Shelburne Orchards

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Business or pleasure?

It’s always been a fine line for me between living my life fully at what turns me on… what fires me up… and what makes sense business wise… In an ideal world these two things are one and the same… But maybe it’s the “real world” that tries to keep them apart… It’s been my experience that truely inspired… creative people are often not the best “business people” and yet it also seems that the exceptionally good business people have this wonderful marriage between both. Myself, I’m not one of these. I think I’m good at some things… but there are big holes where I’m lacking… for instance, when I sit down at my desk to go over my budget stuff, my brain drains right out my seat… I start to sweat under my collar… and if I don’t jump up and start moving around, I have a 50 / 50 % chance of falling asleep… Big hole!! How can anyone run a business with a hole this big?… Well… actually it is very possible… I have been fortunate enough to find the right people to help me. I didn’t think my business could afford to pay anyone enough to help me… but now as I look back, It’s more like how my business could ever have made it without these people… And I want to take the time to thank all these people!! You know who you are… All you people in my life… woking for me here at the orchard…My wife and daughter… Thank you all! My life is full of me doing the things I love to do… and do well… and clearly you are all doing the same… We had yet another “Best Ever Year”… and It would never have happened with out all of you… I love you and I really hope you all feel as blessed as I do to be a part of this wonderful orchard…

Nick

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Harvest wind down…

The end of harvest season is always such a mix of emotions for me. We still have a ways to go yet I can feel in my bones the ache and pull on me to stop!! My reluctance for “one more thing to do”… anything I don’t really have to do right now… gets put on the “to do later list”… there are many final decisions yet to make, like,

What apples get picked and which are left for pick your own…

Which of the remaining cider bins go toward Ginger Jack and which are saved and fermented for brandy.

If we leave apples on the trees for “pick your own”, will they hang on one more weekend?…

If the apples are gone in the trees before next weekend, do we still order the full palette of donut mix?…

All in all it’s been a fantastic year for us… maybe… best ever… It’s a crazy business I’m in where I work a full year before we get a paycheck… and It’s the wizard of Oz behind the white sheet pulling levers that determines how much I get paid… and benefits… Yes I get benefits like… Seeing so many people, mostly young families, come and pick and swing and laugh… the orchard is full of laughing all season… I get to have festivals and have all my friends come bask in the fruit of this wonderful place… I get to live here after everyone has gone and the orchard gets quiet again… I get to work with all the wonderful people that help me make it all happen year after year… I get to live here with my family… and my wife puts up with me and listens patiently while I go on and on about everything that happened that day… I think every year during this “harvest wind down … I especially get the fullness of my life and how really lucky a man I am…

Nick

Monday, October 1, 2012

We are not an organic orchard

We are not an Organic apple orchard. We did however have at one point almost half the orchard certified organic and at least 10 acres for over 20 years. My goal was to eventually convert the whole orchard… I was never able to make it sustainable… I lost money every year and some years had no crop at all… We were part of a network of organic apple growers around New England that met every year and shared our collective experiences. This was my interest and passion for most of my adult life, yet in the end I had to make the decision between either loosing my business or changing my growing program. We now have a low spray program that I feel is the next best to organic and we are still here in the middle of our beautiful orchard and home…

Nick

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apples, Cider, Ginger Jack, Cider vinegar, Donuts!!

This has been the the best ever Harvest!! I’m not sure if it’s because we’re all living purer lives… with our hearts open… Or we’re just getting better at this job. With everything this years weather has thrown at us, it’s truely a wonder we have any apples at all. The apples are beautiful!! and they are hanging on better than I thought they would. Everything is in high gear here. We start the donut robots at 5 am 7 mornings a week, The cider mill is working full steam. Rob had to make a few miner repairs, but our press is the same one we were using when I was a kid… It’s ooold!! Now that we’re heading into October… the later season apples are getting ripe… and be sure to sign up for our email news letter so you can be informed about all the events happening here for the rest of this season…

