Sunday, September 26, 2010

Of Spiders, Circus Performing Mice, and Apples

As I mentioned in an earlier post, last week we went to an orchard and picked apples for keeping us through the winter, or at least most of it.

This is our cold storage building.

Inside of this lovely room we store produce that needs to be kept cool but not get frozen.  It's also a handy place for some of my plant storage stuff, as is seen by the cart.

We put the apples in crates and hang them from this chain to deter mice from finding our produce and making themselves an early Thanksgiving feast of our hard work.  We found this out the hard way. Incredibly enough, not even our suspended bounty attempts can stop the obvious trapeze and tight-rope walking mice that we have out here in the country, so we usually put some poison around the room and keep the dog OUT.  Between the two measures, we've had success at storing in here so far.

  There is only one door and no windows and the door remains closed at all times unless somebody is in there, so it is permanently dark and chilly, making a perfect haven for....

these guys.

Hey, come back!  I need your help in here.  
(If my mother was here, she'd be right with her.)

I think it's kinda pretty in here, looking out, as long as I don't get too close to the walls.

There's lots of evidence of life in here.

Nests abound in any protective situation.

Somebody's been living in my potato crate.
We store everything in crates so the produce can still get some air and won't mold and rot.

Our orchard pickings make their way to the back porch where I sort them carefully, hiding away from the children so that no apples will be stolen or mixed up while I work.
These are Mutsu apples which get a yellowish tint when fully ripe.  They keep well through the winter, as do Fuji's.  There are other varieties that keep well, but these are the varieties we like.

I sort the apples into 3 groups:

  I set these aside because they've lost their stoppers.  Well, yes, I do mean their stems, but they act as stoppers.  When apples lose their stems, they are more susceptible to getting rotten inside (as the lost stem sometimes makes an opening).  I read this somewhere, but didn't believe it as I'm thick-headed and thought they were just being too fussy, until I experienced it myself: not being fussy.
  This group gets dealt with last, so I set them aside.

Bruised apples join the second group along with...

funny-looking marked ones like this.  

These marks indicate there's a critter inside: a squishy, squirmy one.   (I'm not allowed to say the "w" word anymore because when I do, my son shrieks, "WORM?  Where's the WORM?" and comes flying up from whatever rock he was digging under at the time.  I then have to either spend time trying to change the subject to get his interest elsewhere, which usually proves futile, or I have to cut up the apple and find him the worm.)

The apples in this second group, the bruised group, get put into a paper bag to be put in the house and eaten up first.

All perfect apples then join the third group in the reading section because they're smart.
Actually, I'm just going to wrap them individually in black and white newspaper.  Colored paper is to be avoided as rainbow colored apples are not as tasty as green apples, or red, or yellow.  
Stoplight apples.


 Sorry, that was really corny.
The cow on the paper liked it.
Okay, I'll stop now.

Wrap the paper around the apple tightly.

Ball it up tight and put it into the crate.
Hey, I have those boots.  My addiction to boots raises it's ugly head yet again.

Here they are, all wrapped up snug and cozy for winter storage.
(When it gets freezing cold outside, we do put an old blanket on top of the crate of apples for protection just to be safe.)
The last 2 years that we did this, the apples lasted until January or February.  I think if we picked more, they'd last longer, but we eat them up too quickly.

I then wrap up the stemless apples individually; we will use this crate first when we start using winter apples.  They will keep okay most of the time if they aren't kept all winter (at least we've had success this way).

These are the bruised ones we have left from the bushel we picked.  We are eating these now.  Wow, are they good!

These people enjoy eating the bruised apples (although baby is sick in this picture, poor Sweetie).

Sometimes, we even spare a piece of apple for this guy, our 85 year old donkey Jake.
Well, he's our traded donkey, and he's not really 85; he just wants everybody to think so. But we found out last week that he can run like the wind when he wants to.  I'll get my thoughts together and share that story soon.
(Oh, and in case you are wondering, he can eat through that muzzle.  He just wears it because he almost killed himself over-eating before.  Yes, believe me, he can still eat...and boss the cows...and bray.)

1 comment:

  1. I'm with Violet,, I would be running from the spiders! Those are the kind we have in our basement and I've been in it once since we've lived here!!! I love your storage space though! So nice to have! I've thought of building a space in the basement but the spiders always stop me :)


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