Category Archives: About Bluebird Orchards

How Are Our Honeybees Doing?

Well, so far so good. Our new honeybee colony took to our orchard right away and seem to be multiplying and doing very well. Of course, getting them through the winter is the trickiest part. If this colony survives the winter, we will be looking at expanding our number of hives for next year.

Bluebird Orchards has prime honeybee habitat with our apple orchard blossoms and other numerous flowering plants, trees, berries and flowers we plant specifically for the bees. We also have white clover all over our entire property, which is also a honeybee favorite. So….our little girls should have plenty of food. Also, with the fact that Bluebird Orchards is 100% organic and never uses chemicals of any kind on our property, we hope to sustain a very healthy and productive bee apiary for years to come.

bees on lavenderWe also want to thank our customers who are supporting our bees by purchasing their honey. Every purchase of honey helps to maintain the construction of the hives, the processing of honey, and the purchasing of equipment, supplies for packaging honey, and more bee colonies.

We at Bluebird Orchards know how incredibly vital pollinators are to whether we have productive food crops or not. We are doing our part by planting bee-specific flowers and plants and encouraging wild species of favorite bee flowers by eliminating competition from invasive weed species that are not beneficial to pollinators and protecting the plants that are. We are also encouraging the milkweed on our property to reproduce as it is a favorite of Monarch butterflies.

Come to our orchard on some sunny summer day for an informative tour on how we are being as sustainable, regenerative and proactive as possible to protect our food supply and our health. And say “Hi” to our bees. You will see them all over the farm.

 

About Bluebird Orchards Ciders

Types of Cider.

Currently we make 3 varieties of cider, also known as sweet cider, soft cider, or in the United States, just cider. Although, in our opinion, there is a huge difference between actual cider and the apple juice many people call cider in the states. In Europe, apple juice is apple juice and cider is cider. They are not the same thing. Since Bluebird Orchards uses an ancient European brewing technique for making our cider, it is different from our apple juice. It is cider, made the traditional, Old World way, and our apple juice is just that: juice squeezed directly from the apple without any spices or aged flavor. Cider is not apple juice. If it is made right, you can taste the difference.

With cider making a huge comeback in the United States over the last 5-8 years, consumers are getting confused as to exactly what the word “cider” means here. Sweet cider, cider, or soft cider are all names for the same basic type of cider: that is, any cider that is not “hard” cider or the type of cider that contains alcohol. Hard cider is the only type of cider that contains alcohol, and as such, can only be sold in establishments with a liquor license.

That said, Bluebird Orchards makes hard and soft cider. Our hard cider goes by a different label called “Cool Dog Cider.” And our soft ciders go under the Bluebird Orchards label. Just to avoid any more confusion than what is already out there.

spiced cider labelSweet Ciders by Bluebird Orchards aka Soft Ciders.

On top of all the confusion regarding soft vs hard ciders, there is also another distinguishing factor regarding ciders; that is carbonation. Cider can either be “still cider” (non-carbonated) or carbonated. Again, we make both.

1. French-Style Still Cider.

Our still cider is spiced and pasteurized so it will not have any fizz or carbonation. This is a good cider for drinking hot cider on a cold day, since carbonation would be destroyed when you heat up the cider anyway. We make it spiced to give it that warm, holiday-like feeling and to make it special rather than just apple juice.

2. French-Style Spiced Cider.

If our cider doesn’t say it is “still” it is lightly carbonated naturally. We do not add carbonation, it is a natural fizz created by using the European technique for cider making. This cider is lightly carbonated and spiced with cinnamon and other natural spices to give it an apple pie flavor, only better. Nonpasteurized so it must be kept in the refrigerator.

3. French-Style Soft Cider.

This is also a carbonated cider but without any spices, Just the natural sweet sugars and strong apple flavor brought out by our natural brewing technique and our unique blend of apples grown only here on our orchard. Nonpasteurized so it must be kept in the refrigerator.

