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Once we picked all the ripe apples from the tops and lower branches of the trees, we scoured the grassy floor looking for any forgotten apples. Those apples that had been undetected for a few days or were nibbled by curious deer passerby were collected for the cows. Daily, the cows would gorge themselves with buckets and buckets of rotten apples. They had become so accustomed to their sweet treat that they would moo from the pasture when they saw us approach with buckets in hand. Those were some happy cows.

The apples that were still fresh, but bruised from the fall were also collected in a separate container. These apples and those that were too small for sale were used to make apple cider. The farmers at Threshold Farm had a purpose for everything that they produced. Nothing was wasted, for everything was viewed in a circular rather than linear fashion. Making complete use of nature’s abundance is something I hope we can all strive to do in our lives.

The twigster,

Josephine

PS: Check out my sister’s artwork at francescatempesta.com

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We had come at the just the right time to take part in the quintessential fall activity – the harvest. The chilly fall nights and warm, sunny days of the fall provide the ideal temperature fluctuation for the apples to change their starches into sugars, thus leaving us with five acres of trees laden with beautiful ripe apples. Walking down the rows of the orchard, I was overcome with awe over the sheer amount of apples. Everywhere you looked, a Fuji, a Golden Delicious, or a Jonagold apple was begging to be picked before it fell to the ground and bruised its delicious flesh.

To get started, we each got an apple picking bag, a rather helpful tool for this kind of work. We were told to start at the top since the apples receive the most direct sunlight there, and therefore ripen fastest. I was hoping Hugh would have some genius way of getting the apples from the top of the trees while my two feet were firmly planted on the ground, but my hopes were quickly crushed. In order to access these rosy-cheeked apples I had to get on a ladder.

Now, I’m not the most graceful, nor balanced person, so the ladder was a bit daunting. Climbing seven feet plus into the air with a bag full of apples across my shoulder wasn’t ideal, but those apples needed a picking. I scouted the apples on the top that seemed to be blushing red. Then I began to place the ladder. Reaching a lofty 5 feet 2 inches, maneuvering the seven foot ladder was a task in itself. With the ladder firmly placed in the ground, I began the ascent.

I was filling my apple bag up rather quickly, making trips up and down the ladder to unload the bag. My confidence was building and I was picking up speed. I was reaching for those apples, greedy to get them all with minimum ladder readjustment. I caught sight of a beautiful round apple, with just the right amount of a pale green under-color. It was just out of arm’s reach, and I was reaching. Suddenly I felt the ladder getting a bit shaky. In one of those moments of clarity, I knew I was going down.

Down I went. While in midair I screamed out to my sister, Francesca. She came rushing over to find me on the floor laughing at myself. My theory: my big hiking boots with advertised “great ankle support” helped me land without twisting, breaking, hurting, or spraining anything. I certainly learned my lesson. My initial caution returned, which is probably a good thing when you’re seven feet in the air with thirty pounds of apples on your shoulder. And so the day of harvesting continued, with my hand always on a supportive tree limb.

The twigster,

Josephine

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With everything set for our week on the farm, Francesca and I woke early to flee the city and avoid the morning traffic. A bit cranky due to the early departure, we cruised along in silence breaking it only to scoff at the people as they began their workday. It was a beautiful, sunny day and everything was running smoothly, or so we thought. About fifteen miles out, and while on a major highway, I smelled something burning. Sure enough the hood of the truck was smoking up. We pulled into a gas station and called our friend, Patrick, to have a look under the hood.

After all was said and done, we had a bill from a towing company, no car, and bad spirits. Karma caught up with us for laughing at the businessmen earlier that morning, and we were forced to return to the city. Luckily our stubborn natures kicked in and we started to plan how to get out to the farm, a three-hour trip upstate. Repeating the mantra, “when there’s a will there’s a way,” had sustained our motivation and we arrived at Threshold Farm just before noon the following day.

Upon arrival, we met Hugh, a biodynamic farmer from Australia. Intimidated and way out of my element, I explained to Hugh that this was our first time wwoofing and first farm experience for that matter. Hugh shrugged my qualms off, and immediately began to show us how to change the fence line for the cows to graze a different pasture. We followed him closely, soaking up the lingo and instructions while trying to keep up and sidestep cow dung piles.

Lunchtime came and with it, an explanation of our expected duties and responsibilities while on the farm. We were to rise at 6:30 for breakfast, help cook and clean, and work five to six hours a day. During the week, we would be picking apples, packing apples and planting garlic beds. I began to grow excited. I was ready to get my hands dirty, to do some real work. This is what I had been waiting for, to see a small-scale organic farmer providing food for local customers and succeeding at it. I had a gut feeling that I was in the right place.

Stay tuned for more adventures on Threshold Farm! I will be posting again tomorrow.

The twigster,

Josephine

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