 cents/lb)
  • If you pick less than 100 pounds, it is $5 a bucket (25 cents/lb).

When you come to pick grapes, please bring the following if you have them:

  • Five gallon buckets to pick in, this is how we measure how much you pick instead of having to weigh them all. If you don’t have these, you can borrow ours, but bring containers to take them home in. You can also purchase pails from us for $4.00.
  • Scissors or clippers to cut them with.
  • Small wagons to help you get them out of the vineyard (our rows are very long).

U-Pick apples:

We have completed the apple harvest and we a re now open for end of year “apple gleaning”–this is a great way for folks trying to get a lot of apples to do it very economically. You may pick apples left on the tree or off the ground for $5/bushel. So for those people who want to press their own cider, make a huge amount of apple sauce, get “animal” apples, etc., this is the time. For best availability of the types of apples and quality—you will want to come out within the next several weeks. Please check in with the market first.

Picked Apples on the market–we have some of the following left, but going fast:

  • Honeycrisp: This seems to be many people’s favorite, it is crisp with an excellent sweet flavor and a “bite” to it. Great for eating fresh or using in salads (good amount left)
  • JonaGold: This is a large, lovely apple for fresh eating and cooking. It combines the best qualities of a Jonathan and a Golden Delicious. It is very crisp, with shades of tart and sweet in each apple (few left)
  • Northern Spy: This is an antique apple that cooks up well in applesauce, pie and other dishes…..very popular for apple pie (good amount left)
  • Golden Delicious: A gingery-smooth, sweet taste lies under a thin skin. Great for applesauce, cider, pies or other desserts (good amount left)
  • Red Delicious: A sweet eating apple which is an old favorite. Excellent keeper (good amount left)
  • Red Rome: Bright red, tart apple for eating or cooking with a pink tinge when you bite into it…makes a nice looking applesauce (good amount left)
  • Pink Lady–very hard, tart, apple with a beautiful pink cheek
  • Gone for the year: Ginger Gold, Macintosh, Mollies Delicious, Earliblaze, Jonathan, Cortland, JonaMac, Mutsu, Ida Red, Fuji, Gala, Cameo

Apple pricing for the year:  With the exception of Honeycrisp, apples are: $24 a bushel**, $13 a half-bushel, $7 a peck (1/4 of a bushel), $4 a half-peck, $2 a 1/4 peck and $1.00 a pound. **When we have bushels available. Please see apple update at our official page here.

Pumpkins: We have lots of pumpkins for sale, ranging from huge to small, but this year we have moved them to the parking lot area to make it easier for you to take to your car. You can’t miss them, right beside the vineyard and in front of the old white truck.  If you are looking for pumpkins after October 19th, we recommend Riley Pumpkin Farm which is located in Three Rivers, follow the signs to Ferguson Road off of Broadway.

The Spookley Storybook: Please check out our large storybook about Spookley the square pumpkin in the yard by the farmhouse. There are 12 storyboards to walk children through. It is a wonderful story about a pumpkin that grows square instead of round, gets teased and bullied because he is different, than something happens on the farm where Spookley ends up saving all of the pumpkins—and we won’t give the rest of the story away. This story has some great teachable moments about how all of us need to value the unique and different qualities that individuals have.

Happenings on the farm this week: We do have to admit that on Monday, all of us were a bit dazed and operating on auto-pilot after all of the hours we worked getting ready for the Fall Color Tour. The rains that came slowed things down a bit and actually seemed very nice for us! This week, in between the rainstorms, we are working back in the fields again preparing them for next year. Yes, all of those tomato stakes which held those plants up so valiantly are now out of the ground and stored for next year. This afternoon, the crew is getting pruning equipment ready so we can start into the apple orchards. Once we get a hard frost killing off the grape vines, we will start trimming the Concord grapes.

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Beautiful colors at the market, open just a few more days.

So to all of our customers, we say thank you. It has been our pleasure and joy to share our farm and all of its bounty with you. Especially this year, with the loss of my dad and so many transitions at the farm, your support has meant everything to us. We will certainly miss you during the winter as the farm moves into its slower pace. We promise to keep you updated and look forward to another season with you in 2015.

Thanks as always for buying local, Beth & everyone at Corey Lake Orchards

 

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