Bluebird Orchards Hard CiderBluebird Orchards Hard Cider.

Our hard ciders are made under our other brand name called “Cool Dog Cider”. We offer a Traditional French-Style Hard Cider and a flavor that was created by Bluebird Orchards called “Smokin” Cider which no other cidery in the industry makes. We will have an updated list of places to purchase our Cool Dog Ciders coming soon.

Soft Ciders are available in half gallon glass growlers to preserve their flavor and 16 ounce individual sizes. Sorry, we cannot ship ciders that are carbonated for obvious reasons, but if you live locally, stop by before they are ALL GONE.

 

Farm Store

We finally got the big sign for our Farm Store put up on the road. It has only been up a week and is already bringing in customers. That’s a really good thing.

What do we offer at the Bluebird Orchard’s Farm Store?

When you come to the store, tell us what you are looking for in the way of vegetables, fruits or nuts and we will pick them fresh on the spot. We believe this is the best way to offer a produce stand or farmer’s market since everything is picked the freshest it can possibly be when it’s picked per order. We’ve also been surprised at the number of people looking for fresh herbs. We have an extensive variety of culinary and medicinal herbs also picked fresh per order. When you stop by the farm store, we have a list of all the herbs and products we offer, but you can always find the most up-to-date list of what is in season and what isn’t by checking our online store.

We also have a good selection of handmade canned goods in the store such as canned jars of vegetables, sauces and fruits, as well as bottled syrups, juices and sweet cider in two different flavors. We should have free range chicken eggs starting in October, hens willing.

There are also many different handmade body care products in our farm store, and if you happen to be camping at White Mound County Park across the road from us and forget your shampoo, bug spray or other necessities, we offer some unique body care products.

Farm Store and Produce Stand Hours:

Currently the farm store and produce stand are open Tuesday through Friday from 10-6 and Saturday from 10-3, May 15 through December 15 until further notice. We are already starting to make cider, so stop by any time to pick up a bottle.

How to Know if a Restaurant is Really “Farm to Table.”

Farm to table is becoming popular in some areas. But be sure the restaurant is truly “farm to table.” There was also a news report a few months ago regarding restaurants that were claiming to be farm to table, or using local produce, that weren’t. How can you check?

farm to table events1. LOOK IT UP. You might already have your phone out to Instagram-brag your dinner. Put it to further use: If a chalkboard boasts farm names, do a web search. Does the farm exist? Is it nearby? What do the farmers say they’re harvesting now?
2. Understand “Seasonal”
Know what grows near you and when. Before you go out to eat, check out agricultural extension websites and apps, which give real-time information about what’s in season in your area.
3. Ask How The Restaurant Defines “Local”
Within city limits, state borders, a day’s drive?
4. Go To The Source
Chat up your growers. Talk to the farmers at your local farm stands and farmers’ markets. Ask them which restaurants they work with.
5. Reward The Good Guys
If a restaurant or market makes the extra effort to bring you local products, return the favor by taking that message to a broader audience. Don’t stop at a pretty picture. Talk up where the food came from—and who grew it.

And yes. Bluebird Orchards offers Farm to Table service to restaurants in the Madison, LaCrosse, Baraboo, Wisconsin Dells areas. When we have our list for this season, we will post which restaurants use out food in our area.

Apple Facts

Apple Facts – according to the University of Illinois Ext.

Nature’s perfect snack has many secrets we bet you didn’t know:

