Yesterday I spent most of the day really feeling like it was fall. Got up to a fairly steady, normal fall rain, even!
First I went out to the Apple Festival in Venersborg, WA. Venersborg is a very, very small hamlet about 10 miles east of Battle Ground, WA. (When I say small, I mean VERY small. Friend of mine who grew up near there said, “I didn’t know Venersborg had a ‘festival’. I didn’t even know they had a building.”) It was settled in the late 19th and early 20th century primarily by a colony of Swedish folks who grew fruit and dried it for shipping around the country. The festival was held at the little one-room schoolhouse where their children went to school until the colony disbanded in the 1930′s.
The Venersborg Community Club had over 300 varieties of apples out for tasting, ranging from your normal boring Red and Yellow Delicious, ubiquitious Granny Smiths, locally popular Gala, Fuji, and Honeycrisps all the way to the pink-fleshed Hidden Rose and a very nearly extinct Gideon Sweet. We tasted a few, and my daughter seemed to enjoy it even when she found apples she didn’t like and handed her slices to me or her father for consumption. We looked at crabapples, and pictures of various trees, got information about the Venersborg Community Center, and saw a couple of acquaintances I seem to be seeing more and more often. We also took the apples from our front tree to be identified. Turns out they’re a sauce apple called a Keswick Codlin. They’re not very nice for eating as they’re very soft, but they do make really great apple sauce. Plus our chickens like them! Also had a giant apple identified for a friend. Hers were easily spotted as Hanner’s Jumbos, largely by being the size of a grapefruit and bright red; they’re a mutation of a Red Delicious, so very similar only hugemongous. They were surprised that someone was growing them in a local backyard, as they were from Hood River and only a few orchardists have them. I happen to know that the former owner of my friend’s house was an orchardist, and probably brought the tree with him when he moved to the place.
After we left the Apple Festival, I parted ways with the family and went on to a Food Preservation class and demonstration sponsored by Dee Creek Farms. The woman who owned the house had a lovely Garden hive out back of the solarium where the class was held, and I saw at least two Ameraucana chickens roaming around the lawn. Another funny thing, one of the gals who had been helping at the Apple Festival turned out to be at the class, and after chatting with her I found out that she knows Jacqueline Freeman of Friendly Haven Rise Farms, where I’ve taken several classes, and she also knows a woman who used to be the leader of the 4-H Goat group my best friend belonged to in high school. Small freakin’ world, this slow-food CSA chicken-raising beekeeping bean-hugging-dirt-worshipper world!
The Food Preservation class was interesting, and I picked up a few tidbits. Discovered that I wasn’t so terribly clever as I thought when I decided to string my still-green beans on a thread and hang them behind the wood stove; apparently that’s an accepted method for dealing with dried beans when they don’t have a chance to dry outside before they have to be harvested and brought inside due to frost or rain. I must have read about it in Little House on the Prairie or something…
The class also prompted me to come home and start harvesting and preserving the last of everything else in the yard. I have a batch of celery drying in the dehydrator, plus I’ll be putting the last of the peppers in vinegar and brine to preserve for later salsa making. I’ll post another short post with some tips I gleaned, for your own food preservation!