Nick

Friday, August 24, 2012

Get ready for donuts

It’s great for me… I get thanked for making our cider donuts every September when we start making them… and then I get thanked again at the end of October when we stop… I don’t know what it is about these little cinnamon sugar coated babies, but we sure do make a lot of them… Right now before the season gets started we are fine tuning the donut machines to run smoothly. We have I think 6 donut robots, all 1960′s era… all ready to go… we only use 2 at once… the others are back up. If we ever had a breakdown and couldn’t make donuts on a busy weekend… we’d have a riot on out hands… Oh yes!! It would get ugly fast!! We’d be in big trouble… So it’s fear alone that get’s me on ebay every winter searching for more used donut making robots… meanwhile we’re set… We have pallets of ingredients coming and cider about to flow… And yes, donut robots oiled, sparkly clean and ready to go…

Nick

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pre-Harvest Jig…

Oh Yes!! It’s August… and the apples are all growing fast, getting some color… and weighing down the limbs. The Peaches are ripening every week… The only way to be kept informed about peach picking timing is through our email news letter… you can sign up for it in the “about us” tab on the home page.

It’s still very dry… we need rain. The apples seem fine, but the ground is dry and at some point the fruit will start to show signs of stress. hopefully we get rain soon… We have a full crop of both peaches and apples also our seedless table grapes look great this year… be sure to check them out when you come for the early apples… Our whole crew is in high gear getting ready for harvest… We all can’t wait!!…

Nick

Monday, July 9, 2012

Peaches and cream

This will be the 3rd year in a row that we’ve had a good peach crop!! Normally it’s every third year that we get them… I think the mild winters have had a lot to do with it. We did get a really bad hail storm in early May that hit when the peaches (and apples) were so small that the damage was minimal. I’ve been thinning the peaches by hand. On some branches the little baby fruits are so thick they look like grapes in a bunch. A peach tree will produce a certain amount of pounds of peaches… so if there are too many they will just be small. Last night I was out thinning in the evening coolness till it was too dark to see. It’s very exciting for me to have a nice crop again knowing how much they are loved by everyone… hoping for mid August ripening…

Nick

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bigger still… smaller still… still good… getting better

From Portugal to Spain, then on to the port of NYC, then Boston for customs… then trucked up to Shelburne Orchards… 650 lbs. of new copper still arriving late June… The Hoga still company has hand hammered me another larger still. The one we have is 400 Liters (100 gal.) The new one is 800 Liters. It’s exactly the same shape but holds more. hopefully this will cut the time we spend in the winter “still sitting”… My quandary is whether or not to sell the smaller one or keep it and run them both… hmm. Two beautiful copper stills running at one time… hmm… Is getting bigger better?…hmm… One thing I do know is that the brandy in the cellar is getting better every day!! There is over 1000 Gallons quietly aging in oak barrels down there. We are coming up on 3 years… only 5 years left for the 8 year bottling!!! (2017)…

Nick

Monday, May 7, 2012

Early, Frosty Spring

Yes It’s early!! We Started the season off a month early, Now it’s catching up a little and I think we are only 2 weeks ahead of normal. The trees are all in bloom and the bees are busy pollinating them as I type.. We Have had numerous frost and cold weather scares, and.. so far, we’re still good. Terry and I have planted over 300 baby peach trees this spring.. doubling our peach orchard size.

We have been busy filling brandy barrels in the cellar and we now have over 1000 gallons of apple brandy aging in white oak barrels!! Thats both a comfort and nerve-racking.. It’s a comfort to know that there is so much alcohol in the cellar but it’s nerve-racking to think what would happen if there was ever a fire down there.. because my office sits right above it… I would be sent to the moon!!!

We get the question often “when are we bottling brandy again”.. The answer is… no idea!! The longer we wait the better it will be… and for sure I’ll let you know..@$#$%$…

Nick