  1. The crabapple is the only apple native to North America.
  2. Apples come in all shades of reds, greens, and yellows.
  3. Two pounds of apples make one 9-inch pie.
  4. Apple blossom is the state flower of Michigan.
  5. 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States.
  6. 7,500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world.
  7. 100 varieties of apples are grown commercially in the United States.
  8. Apples are grown commercially in 36 states.
  9. Apples are grown in all 50 states.
  10. Apples are fat, sodium, and cholesterol free.
  11. A medium apple is about 80 calories.
  12. Apples are a great source of the fiber pectin. One apple has five grams of fiber.
  13. The pilgrims planted the first United States apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  14. The science of apple growing is called pomology.
  15. Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.
  16. Most apples are still picked by hand in the fall.
  17. Apple varieties range in size from a little larger than a cherry to as large as a grapefruit.
  18. Apples are propagated by two methods: grafting or budding.
  19. The apple tree originated in an area between the Caspian and the Black Sea.
  20. Apples were the favorite fruit of ancient Greeks and Romans.
  21. Apples are a member of the rose family.
  22. Apples harvested from an average tree can fill 20 boxes that weigh 42 pounds each.
  23. The largest apple picked weighed three pounds.
  24. Europeans eat about 46 pounds of apples annually.
  25. The average size of a United States orchard is 50 acres.
  26. Many growers use dwarf apple trees.
  27. Charred apples have been found in prehistoric dwellings in Switzerland.
  28. Most apple blossoms are pink when they open but gradually fade to white.
  29. Some apple trees will grow over 40 feet high and live over 100 years.
  30. Most apples can be grown farther north than most other fruits, because they blossom late in spring, minimizing frost damage.
  31. It takes the energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple.
  32. Apples are the second most valuable fruit grown in the United States. Oranges are first.
  33. In colonial time, apples were called winter banana or melt-in-the-mouth.
  34. The largest U. S. apple crop was 277.3 million cartons in 1998.
  35. Apples have five seed pockets or carpels. Each pocket contains seeds. The number of seeds per carpel is determined by the vigor and health of the plant. Different varieties of apples will have different number of seeds.
  36. World’s top apple producers are China, United States, Turkey, Poland and Italy.
  37. The Lady or Api apple is one of the oldest varieties in existence.
  38. Newton Pippin apples were the first apples exported from America in 1768, some were sent to Benjamin Franklin in London.
  39. In 1730, the first apple nursery was opened in Flushing, New York.
  40. One of George Washington’s hobbies was pruning his apple trees.
  41. America’s longest-lived apple tree was reportedly planted in 1647 by Peter Stuyvesant in his Manhattan orchard and was still bearing fruit when a derailed train struck it in 1866.
  42. Apples ripen six to ten times faster at room temperature than if they were refrigerated.
  43. A peck of apples weight 10.5 pounds.
  44. A bushel of apples weights about 42 pounds and will yield 20-24 quarts of applesauce.
  45. Archeologists have found evidence that humans have been enjoying apples since at least 6500 B.C.
  46. The world’s largest apple peel was created by Kathy Wafler Madison on October 16, 1976, in Rochester, NY. It was 172 feet, 4 inches long. (She was 16 years old at the time and grew up to be a sales manager for an apple tree nursery.)
  47. It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.
  48. Apples account for 50 percent of the world’s deciduous fruit tree production.
  49. The old saying, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” This saying comes from an old English adage, “To eat an apple before going to bed, will make the doctor beg his bread.”
  50. Don’t peel your apple. Two-thirds of the fiber and lots of antioxidants are found in the peel. Antioxidants help to reduce damage to cells, which can trigger some diseases.
  51. In 2005, United States consumers ate an average of 46.1 pounds of fresh apples and processed apple products. That’s a lot of applesauce!
  52. Sixty-three percent of the 2005 U.S. apple crop was eaten as fresh fruit.
  53. In 2005, 36 percent of apples were processed into apple products; 18.6 percent of this is for juice and cider, two percent was dried, 2.5 percent was frozen, 12.2 percent was canned and 0.7 percent was fresh slices. Other uses were the making of baby food, apple butter or jelly and vinegar.
  54. The top apple producing states are Washington, New York, Michigan,Pennsylvania, California and Virginia.
  55. In 2006, 58% of apples produced in the United States were produced in Washington, 11% in New York, 8% in Michigan, 5% in Pennsylvania, 4% in California and 2% in Virginia.
  56. In 2005, there were 7,500 apple growers with orchards covering 379,000 acres.
  57. In 1998-90 the U.S. per capita fresh apple consumption was around 21 pounds.
  58. In 2005, the average United States consumer ate an estimated 16.9 pounds of fresh market apples
  59. Total apple production in the United States in 2005 was 234.9 million cartons valued at $1.9 billion.
  60. In 2006/2007 the People’s Republic of China led the world in commercial apple production with 24,480,000 metric tons followed by the United States with 4,460,544 metric tons.
  61. In 2006/2007 commercial world production of apples was at 44,119,244 metric tons.
  62. Almost one out of every four apples harvested in the United States is exported.
  63. 35.7 million bushels of fresh market apples in 2005 were exported. That was 24 percent of the total U.S. fresh-market crop.
  64. The apple variety ‘Red Delicious’ is the most widely grown in the United States with 62 million bushels harvested in 2005.
  65. Many apples after harvesting and cleaning have commercial grade wax applied. Waxes are made from natural ingredients.
  66. National Apple Month is the only national, generic apple promotion conducted in the United States. Originally founded in 1904 as National Apple Week, it was expanded in 1996 to a three-month promotional window from September through November.
  67. On August 21, 2007 the GoldRush apple was designated as the official Illinois’ state fruit. GoldRush is a sweet-tart yellow apple with a long shelf life. The apple is also the state fruit of Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

