Last weekend was the annual Apple and Wine Festival. I wandered through the barn watching hundreds of people sampling the wine and foods prepared for the occasion, making their own apple pies, and munching on donuts. There were demonstrations of cooking and cider pressing on a small, old press, crafts for the children and myriad other things to do and see.

Walking past the blazing fire I overheard a woman telling a group about when she had worked at the orchard twenty-four years ago. The small fireplace room was the entire store. All the apples were pre-bagged for sale in peck and half peck bags. We sold cider, apple pies, cider donuts, and some candy. Except for the busy months of September and October, we often left the store unattended. A basket on the counter held a few dollars in change. Customers would come in, make their selections and leave money in the basket.

In our early years I peeled apples by hand in the house kitchen, baked them three at a time (all the oven would hold), and carried them to the barn store hot from the oven. Our first cider donuts were made nine at a time in a small fryolator. The batter from a hand plunger and turned with the handle of a wooden spoon.

The main part of the barn was used for apple sorting and storage. By 1981, we had installed a larger oven in a corner of the barn in what had once been a tack room and purchased an automated donut machine. An apple peeler made pie making much easier and the bakery was on its way.

It’s hard for me to believe that it has been thirty years since our first season. Another generation of Russells is now carrying on with the dream, trying new things, expanding the orchard production, and husbanding the land.