Apple Picking

You should pick apples.

I'm just sayin.

I try not to boss y'all around too much, but seriously- go pick apples.  Kids need fresh air and mountains and the smell of a little cow dung to make them appreciate all that time your cleaning lady spends Febreezing.  Especially if you are your own cleaning lady, like me.  They need to see that apples don't come from Giant or Wegmans- they come from trees and it's amazing.

Our favorite place to pick is Hartland Orchard in Markham. It's not in PWC.  I know, I know.  But, we love it there.  You take I-66 towards the boonies and get off at the Markham exit.  I hear if you go left there's Stribling Orchard, but we turn right and go to Hartland.  They've got all sorts of fruit we like to pick from peaches (July) to cherries (June) to apples and pumpkins (now!).  It takes about a buck twenty to get there.  While you're on your way, here's what I recommend:
You can get it HERE since we don't have a local independent bookstore anymore (sigh). It's a level 2 reader so one of your children can read it to the other ones.  If you don't have a reader yet, the pictures are pretty awesome in explaining the whole "life cycle of an apple" thing.

When you get to the farm, you literally get to drive your car up into the orchard and park in the trees.  A peck is $5 and a 1/2 bushel is $10.  Pick, pick, pick, all day long.....or well, for about 20 minutes depending on how fast your kids are :) Then tell them to run around until they get tired.
The small farm shop also sells local honey (YUM!) and apple cider (double yum!!).

When you get back in the car, if you've sent them running enough, hopefully your children will nap.  As mine are on a constant stream of natural speed I like to call "hyper", they never do.  A few preprinted coloring pages usually does the trick.

When you get home, a few ideas for what do to with your apples.
1) The Ever Popular Apple Printing! Apples have a star inside! Cut them open across the middle horizontally and stamp with them! Apples are also a cute shape all on their own! Cut them in half vertically and stamp away!

2) Applesauce- if you haven't had hot applesauce, well, you're missing out.  Peel, core, and chunk (in no particular size or shape) a mix of whatever kind of apples you pick.  Red Delicious and Golden/Yellow apples will turn to mush.  Firmer reds (like Fuji) will become soft but have a little texture to them, green apples will hold their shape- so be sure those are bite-sized).  Toss them in the crock pot (you'll want about 4 pounds all said and done) with 1 cup of water, the juice of 1/2 a lemon (1-2 Tablespoons) 1/2 cup of sugar (or equivalent sweetener of your choice) and either 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.  You can chill it, or you can serve it warm (ice cream optional)

3) Read about Johnny Appleseed.  Make some apple muffins!

If Hartland isn't for you, here are a few other (relatively) local options:
1)Marker-Miller Orchard in Winchester
2) Great Country Farms in Bluemont

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