Why Bluebird Orchards?

We have a very significant reason for naming our orchard after the bluebirds. We didn’t just pick a name off the top of our heads, there is a real significance to the bluebirds in our daily lives here at the orchard.

Bluebirds are very beneficial to growers. They eat thousands of bugs and many of the ones that are detrimental to fruit orchards such as the apple maggot fly, various moths which produce caterpillars with veracious appetites, and grubs.

The bluebirds are the first of the seasonal songbirds to return to the orchard in the spring; therefore, they mark the beginning of the spring growing season for us. Every year, about mid March, we anxiously await their arrival as a welcome sign of spring and that it’s time to plan the year’s harvest. This is why the bluebird is so symbolic to our business. Not only are they beautiful to look at,  they announce the start of our growing season with their arrival and they are very diligent workers throughout the season in keeping our plants and trees bug-free. Therefore, we honor them as a very necessary part of our operations.

Because our bluebirds are the real heroes that allow us to produce food with the core values we want to cultivate – organically and sustainably.
We have a host of other birds as well that all help to protect our orchards and produce from harmful insect infestations, but the bluebirds are the very first orchard and farm helpers to arrive early in the spring and set up residence in the birdhouses we provide for them. They quickly became a symbol of organic growing when it is done in sync with Mother Nature and the way things should be. Thus, they became the symbol of all we value and try to cultivate with our business. We provide shelter for them and they provide a valuable service to us in return. It is truly a symbiotic relationship that reflects the way farming was done in the old days and should be done again in order to protect our quality of life and food supply.

Therefore, we can’t wait to see our feathered co-workers in the spring – as the first sign of the start of every growing season.

Apple Facts

These apple facts are from the Wisconsin Apple Grower’s Association:

A Bushel of Facts about Wisconsin Apples:

FOR YOUR HEALTH

  • Antioxidants, especially quercetin, in apples and apple products play an essential role in reducing risks of prevalent diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
  • Apple consumption increases the number of good gut bacteria.
  • Eating one apple a day for four weeks lowered blood levels of oxidized LDL, the “bad cholesterol,” by 40%.
  • Ursolic acid, a natural compound found in the apple’s skin, may prevent muscle wasting that can result from aging or illness.
  • Pectin in apples is a good source of soluble fiber.

 APPLE TIPS

  • Store small quantities in your refrigerator, in plastic bags in the crisper–between 34 and 40 degrees. Don’t allow them to freeze. apples can absorb odors from other foods, keeping apples in plastic bags prevents this and helps apples retain their own moisture.
  • Apples ripen six to ten times faster at room temperature than if they were refrigerated. One or two days sitting on a counter top and the fresh crunch of your apple is lost forever.
  • Lemon juice helps prevent apple discoloration. Sprinkle a little lemon juice on sliced apples before adding to salads.

