Blog Archive

Friday, September 2, 2011

Harvesting Organic Grapes at Nordic Hills Farm


I am so blessed.

I live on two farms.  Our Little Farm, in MN, and the Big Farm in Ontario, WI, shuttling back and forth, splitting my time between them every week. 

On our Little Farm, we get to play at being farmers, with our 3 male alpacas (fiber boys), 16 15 laying hens (one of our Rhode Island Reds mysteriously disappeared on Wed., the same day our neighbor's bird dog went missing) and three spoiled house cats who pretend they are outdoor cats.

On the Big Farm, I help tend a herd of 150 alpacas (including two of my girls and our new baby boy), 150 chickens, a couple of horses, and several beef cattle.

And sometimes, I get to do other things.  Like this week, when we visited a neighboring farm, Jim & Mary Olsen's Nordic Hills Farm, where we helped pick organic grapes.

To get to the vineyard, we had to pass through a couple of gates.  Guarding one of the gates was a beautiful Siamese kitten with bright blue eyes. 

{Have I ever mentioned what a sucker I am for a beautiful kitten?  Especially, a beautiful, Siamese, blue-eyed kitten like this one at the Big Farm?}

Then we waited as some of their lambs ambled by in front of the truck.  As we started to climb the hill towards the vineyard, I noticed their Jersey cow, Daffodil, heavy with milk, staring at us with her large brown eyes.  Daffodil came from an Amish farm, I was told. They wanted her to be calm and gentle and able to milk her from both sides.  She is. They can approach her in the field, tie her to the ATV, and two people can milk her at the same time.  I will be back to meet her again in the near future, I can tell already.  I have never milked a cow before.

At the top of the hill lies the vineyard, with a magnificent view of all of Kinney Valley. It was breathtaking. I have never picked grapes before.  I have never even been in a vineyard before.  With that view, you almost forget about the heat and humidity and the stream of sweat running down your back.

They grow Edelweiss, a sweet white wine grape, and Bluebell, a purple grape great for juice and jelly. We were harvesting the Edelweiss variety, and the vines were loaded. I have never tasted such sweetness in a grape before. These grapes even smelled sweet, just sitting in our buckets.

Justin's 5-year old son was helping me.  He was good with the clippers, and, he decided, I was good at cleaning any mushy grapes or spiderwebs out of each bunch he handed to me.

Once the vines had all been picked, we headed back down the hill to the house, past Daffodil and the lambs and some cows and the cats, and we sat outside and drank homemade rhubarb juice and chatted about farming.

When we left, we were loaded up with fresh chicken eggs and a quart of Daffodil's milk.

It was about the most perfect day a person could have.

Did I mention how blessed I am?

I am. 

I truly, truly am.


Jess said...

What gardening zone are those grapes in? They look wonderful. I've just started looking into adding grapes to our little space here.

And it sounds like a perfect day!

Victoria Strauser said...

I think they're zone 4, same as we are. I was curious about that too, but I guess there are more and more hardy grapes being grown in WI and MN! I can't wait to have a vine or two also!

Jess said...

Hmmm... we're exactly on the edge of a zone 3/4. Thanks for the info.

Victoria Strauser said...

I bet there are some varieties that would grow in your area!

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