Although I have my moments when I really miss my daughter being a squishy newborn, I must admit I am really having fun with the toddler phase. Aside from the fact that she loves to say no to ever single thing, it is so much fun to introduce her to new places and new activities. At this stage it doesn't take much for her eyes to light up with excitement and for things to captivate her for hours. For this reason I'm always open to new ideas of fun activities for us as a family to try.
Once I got over my denial that summer was really over I decided to take her to an apple orchard and try out the apple picking experience. I had heard from other moms that their kids couldn't get enough of this experience and that my daughter would definitely love it. They were right! Its amazing that something as simple as a farm can be so captivating. As usual I researched the heck out all the orchards and farms in my area and decided to pick an orchard that was not too big but still had a lot to offer. This particular orchard had pretty much a little bit of everything, the only thing missing was a corn maze but we were fine with that. The orchard attractions were;
A small petting zoo
A small petting zoo
An apple orchard
A bakery & ice parlor!
The Apple Orchard
For me this was definitely the main attraction, and my primary reason for wanting to go in the first place. I needed a large amount of apples to cook up a big batch of apple sauce for my little one and what better place to get apples than straight off the tree! I usually buy them from the farmer's market or from the supermarket, but I'm sure you know that the apples in the store are usually covered in "delicious" chemical preservative sprays and "food grade" vegetable wax to make them look nice and shiny and extend their shelf life. So during the fall months when the apple harvest is ready, I think its the perfect time to cut out the middle man and pick my own apples.
Most orchards will provide a daily list of which varieties of apples they have available for picking that day, as some ripen faster than others. On the day we went I was glad that they did have a good variety ready for picking; they had Fuji, Gala and Golden delicious as a well as few others that I wasn't particularly interested in. I really wanted the Fuji apples so I was pleased that most people were flocking to other kinds of apples and we had an entire row of apple trees to ourselves. At my local Shoprite each different type of apple retails for a different prices ranging from $1.69 to about $3.99 per pound, but at the orchard all the different types were the same price; $1.89 per pound, which is about 10 cents cheaper than the current price of Fuji apples at my supermarket. Nevertheless it was worth it to me.
As you can see from the photo above, the apple trees are staked in the such a way that the apples are well within the reach of toddlers and so very easy to pick. My daughter had so much fun picking and packing them away in the bags they provided us with. it was surprisingly a lot more fun than I expected it to be!
For many parents, picking and buying the perfect pumpkin to decorate for Fall/Halloween season is their main reason for visiting a farm at this time of the year. But lets be honest here, if you know anything about me, you'll know I couldn't be any less interested in pumpkins and I definitely am not a fan of halloween. I guess you could call me the scrooge of halloween, I even posted about here. I am not at all motivated to have anything remotely resembling a jack-o-lantern so I planned to skip the pumpkin altogether. However when we arrived at the orchard, there were pumpkins everywhere and their bright orange color really captivated my daughter. she wanted to touch them, sit on them and play with them, so it is a genuine miracle that we were able to leave the farm without buying one.
I did like the fact that they had all different sizes available and we had the option to either buy one already picked or go out to the patch and pick one ourselves.
The petting zoo
My daughter like all other toddlers her age loves animals, so the petting zoo was great, she got to come close to few farm animals such as rabbits, ponies, sheep, goats, donkeys and ducks. They also offered carrots for children who wanted to feed the animals. It was fun to see her reaction to the animals and recognize them from out of her little story books.
There is something magical about a hayride to a 2 year old child, even if the ride doesn't lead anywhere special. She enjoyed the bumpy experience and wanted to go on it again and again.
The pony rides.
This particular orchard offered pony rides for $7, I'm not sure if that is a good deal or not but we decided to opt out because she was a little scared of being on the pony alone... we will have to give it a try next time
The bakery & ice cream parlor
This ended up being the best part of our visit! Their freshly baked apple cider donuts were just too awesome to express in words and the smell of all the delicious fruit pies straight out of the oven made me never want to leave! They also had their own homemade ice cream in the most scrumptious flavors!
We walked out of that place with our arms full of the yummiest goodies and once I came home and realized I had bought way more apples than I could ever use in a lifetime I decided to bake my own apple pie too. I chose the lazy option and used a pre-made pie crust by Pillsbury (gasp!) and also used their recipe that came on the box! It was so much easier than I thought it would be and smelt heavenly, I will post about that next. I plan to try this apple recipe again when I have the time to make my own crust from scratch and I believe that will transform it from a great pie into an awesome pie!