We culled quite a few apples from our trees in early June since the fruiting was more prolific than the young trees could handle. Some trees naturally do this on their own by just dropping some early fruits from the tree as if they are fully aware that they cannot support so many ‘mouths’ given their resources. But since the apple trees were obviously too laden down with fruit (even after the peaches had self selected) we went thru the orchard this year and allowed only so many to remain per branch. We did this when the fruits were a bit larger than golf balls but had we the time, we would have done it even earlier. Not too long after this, the deer discovered the back way into the orchard and began helping themselves to the lovely fruits which had grown well beyond golf ball stage. Arg! Not only were we greatly discouraged by this predatory activity, we knew that the deer were also nibbling the branches and doing additional harm to the trees. So we did a second culling and took all the fruits away so that the deer would no longer be attracted to the trees. We brought in a modest harvest of 25.5 lbs of small sized apples and just could not throw them away. These are a few of the green ones from the first culling. The second ones were much farther along and were turning beautiful shades of red. So, after researching recipes and with a bit of time yesterday, I decided to make apple butter with these apples. No, I did not have enough volume to involve the lovely copper apple butter kettle that I purchased from a farm sale several years ago but I hope to use this item some time in the future! So I started by weighing up a small batch of 6lbs of apples and quartered and cored them and popped them into a large pot on the stove to cook down and soften. As instructed, I added some liquid in the form of apple cider instead of water but either would have done the trick. These had to cook longer than the recipe indicated, mostly because they were less ripe, but when they were finally soft, I put them thru my food mill. Here is where I made a miserable mistake. I grabbed the food mill from the dishwasher after previously milling tomato sauce and never gave much thought about the size of the sieve plate in the bottom that I was using. Ugh! How dumb! Here are the three plates I had to choose from – since I was only separating the apple skins I should have used the largest one (on the left) instead of the smaller one on the right (which keeps tomato seeds from going thru!) – I would have saved my poor arms another work out! Live and learn!So, after the fruit was cooked and separated from the skins using the mill, I returned it to the stove top to begin the next stage of apple butter making which is to add sugar and spices and continue to cook. But wait a minute! I started to wonder why I was making apple butter instead of just apple sauce with this lovely fruit since that is what I saw before me!I quickly reversed course and found out that I could just heat this fruit and put it in jars to can it (or freeze it) as is without all the extra sugar and cooking time. I decided on the canning method and after bringing the mass back to a boil, I put it directly into six jars with just a little left over for refrigerator samples. Here are my six pints ready for capping. I processed it as prescribed and viola, the first apple sauce from Seven Oaks apple trees!Here are the leftover scraps that I offered to the chicks that evening…they browned out a bit while awaiting delivery but the chicks didn’t seem to mind…As they gobbled them up… I also offered the reserve from the food mill the next day and they much preferred those leftovers…I guess this is because the product is soft and cooked? Either way, it is a good use of scraps that would otherwise go into the compost.In other news, the new deer fence project is going forward with a little help from a neighbor’s handyman, Tony, since we are in crunch time with other farm commitments. He has helped to pull off much of the overgrowth from the existing fence in the last couple of days so we will be better prepared for the installation of the new fence. We have nearly 300 feet of fence line to clear. Here you can see a long line of Green Giant Arborvitae trees on either side of the current fence which we planted a couple of years ago to promote a ‘green’ fence between us and the neighbors. We are looking forward to a seven foot tall deer fence soon! In other news, the bees are currently getting a treatment for Varroa mite control called Apiguard. Now that the honey has been harvested, I added this treatment to each hive on Saturday and they will get another dose in two weeks. It seems this is the recommended treatment for the mites that are causing such a problem with colony collapse lately. Crossing fingers for good results to keep our colonies alive!Coulter continues to enjoy visiting the chicks but is a bit distracted lately by the fun rocks he finds just outside of their run! He picks them up one by one and shares his collection with Nana before putting them back down, which is a game that can go on and on!Our little Cardinal fan! Stay tuned!