We went apple picking!!!! You can probably tell that I was pretty excited about this. Tony, not so much. This was a first for both of us.
Last Saturday, Tony and I ventured to Eckert's Farm and Orchards in Belleville, Illinois. It's a small town approximately half an hour from here. They do operate two other farms nearby.
The farm in Belleveille sits on what is known as Turkey Hill. The Eckert family has lived there since 1890 and planted their first apple trees that same year. In 1910, the family opened its first roadside farm stand. Today, the sixth and seventh generations of the family now oversee the operations on all three farms.
Waiting on the next trailer to arrive to take us out to the orchards. Tony would like you to observe how many people are here to pick their own apples early on a chilly Saturday morning.
Riding out to the orchard! It's a lovely piece of property. I was surprised not to see more fall colors in the trees that line the edge of the orchards. I'm wondering if it is because it has been so mild here.
Apples!!! We went pretty late in the season and only two apples were still being harvested - Fuji and Granny Smith. We looked at the harvesting calendar and have learned that we need to go in mid-September when there are several choices available.
Tony making fun of the apple picking. Seriously, I think that he would have preferred to see the Princess Diana dress exhibit 10 times in a row instead of picking apples. I'll refrain from including the things that he said throughout the day.
The big, black thing on his belt? Yeah, that's one of his mini-digital tv's so that he could watch football while we were apple picking.
Tony when he wasn't hamming it up for the camera. As much he complained, I think that he had a much better time than he'll ever admit.
Fuji Apples - I had never tried them before, but they are quite delicious.
Granny Smith apples - I wasn't aware that these are primarily used for baking since their taste is a little bitter and tart. Since I normally prefer green and yellow apples, I picked a lot of these. Maybe I'll bake something.
And a trailer returns to pick you up! Our trailers (including the two middle benches) were completely packed on both the trip out to the apple orchards and on the way back. The good thing is that the property is so large, you are essentially on your own as you wander through the trees picking apples.
We sat across from a family of 4 decked out in Bama (yuck) gear on the way back to the main area.
Again, Tony would like you to observe just how many people are waiting in line for the trailers to go pick their own apples.
Inside their general store. They have expanded what was once their roadside farmers stand into this large general story. It includes a bakery, meat shop, deli, as well as a farmer's market area where you can find fresh fruits and vegetables. We got a few things including one of their jars of homemade jelly for me.
Next to the general store is a custard shop where they make custard from their farm animals. We didn't get a chance to try it, but it seemed to be quite popular.
Their two restaurants are located down this walkway. I had never had fried biscuits or apple butter before. I wasn't a big fan of the fried biscuits, but the apple butter was pretty delicious.
In addition to the general store, custard stand, and restaurants, they also have a petting zoo, camel rides (yes, camel rides at an apple orchard in rural Illinois), and kiddie sized carnival rides. It's definitely a very friendly place! I can't even imagine how much money they take in on a busy weekend. All three of the huge parking lots were filled and they were parking people in a field by the time that we left!
He was performing in the outdoor patio area.
They have pumpkins that range in size from little bitty all the way up to pumpkins that weighed 150 pounds. If you can't find one that you like here, you should just give up!
The pick your own pumpkin fields.
Sugar approved of our $10 apple haul. I would have gotten more, but Tony took my bag away.