Store Bought vs Farm Tomatoes.

The difference between a store-bought tomato and a farm-grown local tomato is the best example of what happens to our produce as it is delivered to stores nationwide.

Tomatoes, like all produce in the stores, are picked before they are fully ripe so by the time they are processed, packaged and shipped across many states to get to your store they are not rotten and will have a longer shelf life. This means all your produce is picked before it has developed it’s full flavor, nutrient value and texture. In other words, you are paying good money for produce in the stores that is only a figment of what it should be. No wonder so many people have quit eating veggies! When they are tasteless, juiceless, colorless replicas of what a real vegetable or fruit is, and we pay such high prices for these vitamin-deficient alternatives, why waste the money?

This is why farm CSAs and farmer’s markets are becoming so popular. People have come to realize they are wasting their money on weak, poor quality produce that is not only a waste of money but not healthy for them either.

The photo at the top shows the difference in color between store and farm fresh tomatoes, but to fully grasp the difference you have to taste them. Nothing beats a homegrown tomato for flavor, juiciness, softness and nutrient value. The flavor difference alone will convince you of what you have been missing all these years. See…we have gotten accustomed to the poor quality food in the supermarkets because we had no alternative for generations. Many of us have no idea what we are missing because we simply don’t know any better. One taste of a farm raised tomato will convince you. But we have to warn you….once you have farm fresh organic,  you will never go back to that tasteless, lifeless stuff in the supermarkets. The difference can be tasted with any farm fresh vegetable, but tomatoes are the most prominent example of what is wrong with our food service today. We have gotten so far removed from what our food should be because we are so far removed from our local farms. CSAs aim to bring communities back in touch with their food and tastebuds and offer nutrition over convenient replicas of what we should be eating.

Taste what you’ve been missing!!

 

Artist Retreat and Art Classes

Art Classes:

Have you always wanted to learn art? Maybe you just want to socialize or meet new people or you have a child that is a little Picasso and needs an outlet for that creative energy.
If you home school your children and are looking for some one to teach them the creative arts, our classes are just the thing. Where would we be without graphic artists, web designers, and other creative professionals? It would be a dull world indeed.

We offer art classes in our community as well as for seniors to socialize. Having been a professional artist for the last 30 years, I have done it all from oil painting, to photography, to graphic design and every medium in the art world. I can teach you basic art techniques or you can join a class just for the fun of meeting fellow art lovers, being creative, and socializing with others who have the same interests. What a fun, relaxing, entertaining way to enjoy your vacation.

We supply the easels and paint, you supply the imagination. Only $10 per class, per person. Sign up below.

Artist Retreat:

Looking for somewhere off the beaten path to hang out, relax and dabble? Bring your paint brushes, easel, drawing pencils, photography equipment and your imagination to your own private artist retreat. We are never without unique subject matter here at Bluebird Orchards. Capture the wildlife, unique plants, flowers, and the natural sandstone and limestone architecture that only the Baraboo and Wisconsin Dells area offers. Looking for more urban (human) subject matter? We are only 30 minutes away from the very unique entertainment offered by Wisconsin Dells theme parks and Baraboo’s Circus World. You’re sure to find one-of-a-kind original subject material for art there.

Being an artist myself, there are many eye-catching colors and subjects I’ve built into the landscape on the orchard grounds alone, then ….there’s White Mound County Park right across the road from us. Also the unique landscape of the local farmland and Baraboo area along with the Wisconsin rivers and lakes where you will find plenty of wildlife subjects.

Artist retreats are becoming a thing of the past, or only available at great expense in Europe. However, we know many artists are always looking for new places to rediscover and rejuvenate the creative process. Explore a new art experience, try a new adventure. You’re only limited by your imagination.

No spaces or dashes.