Autumn Hill Orchard

We’re all out of the apples we bought recently, so it’s off to visit another orchard. You’d think that after living in New Hampshire for fifteen years, we would have visited all of the area orchards, but every year we find at least one that is new to us.  This year it’s Autumn Hill Orchard, about fifteen miles away in the town of Harvard, Massachusetts.

Autumn Hill is located on a steep hillside, with a great view of the White Mountains of New Hampshire off to the west.  That’s Mount Monadnock on the horizon below.  I’ll go off on a tangent about my iPhone camera – I’ve found that one of the limitations of this camera is that it isn’t so great for photos with a long distance perspective.  The view is really much more dramatic than it would appear in the photo below, but the iPhone seems to somehow flatten out distances or perhaps it just can’t provide as much detail to a photo at this distance.  It’s really great for portraits and middle distance, but not for long distance.  I really should use my other digital camera more often.


Here you can at least see the curve of the hill the orchard is on.  The soils of New England are so rocky that it’s amazing the early colonists could grow anything.  I think they found out quickly that the rocky hillsides are best used for orchards instead of vegetables.


Years ago, Ms. J visited Ireland and Scotland and had some apples of a variety that we just can not find anywhere in New England anymore.  There’s an orchard in far northern New Hampshire that used to grow it, but a few years ago a hard frost killed all of the trees of this variety.  Autumn Hill Orchards specializes in some of these hard to find varieties so we thought we’d try to find it here.

While we were walking around the orchard, I saw an elderly man walking with a little girl. He looked a bit confused.  We had a map of the orchard listing all of the varieties in the orchard so I asked him if he needed any help finding something.  It turned out that he had emigrated from England many years ago and he was looking for the same apple variety that we were.

Up and down the hill we walked, the owner of the orchard had placed signs in each row identifying the trees.  It would seem that the signs and the map would make if easy to find, but it still took us some time.  C and the girl, who was the man’s granddaughter, ran ahead of us and shouted that they had found it.  Cox Orange Pippin, here it is below.


Of course Ms. J was very happy to now have a source of this variety that’s fairly close to us. Our fellow Cox Orange Pippin searcher was also excited as well, we both quickly filled up our bags.


Here’s their version of the Empire apple.  It’s so dark that I thought it was a plum at first.



Once we had a bag filled with apples we went back to the barn to weigh them.

C was thrilled to use this antique scale to weight the apples.  There’s still time for more apples, I’m sure we’ll be back!






The very very late bloomer

Why do you bloom so late in the year purple flower, whose name I have forgotten ?


This flower grows to about seven feet tall, the blooms come out in late October. Sometimes as late as Halloween. Did I plant something that would be better off in a warmer zone ?
I’ve had this in the garden for about ten years now, so I would think it was doing ok. The single plant i bought all those years ago has spread to at least a dozen. But I know that once it blooms Winter will be here very soon.

Yesterday it was in the mid 70’s, warm and sunny. When I saw that this plant had finally bloomed I knew I had to get out and take a photo before the end of the day. I managed to get a few photos , though it was late in the day and it was already looking like it was starting to fade away.

This morning when I woke up I saw that the outside temperature was 28 degrees. I looked out the window to see yesterday’s purple now a dark shade of bluish black. The leaves were all wilted and entirely black. Several plants had bent over and were lying on the ground.

Several things in the house broke this weekend. That’s just what happens when you have a house that’s over 100 years old. It’s also what happens when you have an active four year old in the house too, I guess.

The worst thing though was having to cut down those plants, that’s the end of the garden this year. Here comes Winter.

Apple Picking

We’re keeping track of how much money we spend on groceries this month.  Not so much as a way to control costs, but just out of curiosity to find out if what we think we’re spending on food is close to what we’re actually spending.

We went apple picking at a local farm last weekend.  I’m voting that the money we spent on apples should be put into an “Entertainment” category instead of “Food”.   After all, it’s much more fun than just getting apples at the grocery store.





Looking for the perfect tree


Found it.



Here’s the inside of the farm stand.  Each basket or bin has a different variety of apple,  there’s 30 or so different types here.


Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You

I was going to skip this week’s photo challenge since I don’t have a lot of photos that feature orange, but it is Fall in New England and there’s still a few trees with spectacular foliage around. So here’s at least a couple of photos featuring orange.

Why orange ? I’m not sure I noticed until someone asked our son what his favorite color was. He said ‘Mine is red, and Dada’s is orange!’ That came as kind of a surprise, but I think he’s right. Fall is the best season here in New Hampshire, and it’s the best season to see some orange outside.

I took these two photos this past Sunday while we went apple picking at a local farm.


On one side of the small parking lot at the far was the tree pictured above, on the other side was the farm stand and its rows of pumpkins.


