A Day at the Orchard
Our class weatherman was a bit nervous about the forecast, but the weather turned out just perfect for our day at Cardigan Mountain Orchard in Alexandria. The farm’s owner Nancy met us with a warm welcome at the farm stand and showed us to the first attraction, Thumper the bunny. After a few minutes of marveling over Thumper and his big feet and how he can stand up on them, we ventured out into the orchard.
Nancy took us into the rows of macouns where the apples were large and deep red. After showing the children how to properly pick an apple by rolling it toward the sky, Nancy turned the class loose for a bit of apple picking. The children gingerly picked apples, trying their five year old best not to drop and bruise these delicate fruits of fall.
While we were picking, “Mack” the tractor approached pulling a wagon full of apple crates and towing two apple picking men along with it. The men, one of which was Nancy’s son had been working earlier in another part of the orchard trying to save an apple tree that had become up rooted do to the soaked and saturated ground. One of the men was able to point out a birds nest in a nearby apple tree to the children.
After filling our crate and basket to the brim with apples, we walked back down to the farm stand where we began our tour of the apple sorting machine and the cider press. The children were very impressed with the huge walk-in refrigerator and the very loud machine that is used to chop up the apples and prepare them for cider. Our tour of the cider making process ended with a sample of cold cider for everyone!
Once our official tour of the orchard was complete we gathered our lunches and hiked to a part of the farm which is referred to as the Ledge. Once you arrive at the top of the hill you have a stunning view of the Belknap Range and Mount Cardigan. We ate our lunch at a picnic table and then did a bit of exploring. When you are five, fort building, mushroom hunting and pinecone sorting is a pretty great way to spend the afternoon!
Once everyone decided it was time to eat again (When you are five, you eat often too!) we returned to the picnic table, to snack, make leaf rubbings and listen to a story about Johnny Appleseed read to us by Mrs. S. With bellies filled we started down the hill past a patch of yellow flowers filled with fluttering butterflies and humming bees.
This unexpected encounter with the Monarch Butterfly gave us an opportunity to review past learning and identify the three body parts of the butterfly, head, thorax and abdomen along with its ore and hind wings.
We had a wonderful time at the orchard and would like to thank Nancy and her family for so graciously hosting us. If you have not visited the orchard at Cardigan Mountain, I really encourage you to take a drive out. Pack a snack and make an afternoon of it!
Thank you to Mrs. S for coming along for the fun!