The first stop was Blake's Cider Mill, Apple Orchard, and Pick Your Own. I loved going here as a child and still enjoy going. Although we spend more of our time picking fruit here than going inside and drinking cider and eating donuts. Their prices are fair and the children do enjoy getting to pick their own produce. This year was a bit off for us as there had been a HUGE public school field trip there in the morning before we arrived and the children had been rather destructive to the the apples and tomatoes by throwing the fruit on the ground or impaling it on posts...
This really upset us and it smelled terrible! The day hit 80 degrees and those tomatoes rotted quickly! We didn't expect the temperatures to reach so high in the beginning of October in Michigan and then to find this was rather upsetting. Although we did manage to pick a handful of good tomatoes left on the vines, mostly the cherry tomatoes, and I grabbed a few green ones to make fried green tomatoes.
The children picked about half a large bag of apples ... and other than a bit of frustration for Peanut on not being able to reach the "good" ones everyone had a great time.
Daddy fixed that by boosting her up so that she could reach high enough to get a nice big one. Of course everyone had to try an apple before they started picking because they didn't want to pick a lot if they didn't like that kind of apple.
I even got a good picture of the elusive Daddy guy. Yup! That's my handsome hubby you see in that blue green shirt! He's a bit camera shy but absolutely wonderful at just about everything when it comes to me, the kids, or our home. This day we didn't bring his service dog because we still haven't had her tested for bee allergies but before next year she'll be tested.
|There's one of each of us like this.|
|And one of each of us like this lol.|
We were going to enjoy the cider mill here but dear husband had the wonderful idea of driving another 20+ miles to another cider mill that might be less busy and that he grew up enjoying. (It was almost time for the public schools to be let out and there was still a couple kindergarten groups from a different school than the morning field trip that were doing the field trip thing.)
The last time we'd gone to Yates there hadn't been a huge crowd during the week and very few bees. Well, we got there in time to be just ahead of the after school crowd but so many people had not picked up their cider and donut messes that there were hundreds of bees that were very happy to "bug" us. I'm very allergic to them and hubby had the epi-pen in his pocket the whole day but with that many I was a little scared though attempting not to show it. Peanut got a bee in her cup of cider and threw it while screaming ... unfortunately the cider ended up all over my purse which was then relocated to the back of the vehicle and we finished our cider and donuts in the parking lot. There were still bees there just a lot less.
We went on a short walk down the path by the river. Enjoying the shade that the trees were giving and the relative lack of bees. By the time we got back to the main part of the cider mill there was a large crowd coming in of mainly teenagers who were looking for a fun distraction on a Friday afternoon. After watching some of the girls for a few seconds I didn't feel as badly about my fear of bees ;)
Yates has a small petting zoo right up front that anyone can go to without charge (you don't even have to buy the cider and donuts). We bought each child an ice cream cone filled with animal feed to feed these gentle guys. Although ECJ found out rather quickly that the big grey/white guy is a bit greedy as it took the whole cone and startled him.
It was a great day, even with all of the bees, and everyone had a great time. This also managed (without my realizing until later) to cross off two items on our Fall Bucket List: 1) pick apples at an apple orchard and 2) visit a cider mill. Such a good time was had by all in fact that it inspired hubby to begin planning a Fall Camping for Orchards and Cider Mills extravaganza which will span a couple of years at least! We'll be beginning it next year with the goal of at least one new cider mill or orchard a weekend all over the states of Michigan (including the UP) and Ohio! I thought I was excited about our plans for the next 18 months or so before but now I'm ecstatic!
This was a very good first field trip for the 2013-2014 school year! If all of them go as wonderfully as this (yes, I know I complained about the waste of the tomatoes and apples and all of the bees) then we're in for a great year!
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