November 19, 2011 - Farm Visit, Hayride & Hike with St. Peters
Saturday, November 19th was a sunny, beautiful day. We had a great time in Princeton at the Mass Audubon Wachusett Meadow Sanctuary and at Clearview Farm in Sterling.
The five youth and five adults embarked on a hike, with several boys taking turns with the map, leading the group. We reached the 1312 ft. summit at Wachusett Meadow in record time, passing the giant Glacier Boulder - which none of us could move. At the summit we looked for Boston among the distant hills, but weren't high enough to see it. Several boys took turns taking photos, eventually amassing over 400 by the end of our adventure.
After our delicious picnic lunch, our next stop was the friendly and active Clearview Farms. Farmer Rick and his wife Diane were excellent hosts. They showed us how to press our own cider and taught us a lot about bees. They have been farming for 24 years.
Their 100 year old mechanical apple press is used to make most of their cider, but they let us make our own cider from their small hand-cranked press. It took a lot of work and brute force, but together we turned one half bushel of apples into a huge pitcher of cider.
We learned the difference between apple cider and apple juice. Apple juice is cooked and has some things added and removed, while apple cider is uncooked juice pressed from the apples without anything added or subtracted. We got to drink the cider we pressed and eat homemade donuts and apple cookies. It was very light when it was first pressed, but turned darker as the cider oxidized.
Clearview Farm also has a lot of honey bees. We learned a lot about the lives of bees and their importance in pollinating and growing food. Farmer Rick knows a lot about bees. He taught the group about how fruits are sometimes shaped strangely because they were not fully pollinated. It can take up to eight visits for a fruit to be pollinated correctly.
We walked down to where the bees are kept, but couldn't get too close because we didn't want to disturb them. When it gets cold they all form into a tight ball to retain their heat to live through the winter.
The ride back to Dorchester was fun and went by quickly. The St. Peter's boys taught us some riddles and we passed by an enormous dam in Clinton and the Wachusett Reservoir, one of the places our drinking water comes from.