Maybe Mr. C said my favorite color is orange since I will often wear this orange T-shirt when I do home improvement projects. It must be about 15 years old now, covered with splatters of various paint colors, though it is still mostly orange. It’s on it’s last legs, but it’ll still take a few large holes in it for me to get rid of it.


One more story about the color orange:

A few years ago, Ms. J was looking for a new bike. She spent quite a few months comparing features, reading reviews, checking web sites for design features. Finally she picked a bike she thought would be a good fit for her needs. She called a local bike store to check if they had the model she was looking for, they did. So off we went to the bike store to test it out. She tried it out on the road and it did turn out to be a great choice. We went back into the store and I happened to see an orange Bianchi bicycle. Bianchi bikes are usually a striking light green color, similar to but not quite the same as the color Tiffany uses. But this one was different, it was orange.

‘Will that be all ?” the bike sales person asked.

“I’ll try out that Bianchi over there.” I said.

After doing absolutely no research, no checking of reviews, no checking of web sites for its design features, I bought the orange Bianchi bike.

Ok, so I guess orange really is my color.

Here it is, in the garage now since the season is unfortunately over now that we’re into October.


Hiking to Purgatory Falls

You’d think that since I’ve been living in New Hampshire for 11 years now that I’d know about all there is to do in the area, but no, I was surprised to see a post on Meg’s Outdoors Indoors blog about a hike to a waterfall that I did not know about in the nearby town of Milford.

When we want to go on a hike we usually have to go to the White Mountain area of Northern New Hampshire, which is about 2 to 3 hours away, or we can head to the South Western area of the state to the Mount Monadnock area, which is about an hour or so way. There’s plenty of local parks around, but I had thought there wasn’t much in the way of hiking nearby. So I was happy to find out about this hike in Milford, which is only about 20 minutes or so away.

There’s a big difference in pre-child hiking and post-child hiking. Pre-child we would just pack some food, some water, and go. Now we have to really make sure we pack a lot of extra water and food before we go. We also have to try to do some research on the hike before we get there. If the hiking guides say the trail is at all strenuous we’re probably not going to do it. If it’s too long, I know that I’m going to end up carrying a very heavy 4 year old on the way back, and maybe even on the way to whatever the trail is leading to. No matter how easy they might be, long hikes are out too. A two mile hike means that I know that I’ll be carrying him for at least a mile if not more. The older Mr. C gets though, the easier it is getting to go hiking with him. If he knows at the start of the trail that we’re going to a specific destination, like a waterfall, or a hilltop view, he gets excited to see it and will rush to get there. I do have to try to get him excited about it though. “There’s a waterfall, a waterfall, a WATERFALL!!!!” I say.

After getting him sufficiently excited, Ms. J and I packed a big bag with a pile of food, water, making sure Mr. C went to the bathroom before we left, and off we went.

This hike starts out fairly easy, with a wide trail, rising gradually though clear of any rocks or tree roots. I found some additional info online about the hike which said that the waterfall was 1/2 mile from the parking lot. It didn’t seem that far at all since before we knew it, we were at the falls. There are three falls on the trail, this is the “Lower” falls.



The trail continues on with a steeper grade after the lower falls. It was a very humid day, so we were happy to get near the cooler misty water from the falls.

Once we start into the section of the trail after the lower falls, the trail begins to get a bit harder to navigate, with tree roots searching for any available dirt amongst all the granite boulders.

Check out this tree below. Looks like it started growing on about two inches of soil on top of this huge granite boulder and then had to send roots down the side of the boulder searching for more soil. It eventually toppled over from the lack of support from the shallow roots, though it does look like its still alive.



We like to try to find evidence of old farms when we go hiking, and it’s usually fairly easy to find something. In between the trees below there is an old stone wall. Farmers would collect the stones when they were clearing an area for their farm and pile them up on the borders of their fields or to use as pens for their livestock. How they colonial New Englanders were able to raise much of anything in this rocky soil is incredible. It’s called “The Granite State” after all. I always end up wondering who had a farm here, what did they raise, was it a dairy farm or did they actually try to grow something in this rocky soil. And what happened to them, did they go out west to start a new farm, or move to the city to work in a mill? And why is it called Purgatory Falls anyway ?




We only made it to the Lower falls, there are two additional falls as well. We’ll have to go back again.

On this hot and humid day, we were happy to cool off in the water once we saw a large enough flat area to where we could sit with our feet in the water. The large somewhat overexposed feet on the right are mine, the ones on the left are Mr. C’s. I couldn’t get Ms. J’s feet in the same frame! That’s another hiker in the upper right corner, guess I should have cropped this one better, oh well. This is what happens when you take pictures with an Iphone , trying not to drop it in the water, while a 4 year old is trying to splash you with his feet.

I’m guessing we made it about a mile, which is pretty good for us now. As soon as the shoes were back on Mr. C said “Carry me Dada!”, and back down the trail we went with me carefully stepping over those huge tree roots while carrying a 40+ pound 4 year old on on arm.