Hope everyone is having a good winter and staying warm. During our winter months, we thought we would try something different and offer you the perspective of some of our neighbors and friends of the farm. We thank Bruce Ruesink, our Master Distiller and our wonderful neighbor, for being our first guest writer. Please give us feedback if you enjoyed it and would like us to do more of this, or if you would like to volunteer! We’d love to share stories of some of your favorite times at Corey Lake Orchards.
Just one quick note before we let Bruce describe his perspective on farm life in the winter: as always we have naturally grown lettuce, spinach, kale, carrots, and more freshly harvested from Becca’s hoophouse available at World Fare. You can head there and grab some whenever they’re open. You may also call us at (269) 244-5690 if you’d like to have us set some aside for you (or if you want to pick it up here).
Without further ado, here’s Bruce:
It is deep into January. Snow and cold have an iron grip on the fields and gardens. The linear geography of orchard and vineyard is softened by undulating drifts. Kaiser Lake is iced-over, but its surface still heaves and recedes, only now at glacial pace.
Wildlife are deprived of leaf cover. Tracks in the snow reveal which rabbit burrows are active and which trees are home to squirrels. Turkey runs and hawk roosts are more easily identified. A disturbance in the snow might signal where a fox made a meal of a vole, or where a deer scraped after one last wind-fall apple. The natural architecture of wood lot and lakeside is revealed in stark contrast to the ordered rows of fruit tree and grape vines.
Color is leached out of the landscape. On an overcast day, the world appears black and white. On those rare days when the sun shines brightly, the light–bounce off the covering snow amplifies the muted colors that remain. Those outdoors must squint against the intensity of the reflected brightness.
It is a season when the community narrows. Neighbors check on one another. We are reassured by the regular habits of those around us, and are alerted by something out of the ordinary.
The work of the farm goes on. It is a season of preparation, of maintenance, and of planning. Workers spend long and lonely hours in the vines, trimming and tying off vines to ensure the possibility of a optimal crop. Machines are repaired and stored so as to be ready when needed. Wines are corked, and brandies mellow slowly in their barrels and bottles. Bakers try new applications in their home kitchens and tweak a recipe or two. The hardiest of the vegetables continue to bear in Becca’s hoop house. Beth can occasionally work uninterrupted.
Among the most enjoyable aspects of winter at Corey Lake Orchards are the remarkable sunrises and sunsets… and the few minutes of leisure it takes to appreciate them.