September arrived and it went from being summer to fall overnight. The crispy weather has us breaking out all our sweaters and scarves, drinking extra cups of tea, and thinking about fall activities.
I find the frenzy around apple picking here somewhat odd. I grew up in a more
rural area than Toronto and some of my high school friends did manual farm labor as a part of life. So, back home,
folks tend to look at that type of activity more like work than like entertainment. Oh, city folk. I don't always understand you.
But anyway, we didn't have any plans for Saturday, so we decided to go apple picking.
There is one very well-know orchard around here, that we sort of wanted to avoid because it feels like the Walmart of apple farms; however we're familiar with it and they have a big selection of things to do with kids, so off we went. (Departing only an hour later than we had hoped to.)
The first thing we did was hop on the tractor ride to go and pick our bag of apples. As expected, The Bean loved the tractor ride and was reluctant to get off when we got to our stop by the MacIntosh rows. We assured him we would get back on the tractor once we were done picking.
In the rows, Allison showed him the proper way to pick an apple, by turning the "eye" on the bottom skyward and twisting. He got the hang of it instantly and started running up the row tree-by-tree plucking apple after apple and plunking them into the bag that I was holding. Allison was trying to get some nice pictures of The Bean in the idyllic setting, but the kid had other ideas -namely stripping the trees bare of fruit as quickly as he could. I think she managed a few nice shots still and Sprout was content to sit for a long time gumming on an apple.
We didn't want to bring home a lot of apples (I can't eat them because I try to follow a strict diet called FODMAPS that's designed for people with IBS and apples are forbidden) and this farm is a buy-what-you-pick farm, so after 5 or 10 minutes we reached our quota and went back down to the tractor stop for the ride toward the other activities.
Our next stop was the petting zoo. Their selection was about what I'd expect from a petting zoo: deer, horses, llama, sheep, chickens, goats, a calf, and even a few overweight retired farm dogs who were penned up for photo ops and ear scratching. We spent most of our time with the horses, goats, and chickens. You can buy food for the animals that they serve up in a cake ice cream cone, so we got one for The Bean. He liked to give the food nuggets to the horses and goats and break up the cone to throw to the chickens. The zoo was the hardest area to navigate with the family, if you ask me. There were a lot people clamouring to feed or touch the animals and the adults in this area seemed to be unaware that they were dominating the attention of the animals at the expense of little kids not being able to pet, see, or interact with them (yes, middle-aged lady hogging the calf, that's you!). Our time in the animal section finished up with a family trip to the washroom where I said "Don't touch that!" about every 15 seconds for the 10 minutes we were all in the stall.
After the zoo, we stopped by the tractor yard for some climbing and another photo op then we walked nearby to the slides and I have to say I was impressed. There was a large area filled and encircled with bales of hay with four or five pretty large slides. The structures were permanent and super-popular. At this point, I sat down with Sprout and Allison took The Bean off to explore and slide. We ran into a couple the we met during the "preparing for baby" class that we took through our midwife office. (As a side note, Allison also saw someone from high school as we were walking into the farm --an occurrence that happens more than you would think in a metropolitan area of six million people.) After we'd been at the slides for awhile, Allison and I decided that it was time to pack it up. It was already past nap time and we wanted to try to minimize the overtired toddler meltdown that was likely unavoidable at that point. There were things we didn't get to, like a hay maze, pony rides, and nature trail but it was time to get back home.
On the way out, we stumbled onto a lost nine year old girl so Allison helped her get to the Lost and Found and stayed with her until someone found the friends that she had become separated from.
As we were standing in line to check out, The Bean lost his balloon (naturally), so he and I also made a sprint back inside to get another one in the hopes of avoiding the aforementioned meltdown.
The ride home was long (30 minutes to get to the farm 60+ to get home) but we instituted quiet time and I think at least three out of the four of us got a little shut-eye at some point.
At home, Allison jumped right on prepping the apples for making homemade applesauce. The Bean switched back and forth between helping her peel and taking a bite out of every apple that had been peeled. Sprout sat on the floor happily gumming one of the unpeeled apples.
All in all I think we all enjoyed ourselves. Which is a good thing, because it looks like we're lined up to do more apple picking this weekend. If Allison makes a pie I might have to rethink that diet.